Press Release

McCain Concerned by NASA’s Cost Mismanagement

By SpaceRef Editor
September 6, 2001
Filed under , ,

Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Ranking Republican of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today expressed concern over a General Accounting Office (GAO) audit of the International Space Station and Shuttle Support Cost Limits.

“The GAO has once again found that NASA has failed the American taxpayer” McCain said. “At this point, we have no confidence in any of the cost data reported by NASA, including the $4 billion cost overrun reported by NASA earlier this year. It appears the agency needs a very thorough review of their accounting practices.”

The NASA Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2000 established price caps on the International Space Station and Space Shuttle programs. Under the Act, NASA may not use more than $25 billion for space station development, and shuttle launch costs in connection with station assembly should not be more than $17.7 billion. The Act also requires NASA to update Congress on its expenditures against the cost limitations on an annual basis.

GAO was unable to verify the information reported by NASA to Congress. Further, NASA did not have support for the actual cost of completed space station elements. GAO could not determine whether NASA’s reported costs, relative to the completion of the Station, were reasonable. NASA’s inability to provide timely data concerning actual costs related to the Station and use of the Shuttle raises concerns about NASA achieving the discipline and accountability that Senator McCain and others had called for in the Act.

The report also states: “… when NASA attempted to identify the specifics on the projected savings (from planned space station content reductions or other program efficiencies), instead of $1 billion in savings from planned program efficiencies, NASA’s analysts identified new areas of cost growth – resulting in a net increase in total projected space station spending.”

“This audit suggests that the $4 billion cost overruns on the Station may actually be higher,” McCain said. “It is unconscionable that after spending most of this year reviewing the costs of the Station, they still don’t know where they are.”

  • 31 August 2001: NASA: International Space Station and Shuttle Support Cost Limits, GAO-01-1000R, GAO

  • SpaceRef staff editor.