Elizabeth Robinson, the woman President Barack Obama has nominated to improve the efficiency of the Energy Department's contracting, spending and program management, allegedly had a track record of financial mismanagement at her previous job as NASA's chief financial officer.
According to The Washington Times
, NASA inspector general reports found that under Robinson's leadership, cost overruns at the agency grew six-fold from $50 million in 2009 to $315 million in 2012.
Changes in the agency's mission under Robinson also led to billions being spent on projects that were later cancelled, such as the Constellation Program and the Ares V launch vehicle, a cost to taxpayers of around $10 billion, according to the Times.
Meanwhile, audits conducted during Robinson's tenure as CEO showed that NASA spent an average of $66 per person per day for light refreshments at conferences, $1.5 million to develop a video game to replicate astronauts' experiences, and it reimbursed employees $1.4 million for tuition dating to 2006 for degrees unrelated to their NASA jobs, the Times reported.
NASA's inspector general also repeatedly gave the agency poor marks for efficiency during Robinson's tenure. A spring audit noted that the agency failed to keep track of spending on information technology security and could not account for all of its computer equipment.
The agency's overall financial and contract management also got poor ratings in several audits during Robinson's tenure, according to the Times.
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 have remained elusive."
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