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Government may table 16 CAG reports next week; all eyes on audit report of 4G spectrum auction

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Mostly likely, the central government will put forward 16 audit reports by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) next week. However, all the eyes will be on the audit report on the 4G spectrum auction in the communications and IT sector.

The allocation of airwaves in an unclear manner was questioned by the official auditor of India. During the audit, CAG put a question mark on the way pan India 4G broadband licences were given to Relaince Jio Infocomm. It was asserted by the auditors that the process was managed to benefit a small company. And, within hours of completion of the auction, that small company was taken over by a big industrial house. The auditor has also put a circle on the bank guarantee submitted by the company, which had bid for licences.

CAG also alleged that the Department of Telecommunications virtually gave out broadband market control to a major industrial house.

On the other hand, an audit report on the projects given by the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Ltd. (IREDA) is also of crucial importance.

CAG also analyzed government’s decisions taken during 2008-09 to 2012-13 while scrutinizing the selected projects. These include the UPA government’s Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana scheme. This project was created to offer more flexibility to the states through elemental level planning. Rs 32,000 crore were allocated by the government during 2007-08 and 20012-13 for the scheme’s implementation in all states and union territories.

CAG has also submitted reports on implementation of nutrient-based subsidy policy for decontrolled phosphate and potassic fertilizers, railway finances, dual freight policy for transportation of iron ore and the supply and infrastructural development for natural gas.

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NASA’s Launch System Taking Years Longer Than Expected, Finds Audit

Boeing’s space division restructured the SLS leadership team in 2018 and early 2019 to adjust to the program challenges

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Boeing, NASA, Audit
An AR-22 rocket engine is test fired at the NASA Stennis Space Center in Stennis, Miss., July 2, 2018. The AR-22 engine is designed to power an experimental spacecraft. VOA

NASA’s flagship space launch system being built by Boeing is taking years longer than expected with cost overruns of nearly $2 billion, an audit found Wednesday, raising questions about meeting a goal of returning humans to the moon by 2024.

The General Accounting Office (GAO) identified $1.8 billion in cost overruns, including $800 million that NASA obscured in previous reports on its Space Launch System (SLS), the rocket and capsule that will eventually take humans back to the moon.

The issues around the rocket’s development, led by Boeing Co, mean that the first launch of the SLS originally scheduled for late 2017 could be delayed until June 2021.

Boeing’s space division restructured the SLS leadership team in 2018 and early 2019 to adjust to the program challenges and simplified its manufacturing process, Boeing spokesman Jerry Drelling said.

Boeing, NASA, Audit
NASA’s flagship space launch system being built by Boeing is taking years longer than expected. Pixabay

“No one is building a rocket like this, and we’re creating a very in-depth database for all future rockets,” he said.

The Trump administration directed NASA in March to land humans on the lunar surface by 2024, part of a broader program called Artemis that will use the moon as a staging ground for eventual missions to Mars.

The accelerated timeline, four years faster than originally planned, is likely to cost $20 billion to $30 billion over the next five years, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in an interview with CNN last week.

Shifting costs

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The $1.8 billion cost overrun was nearly double what NASA reported to its inspector general in 2018 for SLS and the Orion capsule — the crew pod built by Lockheed Martin that will launch atop the rocket — the report said.

“NASA’s reporting of cost data for the SLS and Orion programs is not fully transparent,” it said.

NASA obscured the full cost growth of the SLS program by shifting roughly $800 million to future SLS missions to downplay the cost of the initial mission, the GAO report said.

Officials from NASA and Boeing also underestimated the manufacturing complexity of the “core stage” of four attached rocket engines, which could increase the cost and cause delays of two years or more, the report said.

 

Boeing, NASA, Audit
The General Accounting Office (GAO) identified $1.8 billion in cost overruns, including $800 million. Pixabay

Cost overruns, award fees

Despite the cost overruns, NASA has awarded Boeing at least $146 million and Lockheed $87 million in “award fees” to stay on schedule, but “the programs have not always achieved overall desired outcomes,” the report said. The space agency agreed to the report’s recommendation to re-evaluate its incentive system.

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NASA’s associate administrator for human spaceflight and operations, William Gerstenmaier, said in a response to the GAO’s report that the audit “does not acknowledge NASA is constructing some of the most sophisticated hardware ever built.” A NASA spokeswoman declined further comment. (VOA)