Proposed Functional Statement for the Chief Scientist

The Chief Scientist exercises NASA-wide leadership for the space sciences and serves as the principal scientific advisor to the NASA Administrator. He or she should be a person of strong standing in the scientific community with significant accomplishment in his or her own field. The individual filling this position should have a breadth of interest and understanding transcending the space sciences to encompass technology and the interaction of science and technology with elements of society. This person should also have management experience, preferably in large organizations. Understanding of government processes is highly desirable. Specific functions of the position are as follows:

  • Serves as primary advisor to the NASA Administrator.

  • Provides formal concurrence on planning, programs, budgets, and so forth, for the NASA science programs.

  • Acts to resolve conflicts among the science programs and between science programs and other NASA programs.

  • Chairs the NASA Science Council.

  • Maintains oversight of science quality across the agency, recommending corrective action where necessary.

  • Maintains oversight of the integration of advanced technology into science programs across the agency, recommending corrective action where necessary.

  • Provides for coordination among the sciences at many levels: programs, advisory groups, other agencies, the scientific community.

  • Serves as representative of NASA science to the outside world and represents the scientific community to NASA.

Proposed Functional Statement for the NASA Science Council

The NASA Science Council, chaired by the Chief Scientist, is the internal NASA body responsible for coordination and integration of science programs and activities.

Specific functions are as follows:

  • Sets principles and policies for scientific aspects of strategic planning.

  • Reviews and integrates resulting strategic plans for consistency with policies and agency-level guidance.

  • Provides a forum for coordinating programs.

  • Provides a forum for conflict resolution.

  • Reviews and makes recommendations to help ensure the health of the intellectual and physical infrastructure.

Membership of the NASA Science Council consists of the Chief Scientist (chair), the Associate Administrators for the space science programs (OSS, OLMSA, OMTPE), and the Associate Administrator for Space Access and Technology.

Recommendation 6-2: The space science offices should have primary responsibility for identifying and reviewing near-term technologies. This arrangement gives the science offices the greatest control of the technologies that most immediately affect the success of their programs. Each science office should allocate a significant fraction of its resources to ATD activities and should be willing to pool resources to achieve shared objectives. Most importantly, the implementation of all categories of technology development should be undertaken by the best-qualified individuals or teams within NASA, industry, or academia, as determined by peer review. The overall processes for near-term development would be coordinated by the Chief Scientist (or a designated representative of the Chief Scientist) through the NASA Science Council.



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement