The space race between private companies continues with actor William Shatner flying to the edge of space on Blue Origin’s New Shepard 4 vehicle and SpaceX recently sending a civilian crew to space. While the competition between Blue Origin and SpaceX heats up, NASA is taking a back seat as it faces billions of dollars in project overruns.
While the National Aeronautics and Space Administration manages $40 billion in facility assets, more than 75 percent of it is beyond its design life and NASA faces a deferred maintenance backlog of $2.7 billion as of 2020, according to a recent report on cost overruns from NASA Office of Inspector General.
The IG reviewed 20 construction projects and found that six had “significant cost overruns” and 16 took or will take longer to complete than initially planned.
It looked at six projects at Glenn Research Center, Kennedy Space Center and Langley Research Center “that were significantly over budget as of June 2021.”
Cost increases ranged from $2.2 million for upgrades at Glenn to $36.6 million for repairs and modifications at Kennedy, the report found.
The increased costs for two of the projects were attributed to changing requirements, while contract prices for four others were either higher than originally estimated or resulted from disagreements between NASA and the contractor, the IG report found.
NASA didn’t provide effective oversight to determine whether the projects met cost, schedule and performance goals, the report found.
A second NASA IG report estimated that delays from the Covid-19 pandemic cost nearly $3 billion.
Pandemic delays aside, NASA’s cost overruns can’t be accepted as the norm when private industry is passing up our taxpayer-funded space program almost daily.
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