NASA performance on right track

IG audit finds improvement in space agency's ability to track performance of projects

The NASA IG report

NASA has significantly improved its ability to track the performance of its programs, says an audit by the agency's inspector general.

The report reviewed 23 performance targets relating to six critical areas, including information technology, and auditors found that NASA's measures were adequate on 19 of the targets.

Under the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA), agencies are expected to focus on the results of projects. But many agencies have found it difficult to assess actual performance because they typically do not collect the data needed to make the comparison relevant.

In its report, "Audit of Validation and Verification of Selected NASA Fiscal Year 2000 Performance Data Related to the Government Performance and Results Act," the IG noted that "NASA overcame many of the learning hurdles associated with preparing [its] first report."

The audit further noted that the NASA chief financial officer — in requesting financial data — established a format requiring the agency to assign a GPRA official for each performance target.

"We believe that the prescribed reporting format led to improved narratives for the performance targets," the report stated.

Despite the improvements, however, the audit raised questions about the reliability of some of NASA's performance data. Four of the 23 performance targets proved to be unreliable. Therefore, the IG concluded that "the reported performance for some of the 188 targets not reviewed may also not be fully reliable."

The audit recommends that NASA validate the supporting data and develop clearer, more specific targets.

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