The audit report "Weaknesses in Stennis Space Center’s Procurement of
High Pressure Valves," (IG-03-018) has been posted to the NASA Office
of Inspector General Web site at:

In August 1999, Stennis Space Center (Stennis) awarded a contract to
the Dresser Equipment Group (Dresser) to acquire high-pressure valves
for use at Stennis’ component test facility. The valves are critical
components of pressure systems that control liquid hydrogen, liquid
oxygen, gaseous hydrogen, and gaseous nitrogen used in testing rocket
engines at Stennis.

Results of Audit

We found serious weaknesses with Stennis’ management of the $2.5
million contract for 26 high-pressure valves. Stennis allowed design
changes to the valve specifications without Contracting Officer
approval and did not require Dresser to submit a subcontracting plan.
Stennis also did not perform technical, safety, or quality assurance
reviews. Stennis’ ineffective contract management resulted in late
deliveries, increased costs, and defective valves that jeopardized test
schedules for critical test articles, such as engines for the joint
NASA/Air Force Integrated Powerhead Demonstrator project and NASA’s 2nd
Generation Reusable Launch Vehicle Program. Specifically, Dresser
delivered all but 1 of the 26 valves late, and Stennis had incurred
about $229,000 in additional costs to rework 12 valves that were
accepted with known defects. Ultimately, engine testing was delayed 2-
1/2 months for the Integrated Powerhead Demonstrator project and 1
month for the 2nd Generation Reusable Launch Vehicle Program engine.


We recommended that Stennis (1) ensure that existing and future pressure
system contracts include specifications that are reviewed and approved
by appropriate quality, safety, and technical experts prior to contract
award; (2) coordinate all changes to contract terms and conditions with
Contracting Officers; and (3) consider the performance on this contract
before awarding the company any future contracts.

Management’s Response

Management concurred with the recommendations and initiated corrective
actions. We consider management’s planned or implemented actions