Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-WY) this week questioned the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) over continued reports of cost growth and schedule delays in the agency’s major projects. Enzi was particularly concerned that the cost and schedule performance of the projects “continues to deteriorate,” according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
“I am troubled by continued reports of cost growth and schedule delays involving NASA’s major projects that could jeopardize future missions,” wrote Chairman Enzi. “This persistent cost growth puts vital NASA missions and taxpayer dollars at risk.”
NASA’s acquisition management has been on GAO’s High Risk List since 1990. In May 2019, GAO released an assessment of NASA’s current portfolio of 24 major projects, which are those with life-cycle costs exceeding $250 million. The agency found that the two primary drivers of the deterioration in NASA’s cost and schedule performance are the James Webb Space Telescope (Webb) and the Space Launch System (SLS) program. The $9.7 billion Webb telescope faced “integration and test challenges,” while the SLS saw “significant cost growth due to continued production challenges.”
Enzi specifically is asking NASA for cost breakdown analyses of the Webb and SLS programs and the factors contributing to overall costs for those projects. Enzi is also seeking information about what controls NASA employs to oversee its use of contractors, particularly to prevent contract fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement, in order to ensure that taxpayer dollars are used efficiently and effectively.
Read the full letter here.