Review of NASA’s Major Acquisitions Highlights Progress and Risks
Published: March 23, 2016
Assessments of cost and schedule performance, technology maturity, and design stability of the National Air and Space Administration’s (NASA) major projects indicate that 2016 is likely to test recent process improvements.
Over the last 5 years, positive changes, like new policies and adoption of best practices, have contributed to the improved performance of NASA’s projects. Additionally, monitoring has highlighted key elements for the organization to target going forward. For example, most of the current projects stayed within cost and schedule baseline development estimates. When a project exceeds that cost level by 30 percent, it is rebaselined. As a result, NASA has rebaselined a major project 8 out the last 9 years. This rebaselining is consistent with the continued cost and schedule growth experienced by the portfolio. Two of the projects being reviewed, the Space Launch System and Orion, are approaching the stage between their critical design and system integration reviews, when rebaselining most frequently occurs. These two projects also face cost, schedule, and technical risks that could materialize in the near future, producing a ripple effect across the portfolio and potentially having severe consequences for smaller, critical projects. A final report on the annual assessment of NASA’s major projects is expected to be completed in late March 2016.