NASA uses multiple methods, processes, and entities for monitoring and evaluating its performance. These same processes and procedures will be used for activities funded under the Recovery Act. NASA’s programs are assessed for relevance, quality, and performance. A relevance review assures alignment with national priorities; alignment with the NASA Strategic Plan; impact on related fields of research or technology; and alignment with “customer” (users of NASA data, research results, etc.) needs. Determining quality is generally prospective and assures best value for an investment, using peer review processes. Performance reviews evaluate whether a program is on track to meet its baseline performance commitments (cost, schedule, science/technical deliverable).
Reviews are conducted internal and external to the Agency. External evaluations are performed by entities such as the NASA Advisory Council (NAC) and the National Research Council to assess NASA’s program content and direction. Additional independent reviews are commissioned by the NASA Administrator or responsible mission organization to review programs for relevance and quality, as well as performance. Reviews are rigorous and methodical and focused on the program’s methods, results, and findings by others in the field with requisite expertise, and independence.
Responsibility for program and project management and their control mechanisms (NASA Procedural Requirements (NPR) 7120 series)*, institutional management (NPR 8500 series)*, and financial management (NPR 9010 and 9120 series)*, occurs at all management levels of the Agency. NASA's management monitors different aspects of program or institutional performance, at the highest Agency levels, and uses a rigorous structure of program and management reviews for Agency-level decisions. To continue through each phase of development, programs must demonstrate, on an on-going basis and at key life cycle junctures, an ability to manage in a manner that produces identifiable results, and must document performance against previously defined commitments including multi-year outputs, annual performance goals, milestones and other metrics, as appropriate.
NASA internally monitors performance through monthly and quarterly reviews, at each management level. At the senior management level, program reviews, accompanied by an independent (internal) assessment, occur across all mission areas (aeronautics, science, space operations and exploration systems), with an in-depth review each quarter rotating among the mission organizations. Senior management also reviews institutional data (finance, human capital, acquisition, infrastructure), and aggregated Agency measures and metrics, e.g., safety, cross-cutting technical and non-technical issues. The data reviewed, and the accompanying analysis, allows the Agency to focus on, and proactively address, issues that could lead to not achieving desired performance goals.
Specifically, the Constellation Systems Program measures progress through the use of an Earned Value Measurement System (EVMS), which is applied across all projects. Contractors are also required to have an EVMS and submit monthly EVM data. In addition, program performance information is reviewed through monthly and quarterly progress reports, Agency level non-advocate programmatic reviews, and program and project level technical reviews, as fits Agency standard process outlined above.
Constellation will collect a wide range of cost and schedule data in addition to these reviews to assess whether projects are able to meet milestones and deliverables, and make management decisions as appropriate to meet performance goals. Constellation managers are held accountable for cost, schedule, and performance. Contract incentives are planned for Constellation contracts related to cost and schedule performance.