Press Release

Follow Up Review of Independent Program Assessment Office

By SpaceRef Editor
October 22, 2001
Filed under , ,

The NASA Office of Inspector General has completed its Follow Up Review
of the Independent Program Assessment Office, G-01-019. To access the entire
report, please go to:

The Independent Program Assessment Office (IPAO) is intended to conduct
independent evaluations of NASA programs and projects to ensure that
technical and programmatic commitments are being met. The IPAO evaluations
include assessments of whether a program/project is on schedule and within
established cost estimates. In 1996, the Office of Inspector General reviewed NASA’s relocation of the IPAO to Langley Research Center. In 2001, we conducted a follow-up review to determine whether policies and procedures to ensure the independence and effectiveness of the IPAO are in place and are followed.

We found that IPAO reviews of NASA programs and projects have provided a
valuable service to the Agency. We also identified several areas where the
effectiveness of the IPAO can be enhanced. We found that IPAO reviews are
not always conducted at key points in programs and projects; the criteria
for declaring a NASA program/project operational is not clear and the lack
of clarity impacts the IPAO review process; the IPAO lacks cost estimating
and analysis capability; and the IPAO needs to be a Headquarters component
to ensure its independence and objectivity.

In May 2001, NASA approved a one-year pilot of a new Independent Review
Team (IRT) concept. IRT’s would report to the cognizant Enterprise Associate
Administrators and the newly established Enterprise Program Management
Councils. The IPAO would participate in the IRT process. We are concerned
that the IRT concept results in a lessening of the independent review process
and a reduction in the flow of information to key NASA decision-makers.

We made nine recommendations to strengthen the independence and
effectiveness of the IPAO and to improve the program/project review process.
NASA concurred with five recommendations and nonconcurred with four. NASA
did not concur with our recommendations to: establish and document clearly
defined criteria for conducting independent reviews throughout the various
phases of a program/project; assign administrative and organizational
responsibility for the IPAO to Headquarters; modify the composition of the
IRT’s to designate the IPAO as a Co-Chair instead of Deputy Chair; and
require the Chair and Co-Chair of the IRT’s to attend the PMC meetings when
their team reviews are being presented.

We continue to believe that implementation of these recommendations would
increase the independence and impartiality of the IPAO and help ensure that
NASA managers as well as the Congress and other oversight bodies would
receive fair and accurate assessments of the costs and risks of NASA programs
and projects. We have asked management to reconsider its response to these

To comment on this report, please send an email to:

SpaceRef staff editor.