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GAO: Priority Open Recommendations: National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Status Report From: Government Accountability Office
Posted: Thursday, April 30, 2020

Dear Administrator Bridenstine:

The purpose of this letter is to provide an update on the overall status of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s implementation of GAO’s recommendations and to call your personal attention to areas where open recommendations should be given high priority.1 In November 2019, we reported that on a government-wide basis, 77 percent of our recommendations made 4 years ago were implemented.2 NASA’s recommendation implementation rate was 63 percent. As of March 2020, NASA had 48 open recommendations. Fully implementing all open recommendations could significantly improve NASA’s operations.

Since our April 2019 letter, NASA has implemented 1 of our 9 open priority recommendations and we closed a second recommendation as not implemented. With respect to the implemented recommendation, NASA coordinated with the Secretary of Energy, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the Director of the National Science Foundation in several interagency efforts to standardize administrative research requirements. As a result, the agencies identified two potential areas for standardization or harmonization of requirements, such as the policy for what constitutes a financial conflict of interest. For the second, closed recommendation, NASA took some steps to assess opportunities for competition for future variants of the Space Launch System. However, NASA did not provide Congress with a comprehensive assessment of the extent to which development and production of future elements of the SLS could be competitively procured. There is no longer an opportunity within the current SLS program to take action on this recommendation.

NASA has 7 priority recommendations remaining from those we identified in the 2019 letter. We ask your continued attention on those remaining priority recommendations. We also are adding 5 new recommendations related to cost estimates for its human exploration missions and addressing cybersecurity concerns. This brings the total number of priority recommendations to 12. (See enclosure for the list of recommendations).

Full letter 

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