Author Topic: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract  (Read 31370 times)

Offline freddo411

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Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
« Reply #220 on: 10/27/2018 05:19 AM »
...
Shannon's op-ed on the IG report showed up on the SpaceNews site.  He talks mostly about achievements from 50 years ago and popular films (?!) featuring astronauts instead of addressing the report.  When he does address the report, Shannon speaks in generalities and sweeps specifics under the rug when he should be humbly and directly explaining how Boeing has addressed each issue in the report and what Boeing is going to do beyond the report's recommendations to put and keep the SLS program on track.  Tone deaf, in my opinion, and exactly what Boeing does not need in terms of leadership on this program at this time.

https://spacenews.com/op-ed-a-bright-future-for-sls-production/

Boeing needs an experienced and proven development A-team on this program soon, or they're eventually going to lose it.  Shannon brings operational experience and knowledge of NASA HSF that Boeing should retain.  But based on the IG report and this op-ed, he should not be calling the shots on SLS anymore.



Shannon opines:
Quote
[SLS is] the only rocket capable of transporting astronauts and large exploration systems to deep space.

LOL.  Sounds like the author has been lost in space for a while. He's confused the already flying Falcon Heavy with the hasn't-flown-yet, after a decade of development, SLS.   Can't sweep development problems under the rug as "old news" if the rocket hasn't flown.

File this op-ed under:  COUNTER FACTUAL

Offline john smith 19

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Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
« Reply #221 on: 10/27/2018 11:06 AM »

 MSFC liquid engine expertise is most needed on transfer stages, not ETO launchers. 
So that's what they do. I'd wondered.
Quote from: UltraViolet9
3) If by "industrial base", we mean "military industrial base", that is not in NASA's charter and is a fool's errand anyway when we compare the size of NASA's budget to the DOD budget.  For example, if we need to maintain the solid rocket base for future Minuteman replacements, then DOD should give NG/ATK a contract to build Minuteman replacements, not rely on NASA to maintain that capability through the SRBs.
I think it's also the Trident replacement as well.

On another thread I asked if they could just cast a bunch of SRBs and store them vertically in a set of big holes bored into the ground (SoP for ICBMS on land or sea) and was told "No, because the mix would slump over time".

I'm not sure there's any commonality between SRB and ICBM propellants and not much in their construction.

I guess it's like when Shuttle went away the price of RL10's went up because it no longer "Shared cost" with DoD programmes, despite the fact AFAIK an RL10 has never even flown on a Shuttle (although there were certainly plans to do so, and it would have been very impressive).

For an outsider a lot of the NASA decisions make no sense (SLS is a service contract? This seems to have more to do with making it impossible for NASA to recover fees paid than any actual logical reason).
BFS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of flying in Earth and Mars atmospheres. BFR. The worlds biggest Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured booster for BFS. First flight to Mars by end of 2022. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. Believe no one. Run your own numbers. So, you are going to Mars to start a better life? Picture it in your mind. Now say what it is out loud.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
« Reply #222 on: 10/27/2018 11:13 AM »
And by put in charge, that means they report to the development and technology directorate at HQ, not to the directors of the centers where they are located.  Where necessary, these managers also need to bring in some proven procurement and accounting personnel that they can rely on.
This, right here, I think is a key  reason why multiple programmes have hit trouble and SLS is hitting trouble. NASA really seems to have a problem with hearing bad news as you move further up the management chain.

Quote from: UltraViolet9
The case for termination is only stronger now that the gross mismanagement of SLS is coming into focus.  There's never been a solid case that the program was worth pursuing, but there is certainly a solid case now for cancelling it.
True, but that needs Congress to actually agree with that line of reasoning.

And since they are a major driver for its inception they won't, barring a major change in the chairmanships of the key committees that (supposedly) regulate NASA and US Space policy.
BFS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of flying in Earth and Mars atmospheres. BFR. The worlds biggest Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured booster for BFS. First flight to Mars by end of 2022. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. Believe no one. Run your own numbers. So, you are going to Mars to start a better life? Picture it in your mind. Now say what it is out loud.

Offline ZachF

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Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
« Reply #223 on: 10/27/2018 04:16 PM »
A couple of points: Eisenhower had originally intended to say "military industrial congressional complex."  He was talked out of including "congressional" in his speech.
Oh certainly. Congress is a critical part of the “military-industrial complex”, that has always been my understanding, and I think most people would agree. Congress, NASA/DoD, and Contractors all benefit from their arrangement to our detriment.

However bad you think the modern military procurement system is, it's worse. After the cold war the entire industry has consolidated itself into a bunch of monopolies and duopolies that are "too big/important to fail" and have structured themselves to maximize revenue out of this broken system (fully leveraging their monopoly/duopoly/protected status) whilst applying minimal effort. "Bloat" doesn't even begin to describe it. It's not just the contractors and congress too, Generals who preside over bidding contracts very often go on to later work for the winners afterwards as high paid "consultants" when they retire.

The space industry is a close offshoot of this, often dealing with the same usual suspects, so the fact that they exhibit the same symptoms/problems is not surprising.

 
« Last Edit: 10/27/2018 04:23 PM by ZachF »

Offline Proponent

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Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
« Reply #224 on: 10/27/2018 08:01 PM »
Does anyone know whether the OIG's report got a mention at the just-concluded 2018 von Braun Symposium?  I wouldn't expect that forum to produce much overt criticism of SLS, but occasionally interesting nuggets are unintentionally revealing.
« Last Edit: 10/28/2018 01:49 AM by Proponent »

Offline Propylox

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Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
« Reply #225 on: 10/28/2018 01:58 AM »
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earned_value_management

Earned value management (EVM) is earned value management.  There's no unique context here requiring a different application in SLS or at NASA. ..
..Even without EVM data, just based on publicly available information, we now know that SLS is in this worst-of-all-worlds, being both behind on value and over budget. 

SLS is years behind schedule.  That means SLS is behind on value. ..
Wanted to point out and thank you for these two great posts analyzing the management failure and solutions.
..
2) If we are serious about deep space exploration with humans, then the US human space flight base needs to reorient from ETO and Earth orbit towards deep space.  JSC mission expertise is needed most on long-duration mission, lander, and surface stages, not ETO capsules.  MSFC liquid engine expertise is most needed on transfer stages, not ETO launchers.  KSC cryogenic expertise is most needed on long-duration propellant storage in space, not fueling ETO launchers.  LaRC entry and descent expertise is most needed for bigger landers at Mars, not capsules in Earth's atmosphere.  GRC at some point needs to develop and test some deep space power sources at an appropriate scale.  There are scores of things that the NASA HSF workforce and budget need to do if we're serious about deep space exploration with humans and could do if so much talent and money wasn't being expended on SLS and Orion. ..
I believe this is a truth across NASA in general - excessive waste on individual projects that constricts or even eliminates funding for essential ones. The claimed solution has long been to increase NASA funding, but there's no assertion that funding will be effectively used.
I'm not suggesting terminating SLS, Orion or ISS to free budget space, but suggesting NASA's guardianship and successes in US spaceflight would be significantly enhanced if the Administration and Programs were effectively managed. Our lack of spaceflight capability or its future is the result of incompetence, not funding or infrastructure.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
« Reply #226 on: 10/28/2018 08:14 AM »
I'm not suggesting terminating SLS, Orion or ISS to free budget space, but suggesting NASA's guardianship and successes in US spaceflight would be significantly enhanced if the Administration and Programs were effectively managed. Our lack of spaceflight capability or its future is the result of incompetence, not funding or infrastructure.
I think your remarks need some qualification.

By "lack of spaceflight capability" you mean lack of human spaceflight capability owned, designed and operated by NASA. The US has Atlas V, F9, Antares, Pegasus and Electron (off the top of my head) to use for payload launch.

And let's keep in mind Commercial Crew has taken so much longer than Commercial Cargo because it was done as a cost plus, FAR23 programme and the US Congress has consistently funded it below requested levels (while consistently funding SLS at or above requested levels).

It's been pointed out on numerous occasions that removing budget from one NASA item does not mean it would "Freed up" for use on other items. It would simply be spent (by Congress) on something else. It could be on another NASA programme, it could just as easily be something entirely different.

BFS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of flying in Earth and Mars atmospheres. BFR. The worlds biggest Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured booster for BFS. First flight to Mars by end of 2022. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. Believe no one. Run your own numbers. So, you are going to Mars to start a better life? Picture it in your mind. Now say what it is out loud.

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
« Reply #227 on: 10/28/2018 02:47 PM »
I'm not suggesting terminating SLS, Orion or ISS to free budget space, but suggesting NASA's guardianship and successes in US spaceflight would be significantly enhanced if the Administration and Programs were effectively managed.

Everything starts with the requirements for a product or service, and if the requirements are poorly defined or incomplete, then it doesn't matter whether you have your A team managing the program, there will be problems - and they may not be fixable.

I have no doubt that NASA and Boeing will eventually be able to build and fly a safe SLS rocket. But the root cause for the problems the OIG found were in the initial requirements, and people keep forgetting that. Congress designed the SLS, not NASA or Boeing, and Congress did not care what the ultimate cost or schedule of the SLS should be.

Those are horrible requirements for an expensive program to start with. Absolutely horrible.

And it wasn't just the design of the SLS that was poorly defined, but the need for it too. Because when there are questions about poorly defined requirements, the best way to know how to answer them is to look to the intended use, but so far Congress has not funded any uses for the SLS. Which is likely part of the reason why the upper stage has bounced around so much between the ICPS and the EUS - no one knew what the first needs would be.

Quote
Our lack of spaceflight capability or its future is the result of incompetence, not funding or infrastructure.

NASA and ULA have both produced studies that show we don't need an HLLV to support robust human exploration of our Moon and even Mars. All we need is commodity transport from Earth to space, and then in-space refueling capabilities - neither of which the SLS provides or supports.

So always start with what the requirements are, don't start with a solution to an unknown requirement - which is what the SLS is.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline incoming

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Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
« Reply #228 on: 11/02/2018 03:17 PM »
... many of the woes of the SLS program were born out of the chaos that the program emerged from, and I think the IG report fails to adequately highlight those factors.

From 2008 to 2010 the constellation program continued development in an environment where, depending on who they listened to (both within and external to the agency), they were either cancelled and going away, or legally required to continue their work.

While well-intentioned, I don't think anyone should buy into this line of reasoning.  Constellation was broken.  NASA and its Constellation contractors were given a golden opportunity to fix that with SLS and Orion.  They've had over half a decade to do so.  And they have not.

I concede the point that NASA and (at least some of) the contractors have not sufficiently fixed the core program and acquisition management issues that plagued previous programs, and that are rampant across the defense and space industry. I never intended anything to the contrary. My only intent was to point out that there was a non-trivial factor that contributed to the SLS program issues that was not addressed in the IG report, nor in any other reports I've seen by GAO, etc.   

The reason why it is important is because any future program or any change to the existing program needs can't be ignorant to massive impacts the policy and budgetary environments have on the success of the program. I realize this isn't the policy forum so I'll stop there - and if you want we can start another thread in that forum to debate that point.

The post-augustine plan that emerged from the administration appeared to be sufficiently unresponsive to the commission's recommendations

The Augustine report basically said either change what you're doing or boost the overall NASA budget by several billion dollars per year if you want to stay the course on Constellation.


No...you are trivializing the findings. Augustine said NASA needed a couple of billion dollars a year more to do ANY meaningful BLEO exploration program. The option that appeared most favored (I recognize this is a debatable point) featuring extension of ISS and a combination of commercial vehicles to service ISS and a SHLLV for deep space exploration with a variety of possible destinations. The Obama administration took the first part but punted on the SHLLV, presumably to avoid the extra few billion increase. The NASA 2010 auth added back in the SHLLV and the extra money to go with it.  Then the PBR came in low again for the exploration programs, and congress plussed it back up for the first year, largely tracking to the authorization.  Then sequestration hit, and thus my earlier part about the policy environment...

As confirmation of their fears the budget that came out of OMB bared no resemblance to the funding profile the programs needed and submitted.

We don't know that.  Agency budget submissions to OMB are embargoed.  We don't know what budget estimates the NASA OCFO sends to OMB on behalf of the Administrator each fiscal year.
.
.
.
In short, anyone high enough in NASA or the Administration to have the full and accurate picture of the agency's annual budget submission to OMB is unlikely to share it with Congress. 
We may have to agree to disagree on this, especially during the previous administration when the submits from the program managers bared no resemblance to what they got in the passback from OMB. It is normal for congress to check with constituent stakeholders to attempt to get "ground truth" on what is needed to execute their priorities. But that got taken to a whole new level in the previous administration. I'm sure part if it is due to puts and takes at the directorate level, OCFO level, and at the OMB level - but at the end of the day no one could credibly defend the PBR as a realistic plan to execute the programs per the guidance and objectives stated in law. So it just became standard practice for congress to discard the PBR and try to find out as best they could what the real numbers were. And that's what puts the programs in such awkward positions and keeps them from converging on a plan until well into the year of execution - especially when they start under a CR - and that uncertainty has non-trivial impacts on the ability to execute a program efficiently, even IF the program was well managed in all other regards.

 
... can you imagine trying to effectively manage a program in the policy environment from the past decade or so?  While it doesn't excuse it, it certainly helps explain situations like the mutli-year undefinitized contract for the core stage.

It doesn't explain it.  In 2010, there was a tug-of-war between the executive and legislative over the fiscal year 2011 budget.  That largely ended in mid-October when the President signed the 2010 NASA Authorization Act.

It most certainly did not.  The "tug-of-war" continued over these programs into the Obama administration's second term.

Offline incoming

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Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
« Reply #229 on: 11/02/2018 03:23 PM »

And let's keep in mind Commercial Crew has taken so much longer than Commercial Cargo because it was done as a cost plus, FAR23 programme and the US Congress has consistently funded it below requested levels (while consistently funding SLS at or above requested levels).


No it wasn't. Commercial crew has been fixed-price since the beginning, with the exception of a few minor items (extremely minor in terms of contract value) that were done cost-plus...a few data deliverables IIRC. 

Offline Jim

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Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
« Reply #230 on: 11/02/2018 05:21 PM »

I guess it's like when Shuttle went away the price of RL10's went up because it no longer "Shared cost" with DoD programmes, despite the fact AFAIK an RL10 has never even flown on a Shuttle (although there were certainly plans to do so, and it would have been very impressive).


No, it is not.  It has nothing do with flying on the shuttle, it has to do with sharing the overhead of hydrolox experience base.  The shuttle subsidized a lot of it.

Offline ncb1397

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Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
« Reply #231 on: 11/02/2018 07:55 PM »

And let's keep in mind Commercial Crew has taken so much longer than Commercial Cargo because it was done as a cost plus, FAR23 programme and the US Congress has consistently funded it below requested levels (while consistently funding SLS at or above requested levels).


No it wasn't. Commercial crew has been fixed-price since the beginning, with the exception of a few minor items (extremely minor in terms of contract value) that were done cost-plus...a few data deliverables IIRC.

Kind of. The pricing for 2021 on has not be set. They can recoup any loses and take their pound of flesh profit at that point. NASA subsidizes companies, companies don't subsidize NASA.
« Last Edit: 11/02/2018 07:59 PM by ncb1397 »

Online FutureSpaceTourist

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Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
« Reply #232 on: 11/05/2018 06:25 PM »
Groundhog Day (almost, I assume whole programme not ‘just’ Boeing aspects):

https://twitter.com/nasaoig/status/1059518688284626945
« Last Edit: 11/05/2018 06:26 PM by FutureSpaceTourist »

Offline docmordrid

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Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
« Reply #233 on: 11/06/2018 10:56 PM »
Groundhog Day (almost, I assume whole programme not ‘just’ Boeing aspects):

https://twitter.com/nasaoig/status/1059518688284626945

@nasaoig
OIG announces an audit to assess NASA’s efforts to manage the Space Launch System program costs and contracts.
« Last Edit: 11/06/2018 10:57 PM by docmordrid »
DM

Offline woods170

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Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
« Reply #234 on: 11/07/2018 06:48 AM »
Groundhog Day (almost, I assume whole programme not ‘just’ Boeing aspects):

https://twitter.com/nasaoig/status/1059518688284626945

Let's hope so. Even if OIG will be half as harsh as they were to Boeing (in the latest report) there will be a bloodbath at NASA.

Not that it will make any difference ultimately. SLS has just too much support from US Congress.

Offline john smith 19

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Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
« Reply #235 on: 11/10/2018 09:19 AM »
Let's hope so. Even if OIG will be half as harsh as they were to Boeing (in the latest report) there will should be a bloodbath at NASA.
FTFY
Quote from: woods170
Not that it will make any difference ultimately. SLS has just too much support from US Congress.
True.  :(
BFS. The worlds first Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured A380 sized aerospaceplane tail sitter capable of flying in Earth and Mars atmospheres. BFR. The worlds biggest Methane fueled FFORSC engined CFRP structured booster for BFS. First flight to Mars by end of 2022. Forward looking statements. T&C apply. Believe no one. Run your own numbers. So, you are going to Mars to start a better life? Picture it in your mind. Now say what it is out loud.

Offline speedevil

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Re: OIG report on NASA management of Boeing SLS contract
« Reply #236 on: 11/10/2018 01:22 PM »
I was looking for when the OIG investigation in this thread was announced, to get an idea of how long it took, to see how long the recently reported investigation into NASA managment might take and found:
https://mobile.twitter.com/NASAOIG/status/986350610344808449?p=v]on twitter
Quote from: NASAOIG
OIG announces an audit assessing NASA’s management of the Space Launch System and Mobile Launcher.
On April 17th, with no similar announcements around that date.
Checking back on the OIG report of this thread, I find that on page 32, it says it began in April.

It seems this is "Part 1" - covering largely Boeing - the phrase "mobile launcher" occurs once in passing in the report.

So, the nine months or so is probably not very useful for working out if we should expect a report from the most recent announcement in summer.

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