GAO finds that CASIS does not make full use of the Advisory Committee - SpaceNews

GAO finds that CASIS does not make full use of the Advisory Committee – SpaceNews

ARCADIA, California – The non-profit organization that runs the national laboratory part of the International Space Station does not make full use of the advisory group set up after an independent review of the organization.

A Report published by the Government Accountability Office on June 7 said that the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), which manages ISS resources assigned to a national laboratory, did not provide its Advisory User Committee (UAC) with information on how the lab was used or sought input. from the Resource Allocation Committee.

CASIS established UAC 2020 in response to tthe results of an independent review commissioned by NASA 2019 who sharply criticized the management of the ISS National Laboratory (ISSNL). One of the review’s recommendations was to create an advisory committee to act as a link between CASIS and the community of lab users.

The GAO review, requested by the management of the House Science Committee, found problems with how CASIS used the UAC with 35 people. “For example, the charter states that UAC shall prepare information that can be used to inform decisions about the ISSNL use portfolio,” the report states. “But CASI’s leadership has not received input from the UAC when deciding how to allocate resources across its areas of activity.”

CASIS said it has not sought input from UAC in part because it considered it unlikely that UAC could provide a consensus view among all lab users, an explanation that GAO rejected. “A potential lack of consensus from users does not prevent CASIS from obtaining information from its UAC,” it concluded. “Because different perspectives can inform decision-making, different inputs can improve CASIS leadership’s understanding of risks and opportunities in the ISSNL portfolio.”

UAC members said that although CASIS provides them with some information on how to allocate resources, it sought “greater transparency” such as the entire queue of payloads flying to the station. That information, they said, “would help users determine why planned resource allocations are changing, and help them better prepare for further changes in the future.”

CASIS said they had not provided that level of detail because the resource allocation process for payloads going to the station is “complex and fluid.” However, GAO concluded that NASA officials acknowledged that there was room for improvement.

GAO also raised concerns about the succession plan for the management of UAC, whose two-year term expires in November. In May, the report said, “CASIS and the UAC management had not set a time frame for completing the succession plan, or how the terms of current and new members will overlap.”

“Although the establishment of the UAC was a step in the right direction, CASIS has opportunities to further improve cooperation with ISSNL users by receiving input on resource allocation decisions,” the GAO report concluded. It recommended that NASA ensure that CASIS seeks input from UAC on resource allocation, provides more information on these allocations, and develops a succession plan for the committee.

NASA, in a response to GAO included in the report, accepted the recommendations in addition to one on access to the flight queue of payloads going to the ISS. Kathy Lueders, NASA’s Assistant Director of Space Operations, wrote that “visibility into the overall ISS flight queue is not possible until the ISS program has had time to evaluate the needs of the ISS as a whole, which can be changed on a flight-by-flight basis, near launch.”

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