Reading Time: 2 minutes

The cost of 13 projects at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration grew almost 55 percent, a combined increase of about $2.5 billion, because of poor oversight.

Over the past three years, General Accountability Office investigations have shown that NASA projects are frequently approved without evidence of a sound business case—like demonstrating a match between requirements and resources—which increases the cost and time of projects.

NASA currently does not provide cost and schedule information about the development phase to Congress. It only makes cost information public after projects have been formally approved.

The agency does not have criteria to assess the stability of a proposed project before letting it proceed to the next phases of NASA’s development process. GAO found that if design stability is not achieved and product development continues, costly re-designs and unforeseen challenges are more likely to occur.

“While NASA has undertaken several initiatives aimed at improving its acquisition management, the lack of transparency into the cost of projects in the early, critical phases of development leaves the Congress with incomplete knowledge to inform its oversight and ensure earlier accountability,” the GAO said.

FAST FACT: A launch vehicle and crew exploration vehicle, known as the Ares and Orion projects, spent over $9 billion combined since 2005 and 2006, but neither has been implemented. Another project, the James Webb Space Telescope, was authorized in 1999, reached implementation in 2008, and spent nearly $2 billion during those 9 years.

Following are other new watchdog reports released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), various federal Offices of Inspector General (OIG), and other government entities.


  • The Pentagon has a record number of private security contractors working in Afghanistan, 18,919 as of last December. Some private security contractors in Afghanistan have been linked to high-profile civilian shootings and have been accused of being insensitive to local customs and using excessive force. (Congressional Research Service)

Help support this work

Public Integrity doesn’t have paywalls and doesn’t accept advertising so that our investigative reporting can have the widest possible impact on addressing inequality in the U.S. Our work is possible thanks to support from people like you.