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Results in Brief

The HST Program Office is reducing costs for science and satellite operations in line with anticipated budget reductions. Management initiated and planned specific actions to significantly reduce program costs by 2000. First, management has eliminated two planned servicing missions after 2003. The initiative will save about $104 million. Second, management plans to implement

a new operating system that will reduce contractor and about $30 million. Third, management plans to hold 2000 efficiencies and reduced civil service staff levels.

civil service staff. The initiative will save operating costs constant through Vision Management has also initiated continuous

improvement initiatives and developed performance metric data for the initiatives. (See Appendix B for a list of continuous improvement initiatives and performance metric data.)

Also,

grant researchers using the telescope are competitively selected and funded by NASA; therefore, sharing of program costs is not appropriate. Finally, program planning for HST servicing missions currently considers the full NASA cost of operations and savings.

Background

The HST program, a cooperative program between NASA and the European Space Agency, operates a long-lived, space-based observatory for the benefit of the international astronomical community. NASA designed and built the HST in the 1970's and 1980's. The HST became operational in 1990, when NASA deployed it in low-Earth orbit on Space Shuttle mission STS-31. The HST observes celestial objects at ultraviolet, visible, and near-infrared wavelengths.

The HST program receives support from two NASA contractors, the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy and Lockheed Missiles and Space Company. The Association operates the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) under a cost-plus-award-fee contract with NASA. The STScI, located at the Johns Hopkins University, Homewood Campus, Baltimore, Maryland, conducts and coordinates the science operations of the telescope. Science operations include evaluating grant proposals funded by the HST program, scheduling telescope time for grant researchers, assisting researchers in data collection and interpretation, and archiving data. Satellite operations are performed on-site at the Goddard Space Flight Center under a cost-plus- award-fee contract with Lockheed. Satellite operations include telemetry, flight operations, and initial science data transcription.

The HST has a modular design so that on subsequent Shuttle missions it could be recovered, have faulty or obsolete parts replaced with new and/or improved instruments, and released again. The HST is expected to continue operating through 2010 with scheduled servicing missions. The initial servicing mission occurred in 1993, a second occurred in 1997, a third will occur in 2000, and a fourth and final mission will occur in 2003.

Our review focused on the anticipated $134 million budget reduction for 2000 through 2007 and on the HST Program Office plans to reduce program costs in line with the reduced budgets.

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