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’s 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” (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 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, quality, and performance. Reviews are rigorous, methodical and focused on program 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, 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 Astrophysics Program, monthly and quarterly reviews are conducted to gather and analyze performance data from all participating organizations (including contractors) and compare against expected baseline performance data. JWST, as an Astrophysics project, is subjected to all of the requirements of the program and will follow the above processes. JWST will be reviewed monthly for cost versus plan, schedule movement, mass and power margins, estimate to complete assessments, and available budget versus estimated costs remaining, often with the aid of earned value assessment. More detailed quarterly reviews are conducted for all space flight projects. This information is used to assess progress toward meeting long-term outcomes and goals, develop risk mitigation strategies, adjust priorities, and/or make resource allocations. Independent review for achieving performance outcomes will occur at major program milestones during development.
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