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NASA OIG Report: NASA's Grant Administration and Management

Press Release From: NASA Office of Inspector General
Posted: Monday, September 12, 2011

image NASA Inspector General Paul K. Martin today released a report that examined how well the Agency manages the $3 billion in grants its has awarded over the past 5 years to fund scientific research, scholarships, fellowships, and educational activities. The Office of Inspector General (OIG) review found that NASA does not have an adequate system of controls in place to ensure proper administration and management of its grant program.

The OIG reviewed grant awards worth $17.3 million and found that NASA has not established adequate policy or internal controls to effectively administer and manage the grant award process, review grant expenditures, or assess grantee performance. As a result, some grant funds are not being used for their intended purposes.

Specifically, we found that NASA:

- Awarded grants in lieu of contracts, contrary to Federal and NASA regulations and requirements;

- Awarded grants and grant supplements contrary to NASA requirements governing unsolicited proposals.

- Did not provide adequate oversight of the grantee's performance and expenditures; and

- Awarded unauthorized and unallowable grant supplements contrary to Federal and NASA regulations.

The nature of the weaknesses we identified leads us to believe our findings reflect systemic deficiencies in the administration and management of NASA's grant program.

The OIG identified three grant supplements totaling $410,191 for which a contract was the more appropriate procurement instrument because the grantee performed personal services that otherwise would have been performed by NASA employees or contractors for the direct benefit of NASA. Because procurement contracts are subject to statutory and regulatory requirements that generally do not apply to grants, use of an incorrect procurement instrument could intentionally or inadvertently bypass competition and other legal requirements.

We also found that NASA grant officers awarded $7 million in grants and grant supplements (43 percent of our sample) contrary to NASA requirements regarding unsolicited proposals. In particular, Goddard Space Flight Center improperly awarded 12 grant supplements totaling $1.3 million to the same grantee when it should have solicited proposals from the public. Additionally, Glenn Research Center improperly awarded $5.7 million for two education grants and 19 supplements to the same grantee when it should have solicited proposals from the public.

Finally, we identified $299,599 in unauthorized and unallowable expenditures in the grants we reviewed.

The OIG made nine recommendations to address the issues identified and to reclaim related questioned costs. Specifically, NASA needs to strengthen its policies, procedures, and internal controls to ensure that proper award instruments are used consistently; grants are solicited and awarded in an open and transparent fashion; supplements are not used when new grants should be awarded; and grantees do not incur unauthorized and unallowable costs. NASA did not provide a formal response to the OIG's report prior to issuance.

The report can be found on the OIG's website at http://oig.nasa.gov/ under "Reading Room" or at the following link: http://oig.nasa.gov/audits/reports/FY11/IG-11-026.pdf

Please contact Renee Juhans at (202) 358-1220 if you have questions.

Renee N. Juhans
Executive Officer
NASA Office of Inspector General
(202) 358-1220

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