- NASA Watch
- November 30, 2022
NASA Continues To Have Big Problems With Cost And Schedule
NASA: Assessments of Major Projects, GAO
“The cost and schedule performance of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) portfolio of major projects has deteriorated, but the extent of cost performance deterioration is unknown. NASA expects cost growth for the Orion crew capsuleone of the largest projects in the portfoliobut does not have a current cost estimate. In addition, the average launch delay for the portfolio was 12 months, the highest delay GAO has reported in its 10 years of assessing major NASA projects.
The deterioration in portfolio performance was the result of 9 of the 17 projects in development experiencing cost or schedule growth. Four projects encountered technical issues that were compounded by risky program management decisions. For example, the Space Launch System and Exploration Ground Systems programs are large-scale, technically complex human spaceflight programs, and NASA managed them to aggressive schedules and with insufficient levels of cost and schedule reserves. This made it more difficult for the programs to operate within their committed baseline cost and schedule estimates.”
“… Technical challenges such as these are not unusual for large-scale programs, especially human exploration programs that are inherently complex and difficult. However, we have found that NASA has made programmatic decisions–including establishing low cost and schedule reserves, managing to aggressive schedules, and not following best practices for earned value management or creating reliable cost and schedule baselines–that have compounded the technical challenges. As a result, the three human spaceflight programs have been at risk of cost and schedule growth since NASA approved their baselines.
“… The SLS and EGS programs continue to face cost, schedule, and technical risks as they move through the integration and test phase into at least 2019. … NASA currently has no schedule reserve to its target December 2019 launch readiness date for two key areas in the core stage schedule.
“… The JWST project delayed its launch readiness date by at least 19 months from October 2018 to May 2020. … the JWST project is at risk of exceeding its congressional cost cap, and faces schedule risks as it completes its remaining integration and test work.