The audit report “NASA Oversight of United Space Alliance’s Safety
Procedures at the John F. Kennedy Space Center” (IG-02-018) has been
posted to the NASA Office of Inspector General Web site at:

United Space Alliance (USA), a joint venture of The Boeing Company and
Lockheed-Martin, is one of five prime contractors supporting the Space
Shuttle Program (SSP). USA is responsible for the contracted tasks
associated with the processing and flight preparation of the Space
Shuttle fleet. USA’s work affects the safety of NASA’s astronauts; the
Space Shuttle orbiters; and space flight personnel, hardware, and
equipment. The Space Shuttle Program Office located at the Lyndon B.
Johnson Space Center is responsible for managing the Space Flight
Operations Contract (SFOC) and the SSP. SSP operations occur primarily
at Johnson, the John F. Kennedy Space Center, and the George C.
Marshall Space Flight Center. We reviewed USA’s implementation of the
SFOC safety requirements for the SSP related to ground operations and
integrated logistics at Kennedy, as well as NASA’s oversight of USA’s
safety procedures.

Results of Audit

The safety responsibilities between USA and NASA were clear in that
NASA established all SSP safety requirements, USA implemented those
requirements through the SFOC, and NASA was fully responsible for the
safe launch of the Shuttle. However, Kennedy’s procedures for ensuring
that USA properly implemented those safety requirements were not the
same procedures defined in the SFOC. The SFOC states that NASA is to
provide direct safety oversight of all USA operations. Nevertheless,
Kennedy did not provide direct safety oversight of USA’s ground
operations but rather obtained insight into USA’s safety operations
through surveillance and audits. Further, Kennedy did not perform any
level of safety oversight for integrated logistics, a high-risk area
for injuries and mishaps. Implementing a level of oversight
contradicting that required by the SFOC could lead to lapses in safety
oversight, which increases the risk of harming personnel and damaging
Space Shuttle hardware.

Although USA had developed a detailed safety management system to
ensure compliance with NASA requirements for the safety of NASA’s
astronauts; the Space Shuttle orbiters; and space flight personnel,
hardware, and equipment, we identified two areas where USA can further
improve safety. USA inappropriately used ground support equipment
(GSE) at Kennedy prior to completing required analyses to ensure that
all hazards associated with the GSE were properly controlled.
Additionally, there was no evidence that USA performed some critical,
required safety procedures for a specific operation at Kennedy
involving payload removal from an orbiter vehicle. By using GSE prior
to completion of the analyses and by not performing all required safety
procedures for payload removal, USA may have increased the risk of harm
to personnel and Shuttle hardware.

NASA has planned six Space Shuttle flights to assemble the
International Space Station from June 2002 through April 2003.
Therefore, prompt management attention to all four areas is
particularly important to the safety and success of the SSP.


We recommended that NASA ensure that SFOC safety requirements and
Kennedy safety procedures are consistent. We also recommended that
NASA review USA processes for implementing SSP requirements related to
the approval and use of GSE in critical applications and ensure that
USA’s safety procedures for future payload installation and removal
operations are properly implemented and documented. Finally, we
recommended that NASA require the Kennedy Shuttle Processing
Directorate and Shuttle Safety Office to improve procedures for
ensuring that USA implements all safety requirements associated with
safety analyses and payload removals

Management’s Response

NASA concurred with five of the seven recommendations and has taken or
planned corrective actions that we consider responsive. Although NASA
nonconcurred with two recommendations, it has planned corrective
actions that we consider responsive.

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