NASA’s Financials Can’t Be Audited Says GAO

GAO issues a report that says NASA does not have a financial management system in place that can be audited and that the current system lacks “basic functionality.”

To say that NASA still has a lot of work cut out for it to come up with a financial management system that would please the GAO is an understatement.

In Congressional testimony as well as a separate report, GAO blasted the agency’s new core financial management system, saying it has not addressed several of the agency’s most pressing management challenges. GAO asserts that the new NASA system lacks “basic functionality.”

Here are words from the summary of the GAO testimony that no agency head ever wants to hear: “NASA did not use the implementation of its new system as an opportunity to transform its operations and instead, automated many of its existing, ineffective processes. Compounding its existing problems, NASA also failed to recognize the importance and need for highly skilled, well-trained financial personnel. “

GAO also points out that unlike most other federal agencies, NASA’s financial statements remain unauditable. Labelling NASA’s overall progress toward a new, acceptable financial management system as “slow,” GAO nevertheless delivered faint praise when it said that “in some areas NASA is beginning to take steps toward improvements….To its credit, NASA has recognized the need to enhance the capabilities and improve the functioning of its core financial management system.”

GAO calls for leadership from the top to get the job done, along with “effective organizational alignment, strategic human capital management, and end-to-end business process reform.”

About the Author

Susan McGuire Smith spent most of her federal legal career with NASA, serving as Chief Counsel at Marshall Space Flight Center for 14 years. Her expertise is in government contracts, ethics, and personnel law.