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Cristina Chaplain, Friday, 8-3-12 August 4, 2012

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Cristina Chaplain, Friday, 8-3-12


Guest:  Cristina Chaplain.  Topics:  Government Accountability Office (GAO) and its work for DOD military space, the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), and NASA.  You are invited to comment, ask questions, and discuss the Space Show program/guest(s) on the Space Show blog, https://thespaceshow.wordpress.com. Comments, questions, and any discussion must be relevant and applicable to Space Show programming. Transcripts of Space Show programs are not permitted without prior written consent from The Space Show (even if for personal use) & are a violation of the Space Show copyright. We welcomed Cristina Chaplain to the program to discuss with us how the GAO works and what it does for space and NASA along with the DOD and MDA at the request of Congress.  Ms. Chaplain started with an overview of the GAO, its Congressional mandate followed by the use of examples to illustrate how the GAO operates.  Our guest referenced the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), NASA programming, & the fact that GAO investigations/audits are meant to answer the specific question being asked by Congress.  As you will hear during the show, this is important because the organization only addresses the question being asked regardless of it being the right question.  Make sure you note this discussion as it will likely impact how you process news reports about GAO reports in areas that interest you.  My suggestion is to go directly to the GAO website, www.gao.gov, find the report in question, then check to see what the GAO is answering in terms of the mandate given them by Congress.  During our initial segment, we discussed, the GAO Cost Estimating Guide and their Best Practices Guide. Cristina talked about the new EELV July 2012 study, EVOLVED EXPENDABLE LAUNCH VEHICLE: DOD Is Addressing Knowledge Gaps in Its New Acquisition Strategy.  You can find this study at www.gao.gov/products/GAO-12-822. Ms. Chaplain also talked about the Bid Protest process, then I asked about GAO audits/investigations & about the new private space companies, SpaceX and the emerging new industry.  I also inquired about GAO findings regarding the use of the FAR contract as opposed to the SAA.  This is a most interesting discussion & analysis.  Later in the segment, Cristina received a question about the GAO role in the DOD EELV block buy program and if they considered the impact on the competition.

In the second segment, we talked about Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) & the GAO analysis, conclusions & FY 13 budget cuts.  This led us to talking about mission and program goals & is the project in question meeting these goals.  Return to the Moon and Constellation came up as did the Shuttle cancellation, along with questions pertaining to the MDA.  Whistle blowing was an important part of these discussions. Our final topics included vertical integration, suppliers, quality control, and the SLS program.

Please post your comments/questions on The Space Show blog. If you want to email our guest, you can do so at chaplainc@gao.gov. You can also subscribe to GAO reports, including their specific space, defense, science & technology reports, www.gao.gov/subscribe/index.php.