NASA‘s office of inspector general has called on the agency to improve the implementation of policy on unmanned aircraft systems acquisition and management.
The OIG said in a report published Monday that NASA centers inadequately implemented agency policy on UAS procurement and inventory tracking, which has resulted to unauthorized drone purchases and inefficient inventory control.
Auditors found that 231 of NASA’s 410 UAS acquisitions since 2009 were bought without necessary approvals.
NASA’s property system contains incomplete and inaccurate information on UAS, rendering certain systems invisible to other potential users and hampering the capacity to share UAS between centers, the report stated.
The OIG added center officials do not dispose of unnecessary UAS platforms in a timely manner to make them available to other potential users within and outside the agency.
The report recommended that NASA develop a process to routinely inform users of UAS acquisition requirements; establish criteria on how to identify UAS and determine the number of spare parts to maintain; and create a checklist to ensure the proper implementation of UAS acquisition procedures.
The OIG also called on the agency to enforce a bar code system for UAS tracking and require centers to identify and eliminate unneeded UAS or provide a reason to retain them.
The inspector general found that NASA’s research contributed “effectively” to the Federal Aviation Administration‘s efforts to integrate civil, commercial and government UAS into the national airspace.
FAA and NASA have partnered on two UAS-related research projects, including the UAS in the NAS initiative to develop operational performance standards and the UAS Traffic Management effort to develop a traffic management system for aerial drones.
The audit report said the two programs met all schedule and technical objectives within the allotted time and budgets.