NASA urged to get serious about 'faster, better, cheaper'

NASA's "faster, better, cheaper" management strategy needs to rise above a mere management philosophy and become a defined part of the agency's mission, according to a new report from the agency's inspector general. In 1992 NASA Administrator Daniel Goldin launched the "faster, better, cheaper" initiative to decrease mission cost and time, and to increase the number of missions and their scientific results. Under the new approach, he moved work to private industry and minimized government oversight. He also reduced NASA's infrastructure to the point that the agency's role shifted from mainly technical support to contract administration. Though Goldin's policy is used to manage programs and projects, it has yet to be included in the agency's strategic goals and performance plans, NASA Inspector General Roberta Gross said in her report, " Faster, Better, Cheaper: Policy, Strategic Planning and Human Resource Alignment." "NASA considered [faster, better, cheaper] to be a philosophy that did not need to be formalized into written agency policies or guidance," said the report. "Without written policies or guidance, NASA cannot effectively communicate [the concept] to program and project managers and contractors, which could negatively affect mission success, weaken accountability for results, and lead to increased cost and delays." The report also criticized NASA for failing to link its human resources efforts with strategic goals. "NASA has not determined the appropriate number of staff and competencies needed to effectively carry out strategic goals and objectives for its programs, most notably the... Mars Program, and may lose core competencies," the report said. Gross recommended that NASA develop policies and guidelines to define "faster, better, cheaper" and address its implementation at the agency. NASA officials should also incorporate that management policy into strategic plans, include the results in annual performance reports and perform strategic human capital planning, the IG's report said. While NASA officials agreed that the "faster, better, cheaper" approach should be included in strategic goals and performance plans, officials disagreed that it should be a specific subset of those plans. Agency officials strongly disagreed with the "perspective that [faster, better, cheaper] is responsible for 'keeping the staffing low,'" the report said. Rather, the combination of downsizing and increased workloads resulted in skill imbalances, agency managers said. The IG's report follows several other reviews of the faster, better, cheaper policy. In 1999, Goldin commissioned several independent reviews to examine the new approach and recent mission failures. A March 2000 review by the NASA Integrated Action Team concluded that too much emphasis on cost constraints and schedule deadlines had hurt NASA project quality.
Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    Download
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.