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NASA's Finances in Disarray

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the once-the-money-goes-up-who-cares-where-it-comes-down dept.

Space 234

mwolff writes "Yahoo News has an article about the 'financial disarray' NASA seems to be in after a recent audit showed horrible documentation of funding. 'As NASA sets course for the moon and Mars, the space agency's finances are in disarray, with significant errors in its last financial statements and inadequate documentation for $565 billion posted to its accounts, its former auditor reported.'"

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234 comments

Excellent article on problems of c/c++ in regards (-1, Offtopic)

RIP BSD (779996) | more than 10 years ago | (#9159740)

Article Here [isdying.org]

Re:Excellent article on problems of c/c++ in regar (0, Offtopic)

hellraizr (694242) | more than 10 years ago | (#9159754)

do not click, site is a browser killer. opens thousands of popups.

Re:Excellent article on problems of c/c++ in regar (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9159765)

www.peoplesprimary.com?n=LRHRUKKY has a good popup blocker

Re:Excellent article on problems of c/c++ in regar (0, Offtopic)

ItMustBeEsoteric (732632) | more than 10 years ago | (#9159776)

I only wish I would have listened and not clicked the link...Even the venerable Firefox couldn't stop the onslaught.

Re:Excellent article on problems of c/c++ in regar (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9159787)

I'm runnning firefox .8 and got no pop ups? What are the pop ups to?

Re:Excellent article on problems of c/c++ in regar (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9159799)

Same here, .8, no popups :)

Re:Excellent article on problems of c/c++ in regar (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9159863)

In Soviet Russia, the popup ad blocks YOU!
Imagine a beowulf cluster of Popups!
I must be new here!

Re:Excellent article on problems of c/c++ in regar (-1, Flamebait)

nukey56 (455639) | more than 10 years ago | (#9159794)

I would have thought two naked guys was enough reason to turn the power off. You must have a higher filth-threshold than the rest of us.

Re:Excellent article on problems of c/c++ in regar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9159775)

Huh? I didn't see anything at all... in Lynx. :p

Good luck making a site that crashes _that_!

Re:Excellent article on problems of c/c++ in regar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9159825)

congrads, you looked my win98 system up when I opened a new tab in mozilla.

Question (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9159751)

Does this mean I won't be getting my flying car this year?

according to this... (-1, Troll)

lindsay felton (779998) | more than 10 years ago | (#9159793)

yes [circle.ch]

Re:according to this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9159803)

mod parent down, the link redirect you to some nasty picutes..

Re:Question (2, Funny)

mog007 (677810) | more than 10 years ago | (#9159889)

Sounds like those former CFOs from ENRON and Worldcom found a new job...

Obligitory NASA Joke (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9159752)

NASA = Need A Second Accountant!

Re:Obligitory NASA Joke (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9160135)

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Interesting related website more details (-1, Troll)

barenaked (711701) | more than 10 years ago | (#9159755)

Hmm.. while googling this I found www.peoplesprimary.com/?n=LRHbare

From the Article:
There were hundreds of millions of dollars of "unreconciled" funds and a $2 billion difference between what NASA said it had and what was actually in its accounts, which are held by the Treasury Department (news - web sites), PriceWaterhouseCoopers said in its report.

URL IS BAD! MOD PARENT DOWN! (2, Interesting)

Three Headed Man (765841) | more than 10 years ago | (#9159807)

It's for shitfaced lady and some other nasty offensive things.

So this won't be an entire waste of a post, the NASA stuff isn't surprising--my grandpa worked for NASA way back when, and the attitude was, "If we can get it in the, good. If we can get it in the air and make it stay within budget, they'll give us less money next time." This isn't an environment conducive to good bookkeeping.

Re:URL IS BAD! MOD PARENT DOWN! (2, Funny)

HBI (604924) | more than 10 years ago | (#9159834)

I clicked on it and I was pretty sure it was a candid shot of the NASA accounting department.

Re:Interesting related website more details (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9159811)

mod parent down! troll! link sends you to lots of nasty pictures...

Perhaps militarization is the solution (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9159759)

Why not make space, or at least the space around the earth, the same as the air: the space above a particular country belongs to that country, space above the international oceans is open to all. Thus it would be necessary to have other countries' permissions before orbiting anything over them, and issues like spying and weapons platforms would be somewhat marginalised. This would also allow each country to develop a space program as it saw fit in its own bit of space, or optionally to rent that space to others.

As I was writing in my blog [google.com] , as it is now, space seems a bit like the wild west - noone cares who they fly over, or what's orbiting above them, or whatever.

Likewise we should develop a method for dividing up the moon, mars etc. that is not based on present capabilities but on the likelihood that one day any nation will be capable of utilising these resources. Or better yet put them all under the total control of the UN, as things too big for one nation to claim for itself.

I'm not a US basher, but just because the US is powerful right now doesn't mean it should have total rights to everything it finds in space. I mean, by that logic the US itself would still be part of France and Britain.

Personally I wish there were more collaborative space exploration. Instead of 3 countries/consortiums sending a probe each to Mars, we could have a probe to Mars, one to Europa, and one to Venus.

On a political note [not for moderation]: America, the rest of the world is praying that you wake up and dump Bush this year. It may be 50:50 in the polls in the States, but from outside your continuing refusal to realise that he is a dangerous, incompetent, scheming, money grabbing, corrupt fool is increasingly alarming. Mod -100000 for flamebait, but that's how it is. Please realise though: I love the US, I just wish someone would drive it in the right (or should that be centre-left) direction.

BAD URL! MOD PARENT DOWN! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9159829)

As I was writing in my blog, as it is now, space seems a bit like the wild west - noone cares who they fly over, or what's orbiting above them, or whatever. Blog links to people's primary and that redirects to last measure.

Re:Perhaps militarization is the solution (4, Interesting)

voideng (656574) | more than 10 years ago | (#9159849)

Where to begin, your first proposal would require any country that wished to launch any kind of space craft to get permission from almost every country and a few rouge nations as well. To orbit anything in a non-meridian or non-geosynchronous would require treaties on the scale of the UN charter. Currently there are only 3 countries able to provide manned space flight and about a dozen launching satellites. If your proposal went into effect, Brazil would be the only country that would be able to get the paperwork done to launch anything. There is a treaty stating that the Moon does not belong to any country. It sounds like you're a US basher; at least everything you have recommended would be detrimental to the US and its allies. Also the US is not a colony because we revolted and kicked the British out, the rest we bought from France because they were busy loosing some war or another. Personally I wish we would start colonizing space, but that takes money, technology and resources we currently do not have. At the moment each of the space faring countries and respective consortiums are working together fairly well. Most of the groups have their space projects for the next 20 year fairly well planned out with minimal over lap, and where there is over lap, it seems to be for the higher risk projects. On a political note, we don't care what you think. The President of the United States is the business of the United States, if you don't like it petitions your government to end diplomatic relations with the United States (if you are allowed to do that in your country).

Re:Perhaps militarization is the solution (1)

tokachu(k) (780007) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160144)

I've heard arguments like this in films made back in 1957. They led to technological advances, and intense paranoia at the same time.

How about this: don't militarize, commercialize! After all, commercialization in the U.S. has been considerably more successful than militarization in Cuba. You can see that, can't you?

(On a side note, a guy watching Fox News told me he wanted our country [U.S.] to be more militant like China. I slapped him.)

4 of 5 orbital mechanics disagree... (5, Insightful)

code_rage (130128) | more than 10 years ago | (#9159869)

"Why not make space, or at least the space around the earth, the same as the air: the space above a particular country belongs to that country, space above the international oceans is open to all. Thus it would be necessary to have other countries' permissions before orbiting anything over them..."

This is completely impractical for everything except Geosynchronous satellites. Most satellites' orbits are designed to accomplish specific mission objectives, and if they happen to fly directly over (say) Burma, North Korea, or Zimbabwe that's just how it works. If you are interested in general orbit mechanics, you could consult Bate, Mueller and White's Fundamentals of Astrodynamics [doverpublications.com] . More specifics about orbit mission design are in Wertz and Larsen's Space Mission Analysis and Design [astrobooks.com] . Each is a classic.

Political problems: This would give every 2-penny tinpot dictator in the world license to put up a tollbooth in space. Should a scientific satellite that measures worldwide ocean wave heights have to get permission from said dictators to fly over their countries? How about search and rescue satellites? Telecommunications? GPS?

As to the issue of Moon resources... well I'm not too sure what sorts of treaties have been ratified, but I think it's a little early to worry about it. Even if there are tons of He-3 on the Moon we have no way to make use of it. Just about every other material resource on the moon (Al, O, Mg, etc) is in abundance on Earth. These resources will be useful for in-situ manufacturing, but economically not worth the candle here.

I can already hear the excuses (4, Funny)

General Sherman (614373) | more than 10 years ago | (#9159762)

NASA: "The 360 ate our paper tape"

Re:I can already hear the excuses (5, Funny)

hwoolery (443338) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160044)

"Damnit Johnson! We demoted you to finances officer after the metric conversion incident, and now our records are off by billions of dollars!"

"Dollars?!? Fiddlesticks! I was doing these damned reports in pesos!"

Re:I can already hear the excuses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9160051)

In soviet russia, NASA eats you!

Re:I can already hear the excuses (5, Informative)

Frymaster (171343) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160160)

NASA: "The 360 ate our paper tape"

don't laugh. the computer that nasa used for the moon landing had 74k of rom, only 4k of ram and no external storage whatsoever. despite that it ran a real, interrupt-driven, multi-user operating system and, most importantly, it go the job done.

my source is here [abc.net.au] .

this isn't suprising (0, Troll)

lindsay felton (779998) | more than 10 years ago | (#9159763)

This isn't the first time [netscape.com] this has happened. What do you expect from all the gross mispending of our tax money on shit like space elevators that hardly ever come to fruit? Sorry that this is somewhat a troll, but dammit, it really irks me.

Re:this isn't suprising (2, Insightful)

Raul654 (453029) | more than 10 years ago | (#9159784)

A space elevator could send up materials for a tiny fraction of what it costs now ($142/kilogram vs $40,000/kilogram [wikipedia.org] ) If a cooperation spent money looking into this as a serious possibility, it'd be called research and development and investors would flock to them. But because it's Nasa, it's a waste of taxpayer dollars.

Space elevater? (1)

LordoftheLemmings (773163) | more than 10 years ago | (#9159880)

How bout researching something a little more practible. Look at Burt Rutans space ship one. Useing non state of the art technology he will be launching a reusable space ship for a fraction of the price of any other space vehicles. It just shows you that we should get rid of NASA and start funding private companies.

Re:this isn't suprising (4, Informative)

Moofie (22272) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160069)

Serious possibility?

Do you have the vaguest notion what building a space elevator would entail? It's a GREAT idea. And when we have autonomous factories that can turn asteroids into carbon nanotubes, it's going to be the only way to fly.

But, for now, with our current level of technology, it is a non-starter.

Re:this isn't suprising (1)

astro-g (548659) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160233)

well, unless you want to make a steel cable thats what, 200km thick in the middle....

MOD PARENT DOWN!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9159789)

don't click the link - it will fill your screen with pr0n popups!!

MOD DOWN PLEASE! (1)

beeplet (735701) | more than 10 years ago | (#9159809)

Ok, someone didn't click the link before modding this informative. And I wish I hadn't either... Ew.

Re:MOD DOWN PLEASE! (1)

SupaMegaBuffalo (717226) | more than 10 years ago | (#9159828)

Same. How i wish we really did have something to stab people in the face over the internet.

Re:MOD DOWN PLEASE! (1)

Three Headed Man (765841) | more than 10 years ago | (#9159853)

This is a good reminder to check URL's before opening. Mozilla Firefox makes the websites *less* harmful, but not safe.

Re:this isn't suprising (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9159816)

What do you expect from all the gross mispending of our tax money on shit like space elevators that hardly ever come to fruit? Sorry that this is somewhat a troll, but dammit, it really irks me.

These are just electronic accounting anomolies because of NASA's new Integrated Financial Management system (which has the huge task of combining 10 completely different systems at the field centers into one agency-wide system for accounting). Everyone I know pretty much concludes it's a complete fuckup of a system and whoever designed it should be shot, however, in NASA's defense, this of course does NOT mean they overspent $565 billion. NASA's budget was around $15 billion this year so you can easily imagine that overspending by $550 billion is impossible. It's all accounting oddities, not actual monetary loss. Think of it as a learning curve.. NASA operates as 10+ distinct field centers that honestly have nothing in common except the name of the agency. They all fight for program dollars, all have their own management structure with their own agendas, and all fight to try to steal programs from other centers. It's really pathetic when you think about it. Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama is just about the worst when it comes to stealing programs from other centers IMHO. Oh yea, BTW, IFM is handled out of MSFC. It figures a bunch of backwoods hicks living in the asshole of America (Alabama) couldn't add and subtract numbers correctly. They get lost after they count to 20 and exhaust the number of fingers and toes they have so it's understandable that figures like $2 billion here or $3 billion there would utterly confound them.

Re:this isn't suprising (2, Insightful)

KnacTheMife (779539) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160073)

As someone who was born in the Huntsville area and currently works here, I have to take exception to some of this.

"It figures a bunch of backwoods hicks living in the asshole of America (Alabama) couldn't add and subtract numbers correctly. They get lost after they count to 20 and exhaust the number of fingers and toes they have so it's understandable that figures like $2 billion here or $3 billion there would utterly confound them."

This is not an accurate characterization of the whole state, nor of all it's citizens. While there is alot about this state that I don't like (ex. I'm agnostic and none too happy over this crap Roy Moore is trying to pull) it's not all bad. As evidence that your assesment might not be fair I submit check the following:

http://www.bizjournals.com/birmingham/stories/20 03 /05/05/daily50.html

http://www.waff.com/Global/story.asp?S=1863478&n av =0hBBN5Ba

As further evidence, I've got a pair of shoes! They're hanging from the power lines outside.

I'll grant you there is a lot of hicks here but Alabama hasn't exactly cornered the market. I've seen or seen pictures of (courtesy of friends in bands - and no not friggin country) poor crappy towns in almost every state in the continental US (and some in Canada).

Aside from that, not everyone that works at MSFC is a native of the state. If your going to assert hick management, you should at least be fair and blame it on the hicks and not necessarily the state.

I will admit however, that since NASA is a government agency, the IMF would be much better managed if it was handled in D.C. oh wait...

How do we get $565 billion with a small budget? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9159768)

So their annual budget this year is $14 billion or so.

Where does the $565 billion come from?

Re:How do we get $565 billion with a small budget? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9159940)

Holy crap, with $565 billion we would have reached the moon, mars, asteroids, mercury and perhaps venus.

Re:How do we get $565 billion with a small budget? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9160149)

Where does the $565 billion come from?

That's what the auditors are wondering.

Netcraft confirms: NASA is Dying (-1, Troll)

Noose For A Neck (610324) | more than 10 years ago | (#9159773)

oh Christ why do I even bother?

But really, doesn't this sound the least bit disturbing? I was an accounting intern at NASA a few summers ago when I was still in college, back when the Enron thing was going on, and I ran into almost universal disgust at how a large organization's accounting arm could be so unprofessional and dishonest. It's a shame that the exact same kind of behaviors like book cooking are now turning up at NASA. I guess things change over the years.

On the up side, Bush's mandate that they devote their entire budget to the Mars program pretty much guarantees their demise as a government agency, so we should be seeing this type of corruption and taxpayer theft going on for much longer. Not at NASA, at least.

Re:Netcraft confirms: NASA is Dying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9159843)

Careful of the link in his sig. Rather than make a million logged in posts, I'm going AC.

Re:Netcraft confirms: NASA is Dying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9159870)

Whoops, my bad. That's a link to people's primary.org not .com.

MOD PARENT DOWN! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9159926)

Pr0n alert! Don't follow the sig link.

Here's the solution (3, Interesting)

nate nice (672391) | more than 10 years ago | (#9159778)

Simply outsource the work to cheaper markets. I've heard China has really good aerospace engineers and programmers that will work at disproportional wages for the products market.

-How long till this is modded -1 Troll?

yea, well ... (1)

Triumph The Insult C (586706) | more than 10 years ago | (#9159840)

if their news media is anything to go by [kuro5hin.org] , maybe we should hold off on that for now ..

Re:yea, well ... (1)

nate nice (672391) | more than 10 years ago | (#9159874)

Yeah, China never really "got" that whole Liberal Arts thing. But man can they crack equations!

$565 billion an overestimate? (4, Insightful)

beeplet (735701) | more than 10 years ago | (#9159779)

From the article:

Under the new system, Ciganer said in a telephone interview, errors that were discovered in the transition could show up multiple times in the accounting process: once as an erroneous credit in one column, then as a debit to delete the error, then as a credit in the correct column. By this reckoning, a $40 billion contract that stretched over nine years and several separate NASA centers generated $120 billion worth of entries, and these were turned over to the auditors.


If I understand it correctly, that paragraph would make it seem that the number $565 billion actually double- or triple-counts the amount of money that is poorly accounted for. Of course, $200+ billion is still not pocket change...

I'm wondering though - they don't actually say what part of that process was the problem. Making appropriate debits and credits to correct errors seems reasonable to me, but all I have to balance is my checkbook. Is there some other way to correct errors in the books? Or should NASA presumably have not been making errors to begin with?

Maybe they should have been using some of that $565 billion to hire better accountants?

Re:$565 billion an overestimate? (1)

shaitand (626655) | more than 10 years ago | (#9159927)

Yes, actually going back and finding the source of the error, and doing it again and again and again until there are no errors and the books balance. The same way you SHOULD be handling your checkbook ;)

Re:$565 billion an overestimate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9160158)

Do you mean former Enron accountants?

A government agency with financial discrepancies? (3, Funny)

Flounder (42112) | more than 10 years ago | (#9159780)

SAY IT AIN'T SO!!

All the more reason for private companies to get into the space business. I'm not saying that private companies can't cook the books, but at least there's laws in place to handle that.

Re:A government agency with financial discrepancie (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9160137)

Isn't Ken Lay looking for new employment? Maybe he could run a privatised NASA?

The missing half a TRILLION ... (4, Funny)

auburnate (755235) | more than 10 years ago | (#9159781)

This is simply the AREA 51, Roswell, UFO, X-Files budget.

X-files budget? (3, Funny)

nounderscores (246517) | more than 10 years ago | (#9159935)

All that cash and they couldn't make a better movie?

Interesting related article (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9159782)

here [peoplesprimary.com]

Fark, meet Slashdot. Slashdot, meet Fark... (-1, Offtopic)

eidechse (472174) | more than 10 years ago | (#9159796)

Oh, you seem to know each other already...

Re:Fark, meet Slashdot. Slashdot, meet Fark... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9159836)

I'm wondering when the first lawsuit comes up of sites that post links that other sites are posting. Know of any sites that just post everyones stories?

Re:Fark, meet Slashdot. Slashdot, meet Fark... (1)

Cyno01 (573917) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160002)

Know of any sites that just post everyones stories?
Yeah [google.com] .

$565 billion posted to its accounts??? (4, Funny)

TrevorB (57780) | more than 10 years ago | (#9159801)

$565 billion posted to its accounts?!?

With that kind of cash, screw Mars, let's go straight to Europa.

Re:$565 billion posted to its accounts??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9159821)

Man, you can do this with $565, period. Or even less! In first class, by airline of your choice, to city of your choice! Paris, London, Rome, all open and waiting for you! But you wouldn't, it would be sooo unamerican!
A moon? You meant some Jupiter moon?

Re:$565 billion posted to its accounts??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9160103)

$565 billion posted to its accounts?!?

With that kind of cash, screw Mars, let's go straight to Europa.


You couldn't have worked in a joke about the goatse guy and Uranus?

If their MONEY is in such condition... (2, Insightful)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 10 years ago | (#9159802)

Gosh, you'd think it's the EASY part!
If their MONEY calculations are in such condition, how do their spaceships even rise off the ground?

Re:If their MONEY is in such condition... (5, Funny)

MooseByte (751829) | more than 10 years ago | (#9159864)


"If their MONEY calculations are in such condition, how do their spaceships even rise off the ground?"

Apparently by the explosive combustion of billions of small, unmarked bills crammed into the fuel tank.

Re:If their MONEY is in such condition... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9159948)

Damn, wish I had mod points today :-D

I agree (1)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160204)

it's not exactly rocket science.

umm (4, Insightful)

HBI (604924) | more than 10 years ago | (#9159806)

NASA's whole budget request for 2004 was 15.5 billion.

At that rate, it'd take them oh, say 40 years to save up 500+ billion.

Something does not compute.

Check it here [aip.org] .

I was going to say something about the editing, but what's the point? Like it's going to change at this late date.

Re:umm (5, Funny)

Prof.Phreak (584152) | more than 10 years ago | (#9159854)

NASA's whole budget request for 2004 was 15.5 billion.

At that rate, it'd take them oh, say 40 years to save up 500+ billion.

Something does not compute.


Unless someone accidentally used different monetary units...

Re:umm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9159886)

I tried that.... it said NaN! :)

http://finance.yahoo.com/currency/convert?amt=15 %2 C000%2C000%2C000&from=USD&to=IQD&submit=Conver t

Re:umm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9160068)

Yeah, like 15.5 billion Turkey Liras. ;P

Re:umm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9160180)

That and a fistful of dollars will almost get you a latte at Starbucks.

Re:umm (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9160108)

They should all be using metric money. Rather than a half dollar, quarter dollar, eighth dollar, etc. switch to cents where it's all a nice 1/100th of a dollar for each unit.

Come on America, catch up with the rest of the world here!

Re:umm (4, Funny)

nate nice (672391) | more than 10 years ago | (#9159855)

Well, in 1999 they got about 14 bil for the year but invested it in dot-coms and made a killing. Well, they started spending and spending thinking they had 500+ billion in the bank and before they knew it, the bubble burst and they were stuck with a shit load of bills and no way to cover the tab. Obviously embarrassed they bet it all on pets.com and toys.com, they tried to cover it up in hopes they could maybe make it back on the World Tour of Poker, but they quickly realized the 1 million dollar pot just wouldn't cut it. So here we are, 500+ billion in debt and not even a pack of Astronaut Ice Cream to show for it. And that sock puppet was so damn cool, you *knew* that stock had to be a winner.

Re:umm (1)

dilvish_the_damned (167205) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160186)

Maybe they have really been saving for 40 years.

I can hear my grandpa now... (5, Funny)

Murdock037 (469526) | more than 10 years ago | (#9159817)

"They can send a man to the moon, but they can't balance the damn checkbook?"

Put the general ledger on the web (4, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 10 years ago | (#9159868)

The GAO should make NASA put their general ledger on the web. Their summary data is so obfusicated [nasa.gov] that it doesn't make any sense, but the transaction list of payments might be subject to analysis.

Conversion?? (3, Funny)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 10 years ago | (#9159918)

Please don't tell me they forgot to convert from Yen (or Euro) to USD.

Not that NASA would be so stupid as to forget to convert units....

compared to? (1, Interesting)

mabu (178417) | more than 10 years ago | (#9159923)

NASA's finances in disarray? Compared to whom?

Why is ./ spewing this propaganda? Find me one company employing more than 10 people that doesn't have questionable books. You can't.

Re:compared to? (5, Insightful)

ctr2sprt (574731) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160060)

Just to give you an idea, the total amount allocated to the entire US military in 2001 was $299 billion. That same year, $219 billion was spent on Medicare. NASA's budget was $14 billion. (Source: White House OMB [whitehouse.gov] .) That's roughly comparable to Microsoft's revenues in a single year. (Source: The Wall Street Journal [wsj.com] .) If the figure quoted in this article is right, it would be the equivalent of Microsoft's books being off by more than the federal government spends on Defense and Medicare put together - and more than it's spent on NASA total since it was first created.

An error of this magnitude is inconceivable. It really makes me think the figure must be $565 million, in which case this is pretty small potatoes for a big organization that's been around for a long time. (Lose track of $28 million a year - 0.2% of your budget - for 20 years and there's your number.) It certainly reflects inefficiency at NASA, but is there anyone, anywhere, who would be surprised by inefficiency at NASA?

Re:compared to? (1)

Moofie (22272) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160062)

Find me a company that's still in business where the accounting fuckup is more than thirty times their annual budget.

You can't.

The real reason (1)

A5WKS24 (443235) | more than 10 years ago | (#9159937)

They ran out of the new time sheets with the extra columns. They had to keep using the old ones, even though they didn't have the space to fit all of the extra job codes in.

In Soviet Russia... (-1, Troll)

ztwilight (549428) | more than 10 years ago | (#9159978)

NASA's finances disarray YOU!

Doomsday? (1)

Gary Destruction (683101) | more than 10 years ago | (#9159991)

In the movie Armageddon, the reason that nobody saw the giant asteroid coming was problems with funding. Could NASA's money problems result in reduced ability to keep an eye on space for large rocks headed toward Earth?

You see.... (1)

222 (551054) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160019)

it just so happens that on a recent launch a wormhole accidentally opened and the money was split into an infinite number of parallel universes, where the cash began to interfere with itself until it imploded, leaving only this ball of lint in my pocket....

This just in... (0, Troll)

PatrickThomson (712694) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160049)

Bear shits in woods!

the moon is -not- on the way to mars (1, Insightful)

Splork (13498) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160077)

it is *much* easier to launch a ship directly to mars than to waste fuel and acceleration being trapped by the moon first.

Re:the moon is -not- on the way to mars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9160150)

And you're an idiot.

Re:the moon is -not- on the way to mars (1)

VanillaCoke420 (662576) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160239)

The idea is not to go to Mars by making a pit stop at the moon. To go to the moon first is, I think, a step towards Mars. Why not establish an outpost on the moon first? This way you could stay there for longer times than if you just go there and back again. You wouldn't have to bring as much fuel with you when you go to the moon - especially not if there is water on the moon from which you can extract rocket fuel. Also, what if you could use rawmaterials from the moon to build a Mars ship? You could build it in L1 perhaps, and launch it from there. Also, long term activities within the earth-moon system will give us a better chance to get experience and develop our technology. And, when we go to Mars, make sure we establish a permanent outpost there, too. Otherwise there is a great risk we will not return for a very long time.

hmm (0, Troll)

KnacTheMife (779539) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160120)

The article failed to explore the re-occuring costs of keeping a lid on that faked moon landing...

You could invade some more countries for .. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9160125)

..that sort of money. I predict that Bush will go after Iran next...

out.

faith-based accounting (2, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160151)

I'm glad BushCo applied sound Republican fiscal policy to our preeminent government research program. Wait, they're the guys who quadrupled the government under Reagan, creating more debt than the previous 200+ years combined, topped even that under Bush Sr., sending us (and the world) into a recession larger in real terms than even the Great Depression, and under Bush Jr. turned the biggest surplus in world history into the biggest debt ever imagined (maybe bigger even than that) - which we'll be paying off for the rest of our lives, if we can even muster that through the wreckage of our economy. My TiVo must have gotten stuck on FoxNews 2000.

Simple explanation... (1)

polecat_redux (779887) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160162)

That $565 Billion is so Bush can buy enough Duplo blocks to personally put a man on Mars....

The Money's Going to LMIT... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9160198)

You heard it here first - don't discount it; they don't!

Re:The Money's Going to LMIT... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9160212)

That's http://www.it.lockheedmartin.com/ for the unitiated. Understand the truth. Mod me down, biatch!

Re:The Money's Going to LMIT... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9160222)

I've never been unitiated (except, perhaps from the Boy Scouts), but how could Lockheed Martin be charging too much? Perhaps someone should contact Charles.Elachi@jpl.nasa.gov or Eugene.L.Tattini@jpl.nasa.gov.

The usual. . . (2, Insightful)

grolaw (670747) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160205)

Bush and his policies just continue to cut a swath through the core of US agencies. No, he didn't do it out of a vacuum. . .

NASA has been under funded since the NIXON administration. Every year since the last of the Moon missions NASA has been yoked to the Albatross of politicians who demand more and more from smaller and smaller budgets. Remember Senator Garn hitching a ride?

What? A short list:

Spacelab - allowed to drop from a decaying orbit in 1979 - but the budget cuts made it apparent in 1977 that the station was doomed.

Spacehab, gravity & solar probes failed littering Near Earth Orbits with debris - in fact, the problem of tracking debris has become a major project for NASA and the DOD. Of the space going powers we, alone, are responsible for more crap in orbit than any other nation by at least an order of magnitude.

The Shuttle project has killed two crews and the hopes of many veteran staff. Attrition of experienced staff has hit a new high while budget constraints gut the applicant pool.

Just do a search for the term, "mission" at http://kscsearch.ksc.nasa.gov/ to see the last 30 years for yourself.

What does Bush do in the wake of the latest shuttle disaster? He cuts funds for the Hubble and calls for a manned mission to Mars. The mere pennies to save Hubble he denies because his "core 'Christian' constituency" has issues with the idea of cosmology. Destroy one of the most effective deep space imaging systems ever and mandate manned missions to Mars! All of this must be accomplished with ever-decreasing budgets.

NASA in financial disarray? How could it be anything else...

Unpleasant meeting (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9160211)

I'm guessing some people will be sitting through a very unpleasant meeting.

Boss : "So you guys managed to lose track of half a trillion dollars?"

How do you answer that question?

Well you know what they say (3, Funny)

back@slash (176564) | more than 10 years ago | (#9160224)

$565 billion here. $565 billion there. Pretty soon you're talking about real money.
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