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The Role of Small Missions in Planetary and Lunar Exploration: Chapter 4 The Role of Small Missions in Planetary and Lunar Exploration 4 Management Structure and Procedures Given anticipated strict development and budget constraints, successful implementation of small-planetary-exploration missions will pose significant management challenges. These challenges will require the coordination of all of the involved parties and the adoption of a new culture within the planetary science and technology communities. NASA has appreciated the need for such change for some time and has, within the context of its current Discovery program, undertaken a series of reviews of the necessary management changes. These reviews have produced two sets of recommendations, The Final Report on the Discovery Management Workshop1 and Report of the Discovery Program Cost and Management Team,2 that COMPLEX believes to be useful and informative. Aspects of these reports have been expanded to the wider context of small missions (e.g., Mars Surveyor) and are incorporated within the summary discussions presented below. REPORT MENU NOTICE MEMBERSHIP PREFACE EXECUTIVE SUMMARY SELECTION CRITERIA AND PROCEDURES CHAPTER 1 CHAPTER 2 The most important aspect of the selection process for small missions is CHAPTER 3 that, after open solicitation of proposals, missions be chosen on the basis of peer CHAPTER 4 CHAPTER 5 review. The competitive nature of this process is designed to bring forth the best APPENDIX scientific, technical, and management approaches and to foster creative solutions for achieving mission success in a fiscally constrained environment. It is essential that the criteria be clearly outlined in the Announcement of Opportunity for each mission, that the selection process strictly follow these guidelines, and that the process be allowed to develop without undue influence from outside pressures. Fair and open competition will maximize the chances of programmatic success and will maintain the support of the scientific community. It is assumed that the selection criteria for small missions will place roughly equal weight on the scientific considerations and management approach, following the example developed already for NASA's current Discovery program. file:///C|/SSB_old_web/smlch4.html (1 of 6) [6/18/2004 1:48:31 PM]

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The Role of Small Missions in Planetary and Lunar Exploration: Chapter 4 The long-term health of a small-missions program is tied closely to the control of mission costs. Therefore, strong weight in the selection process should be given to the development and demonstration of realistic costs for these missions. Building on the recommendations in the Discovery Management Workshop final report, COMPLEX believes that (1) the use of new technologies to meet the goals of small missions is desirable; (2) technology should be a consideration in mission selection, but the introduction of new technology must be driven by mission objectives, (3) the risk of new technology must be understood and a backup plan developed in case the price of this technology causes or leads to exceeding the cost ceiling of the mission; and (4) support from the Planetary Instrument Definition and Development Program and NASA's Office of Space Access and Technology should be considered for the development of new technology so that the missions can focus on the application of these technologies. However, small missions should not become vehicles simply to demonstrate technical capabilities and achieve political, rather than scientific, success. In other words, small missions should not be driven primarily by requirements to demonstrate technology, as Clementine was; to be testbeds for future missions, as Mars Pathfinder is; or by the need for a source of funding to make a NASA contribution to an international program such as ESA's Rosetta. Science objectives must continue to receive the highest priority in the mission selection process. MANAGEMENT PRACTICES: APPROACH, COST CONTROL, AND ROLES Small, low-cost missions provide an excellent opportunity to develop innovative means to manage the technical development of planetary missions. COMPLEX assumes that missions will be proposed and run by a Principal Investigator (PI) who will be fully responsible and accountable for mission success. The PI should have the authority to make decisions on trade-offs related to science performance, mission risk, mission design, and other matters as well as to ensure that the mission remains within the basic scope originally proposed. COMPLEX accepts the position that, since the PI's reputation and future are on the line, that individual will attempt to do all that is required to assure mission success. A major strength of the small-mission scheme is to encourage innovative approaches to streamline management. Thus, the management structure of the mission team, the role of the PI relative to the industrial and NASA partners, and the methods and incentives for cost control should be chosen by the PI. The relative roles and responsibilities of these components, as well as of the PI vis-à- vis the project manager, must be clearly defined at the outset. The competitive review process will provide the primary means by which different approaches are evaluated; if the review process works properly, the most effective method should be selected. file:///C|/SSB_old_web/smlch4.html (2 of 6) [6/18/2004 1:48:31 PM]

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The Role of Small Missions in Planetary and Lunar Exploration: Chapter 4 A new NASA management culture is essential to assure the long-term success of any program of small planetary missions. In particular, the interface between the mission-team and NASA management must be streamlined: An excessively intricate management interface is inconsistent with the program's stated goals of reduced cost and complexity. NASA should develop an integrated team approach in its relationships with the project in order to maximize the exchange of information that is useful to technical development, program management, and cost control. All requirements and deliverables must be clearly identified and agreed to by all parties prior to the initiation of the execution phases (i.e., phases C and D) of a project and must remain fixed throughout the project's life. There must not be any hidden constraints or changes in external objectives and requirements during the mission development. It is essential that the funding profile be agreed to prior to project start and that the monies be provided reliably. The procurement process traditionally used by NASA may need to be modified in order to meet the demands of rapid deployment and cost control, as it was for the recent Lewis and Clark program of small Earth observation satellites. One area that needs to be studied is the possible relaxation of onerous auditing requirements that small PI-led teams may be ill-equipped to handle; obviously, any easing of these requirements must be accomplished with no lessening of fiscal responsibility. Other areas include the judicious use of single-source contractors to eliminate complex bid evaluations, and an emphasis on fixed-price contracts and performance-based fees to minimize cost overruns. REVIEW AND OVERSIGHT An important goal of small missions is to achieve science objectives while reducing management cost and complexity. Reaching this goal, however, requires that other aspects of mission management, including review and oversight, be streamlined to a level consistent with the management approach developed within each project. Periodic reviews are a necessary part of any successful enterprise and will naturally he required by the PI to maintain internal oversight of the project. External oversight should be carried out via NASA's participation in the internal review process; the emphasis should be technical exchange of information, rather than dictation of additional reviews. file:///C|/SSB_old_web/smlch4.html (3 of 6) [6/18/2004 1:48:31 PM]

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The Role of Small Missions in Planetary and Lunar Exploration: Chapter 4 Increased external oversight does not necessarily correlate directly with a higher probability of mission success through decreased risk and decreased cost. As discussed in Chapter 3 a comprehensive risk philosophy must be developed that incorporates a realistic assessment of any benefits of added oversight. NASA must be willing to accept a share of the risk associated with low-cost missions as well as to acknowledge that extensive review and oversight are neither affordable nor consistent with the small-mission philosophy. COMPLEX recommends that each project propose an "oversight ceiling," consistent with the management approach, which can serve as a baseline for developing a review plan. DESCOPING AND/OR CANCELLATION The development of the small-mission concept has been driven in large part by an attempt to reduce mission costs and thereby increase the number of mission opportunities. Thus, the community clearly recognizes the necessity for discipline in controlling and containing costs in order to assure the long-term success of small- mission programs. Options for descoping are required within the evaluation process for Discovery missions and are recommended for all missions with limited budgets, schedules, and science objectives. The establishment of a "science floor" may be appropriate for low-cost mission proposals but, if introduced in good faith by a PI, should not be used by NASA to vitiate mission capabilities. It is assumed that each team will have a detailed descoping plan in place in the event of unanticipated problems leading to cost growth. External changes beyond the control of individual mission teams can lead to significant cost growth. Once the PI and NASA agree to various aspects of mission design such as launch date, launch vehicle, performance requirements, and the acceptable level of risk, NASA must fulfill its commitments. Not only the total amount of funding, but also the funding profile must be maintained. Any cost growth associated with external changes or deviations from the funding schedule should be accurately determined and distinguished from any internal cost growth that occurs within a mission. If a mission is projected to overrun its allocation even after implementation of responsible options for descoping, or to fall below its science floor, then it should be reviewed for possible termination. The criteria for implementation of this extreme measure should be clearly understood by both NASA and the mission team at the initiation of a project. NASA and the PI should accept that cancellation can occur at any point within the development process but, obviously, saves less money if it occurs too late in phase D. A detailed project plan should be developed at the program's initiation, with technical milestones against which potential cost increases can be identified and evaluated early in the program. It is critical that the PI devise and document a mechanism for internal project identification of potential problems and have the means and a plan by which descoping actions can be taken. Prudent management of any file:///C|/SSB_old_web/smlch4.html (4 of 6) [6/18/2004 1:48:31 PM]

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The Role of Small Missions in Planetary and Lunar Exploration: Chapter 4 space mission also requires that reserve funds be put aside to cover unexpected problems. This is especially true for small, deep-space missions with tight schedules, such as Discovery. REFERENCES 1. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, The Final Report on the Discovery Management Workshop, report of a workshop held at the San Juan Capistrano Research Institute, April 13-15, 1993; submitted by the Executive Committee (Frank Carr, W.E. Giberson, J.S. Martin) on May 25,1993. 2. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Report of the Discovery Program Cost and Management Team to Dr. Wesley T. Huntress, Jr., July 10, 1991. file:///C|/SSB_old_web/smlch4.html (5 of 6) [6/18/2004 1:48:31 PM]