The agency continues to reel from the project management lapses of the James Webb Space Telescope. Once scoped at $5 billion with a 2014 launch date, the project is now pegged at $8.8 billion with a sendoff in late 2018.
“Given the anticipated funding challenges for all federal agencies in the years ahead, changes to the way NASA develops and manages its projects are imperative,” notes Martin, whose auditors found the agency permeated by a “culture of optimism” with too few opportunities to train future managers.
Though a small part of the overall federal bureaucracy, NASA is the government’s ninth-largest property owner with 4,900 structures, 80% of them at least 40 years old, and 10% of them underused or not at all. A mounting deferred maintenance bill of nearly $2.5 billion is forcing NASA to lease out or divest the excess.
“NASA must move beyond its traditional conservative approach of ‘keep it in case we need it,’ in managing its facilities,” according to the report.
In 2011, 81% of NASA’s budget flowed to contractors in support of the agency’s mission, making it especially vulnerable to waste, fraud and abuse. The agency continues to struggle with insight into a range of grant and research awards, including the popular Small Business Innovation Research program, the report says.
The IG found NASA a popular target of domestic and foreign IT system intrusion because of the vastness of its networks and the value of the data.