NASA Inspector General Paul K. Martin today released an audit examining NASA's real property master planning efforts. NASA owns more than 5,000 buildings and other structures such as wind tunnels, laboratories, launch pads, and test stands valued at more than $29 billion. However, over 80 percent of NASA's facilities are more than 40 years old and reaching the end of their designated life spans. At the same time, the Agency is undergoing considerable changes in mission focus with the retirement of the Space Shuttle Program and uncertainty about the facilities needed for the new space launch program. Moreover, NASA is dealing with these challenges at a time when growing budget deficits are straining the resources of all Federal agencies. NASA's facilities master planning efforts, the first ever undertaken by the Agency, and its process for prioritizing construction projects are major efforts currently underway to address these infrastructure challenges.
The OIG audit released today recognized that development of an integrated facilities master plan is a positive step toward better managing NASA's diverse real property assets. However, we found deficiencies in the individual Center master plans NASA is using to develop the integrated plan, which may limit the plan's usefulness for making strategic real property decisions. Specifically, we found that the Center plans were developed using funding assumptions that are no longer realistic and are missing some of the essential information needed to make objective Agency-wide real property decisions. In addition, because of uncertain mission requirements 5 of NASA's 10 Centers did not develop master plans to reduce their real property in accordance with Agency goals. Moreover, the restrictive criteria and competitive nature of the prioritization process the Agency used for construction projects - an integral part of implementing the Center master plans - discouraged some Centers from submitting their top priorities for funding.
During the audit, NASA revised the prioritization process for construction projects in ways we believe will enable the Centers to better prioritize their projects based on a wider range of information. However, these revisions are not yet reflected in NASA policy.
To address the issues uncovered by our audit, we recommended that NASA: 1) provide clear guidance to the Centers about the information that should be included in their master plans to ensure that similar information is captured for all Centers; 2) ensure plans to reduce the Agency's real property footprint more fully consider the specific missions of the individual Centers when setting real property reduction requirements; and 3) update NASA's policy to better reflect the current risk-based process for prioritizing institutional Construction of Facilities projects.
NASA concurred with our recommendations and agreed to take corrective action. The full report can be found on the OIG's website at http://oig.nasa.gov/ under "Reading Room" or at the following link: http://oig.nasa.gov/audits/reports/FY12/IG-12-008.pdf
Please contact Renee Juhans at (202) 358-1220 if you have questions.
Renee N. Juhans
NASA Office of Inspector General