Although NASA’s effort to replace the Hubble Space Telescope with the Webb telescope has run millions of dollars over budget, the inspector general did credit the agency for spending a $75 million Recovery Act grant wisely to speed along the project and keep 450 people employed.
Still, NASA’s overall financial and contract management got poor grades in several audits during Ms. Robinson’s tenure. “The agency’s cost-tracking processes cannot account for all conference-related costs and that planners did not consistently conduct required cost comparisons of possible conference sites,” one report from this month concluded.
An overview of NASA financial management in September concluded, “Consistently managing the agency’s science and space exploration projects to meet cost, schedule and performance goals has remained elusive.”
A report from April excoriated the agency for awarding a $42 million contract for energy savings at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, saying officials couldn’t verify the cost savings claimed by the contractor but nonetheless paid out the money.
Ms. Robinson will face equally daunting challenges at the Energy Department, which was battered during Secretary Steven Chu’s tenure for everything from poor security at nuclear laboratories to poor vetting of clean-energy loan recipients such as the Solyndra solar panel maker that later failed at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars to taxpayers.