Recommendations Database

GAO’s recommendations database contains report recommendations that still need to be addressed. GAO’s priority recommendations are those that we believe warrant priority attention. We sent letters to the heads of key departments and agencies, urging them to continue focusing on these issues. Below you can search only priority recommendations, or search all recommendations.

Our recommendations help congressional and agency leaders prepare for appropriations and oversight activities, as well as help improve government operations. Moreover, when implemented, some of our priority recommendations can save large amounts of money, help Congress make decisions on major issues, and substantially improve or transform major government programs or agencies, among other benefits.

As of November 30, 2021, there are 4659 open recommendations, of which 482 are priority recommendations. Recommendations remain open until they are designated as Closed-implemented or Closed-not implemented.

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1 - 10 of 10 Recommendations
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NASA Human Space Exploration: Significant Investments in Future Capabilities Require Strengthened Management Oversight

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1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
We recommend that the NASA Administrator ensure that the NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate establish cost and schedule baselines for SLS Block 1B, SLS Block 2, Mobile Launcher 2, and Orion Docking System at their preliminary design reviews or as soon as practicable in advance of critical design reviews. (Recommendation 1)
Open

NASA agreed with this recommendation. In April 2021, NASA stated that it is on track to establish a baseline for SLS Block 1B by September 30, 2021. NASA has decided to rebaseline the Orion program to include the Docking system. NASA also plans to complete this rebaseline by September 30, 2021. NASA plans to establish a separate baseline for Mobile Launcher 2 by Spring 2022 . To fully implement this recommendation, NASA will need to provide documentation that it established cost and schedule baselines for all four systems-including SLS Block 2-before their respective critical design reviews.

NASA Lunar Programs: Opportunities Exist to Strengthen Analyses and Plans for Moon Landing

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1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The NASA Administrator should ensure that the NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations creates a life-cycle cost estimate for the Artemis III mission. (Recommendation 4)
Open

NASA agreed with the recommendation and stated that the agency will provide a preliminary cost estimate for the Artemis III mission by the end of calendar year 2020. However, NASA has not yet created this cost estimate. NASA officials told us that a 5-year funding plan provided to Congress in September 2020 serves as the agency's cost estimate through the Artemis III mission in 2024. The officials stated that the agency would establish cost and schedule commitments for projects but not the overall mission. However, to fully implement this recommendation, NASA needs to develop a life-cycle cost

Cybersecurity: Agencies Need to Fully Establish Risk Management Programs and Address Challenges

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1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Administrator of NASA should establish a process for conducting an organization-wide cybersecurity risk assessment. (Recommendation 47)
Open

NASA agreed with this recommendation and, in April 2021, stated that it planned to implement this recommendation by September 30, 2021. Once NASA has provided evidence of these actions, we plan to verify whether implementation has occurred.

Cybersecurity Workforce: Agencies Need to Accurately Categorize Positions to Effectively Identify Critical Staffing Needs

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1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
To complete the appropriate assignment of codes to their positions performing IT, cybersecurity, or cyber-related functions, in accordance with the requirements of the Federal Cybersecurity Workforce Assessment Act of 2015, the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration should take steps to review the assignment of the "000" code to any positions at NASA in the 2210 IT management occupational series, assign the appropriate NICE framework work role codes, and assess the accuracy of position descriptions. (Recommendation 24)
Open

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) concurred with our recommendation and stated that it would complete a review of the assignment of the "000" code to its positions in the 2210 IT management occupational series, assign the appropriate NICE framework work role codes, and assess the accuracy of position descriptions. In April 2021, NASA indicated that it expected to implement the recommendation by November 2021. To fully implement this recommendation, NASA will need to provide evidence that it has assigned appropriate NICE framework work role codes to its positions in the

Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle: Action Needed to Improve Visibility into Cost, Schedule, and Capacity to Resolve Technical Challenges

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1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
To provide the Congress and NASA a reliable estimate of program cost and schedule that are useful to support management and stakeholder decisions, the NASA Administrator should direct the Orion program to perform an updated JCL analysis including updating cost and schedule estimates in adherence with cost and schedule estimating best practices.
Open

NASA partially agreed with this recommendation, stating that the agency reviewed, in detail, the Orion program integrated cost and schedule and risk analysis methodology and determined the rigor to be a sufficient basis for the agency commitments. In April 2021, NASA stated that it plans to establish in 2021 an updated baseline commitment of the Orion system for Artemis II. To fully implement this recommendation, NASA will need to provide evidence that it updated its joint confidence level analysis when the Orion program holds its Key Decision Point D review, scheduled for fall 2021.

Space Launch System: Resources Need to be Matched to Requirements to Decrease Risk and Support Long Term Affordability

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2 Open Recommendations
2 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
To provide the Congress with the necessary insight into program planning and affordability, and to decrease the risk of cost and schedule overruns, NASA's Administrator should direct the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate to take the following action: Provide decision makers with an informed basis for making investment decisions regarding the SLS program, NASA should identify a range of possible missions for each future SLS variant that includes cost and schedule estimates and plans for how those possible missions would fit within NASA's funding profile.
Open

NASA agreed with this recommendation. In April 2021, NASA stated that it plans to establish a separate cost and schedule baseline commitment for work required to support the SLS Block 1B Exploration Upper Stage and Mobile Launcher 2 in 2021. To fully address this recommendation, NASA needs to provide documentation that it established cost and schedule estimates for each future SLS variant and its plan for how possible missions would fit within NASA's funding profile. Further, NASA needs to identify cost and schedule estimates for possible SLS missions beyond Artemis I and how its planned

National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
To provide the Congress with the necessary insight into program planning and affordability, and to decrease the risk of cost and schedule overruns, NASA's Administrator should direct the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate to take the following action: To allow for a continued assessment of progress and affordability, NASA should structure each future increment of SLS capability with a total cost exceeding the $250 million threshold for designation as a major project as a separate development effort within the SLS program. In doing so, NASA should require each increment to complete both the technical and programmatic reviews required of other major development projects, per the agency's acquisition and system engineering policies.
Open

NASA agreed with this recommendation. In April 2021, NASA stated that it plans to establish separate cost and schedule baselines for work required to support the SLS Block 1B Exploration Upper Stage and Mobile Launcher 2 and to update the Orion baseline to include docking capability. To fully implement this recommendation, NASA needs to provide documentation that it established baselines for each capability upgrade exceeding $250 million. Further, NASA needs to provide evidence that each capability upgrade is designated a major project and is required to complete the technical and programmatic

NASA: Actions Needed to Improve Transparency and Assess Long-Term Affordability of Human Exploration Programs

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2 Open Recommendations
2 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
To provide the Congress with the necessary insight into program affordability, ensure its ability to effectively monitor total program costs and execution, and to facilitate investment decisions, because NASA intends to use the increased capabilities of the SLS, Orion, and Ground Systems Development and Operations efforts well into the future and has chosen to estimate costs associated with achieving the capabilities, the NASA's Administrator should direct the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate to establish separate cost and schedule baselines for each additional capability that encompass all life cycle costs, to include operations and sustainment. When NASA cannot fully specify costs due to lack of well-defined missions or flight manifests, forecast a cost estimate range -- including life cycle costs -- having minimum and maximum boundaries. These baselines or ranges should be reported to Congress annually via the agency's budget submission.
Open

NASA partially agreed with this recommendation, stating that it had established separate programs for SLS, Orion, and the ground systems and adopted a block upgrade approach for SLS. In April 2021, NASA stated that it plans to establish in 2021: (1) an updated baseline commitment of the Orion system for Artemis II to include a docking capability and (2) a separate cost and schedule baseline commitment for work required to support the SLS Block 1B Exploration Upper Stage and Mobile Launcher 2. Further, NASA stated that it will identify for Exploration Systems Development programs a transition

National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
To provide the Congress with the necessary insight into program affordability, ensure its ability to effectively monitor total program costs and execution, and to facilitate investment decisions, the NASA's Administrator should direct the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate to establish a separate cost and schedule baseline for work required to support the SLS Block I Exploration Mission-2 (EM-2) and report this information to the Congress through NASA's annual budget submission. If NASA decides to fly the SLS Block I beyond EM-2, establish separate life cycle cost and schedule baseline estimates for those efforts, to include funding for operations and sustainment, and report this information annually to Congress via the agency's budget submission.
Open

NASA partially agreed with this recommendation, stating that it defined and documented life-cycle costs for SLS to a first demonstrated capability, consistent with cost estimating best practices and NASA project and program management policy. In April 2021, NASA stated that it plans to establish a cost and schedule baseline for the SLS Block 1B Exploration Upper Stage and associated capabilities in 2021. Further, NASA stated that it will identify for Exploration Systems Development programs a transition point for sustainment and operations and provide a 5-year cost estimate of production and

NASA: Earned Value Management Implementation across Major Spaceflight Projects Is Uneven

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1 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Recommendation Status
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
To improve NASA management and oversight of its spaceflight projects, and to improve the reliability of project EVM data, the NASA Administrator should direct the appropriate offices to modify the NASA Procedural Requirements (NPR) 7120.5 to require projects to implement a formal surveillance program that: (1) Ensures anomalies in contractor-delivered and in-house monthly earned value management reports are identified and explained, and report periodically to the center and mission directorate's leadership on relevant trends in the number of unexplained anomalies. (2) Ensures consistent use of work breakdown structures (WBS) for both the EVM report and the schedule. (3) Ensures that lower level EVM data reconcile to project level EVM data using the same WBS structure. (4) Improves underlying schedules so that they are properly sequenced using predecessor and successor dependencies and are free of constraints to the extent practicable so that the EVM baseline is reliable.
Open

NASA partially agreed with this recommendation, stating that the reliability and utility of the EVM data needed to be improved but that it did not plan to implement a formal surveillance plan due to resource constraints. In April 2020, NASA stated that EVM reporting is ongoing, all projects with the EVM requirement are submitting data to the EVM central repository, and NASA has updated training and a procurement guide. NASA also stated that funding challenges still exist, which affects additional surveillance efforts and rolling out the capability to remaining centers. To fully implement this

Have a Question about a Recommendation?

For questions about a specific recommendation, contact the person or office listed with the recommendation. For general information about recommendations, contact GAO's Audit Policy and Quality Assurance office at (202) 512-6100 or apqa@gao.gov.