NASA OIG: Space Shuttle Program Management Safety Observations

Press Release From: NASA Office of Inspector General
Posted: Friday, April 20, 2001

The following audit report has been posted to the NASA Office of Inspector General web site: Space Shuttle Program Management Safety Observations (IG-01-017, March 23, 2001)

To access the entire report, please go to:

Synopsis: The NASA Office of Inspector General (OIG) has completed an audit of the United Space Alliance's (USA's) safety procedures under NASA's Space Flight Operations Contract (SFOC). As part of the audit, we reviewed the oversight of USA's safety procedures for the Space Shuttle Program at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center (Johnson). We found that the Johnson Safety, Reliability, and Quality Assurance Office (Johnson Safety Office) was not providing the required support to the Manager, Space Shuttle Program Safety and Mission Assurance (Space Shuttle Program Safety Manager), for oversight of USA's safety activities. We also found that NASA's contractor surveillance plans did not address all SFOC requirements for safety; USA did not update its Management Plan to reflect organizational and personnel changes to the SFOC, including changes in key safety personnel from NASA and USA; and USA's reporting to NASA of close calls and mishaps needed improvement. As a result, NASA can improve management controls to ensure (1) effective oversight of USA's safety operations under the SFOC, (2) better control over $13 million in annual Space Shuttle Program funds provided to the Johnson Safety Office, and (3) that adequate corrective actions are taken on all safety mishaps and close calls.

Management Response: While management did not agree with all of the findings, Johnson concurred with the recommendations and has planned or taken responsive corrective actions. Johnson will establish procedures to clarify the responsibilities of the Johnson Safety Office to ensure that it provides the necessary support to the Space Shuttle Program Safety Manager. Johnson also plans to update the various SFOC surveillance plans to adequately address safety, revise the SFOC Management Plan to reflect current operations, and ensure that the Agency's automated mishap tracking system accurately reflects current USA mishap and close call information.

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