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2015 Report on NASA's Top Management and Performance Challenges

Press Release From: NASA Office of Inspector General
Posted: Monday, November 16, 2015

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NASA Inspector General Paul Martin today released the Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) annual report describing the top management and performance challenges facing NASA.
In the OIG’s view, the principal challenge facing Agency leaders will be to effectively manage the Agency’s varied programs in an uncertain budget environment. NASA’s ability to sustain its ambitious exploration, science, and aeronautics programs continues to be driven in large measure by whether the Agency is able to adequately fund such high-profile initiatives as its commercial cargo and crew programs, Space Launch System rocket and Orion capsule, James Webb Space Telescope, and the personnel and infrastructure associated with these and other projects.

In October 2015, NASA and the rest of the Federal Government began another fiscal year without a full-year appropriation. This uncertainty about funding levels, while inconvenient for some NASA programs, may be significantly disruptive to others – most prominently the Agency’s efforts to use American corporations to transport astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS or Station).
In addition to this overarching challenge, NASA managers face a myriad of project- and facility-specific challenges. This annual report provides the OIG’s independent assessment of the top management and performance challenges facing the Agency, which we organized under the following topics:

Spaceflight Operations in Low Earth Orbit: Managing the International Space Station and the Commercial Cargo and Crew Programs

Positioning NASA for Deep Space Exploration: Developing the Space Launch System, Orion Capsule, and associated Ground Systems and Mitigating Health and Performance Risks for Extended Human Missions

Managing NASA’s Science Portfolio

Ensuring the Continued Efficacy of the Space Communications Networks

Overhauling NASA’s Information Technology Governance

Securing NASA’s Information Technology Systems and Data

Managing NASA’s Aging Infrastructure and Facilities; and

Ensuring the Integrity of the Agency’s Contracting and Grants Processes

These eight challenges track, in most major respects, the seven challenges the OIG identified in its 2014 report. This year we divided the challenge of “Managing NASA’s Human Space Exploration Programs” into two separate challenges – crewed space flight in low Earth orbit and human exploration in deep space – to focus in more depth on the programs associated with each of these separate but related issues.

To read a detailed description of these challenges, please visit our website at: https://oig.nasa.gov/NASA2015ManagementChallenges.pdf

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