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NASA Office of Inspector General's Semiannual Report to Congress October 1, 2017 - March 31, 2018

Press Release From: NASA Office of Inspector General
Posted: Thursday, May 31, 2018

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Full report

NASA’s extensive portfolio of science-, space-, and aeronautics-related activities presents the Office of Inspector General (OIG) with a wide variety of issues to examine. Two topics we paid special attention to this reporting period: information technology (IT) governance and NASA’s efforts to resupply and fully utilize the International Space Station (ISS or Station).

With respect to IT governance, we found in a 2013 review that the decentralized nature of NASA operations and a longstanding culture of autonomy hindered the Agency’s ability to implement effective IT governance. We made eight recommendations, and NASA agreed to take action to address our concerns. In a follow-up audit released this reporting period, we evaluated NASA’s progress in implementing changes to its IT governance structure and found that in the past 4 years the Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) has made insufficient progress to improve NASA’s IT governance, casting doubt on its ability to effectively oversee the Agency’s IT assets. Specifically, the OCIO continues to have limited visibility into IT investments across the Agency, and the process NASA developed to correct this shortcoming is flawed. This lack of visibility limits NASA’s ability to consolidate IT expenditures, realize cost savings, and drive improvements in the delivery of IT services. We made five recommendations for corrective action in this follow-up report.

With respect to the ISS, the President’s fiscal year 2019 budget envisions NASA ending direct financial support for the Station beginning in 2025 even though many members of Congress prefer an extension through at least 2028. The OIG has examined multiple aspects of Station operations over the years, including research conducted onboard to reduce health-related risks to astronauts and NASA’s use of commercial companies to provide cargo resupply and crew transportation.

During the past reporting period, the OIG released an audit examining the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), a private entity responsible for managing non-NASA research activities on the U.S. portion of the ISS, as well as an audit examining a $484 million cooperative agreement with the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI), a consortium of universities and science organizations focused on research to mitigate human health and performance risks associated with space travel. In spring 2018, the OIG plans to release an audit examining the Agency’s efforts to maximize utilization of the ISS prior to its scheduled retirement in 2024, its efforts to reduce operating costs, and the challenges associated with the Station’s eventual deorbit.

While the auditors audit, our Office of Investigations continues to pursue allegations involving misuse of NASA funds; misconduct by NASA employees, contractors, and grant recipients; and cyberattacks on Agency systems. During the reporting period, NASA OIG investigators helped convict a small business owner of six counts of wire fraud related to research contracts valued at over $2 million. In addition, a former Kennedy Space Center employee was convicted of violating post-employment ethics restrictions after accepting a position with a contractor he worked closely with during his tenure and representing the company back to NASA. Finally, the OIG recommended discipline for a NASA senior manager whose misconduct included improperly promoting an employee and directing contract employees to provide personal services.

This Semiannual Report summarizes the OIG’s activities and accomplishments between October 1, 2017, and March 31, 2018. We hope you find it informative.

Paul K. Martin
Inspector General
April 30, 2018

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