NASA Desperately Needs Road Map to Manage Aging Assets

Sep 20, 2013

Washington, D.C. – The Subcommittee on Space today held a hearing on NASA’s efforts to manage its facilities and infrastructure, and examined proposed legislation to provide the agency greater flexibility. A 2012 study conducted by NASA estimated that the agency may have as many as 865 unneeded facilities, with maintenance costs of over $24 million a year. 

Space Subcommittee Chairman Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.): “NASA will continue to face challenges with right-sizing its infrastructure as long as it does not have a coherent and consistent roadmap for exploration. Since 2005, Congress has provided consistent guidance on how NASA should develop such a roadmap as well as the necessary funding on a go-as-you-can-pay basis. Despite our efforts, OMB and the recent Administration have chosen to divert resources from exploration to other efforts.  The President’s 2009 cut of $1 billion from the exploration budget, and the roughly 45 percent increase in the Earth Science budget since 2007 are just a few examples. Until the Administration allows NASA to develop a coherent exploration strategy, rather than pushing NASA toward costly, complex and controversial distractions such as the Administration’s asteroid proposals, NASA will never know what infrastructure and facilities it actually needs.”

According to NASA’s own study, the agency has a backlog of nearly $2.2 billion in deferred maintenance. NASA is the ninth largest real property holder in the federal government. However, nearly 80 percent of the agency’s facilities are 40 or more years old.

In order to better manage its infrastructure and facilities, NASA has established an Agency Master Plan to align its infrastructure with its mission and set up a Technical Capabilities Assessment Study to identify and evaluate Center capabilities against Agency needs.  Also, various Centers are implementing innovative ways to address these infrastructure challenges, such as the Langley 20 Year revitalization plan to right-size the Center’s facilities and bring about greater efficiencies. 

Witnesses today discussed how NASA is using its existing authorities and if additional authorities are necessary.  They also examined whether agency oversight is sufficient to ensure fairness and protect taxpayer investments. Members weighed in on several NASA infrastructure issues such as the Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A, the Johnson Space Center’s Arc Jet facility, and the Santa Susanna Field Laboratory. 

The following witnesses testified today:

The Honorable Paul K. Martin, Inspector General, National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Mr. Richard Keegan, Associate Deputy Administrator, National Aeronautics and Space Administration

For more information about today’s hearing, including witness testimony, please visit the Science, Space, and Technology Committee website.