This week, the General Accountability Office (GAO) released a report requested by Science Committee Chairman Bart Gordon on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) lack of monitoring and control over their $35 billion of property, plant, and equipment. NASA has reported a loss of over $94 million in equipment in the last ten years.

The GAO noted that they have reported on NASA’s lack of property control “for years” and that NASA themselves undertook an internal study but “instead of tightening controls, as recommended by the agency's 2002 equipment loss study, when faced with equipment losses, NASA raised its threshold for tracking and controlling nonsensitive equipment items from $1,000 to $5,000. This essentially eliminated control over all nonsensitive equipment costing less than $5,000.”

The GAO report explains that “NASA management was unresponsive to prior equipment management recommendations, frequently did not investigate equipment losses, and was reluctant to hold employees accountable for loss” citing the following examples:

examples of NASA equipment loss

Chairman Gordon released the following statement on the report:

NASA Needs to Do a Better Job Managing Its Assets

“At a time when Congressional supporters are fighting hard to get NASA the resources it needs to carry out its missions, it's troubling to learn from the GAO that NASA 'frequently did not investigate equipment losses and was reluctant to hold employees accountable for loss,'” said Chairman Gordon. “That's unacceptable. NASA needs to do a better job managing its property and equipment.”

The GAO report, which was released yesterday, also notes that NASA expects its property management system modernization effort to improve agency controls over property and equipment. However, GAO cautioned that: “NASA cannot rely on technology alone to solve its equipment management problems. These problems are deeply rooted in an agency culture that does not demand accountability or fully recognize the value of effectively managing government assets.”

“I expect all of our federal agencies to be good stewards of the resources they're given, and NASA should be no exception. This GAO review will be very helpful to the Committee in our ongoing oversight of NASA, and we will continue to pursue this and related issues in the months ahead,” concluded Gordon.

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House Democrats are committed to conducting vigorous oversight, already passing legislation to clean up government contracting abuses and 'no bid' contracts that companies like Halliburton and KBR have made infamous, strengthening protections for government whistleblowers who expose fraud or safety concerns, protecting the public's right to know by strengthening the Freedom of Information Act, and restoring “checks and balances” oversight by investigating the military health care crisis, Iraq and Hurricane Katrina reconstruction, and the firing of U.S. Attorneys. Learn more about the Science Committee’s investigations>>