NSF Expenditures for Planning the Overhaul and Conversion of the U.S. Government Ship Glomar Explorer

Gao ID: PLRD-83-47 March 4, 1983

In response to a congressional request, GAO determined the amount of money that has been spent in planning the conversion of the Glomar Explorer from a mining ship to a mobile scientific deep ocean drilling platform. GAO also gave its opinion of the management controls used by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to ensure the reasonableness of expenditures and specifically addressed the contract with Lockheed Missiles and Space Company, Inc. for the Explorer project.

GAO found that, since 1975, NSF has awarded nearly $16.5 million in appropriated funds and more than $5 million in nonappropriated funds to various scientific and contracting organizations to determine the merits of deep ocean scientific drilling and the means to achieve such drilling; nearly all of these funds were used for scientific and engineering studies related to the Explorer project. GAO stated that NSF has demonstrated that the Explorer is the most viable tool to achieve the scientific objectives of deep ocean drilling, and NSF has repeatedly verified the costs of its contracts as well as the conversion cost estimates. GAO found that NSF surveillance of Lockheed's actual and planned contract expenditures demonstrated the diligence applied by NSF to contract administration. NSF conscientiously evaluated and monitored various components of Lockheed's contract, and it will terminate contract funding in early 1983. GAO concluded that NSF appeared to have done a reasonable job of protecting its investments in Explorer-related activities.

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