"We found NASA does not aggregate information on the universe, status, or funding levels for the many institutes it supports. The absence of this information makes it difficult for Agency leaders to strategically evaluate the scope or purpose of its institute investments or for Congress and other stakeholders to understand how NASA is spending more than three-quarters of a billion dollars of its budget annually. Moreover, the Agency has not defined what constitutes an institute or established guidance and metrics on their management, use, or expectations for return on investment. Such guidance may enable the Agency to gain a better understanding of how funds directed to institutes are utilized to accomplish its mission and goals, increase its return on investment, and evaluate institutes' performance.
During the course of this review, we became aware of two institutes GeneSys Research Institute (GRI) and the Institute of Global Environment and Society (IGES) under investigation by the Federal Government for alleged grant fraud. GRI declared bankruptcy and the status of its work under two NASA grants of approximately $500,000 is unknown. Likewise, the status of IGES work under approximately $500,000 of NASA funding is also unknown. In past work we found NASA lacked a standard process to assess a potential grantee's financial condition prior to grant award or to impose additional reporting or oversight requirements that such a condition may warrant. Without such a mechanism, NASA risks making uninformed investment decisions."