NASA building

NASA Facilities in 'Increasing State of Decline'

Agency’s director of NASA's facilities and real estate division says budget for maintenance and construction is ‘wholly underfunded’.   August 28, 2023

By Dan Hounsell, Senior Editor 

The nation’s public K-12 schools, higher education facilities and military buildings have received most of the attention when discussions have turned to deferred maintenance. But as maintenance and engineering managers know all too well, few if any, facilities are exempt from the burden of overdue maintenance and repairs. Now, the facilities that support the nation’s space program are getting their turn in the spotlight. 

Erik Weiser, director of NASA's facilities and real estate division, recently told a National Academies that the agency's budget for maintenance and construction is "wholly underfunded," according to Ars Technica, adding NASA's infrastructure as in an "increasing state of decline." 

The maintenance gap between what NASA needs to maintain or upgrade its facilities and the dollars the agency devotes to those efforts is $259 million per year using NASA's most conservative estimate, or more than $600 million if NASA followed the maintenance practices of the commercial industry, Weiser said. 

Weiser said 83 percent of NASA's facilities are beyond their design life, which is well above the percentage of NASA's workers eligible for retirement, about 25 percent, which itself a significant worry for the space agency. 

Facility maintenance funds come from disparate parts of NASA. Some comes from specific mission directorates responsible for ensuring launch pads, test stands and other facilities are in good shape for operations at NASA's field centers. Other resources come from a general overhead fund. 

Dan Hounsell is senior editor for the facilities market. He has more than 30 years of experience writing about facilities maintenance, engineering and management. 


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