NASA uses multiple methods, processes and entities for monitoring and evaluating performance. These same procedures will be used for activities funded under the Recovery Act. NASA programs are assessed for relevance, quality, and performance. A relevance review assures alignment with national priorities, the NASA Strategic Plan, impact on related fields of research or technology, and “customer” needs. Determining quality is 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 NASA. 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 mission organizations to review programs for relevance, quality and performance. Reviews are rigorous, methodical and focused on program methods, results and findings.
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, 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, 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.
Specific to the Aeronautics Research Program is also the conduct of six-month and annual reviews of the performance of the programs, with subject matter experts participating in the annual reviews. All findings and recommendations are documented. The Aeronautics Committee of the NAC provides annual input reflecting community opinions and recommendations. This information is used to assess progress toward meeting long-range outcomes, develop risk mitigation strategies, adjust priorities, make additional resource allocation, or take other management actions.
Regarding program partners, the Aeronautics Research Program maintains an extensive, competitive process using NASA Research Announcements (NRAs) to solicit proposals from educational institutions, non-profit organizations and industry engaged in foundational research. Details on the NRA process can be found at http://www.aeronautics.nasa.gov. When NASA Aeronautics works with government partners, the respective agencies are accountable for cost, schedule and performance results; reviews occur routinely between and among all parties to ensure commitments are delivered on schedule and within budget.
* The NASA Online Directives Information System Library ensures access by NASA employees and contractors to the most current documentation.