IT Priorities Snapshot: National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Published: June 17, 2015

BudgetCybersecurityForecasts and SpendingNASA

Federal agencies organize numerous budgets and plans as part of their strategy formulation. These activities can aid contractors searching for areas of growth and new business opportunities. Agency planning documents include business cases from agencies’ FY 2016 budget requests, which highlight where government relies on contractors and calls out technologies and capabilities they are looking to improve.

Analysis of the Department of Commerce, Department of Justice,  Department of Energy, and Department of the Interior noted how exploration of agency priorities often focuses on investments with high total dollar value. This direction for discussing business opportunities might suppose a disproportionate amount of spending will be used to acquire goods and services from government contractors. However, by removing the funding dedicated to supporting government workforce, spending levels offer a clear picture of the role contractors may play.

At the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the top five investments by requested funding for FY 2016 combine to make up nearly 60% of NASA’s entire IT budget. Infrastructure spending makes up a substantial portion of these top investments, which account for the greatest amounts of contractor addressable funds. The top ten of these investments combine to account for over $890 million in requested contractor addressable spending. As a whole, technology investments at NASA show a solid reliance on contractor goods and services, averaging 89.3% contractor addressability.

In the past, budget plans related to technology development, modernization, and enhancement (DME) could point to areas of new contracting opportunities. Lately, agencies increasingly rely on operational spending to fund upgrades and ongoing requirements. This swing makes the DME category less dependable as a way to identify future prospects. NASA reports approximately 5% of its requested FY 2016 IT spending will support DME.  Modernization efforts include continuing infrastructure improvements, innovating space and exploration technologies, advancing reporting and information management, and developing scientific and technological research capabilities. With less than $70 million slated for these efforts across the entire department, it’s clear that many upgrade activities will draw on operations and maintenance funding. 


The NASA’s IT budget addresses spending plans for around 70 investments in FY2016. Ongoing requirements for mission delivery and management support are driven by scientific and technological research, space transportation and exploration needs as well as core capabilities like facility management, accounting, and IT security. Providing and maintaining technology infrastructure also involves substantial resources. Looking ahead, NASA aims to support increasingly mobile and collaborative environments, improve cybersecurity capabilities, and advance information management practices. Cost efficiencies from maturing these foundational areas may free up funds to reinvest towards accelerating mission oriented capability advancement.