Federal Manager's Daily Report

NASA astronaut Barry “Butch" Wilmore takes a picture with his cell phone as a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft aboard is seen as it is rolled out of the Vertical Integration Facility to the launch pad at Space Launch Complex 41 ahead of the Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission, Monday, Aug. 2, 2021 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. NASA photo.

An IG audit has said NASA has experienced issues including delays and cost overruns in modernizing its facilities — ranging from offices to laboratories to launch complexes — 75 percent of which have exceeded their “design life” with a deferred maintenance backlog of some $2.7 billion.

The audit focused on the agency’s Construction of Facilities program which among other things aims to consolidate facilities. “Given the age and changing needs for NASA’s infrastructure, proper management of CoF funds is crucial to ensure that the right facilities are built or maintained in the right locations to meet mission requirements,” it said.

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However, of the 20 projects reviewed, six incurred cost overruns between $2 million and $37 million and 16 were between 3 months and three years behind schedule. “Costs increased primarily because requirements were not fully developed by the agency before construction began, requirements were not fully understood by contractors, and contract prices were higher than originally estimated. Delays occurred because projects faced postponed start times and changing requirements, among other reasons,” it said.”

Further, several projects “led to an expansion rather than consolidation of facilities and at times increased the amount of technical facility space such as laboratories while removing non-technical space such as warehouses. While NASA policy does not currently require the removal to come from facilities with space similar to what is being built, increasing technical space can be more expensive to maintain.”

It said the agency generally agreed with recommendations including that it require business case analyses to be completed and considered as part of the process prior to a project’s approval and assure that funding sources are specified during a program’s development and implementation phases.

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