Earlier this week the House approved the Senate version of an FY10 supplemental appropriations bill that includes a provision regarding NASA. That provision, which the Senate added in May, requires that FY10 Constellation funds “shall be available to fund continued performance of Constellation contracts, and performance of such Constellation contracts may not be terminated for convenience.” The language was designed to reinforce a provision in the original FY10 bill that prevented NASA from terminating Constellation programs without Congressional approval.
The passage, though, comes just days after the GAO found that NASA was not in violation of that original provision nor was it withholding funding for Constellation programs. “According to NASA financial data, by June 30, 2010, NASA had obligated 83 percent of the Exploration funds that Congress appropriated for fiscal year 2010,” the GAO report noted. “By comparison, the corresponding figure in fiscal years 2009 and 2008 was 73 percent.” The report added that the GAO had found no evidence that “NASA is taking any steps to terminate or end the Constellation program” in the current fiscal year.
The GAO report also found no evidence of impropriety by NASA with regards to Constellation contract termination costs. “We recognize that progress toward meeting key Constellation milestones has slowed and that job losses have occurred,” it noted. “However, the evidence we have gathered to date indicates that NASA is adhering to its policy and the FAR [Federal Acquisition Regulation] terms incorporated into the Constellation prime contracts concerning allowable costs, including potential termination costs.”