Assessments of Selected Large-Scale Projects

April 17, 2013

What GAO Found

The performance of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) portfolio of major projects has improved in the areas of cost and schedule growth since GAO’s first assessment in 2009. Average development cost growth and schedule delay for the current portfolio have decreased to about a third of their 2009 levels.

These figures exclude the cost and schedule growth of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), NASA’s most expensive science project, in part because of its disproportionate effect on the portfolio average. Including the JWST in the calculation would increase the 2013 portfolio’s average development cost growth from 3.9 percent to 46.4 percent and would double the average launch delay, from 4 to 8 months and obscure the progress the rest of the portfolio has made toward maintaining cost and schedule baselines. Of the 12 projects in implementation, 9 reported no development cost growth and or launch schedule delay in the past year, but 2 of these are currently facing cost and/or schedule pressures. Three projects reported development cost growth or a launch delay, but for two projects the impetus was outside of the project's direct control.

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