The responsibility for managing the technology program is delegated to the NASA field Centers. They provide technological leadership, system engineer the technology program, and assign appropriate roles within NASA, industry, academia and other Government laboratories. They assure that technological “gaps” are filled in the end-to-end mission systems picture.

The Centers are directed to develop and maintain an in-house “corporate knowledge” base that is: 1) in direct support of assigned Enterprise requirements and 2) necessary and sufficient to discharge their program management responsibilities. They must justify and maintain the critical masses in key core competencies that make them “smart buyers.” They must hire and retain managers and technologists of the first rank.

Those in-house efforts justified as the minimal core to discharge management and leadership responsibilities will not be subject to competition with outside organizations. The Centers will, however, establish and implement the measures necessary (e.g., external peer reviews) to ensure excellence.

Policy # 4: Engagement of the broader community to promote excellence.

Having established the rationale for a non-competed critical mass of in-house activity (see policy # 3 above) the Centers will aggressively integrate industry, academia, and other Laboratories into the program. These entities offer the unique assets and perspectives that program excellence demands. Industry, for example, contains valuable technology developed by internal resources (IR&D and profit dollars) and by other (restricted / military) customers. Technology from restricted programs may be available to NASA even though the customers mission remains classified.

Similarly, the university community holds a vast and unique technological resource. University groups, receiving significant funding from other sources, lead in many technology areas (e.g., instrument and detector technologies). They offer world-class expertise at low cost. With faculty salaries underwritten by universities, faculty-led teams of students and post-docs can be highly cost-effective technology developers. Finally, many of these same scientists stake their professional careers on the initiation and success of NASA science missions—they are uniquely motivated.

Each Center will document and implement visible processes to maximize the opportunity for others to compete with in-house staff for technology program resources. Outreach activities will ensure the opportunities are broadly advertised, especially for small businesses. Fair evaluation criteria will ensure a “level playing field,” especially with the way NASA civil salaries are included in cost-benefit assessments. The burden-of-poof for demonstrating fair and open competition lies with the centers. The Director, Advanced Technology & Mission Studies in Headquarters will approve these processes.

Policy # 5: Reviews processes to ensure excellence.

Each Center will design and maintain a set of processes that use external/peer review to assure excellence in both in-house and out-of-house work. The reviews will consider such factors as:

  • Whether the work is “best-in-class”

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