NASA criticised for program costs

NASA criticised for program costs

Louis Dillon

US senator Mike Enzi, chairman of the Senate budget committee, has said he is “troubled” by cost and schedule growth on several major NASA programs, and is demanding answers from the agency for more information on these operations.

Senator Enzi confirmed that he had sent a multiple-page letter to NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine to express his concerns about schedule and cost performance on multiple major programs, citing a report earlier in 2019 by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

“I am concerned that the persistent cost growth and schedule delays identified by GAO put at risk vital NASA missions and taxpayer dollars,” Senator Enzi said.

And it appears Bridenstine has agreed with Senator Enzi, replying to his concerns with an email that said, “NASA has a history of grossly underestimating cost and schedule on major programs. I am working to change this culture.”

Two programs were singled out in particular, that being the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and Space Launch System.

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The JWST program has already been delayed by three years and costs blown out by nearly a billion dollars, while SLS was also pushed back a similar time frame.

“In response to SLS challenges, I have recently reassigned the head of NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate as well as the head of the Exploration Systems Development Division (responsible for SLS and Orion),” Bridenstine said. 

“New leadership will be in place soon.”

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