Principal Recommendations Concerning Management

With regard to management of the civil space program, it is recommended that:

  • major reforms be made in the civil service regulations as they apply to specialty skills; or, if that is not possible, exemptions be granted to NASA for at least 10 percent of its employees to operate under a tailored personnel system; or, as a final alternative, that NASA begin selectively converting at least some of its centers into university affiliated Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (Recommendation 14 and Recommendation 15);

  • NASA management review the mission of each center to consolidate and refocus centers of excellence in currently relevant fields with minimum overlap among centers (Recommendation 13).

It is considered by the Committee that the internal organization of any institution should be the province of, or at the discretion of, those bearing ultimate responsibility for the performance of that institution.

Summary and Recommendations
  1. The NASA Administrator [...] should act to establish a coordinating position with the clear responsibility to ensure cooperation between technology development efforts within different parts of NASA—from early research through the various stages of technology development and readiness.

  2. As NASA acts to improve its programs through the use of new or improved technologies, an emphasis should be placed on technologies with the potential to reduce end-to-end mission costs.

  3. [NASA's technology development division—the Office of Space Access and Technology (OSAT)] should bring increased rigor (including external review) to determining not only which projects should be initiated or continued, but which should be canceled.

  4. Each [science office] should endeavor to work closely with [OSAT] in order to be involved in, or cognizant of, [OSAT's] projects relevant to their technology needs.

  5. Since industry is heavily involved in the development of spacecraft and systems, and university scientists are heavily involved in the development of space instruments and sensors, [OSAT] should increase the inclusion of representatives who are external to NASA in the early evaluation of users' technology needs and goals.

  6. The [OSAT] base program projects in support of space science should be subjected to more visible external review on a regular basis.

  7. NASA should act to broaden the foundation of its research base by increasing the direct involvement of university research laboratories in the development of technology for space science.

  8. [The science offices] should consider earmarking a modest level of funding for use at OSAT on mutually agreed-upon projects.

  9. Each [science office] that has not yet done so should act to formalize technology planning responsibilities to identify, coordinate, and report relevant work within the [office].

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