Congress Complains To Gore About NASA Downsizing

United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

June 18, 1996

The Honorable Al Gore
Vice President of the United States
Old Executive Office building
Washington, DC 20501

Dear Mr. Vice President:

We applaud your ongoing leadership and commitment to reinventing government. But we are particularly concerned about the recent announcement that NASA will use reductions-in-force to cut its headquarters' staff by about one-half, or about 700 employees, by October 1997. We are concerned that such an action will unduly hurt federal employees, jeopardize efforts to create a government that works better and costs less, and weaken the country's space program.

Our nation's economy is vibrant and strong today because industry has reinvented itself to become focused on customers and quality. The Federal Government is doing the same, working to provide world class quality for each tax dollar. But industry has learned that success in attaining quality goals requires full partnership with its workforce, freeing up employee innovation and initiative. Effective corporate managers forced to downsize their organization do so in such a way that preserves corporate vitality and productivity, respects employees, and protects workforce morale.

The primary asset of NASA and other federal science and technology agencies is its employees. Such agencies contain world class scientists and engineers who develop new knowledge and new technologies and push the envelope of exploration. The workforce is highly skilled and dedicated to achieve our nation's goals in areas critical to our economy and our future.

We agree that reinvention and rightsizing is necessary to prepare the Federal Government to meet the challenges of the 21st century. But as federal agency managers build organizations of the future, they should have the same tools used by the private sector to minimize the impact on employees.

Reductions in force are also costly -- to the Treasury, to agency goals, and to separated employees. They can lead to an imbalanced skill mix. They can also set back important goals in diversity of the workforce.

We therefore ask that the Administration:

- Minimize the impact of federal downsizing on employees by providing for such arrangements as early retirement incentive programs, severance, and buyouts;

- Study recent federal downsizing efforts to learn how effective they have been in creating improved organizations and how well employee separation incentives have been used in the process; and

- Seek whatever legislative authority is necessary to achieve the goals of making government operations better while protecting Federal employees.

We look forward to further discussions regarding plans to downzsize NASA and other science and technology agencies during the 1997 authorization process. We will also work with you to move necessary legislation forward to lessen the impact on the workforce.

Reinventing government is essential, but it must be done right. We want to work with you to achieve that goal.


John D. Rockefeller IV Barabara A. Mikulski

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on June 18, 1996 5:46 PM.

Letter from Sen. Rockefeller To Dan Goldin About Layoffs was the previous entry in this blog.

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