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A Washington Times review of NASA inspector general reports finds the space agency struggled to achieve austerity under Ms. Robinson's financial leadership, as cost overruns grew six-fold from $50 million in 2009 to $315 million in 2012.
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Energy Dept. Nominee Struggled with
Financial Management at NASA

The Washington Times
Elizabeth Robinson, the woman Pres. Obama has named to make the Energy Department's oft-criticized contracting more efficient, is leaving behind a trail of spending questions in her past job as NASA's chief financial officer.

A Washington Times review of NASA inspector general reports finds the space agency struggled to achieve austerity under Ms. Robinson's financial leadership, as cost overruns grew six-fold from $50 million in 2009 to $315 million in 2012.

"Cost increases and schedule delays on NASA's projects are longstanding issues for the agency," the space agency's internal watchdog reported last year.

Ongoing changes in the agency's mission also led to billions being spent on projects that were later canceled, such as the Constellation Program and the Ares V launch vehicle that were designed to replace the space shuttle. Taxpayers spent an estimated $10 billion on shuttle replacement before it was scrapped in 2010.

The agency also has been dinged for smaller amounts of wasteful spending that provided some simple yet powerful symbols for taxpayer frustration.

Audits conducted during Ms. Robinson's tenure as CFO uncovered that NASA spent an average of $66 per person per day for light refreshments at conferences, shelled out $1.5 million to develop a video game to replicate astronauts' experiences and reimbursed employees $1.4 million for tuition dating to 2006 for degrees unrelated to their NASA jobs.

Ms. Robinson did not return a call seeking comment, and NASA, White House and Energy Department officials did not return repeated phone calls and email messages seeking comment on Ms. Robinson's track record as NASA's chief financial officer.

Mr. Obama nominated Ms. Robinson, a former White House budget official, this month to the job of Energy Department undersecretary for management and performance, filling one of the top jobs under new Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. In her role, Ms. Robinson will be responsible for improving the management and efficiency of the department's contracting and programs, including the much-criticized environmental management efforts involving the cleanup of old nuclear sites, Mr. Moniz told employees last week.

The energy secretary emphasized that Ms. Robinson's role was specifically to improve the department's contracting, spending and program management...

Separately, NASA's own website credits Ms. Robinson for her stewardship of the budget...

NASA's inspector general, however, routinely gave the space agency poor marks for efficiency during Ms. Robinson's tenure. An audit this spring, in fact, found NASA didn't even know how much it had spent on information technology security and couldn't account for all of its computer equipment because it was so decentralized in spending.


Editor's Note: Of course...when you don't care about mounting debt you put someone in charge of fiscal responsibility who could have failed remedial economics in high school...

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