OIG: Review of NASA's Lessons Learned Information System

Status Report From: NASA Office of Inspector General
Posted: Tuesday, March 6, 2012

image NASA Inspector General Paul Martin today released a report that examines the extent to which NASA managers use the Agency's "Lessons Learned Information System" to improve performance in ongoing and future NASA projects and how the system fits within NASA's overall knowledge management strategy.

NASA policy requires the collection, validation, assessment, and codification of lessons learned submitted by individuals, NASA directorates, programs and projects, and any supporting organizations and personnel. Since 1994, NASA's principal mechanism for collecting and sharing these lessons learned has been an online, searchable database called the Lessons Learned Information System (LLIS). However, the value of LLIS is contingent on managers and engineers routinely consulting and adding information to the system about their project's successes and failures.

This Office of Inspector General (OIG) review found that NASA's project managers do not routinely use LLIS to search for lessons identified by other projects, nor do they routinely contribute new information to LLIS. Consequently, we found that the LLIS has been marginalized in favor of other NASA knowledge sharing system components and is of diminishing and questionable value.

Specifically, other than the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, no NASA Center consistently contributed information to LLIS from 2005 through 2010. The OIG also found NASA's policies regarding the input of lessons learned into LLIS have weakened over time; policy direction and implementation for the Agency's overall lessons learned program was inconsistent; Headquarters monitoring of critical Center-based LLIS activities was deficient; and NASA's overall strategy for knowledge management, lessons learned, and LLIS is not well defined.

The OIG recommended that NASA develop and implement a cohesive strategic plan for knowledge management and sharing, particularly with respect to lessons learned. As part of this plan, we recommended that the Agency determine if or how LLIS fits into this overall plan. In addition, we recommended that NASA revise applicable policies to align with NASA's strategic vision for institutional knowledge management and improve the collection and dissemination of lessons learned Agency-wide. NASA concurred with the OIG's recommendations.

The full report can be found on the OIG's website at under "Reading Room" or at the following link:

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

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