NASA planned to get a new space launch system off the ground by 2017, but it doesn't have the $12 million to do it, a July 23 Government Accountability Office report says. The space agency is at high risk of missing its planned December 2017 test flight, the report says. Currently NASA is about $400 million short of funding for the project and NASA told the GAO there was a 90 percent chance of not hitting the launch date at this time.
NASA is spending more money than it should to maintain one of its software verification and validation facilities, leaving less funding to evaluate the software, a report by the space agency's inspector general found.
Due to an uptick in cyber attacks on the space agency's networks and web sites in recent years, the U.S. space agency launched a program to improve its cybersecurity and cut down on potential ways for hackers to get into its systems. A recent report by the NASA inspector general lauds the program's efforts, but notes that there's still room for more improvement.
A National Research Council report says NASA's current strategy won't result in a human landing on Mars anytime in the near future. To continue on its current path is to "invite failure, disillusionment, and the loss of the longstanding international perception that human spaceflight is something the United States does best," the June 4 report says.
A new rule would limit the amount contractors could charge the government for any of their employees' salaries under cost-reimbursement contracts. Currently contractors can charge back $487,000 for employee salaries, but the ceiling only applies to top senior executives. With the new Federal Acquisition Regulation rule, that limit would be expanded to all employees including scientists and engineers.
Thirty percent of U.S. citizens using social media to interact with the federal government sought to ask a question or a resolve a problem, with only 72 percent receiving a response from an agency, says a new report from J.D. Power.
The Homeland Security Department is working with NASA to use aerial radar to spot weaknesses in levees before they fail.
Under a bring your own device policy undergoing final approval at NASA, agency employees who opt in to the program may have to surrender their devices should they become compromised. "There could be the possibility that a device will have to be destroyed depending on what was on it," said John Sprague, enterprise applications service executive within NASA's office of the chief information officer.
Tools like ham radios that seem outdated still need to be part of disaster response plans, said Adrian Gardner, the Federal Emergency Management Agency's chief information officer.
The House Appropriations Committee approved a $52.9 billion fiscal 2015 Commerce, Science and Justice spending bill that would boost funding for NASA exploration of Mars. The bill (pdf) recommends $17.9 billion for NASA – about $250 million more than fiscal 2014 enacted levels and $435 million more than President Obama's request.