NASA Human Space Exploration: Integration Approach Presents Challenges to Oversight and Independence, Report to Congressional Committees   [open pdf - 7MB]

"NASA is undertaking a trio of closely related programs to continue human space exploration beyond low-Earth orbit. All three programs (SLS [Space Launch System], Orion, and EGS [supporting ground system]) are working toward a launch readiness date of no earlier than October 2019 for the first test flight. Each program is a complex technical and programmatic endeavor. Because all three programs must work together for launch, NASA must integrate the hardware and software from the separate programs into a working system capable of meeting its goals for deep space exploration. The House Committee on Appropriations report accompanying H.R. 2578 included a provision for GAO [Government Accountability Office] to assess the progress of NASA's human space exploration programs. This report assesses (1) the benefits and challenges of NASA's approach for integrating these three programs and (2) the extent to which cross -program risks could affect launch readiness. GAO examined NASA policies, the results of design reviews, risk data, and other program documentation and interviewed NASA and other officials. [...] Congress should consider directing NASA to establish baselines for SLS and EGS's missions beyond the first test flight. NASA's ESD [Exploration Systems Development] organization should no longer dual-hat officials with programmatic and technical authority responsibilities. NASA partially concurred with our recommendation and plans to address it in the next year. But NASA did not address the need for the technical authority to be independent from programmatic responsibilities for cost and schedule. GAO continues to believe that this component of the recommendation is critical."

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Government Accountability Office: http://www.gao.gov/
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