Congress, NASA

GAO clears NASA’s use of study teams

Today wraps up the two-day NASA Exploration Enterprise Workshop in Galveston, where yesterday NASA teams briefed attendees on studies the agency has undertaken on various aspects of the proposed new plan for NASA, ranging from robotic precursor missions to commercial crew. NASA also got some good news: those efforts are not considered illegal.

In an opinion by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) dated May 21 but published online yesterday, the office determined that NASA is not violating a provision of the FY2010 appropriations bill that prevents the agency from any use of exploration funds that would “create or initiate a new program, project or activity”. Several members of Congress asked the GAO in March to investigate whether those study teams constituted a new program, but the GAO found it did not. “The teams did not create any new programs, set up new program offices, or hire or permanently reassign any staff. The teams did not award any contracts or bind NASA to taking any future course of action,” the GAO determined. “Thus, to date, NASA’s study teams have conducted only planning activities and have not brought into being a new program, project, or activity.” The GAO did caution that NASA must be careful that those efforts “do not evolve into activities that would create or initiate a new program, project, or activity.”

NASA is not completely out of the woods with the GAO yet, though. The March request to the GAO from 16 House members covered three issues, of which the activities of the study teams being just one. The GAO decision said it would separately evaluate the other two issues the House members raised, the ability of NASA to cancel or suspend planned contracts, and contract termination liability costs.

11 comments to GAO clears NASA’s use of study teams

  • amightywind

    One nest of liberals offering a legal fig leaf to another in this corrupt Age of Obama. But why shouldn’t NASA become proficient at ‘studies’? It is all they will do once HSF ends. Congress needs to keep the pressure on the NASA junta to keep Constellation on track.

  • Major Tom

    “One nest of liberals offering a legal fig leaf to another…”

    The GAO is an “independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress”. The information GAO provides to congressional decisionmakers is “objective, fact-based, nonpartisan, nonideological, fair, and balanced”.

    Don’t make stupid, ignorant statements.

    And do you really think that a Republican like Shelby would have asked the GAO to conduct an investigation of anything if the GAO was a “nest of liberals”?


    Think before you post.

  • Gary Church

    Your wind is foul. This is not a right wing site. Go hang out with the ditto heads.

  • “ditto heads.” There’s another useful comment-blocking term.

  • Ben Joshua

    From the GAO website:

    “We provide Congress with timely information that is objective, fact-based, nonpartisan, nonideological, fair, and balanced.

    Our Core Values of accountability, integrity, and reliability are reflected in all of the work we do. We operate under strict professional standards of review and referencing; all facts and analyses in our work are thoroughly checked for accuracy.”

    When the data disagrees with your position, re-visit and challenge the underlying premises of your position, like a good engineer or analyst, or re-label and discount the data to fit your position.

    The same way NASA re-labeled and discounted data concerning ET foam issues, O ring issues and Apollo block 1 issues.

  • Gary Church

    GAO is not NASA. Or is anything you dislike automatically associated with what you hate? – which is what many of the people who post here seem to do by demonizing NASA as an evil empire destroying America. This hatred of NASA and homoerotic love of any company building 1950’s tech rockets in garages is getting pretty transparent.

  • Gary Church

    “ditto heads.” There’s another useful comment-blocking term.

    Well of course, comment-blocking is synonymous with ditto heads. They block reality.

  • Ben Joshua

    I acknowlege the great things NASA accomplished and continues to accomplish. It is not demonizing to also acknowlege the failings, in order to set a better course and approach, moving forward.

    btw, new monthly heliosphere data from NASA is sure to re-write astronomy textbooks and lead to some yeasty new graduate work in astrophysics. That’s right now.

    btbtw, some of the FY11 tech dev initiatives (a prediction here) will lead to new industrial processes, applicable outside NASA, which means economic development, jobs and a tech edge for our country, all courtesy of NASA achievement and the taxpayers footing the bill. Excellent investment, that.

    And correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t it NASA that produced key research into laminar flow? How many applications did that find its way into?

    Celebrate the good, and build on it. Recognize the shortcomings and correct them at their origins, not with layered on expensive “fixes.”

  • Gary Church

    I must have mistaken you for someone else.

  • GAO has criticized Constellation for years, warning it was over budget, behind schedule, lacked a business case and badly managed. GAO is well aware of how NASA functions, or lack thereof.

    Click here to read the August 2009 GAO report on Constellation.

  • Well of course, comment-blocking is synonymous with ditto heads.

    I don’t know about that, but whining about “ditto heads” is synonymous with political idiocy, and a distinct sign of unseriousness about discussing politics.

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