Progress cited on NASA business systems modernization

NASA is chipping away at potential problems facing its new system to manage contracts and other business processes, according to a Government Accountability Office report released Monday.

NASA's contract management has been a GAO-classified area of high risk since 1990. The agency began the Integrated Enterprise Management Program (IEMP) systems modernization initiative in April 2000 to improve handling of contracts and other business processes. IEMP includes the creation of a core financial tool and systems to monitor contract spending, assets and human resources.

The report (GAO-07-691) concluded that NASA has made "significant strides" to develop and implement better business management. But auditors also identified areas of concern. GAO determined that despite progress, NASA needs to return to basics and address weaknesses in scheduling and requirements development before moving forward.

GAO has issued periodic reports on the progress of NASA's financial management improvement efforts at the request of Reps. Bart Gordon, D-Tenn., chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee, and Todd Platts, R-Pa. The last report on the modernization was released in September 2005.

GAO recognized the project as an avenue for major improvement to NASA's business management, but cautioned that neglecting best practices early in the process could cause problems during implementation and future upgrades.

"With a planned investment of over $800 million for IEMP, NASA must immediately and effectively address these strategic building blocks if IEMP is to successfully address long-standing management challenges -- including overseeing contractor performance and properly accounting for NASA's property, plant and equipment," the report stated.

The five recommendations issued by GAO focus on the tightening of policies and procedures that govern scheduling and development of system requirements. Auditors also urged the establishment of a concept of operations. By failing to do this, NASA has not fully taken high-level strategic issues into account during the early stages of IEMP, the report warned.

"Ideally, a concept of operations should be completed before systems development begins so that it can serve as a foundation for system planning and requirements development," the report stated. "Nonetheless, while NASA's IEMP efforts are already well under way, the completion of such a document remains essential for guiding the development of the remaining IEMP modules as well as any future upgrades.

NASA concurred with GAO's recommendations and detailed steps it is already taking to address existing gaps and potential problems. NASA Deputy Administrator Shana Dale focused especially on what the agency has done to improve the requirements development process, from using software to conduct reviews and solicit feedback from stakeholders to creating an advisory body to recommend and prioritize requirements.

Dale wrote that despite the improvements that have been made, NASA recognizes the need to cohesively document existing policy and guidance, and aims to complete that documentation by December.

NASA agreed that establishing a concept of operations must be a priority. Dale said the process will be lengthy "due to the need to engage all functional organizations owning business systems (and their customers) in the development of this important document."

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.