Comments on the Aldridge Commission Moon-Mars Report? And NASA's Reponse to it?

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Your comments thus far:

As to the post describing some bizarre procurement behaviors at a NASA Center. If this is an accurate portrayal of the situation, it DOES NOT represent the procurement process I'm accustomed to at my Center. Also, we are not allow to supervise contractors, even in-house, we specify a product/service desired and metrics to measure the product as to compliance with the requirements. If the metrics are acceptable and the contractor product/service complies with the metrics then the product is accepted, if not, rejected. Sounds easier than it is actually. NASA civil service are not allowed to threaten contractors to keep them from working for anybody they so choose. So, the answer is yes this behavior is not complaint to FARs and other regulations, including ethics.

For those that think that just because the see one or two cases of unethical behavior then all Centers and all of NASA are unethical- they need to stop generalizing - just because you see someone stealing in any American city it does not mean that the entire city is populated with criminals. This is pure nonsense.

There have been several comments on this board about all the "subcontracting" that NASA already does. Well, most of those subcontracts fail to reap the benefits of subcontracting that the Aldridge report desires. The current system at NASA has hordes of subcontractors who live in-house at the NASA centers. They are directed by NASA personnel to defend internal NASA designs that would otherwise be uncompetitive with industry offerings. Given their relatively weak position, these subcontractors cannot speak their minds and cannot propose for other work with external organizations that might compete with NASA - they are held hostage. For their efforts, the subcontractors are given additional funding by NASA. I have seen several instances at a NASA center in which subcontractors were threatened with their jobs if they were going to work, or propose to work, with potential competitors to NASA. (Amazingly, I have even seen NASA personnel threatened for collaborating with "competing" organizations). Meanwhile, NASA continues to say, "Well, we outsource most of our work to subcontractors, so you can't say we are anticompetitive," while real subcontractors give up "competing" with NASA.

Note that the DoD FFRDCs have been criticized for their anticompetitive behavior in a very broad review in the late 1990's, so it is not clear this option would help.

It seems to me that it is key to separate the functions of procuring the product and creating the product. NASA should pick one and stick to it (presumably the former). Note that NASA imposes a rule on subcontractors that says that the subcontractor cannot procure a service that is offered by any part of that same organization through a subcontract secured through competitive bid. This rule is supposed to prevent some company from choosing itself for subcontracts in an open bid; however, NASA CENTERS ARE EXEMPT FROM THIS RULE - THEY CAN PROCURE ANOTHER DEPARTMENT IN THEIR CENTER IN A COMPETITIVE BID PROCESS. They often do procure products from their own groups *despite public votes within their projects favoring external industry*.

I have heard it claimed that there are many things that industry will simply not produce. The many examples of in-sourcing I have seen at NASA do not cover such cases. Instead, NASA centers are busy driving large sums of money back into their organizations to do work that many others are chomping at the bit to do (and do better, at that). They have already wasted approximately $100M on a multi-billion dollar future flight mission by driving all the early dollars into their own centers. Most of that work is now being redone by those more competent to do it in industry. Further, I am now seeing the same thing happen on another mission that is a bit further into the future. One way to determine whether industry are interested in a given opportunity is to announce the opportunity and see if anyone bids.

(By the way, does anybody know if the behavior described above conflicts with any law or regulation, i.e. FAR. If so, how would one report it?)

As a 20+ year NASA Civil Servant I have to respond to some of the vindictive comments by a few folks to this thread. The stereotype image some people apparently have of Civil Servants as lazy, close-minded people more interested in their paychecks than anything else is just not true--at least for the vast majority of us. Sure there are exceptions that fit the stereotype. I've seen at least just as many deadwoods in industry over the years.

The typical Civil Servant at NASA works very hard. The personnel in my group tend to work in excess of 40 hours most weeks. It's not unusual to work 50-60 hours in a week when necessary to get the job done. All those hours beyond 40 come without overtime pay for any of us at the GS13 and above level. Pretty much all engineers, scientists, and managers are at least GS13. Some do get Comp Time for these excess hours. Often these hours get lost because the time can't be found to take it off before these hours expire (Have to be used within 7 pay periods). Many more of us never even request comp time beyond 40 and just contribute our time beyond 40 to the taxpayer week after week.

So anyone who describes NASA Civil Servants as primarily concerned about getting 40 hours in and going home is either uninformed, lying, or just singling out a few while ignoring the rest of us.

OK y'all, here's how it looks from my knothole.

Somewhere around 85% of the the NASA budget goes to contractors now. I have worked with many of them and the contractor work force contains some of the most dedicated and honorable folks I've ever met. Unfortunately, their companies have figured out that the real money (what they're in business for after all) is in selling the government the first half of a project over and over again. How many times did we half build the Space Station. A certain Prime Contractor got rich several times over on that roller coaster and never delivered anything except stack upon stack of paper. It's simple, just wait until the easy money starts to dry up then leak to Congress that it's gonna cost x times more than promised. Instant stop work (with a very nice termination fee for the poor contract company) then come up with another boondoggle. And NASA management gladly cooperates by selling new work based on the absolute best case minimum cost scenarios.

Lord knows the CS system is far from perfect. Can't fire a non productive worker to save yourself. You also can't fire the whistle blower who rats you out when you put lives at risk by cutting corners or falsifying safety data. Pity to take that power out of the hands of some of our recent management isn't it. Let's just turn everyone into good little wage slaves like private industry. Then we can get rid of the troublemakers and get on with building our own empires. FYI it was those sorry CS NASA types that got your collective butts to the Moon 30 years ago and were ready to keep right on going. It was the American people through Congress that cut the budget and gave the order; been there, done that, got the rocks, now do something else; Oh and do it cheaper faster better cause we just cut your budget by half.

Private industry will save us! Yeah right. Private industry does not have the resources to risk on pipedreams like Moon/Mars. The payoff if there ever is one is much too far in the future for even the craziest of venture capitalists. The telecom satellite business took off when and only when it became a sure thing. Doesn't it say something significant that the X-prise is $10 million? That's not even gas money for a serious payload launch outside LEO. You have lots of underfunded hobbyists in competition to reach 100Km in a suborbital launch. More power to them, but all the dreamers crying for private development of space do not seem to have a clue what a huge leap it is from that first small step to something remotely useful let alone something with a positive cash flow. NASA has always had one legitimate mandate, to do those things that private industry can't or won't due to a lack of immediate return. Oh, and when we've paved the road and put up the streetlights, hand over ownership to U.S. companies to reap the profits. That's our job.

signed: just another lazy not so civil servant

Allowing NASA to continue to develop the primary means of human exploration would be a monumental waste of taxpayer (mine and yours) dollars. Where have they gotten us in the last 30 years? They should have been developing a reusable sub-orbital vehicles, which are just now being developed by private enterprise thanks to the Ansari X-Prize. Then work on a reusable orbital craft. These things could have been finished 15-20 years ago instead of wasting money on the shuttle (could have come later, and cheaper) the ISS (no ROI on our tax dollars yet, or in the future).

Strip NASA to the bare limits, use the money to prime the private entrepreneurial energies that exist within the citizenry to make the advancements needed for space exploration. Private industry knows better than to take "Giant leaps" because they are not sustainable. Example: What happened to the moon missions, what's happening to the shuttle and ISS programs now?

Focus on the steps that make it sustainable; Sub-orbital, orbital, intra-system each must be developed in turn so that it is cost effective, safe, efficient, and reliable. One at a time, in order. New technologies are not necessary for the first step, look at Space Ship One.

I think you're seeing what's wrong with NASA with most of the comments from the CS's so far. Having worked at a NASA center and now in the private sector I think all the folks worried about their prescious life time employment need to wake up. NASA is the most arbitrary part of the federal budget. If it were axed entirely the nation would continue unimpeded. So all you CS guys out there should go have another 2 hour lunch time run/walk, go on over to the cafeteria and have another 1 hours of coffee with your usual confidente's and then go on home at 4:30 while chalking up a full day. Enjoy the last of the free ride because hopefully it's coming to an end here soon. Don't bother jumping up and down and responding, because as you can see from the public response to going back to the moon and the aldridge report, nobody cares.

Regarding the commission s report, let s just call it like it is: a partisan report with partisan recommendations - A report that could have a very short shelf life - especially if the presidential administration changes this winter.

What troubles me more is NASA s top management approach after the report was made public. It is clear, that NASA management new what the recommendations were going to be and already had a game plane how to proceed before the report came out. We truly believe the vote for the best three recommendations was a farce. Anytime the directions tell you to only make positive comments - tells the workforce that management does not desire an open constructive exchange. After a branch level direct vote for the best three recommendations, there was a division level "representative vote", followed by a directorate level "representative vote", followed by a center level "representative vote", finally followed by an agency level "representative vote". I quote the term "representative vote" since I have know understanding how management reconciled the vote at each level. With so many levels to water down the best three recommendations direct vote, is it no wonder that NASA s workforce "culture" is afraid to speak up, and NASA s management culture appears afraid to listen to the workforce, and afraid to negotiate with the Whitehouse?

Personally, I feel like we are being railroaded! When we were directly voting for the best three recommendations, I remember one comment that we should vote for recommendations that could cause the least irreversible damage. From what I have heard and what I have experience, FFRDC are not the best way to go. The Goldin administration has shown us that cheaper, better, faster (actually it was cheaper, cheaper, cheaper - just deal with it) and more contracting out was clearly not best solution.

For the record, I have almost 20 years of a proven and successful federal service. I work in a region with many other federal agencies. From what I ve read about NASA s and the Federal Government s workforce needs, I fit into the category of highly needed. I know that can retain a job in the NASA aerospace industry if my job is (outsource or FFRDC), but at this point in my career, I definitely would look for other more rewarding work in the federal Government. Furthermore, I find it ironic that NASA s was worried about the large number of the workforce that is or will be very shortly able to retire. Therefore, requested from congress and received special recruiting and retention regulations (which have yet to be used) is now considering far more radical workforce changes - changes that will push much institutional knowledge out of the NASA workforce.

Please do not include my name.

I am a relatively new Civil Servant at GSFC, with too many years to count working in universities and contract science organizations. Fortunately, I have highly-marketable expertise. As such, all the talk of reorganization is probably just another name for "opportunity". The game, at a personal level and if the conversion to FFRDCs should happen, is to generate several offers and compete one organization off against another. This does not generate the lowest cost for the government, but that is how one negotiates. I also believe that it does not necessarily produce the best science when an organization forces its scientists to spend much of their time writing proposals, or to face management pressure to get the organizationally desirable result as opposed to the correct result, both of which tend to happen in the kind of entrepreneurial environment that the report aims to foster.

The more worrying thing about the Aldridge report to me is the utter vacuousness of what would actually be accomplished. If the report said that we were going to return to the moon by a hard date and within a specified cost cap, and then go to Mars under the same conditions, it would probably be bad for science, but at least a reasonable stab at program management. Instead, the report recommends a continuous burn "pay as you go" approach, with no clearly stated and quantified final product, significant milestones (e.g. A firm date for returning to the Moon), or justified information on the cost. This all but guarantees frittering away enormous amounts of time and money to accomplish much less than what was originally proposed. Examples of this kind of program management are the International Space Station and the Shuttle.

Equally troubling is the complete back seat that science takes in all of this. Item number 1 on the commissions charter was to make recommendations on the following.

1. A science research agenda to be conducted on the Moon and other destinations as well as human and robotic science activities that advance our capacity to achieve the policy.

In this regard, the best the commission could come up was to ask the National Academy to re-evaluate their priorities in light of the President s recommendation. I note that neither the NASA Administrator nor the President are trained scientists, nor particularly technical people. A quick reading of the names on the Commission turned up few, if any, who were National Academy material themselves. One entirely rational response on the part of the Academy would be to say that their priorities remain unchanged. My reading of the Aldridge report says that this would in many ways be the most responsible response on their part.

I find myself wondering what is going on here? It seems to me that the President asked the NASA Administrator to come up with a bold new vision to tell America about during the State of the Union Speech (a vision in line with his pre-existing agenda). In the end, the two MBAs came up with a management reorganization and a vague (but grand vision) having no clearly identified and quantitatively justified achievements/products, timetable, or cost. Isn t the Apollo or Manhattan Project model of allowing scientists and technologists to direct science and technology a better way to go?

Mr. O'keefe should perform at a comedy club doing a parody of adminstrator saying nothing for a half hour or so. He would have them rolling in the aisles.

Please do not display my name and organization.

Three Observations:

- The Aldridge Team members appear to be "Sean's Shills". They provided him with answers he was looking for without objective, in-depth analysis. JSF has enough problems to make its promotion as a "paradigm program" dubious; and DOE's FFRDC's have serious problems of their own (e.g., Los Alamos). And the recommendation that if NASA did more contracting out, some of its problems would be solved is laughable. NASA already contracts out 85-90% of its total budget. An additional 5-10% will hardly make a difference!

- Sean acted amazed that a NASA employee suggested during the Q&A session that all the hundreds (thousands?) of recommendations and action items that have flowed down for implementation over the past three years be distilled into one master, consolidated (and hopefully streamlined) list. This is not "Management 101"--- this is just, plain common sense! NASA Hdqs. would be far better served if it asked (not demanded) that a dozen (or fewer) initiatives be implemented rather than inundating a workforce that has been demoralized by stupid, self-serving surveys (NASA employees are now learning to lie when they take them just so as not to bring down more wrath/initiatives on themselves!) with a myriad of management fixes that should start at the TOP.

- It could be argued that NASA's main problem is lack of money. Give it even half the relative amount of funding it received during the Apollo years and most of its management, morale and performance problems would probably disappear!

[Do not include my name, just say. . .] One of the many, many NASA employees and contractors dedicated to giving their best to America and the quest for knowledge.

To Nasawatch --

As a layperson with a great deal of enthusiasm for space exploration, I must say that the Commission report struck me as a document pretty much intended to achieve virtually nothing.

Its rhetoric about "privatizing" various aspects of NASA as a cure-all struck me as extraordinarily vacuous. Either the Commission writers were just looking for a pretty way of saying they want to cut Federal employees, or, if they actually believe what they are saying, have -- like so many people in the current political climate -- read one too many books by Ayn Rand (or, given the context, Robert Heinlein) and come to the conclusion that if you *say* "privatization solves everything" enough times, it will magically become true.

But I won't be too hard on the Commission report, because its only job was to put some positive spin on the original Bush space policy -- which, if you read between the lines, was itself designed as a well-calibrated piece of spin on its one substantive policy position: to give a definitive end-point to the shuttle program. On all of its other proposals (moon, mars, etc.) it was remarkably commitment- and substance-free. It's hard to write a Commission report of substance on a policy which itself lacks substance.

However, insofar as the policy *did* give a definitive end-point to the shuttle program (and by implication, the ISS), it's a very good piece of decision-making: the shuttle and ISS had to go. In fact, I'd argue that most of NASA's much-discussed administrative problems will, if not disappear, at least be drastically reduced once the shuttle program is over and done with. People who talk about the need to restructure radically NASA's organization, or who go all ga-ga over the concept of "increased privatization", should consider the notion that it was precisely the attempt to design and sell the shuttle *as a money-maker* (in its re-usability, etc.) that has been twisting NASA in knots all these years. Take away the shuttle itself and you solve most of your problem.

Insofar as the Bush policy, and the Commission report that followed it, are *mainly* about ending the shuttle program, they're most welcome. One that program is safely canned, then, with luck, we'll be able to approach space exploration with clearer heads.

When that day comes, I'd like to see some more sensible discussion about unmanned exploration and its relation to the manned program, about which the Commission report was notably, if predictably, lacking in details. I find it sadly typical of NASA's cluelessness that post-Columbia and post-Bush Policy, one of NASA's first major decisions was to can the Hubble. This is just indicative of NASA's complete and utter blindness to where all its major successes have been coming from for the last thirty years: the unmanned program. Any Commission or report or whatever that does not affirm the success of this program loudly and clearly is just not doing its job, as far as I'm concerned. But NASA's boneheadedness and the Commission's relative silence are typical of the mentality held over from the space race / Apollo days, which thinks that space only becomes interesting when you put people in it. This is like saying that the only thing interesting about Mars is that we've got two rovers on it. Or that the only thing interesting about the moon is that we can send people to it. The interesting things about Mars, the moon, and space, is that they ARE Mars, the moon, and space -- not because we can put people there. That we CAN put people there is interesting, but it's a completely different kind of interest from the intrinsic interest of the places themselves -- and a sane space program should reflect that.

In a sane space program of the future, I foresee two possibilities. First, instead of competing with and muscling aside the unmanned program, the manned program should actually take its cue from the unmanned program. Let's send a zillion unmanned missions all over the solar system and then, on the basis of what we learn from them, decide where to send people. The unmanned program should lead, and the (more expensive and risky) manned program should follow. It's infinitely more sensible, both ethically and scientifically, than what we're doing now. Second, to throw a bone to those who *must* have more people in space, one could decouple the manned and unmanned programs from each other completely, so that the unmanned program would carry out all of the science missions, and the manned program would focus on one goal only: colonization. A colonization-oriented manned program could even do a good deal of its work on the ground, developing biospheres, habitats, and so on -- which would save tons of money. The point is that since our robots are very good and are only going to get better, the BEST reason to send a person to the moon or Mars will not be to do science, but to live there.

An unmanned program that does the science and a manned program that does the colonizing: now that's a space program I can get behind.

Maybe when the shuttle is finally decommissioned, things will move in that direction.

Over the years, I have worked with people from most of the NASA field centers. I even spent time at NASA headquarters. What I have concluded is very simple. Every center is very diverse from the other. There is no "One NASA". And this is a good thing. From diversity comes creativity. To see intelligent people attempting to apply a common fix to all field centers is very disappointing.

I'm an ex-NASA employee. I feel for the NASA folks, many of whom work hard for space, and don't always understand why people don't just give NASA funding and get out of their way. I felt that way myself. Being outside, though, gives one some perspective.

If you look at the big picture, you can see that NASA and it's contractors just do not work as built. The US has been outcompeted and lost significant market share in manned space (Russia), commercial development of manned space (Russia), airplanes (Airbus), boosters (Arianespace), and booster technology (USAF/EELV). All the US commercial firms who are using new technology either build it themselves (SpaceX, Scaled Composites, Boeing/EELV) or buy it from overseas (Lockheed/Russia). NASA contributes indirectly, if at all. All sorts of debates over launch technology are based on data from old projects NASA either cancelled or never explored (X-38, DC-X/DC-XA, pressure fed boosters, etc.). The work NASA does do either doesn't help industry at all, or does not help them economically, where they need it. The US investment in NASA is doing nothing for US industry, jobs, or the citizens. Having to bum a ride with the Russians does not help the Nation's imagination, and all this staggering lack of progress means that kids have no incentive to pursue space careers - so they don't. All this education propaganda and pie in the sky is wonderful, but there comes a time (late high school) when kids look around at the real world.

The alternative is not to turn over NASA's work to their contractors. That would be a disaster, as several have pointed out. However, NASA employees in particular are so used to the NASA/contractor relationship that they have a hard time seeing how competitive markets work, and work well. For instance, even though NASA folks are deathly afraid that Contractors will deliberately kill astronauts in pursuit of profits, they have a hard time noticing that the aviation industry, with NACA/NASA research, private manufacturing and operations, and FAA oversight, actually does produce very safe travel. Space is different, but not that different.

The Commission wants NASA to turn the work over to a market, NOT to the contractors - again, not the same thing. NASA today accepts private aviation cargo transport (e.g. DHL), the report wants them to accept private aerospace cargo transport. Congress tried to ease NASA into that with Assured Access, and NASA blew them off - and now, post-Challenger, it looks like Congress was right, and that NASA is incapable of helping out the commercial market without being compelled.

NASA and those afraid of these changes are missing two points: 1) NASA and space will never be sustainable until ordinary people can visit there and work there. Keeping the people in space limited to a very few selected by a hidden NASA process means that we and NASA are going nowhere. If little Jimmy can't get into space without seven PhDs and the okay of some mysterious NASA person, NASA is toast - we either won't get there or everyone will go around NASA, making NASA irrelevant (the latter has already started to happen). 2) As far as I can tell, NASA has transitioned from a very popular organization to one where only the people on it's payroll (or who make money by it somehow) support it. Everybody else wants to see NASA either radically changed, or eliminated and gotten out of the way (remember, space support does not equal NASA support). If NASA is not radically changed, it will continue to fail, and the next Commission will see unanimous testimony to get rid of it altogether.

It's time to change, folks, hard as that is to do. The NASA folks could be doing real exciting stuff, not endless rehashes of the same powerpoint presentations.

I believe the obvious solution is to strip out the manned space activities from NASA and ship the whole manned program and all the retired generals and admirals recently imported by NASA over to DOD. They have much greater flexibility (read dollars) and experience in turning high-tech programs into an operational capability. Make it a 6th branch of the military. Then let NASA do the base R&D and science that we have been historically good at.

A LaRC employee (for now!)

Date: Thu, 17 Jun 2004 13:12:25 -0700

To: "All Personnel"

From: Office of the Director

Subject: President's Commission on Space Exploration Report


June 17, 2004

TO: All JPL Employees and Contractor Personnel

FROM: Charles Elachi

SUBJECT: President's Commission on Space Exploration Report

This morning I held an all-hands meeting to discuss the report of the President's Commission on Space Exploration. I gave an overview of the findings and recommendations and asked all personnel to identify their top three most pressing recommendations from the report. You may access the recommendations survey and submit your feedback at .

Submissions must be made by noon, tomorrow, Friday, June 18.

Here are some comments slightly sanitized by management forwarded up the food chain. I am sending this to you because I don't know how much of this will reach HQ, despite them having requested it. Each layer of management seems to filter more out. I would appreciate that it be credited only to some one at GSFC

Code 540/Mechanical Systems Division

Response to the Aldridge Commission Report

June 18, 2004

The Mechanical Systems Division would like to express their appreciation for the opportunity to comment on the June 16, 2004 report from the President's Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy. The report outlines changes that will have far reaching effects on NASA, and specifically on the highly dedicated civil servants that have made this Agency the best in Federal Service.

The task as outlined by AETD management was to have each and every employee given the opportunity to review and comment on the Report, and then to pick the top 3 recommendations that should be implemented from the Report. Each Division was to respond by Noon, Friday, June 18. A meeting was held on the afternoon of June 16 to discuss the report with the Code 540 Branch heads or their designated representatives, and to give them direction to allow each Branch member to read the report. After giving each employee one day to read the report, Branch level meetings were held to give comments as to the top 3 Report recommendations that the employees felt should be implemented first. Another meeting was held on the morning of June 18 to collect the input from the Branch Heads. The top three recommendations as chosen by the collective Code 540 employees are as follow:

1) Recommendation 8-1 The Space Exploration Steering Council work with America's education community and state and local political leaders to produce an action plan that leverages the exploration vision in support of the nation's commitment to improve math, science, and engineering education. The action plan should:

  • Increase the priority on teacher training;

  • Provide for better integration of existing math, science, and engineering education initiative across governments, industries, and professional organizations; and

  • Explore options to create a university-based "virtual space academy' for training the next generation technical workforce.

2) Recommendation 5-1 NASA aggressively use its contractual authority to reach broadly into the commercial and nonprofit communities to bring the best ideas, technologies, and management tools into the accomplishment of exploration goals;

3) Recommendation 8-2 Industry, professional organizations, and the media engage the public in understanding why space exploration is vital to our scientific, economic, and security interests.

Overwelmingly, the one singular comment from all the employees was that given only 1.5 days to read the report and provide comments, they were made to feel like their opinions while solicted weren't really going to be taken seriously. The comments as collected from each Code 540 Branch are included mostly in their untirety and unedited below.

1. My comments on the report revolve around Section II, Organizing the U.S. Government for Success. In summary, I would say:

1) Privatization of space access and mission support is a good thing, but it's not what's going to get us out of LEO. There are a lot of things we can and should do to help the private sector, but I think it's naive to believe that American businesses are going to give up the corporate dole that government contracts represent. There has to be a national shift in values if this is to happen.

2) There are many efficiencies that NASA could find in it's organization and processes and some of the reorganization that is currently taking place at HQ could very well help. But, I think we need to be careful about what we divest in our pursuit of exploration. There is a LOT of great science and benefit to be had in LEO and I'm concerned that in our headlong rush to get back to the moon we're going to throw the proverbial baby out with the bath water.

3) Restructuring NASA as a group of FFRDCs looks good on paper, but in a true accounting it doesn't necessarily add up? The report points out the successes of JPL, but what about the problems at Lawrence Livermore and Sandia, just to name two? Our management processes probably are outdated and gargantuan, but I don't think turning management over to a University or non-profit fixes the problem. I can easily imagine other solutions, like some of the current consolidations that are happening here at NASA, that would provide better solutions.

I believe that NASA could make some substantive changes, some of which are outlined in this report. However, we are the government and we do things that are not economically viable in the private sector. We shouldn't necessarily be allowed out of the fishbowl, but by the same token, the work we do and the "product" we provide can't be summed up in a nice tidy "bottom line." We owe it to the taxpayer to accurately and honestly account for every nickel, but the return on that investment is not measured in dollars or capital gain. It's measured in quality of life, technological progress and national pride.

Thanks for the opportunity to share my $0.02!

2. Recommendation 3-4, bullet 3, recommends creating a new research and technology organization that sponsors high risk/high payoff technology advancement while tolerating periodic failures.

3. We should create this organization at GSFC so we are the ones on the cutting edge of new technology, doing the high risk/high payoff missions.

4. The commission says that the current org chart is not wired for success. I beg to differ. NASA is a science clearing-house with tremendous achievements and a broad spectrum of objectives, which is a world-class model. Today it does not have the sex appeal of a big single-minded mission, but it would be a disaster to lose the broad base science capacity that NASA has come to represent. It seems to me that the proposed changes are wired for failure. The commission seems less interested in creating the proper strategy for creating space infrastructure for exploration, as they are in decimating NASA and allowing an unregulated feeding frenzy by commercial interests, who only share one vision (green).

5. So what's wrong with the management model that created Apollo? A greater success we've never had, the envy of the world. The reason why the management model is government program with commercial vendors is because there is little to no near-term financial profit in space if private industry had to pay for infrastructure. The reason there is so much interstate commerce was due to the federally funded highway system, done originally for national defense. Private industry would not and could not have done so. Until the decades of effort in building space infrastructure are complete, there won't be any profit in space other than from government contracts. This being the case how will there be substantial and sustained private investment (supposedly to lower gov investment) over decades when there is no profit in sight other than the gov trough?

6. Taking a practical point of view, space tourism can hardly be sited as a viable economic model. As the commission stated, entrepreneurial risk taking is quite different from NASA, and the first accident with the expected millionaire tourists will shut down the entire industry with lawsuits and insurance premiums.

7. It is technology spin-offs that have had the greatest economic impact. The private sector didn't invest in Apollo; it was paid to perform a job, which in turn brought about the technology innovation. Those innovations had many earthly applications, which attracted the investment dollars.

8. The commission stated that NASA should transfigure itself 'root and branch', which is a way of throwing out the baby with the bath. It further stated that NASA should do no work itself, but only do what is clearly an inherently governmental function. Well I see inherently governmental functions are to do those things which we as a society deem as valuable and good for all, advances civilization, something that can affect the overall economy (like the highway system, or basic science research), but could not turn a profit on its own merits in the short run. The military is a fitting example.

9. The commission uses Hubble as an example of how the public has taken pride and ownership in a NASA project. But with these proposed changes, a Hubble telescope would not have been possible. No immediate profit, you see. If it were turned downward to spy, a commercial outfit could sell the images to the highest bidder, but pretty pictures of galaxies? No profit.

10. The shameful way that NASA is being railroaded, by allowing only 1 day of comment by the troops makes it clear that our opinion really does not count, and is only being done for the sake of form.

11. Over the past several years NASA has moved from a R&D, space exploration agency to a contract administration organization. Ideas are processed by us, but: We select the contractor that will perform the R&D tasks or build the spacecraft We select the contractor that will launch the spacecraft We select the contractor that will monitor the data from the spacecraft.

12. The Aldridge Report suggests that NASA be privatized. I think we are already there. Look at JPL (USC) and Kennedy (USA) as examples.

13. NASA was supposed to be the leader in R&D technology. Using government monies, facilities and resources to study and perfect cutting edge technologies. However today we are picking industry standard technology to fly on satellites. We rely on contractors to tell us what we can have. Little research is being done, and that mainly by contractors, under a government contract. Not even lead by NASA engineers but by private sector academics. If NASA is to continue, we have to tell the contractors what we want. We have to provide to the contractors with the technology that we developed. We have to get in the lead again. NASA has to dream ideas, then develop them. We have to do this with civil servants not contractors. NASA HAS TO BE THE LEADER. With any of the commitments, Mars or the Moon, NASA needs to lead. NASA has to take the risks. NASA has to tell the contractors what we want, not ask them what we can have. If we let the contractors tell us what we want we are no longer in the lead. We are not developing ideas and technologies. NASA is then the dog that the tail is wagging. If we cannot commit to this then I say go ahead, Privatize NASA. Let them be contract administrators. Just don't call them an exploration agency.

14. A quick look at the members of this commission shows a classic example of what used to be called the "Military, Industrial Complex". They are Aerospace corporate executives who would like nothing better than to eviscerate NASA and pass the pieces among themselves, under the direction of the Vice President, another corporate exec.

15. Some of the recommendations beg the question, what NASA were they looking at? Do we not pass 95% of our budget to private industry? Do we not partner with scientists and research organizations? Is it not in our charter to develop technology and pass it on to the public sector? I'm baffled

16. General: overall it seemed heavily tilted towards "privatization" of NASA, which may have been motivated by the current Administration's theme of reducing Government involvement in programs.

Specific comments:

--Executive Summary

- "NASA's Relationship to the private sector......

* Implementing a far larger industrial presence than already exists would make our missions more vulnerable to failure. Too often in the past, contractors, through poor mismanagement or "buying-in" have had to be bailed out by us in order to successfully complete a project. We already have heavy industry involvement in ground operations i.e. USA Alliance for KSC ops.

* By the nature of how industry views success of a program, that is the profit motive, the likelihood of them taking risks to accept a new technology or new approach is much less than if the government was doing the job.

* Converting the Centers to FFRDC's may sound attractive from the viewpoint of independence from the rigid controls of the CS system, as to hiring, firing and pay scales. The downside of this as to benefits, specifically retirement and health care coverage, I feel would be compromised. It may make more sense for the NASA Research Centers to do this as they already have strong university ties.

* Adopting a "system-of systems" approach is interpreted to mean a movement away from "widget" development to more meaningful technologies which can be integrated as a system. Unfortunately this approach has not been adopted in the first Code T Intramural call for proposals, wherein the areas selected for bidding contained a majority of "sand-box" type developments....typical of the old Code R mentality. Therefore, going to a "system-of-systems" approach. if implemented, is a good thing.

-- Section II (C) Enabling Technologies

* A number of enabling technologies listed, GSFC, specifically 540, is in a position or getting into position, to participate in, namely Advanced Structures, Cryo cooling systems, Large Apeture systems, Autonomous systems and robotics, Power systems (Thermal). Unfortuntely, we were not asked to bid on these in the latest Code T Intramural call, in any of these areas. Hopefully that will change in the next cycle.

17. The space faring infrastructure should not be driven by science return, or hi-tech development, etc. But on finding ways to pay for itself. By so doing, the hi-tech developments and technical means for science exploration will be developed at the same time.

18. The report only tangentially mentions some highly researched and very viable income producing space activities, such as

19. Promoting and developing the technology, vehicles, etc. for space tourism to Low Earth Orbit, L5 and the moon.

20. Mineral or ice extraction from near earth asteroids and the moon.

21. Solar power satellite construction to end the shortage of energy and reduce fossil fuel pollution.

22. Going back to the moon for these reasons makes tremendous sense because doing so lowers the cost of the prime activity by utilizing lunar soil, or staging bases, etc. All to the goal of paying for itself, eventually, which is one good thing that government funded activities should lead to.

23. The commercial utilization of near space (asteroid) or the moon's resources for would be a better reason (than science) to return to the moon. Nothing in the Report's Vision for returning to moon or mars tries to be self sustaining, but only redirects already limited NASA money away from needed earth science and other worthy science.

24. I would only support the manned initiative if most other significant science programs, such as Earth Observing System (Earth Science), Space Science, etc. are not significantly reduced and gutted as in the proposed NASA budget.

25. This seeming destruction of the Earth Science programs in this report smacks of a very unfortunate political motivation. The Republican Party is well known for its fierce skepticism and criticism of those who point to serious environmental concerns. It would serve their agenda to undermine the science research needed to really understand global warming and other significant environmental issues so as to take the heat off of the destructive "business as usual" approach of the Republican's major corporate donors. Protecting the biosphere that sustains all life should be a very high priority from the kind of intelligent governmental leadership that is woefully absent in this report. Maintaining NASA's global vantage point of unmanned research spacecraft is crucial to understanding and protecting the Earth. The private sector is not motivated to research or curtail the environmental destruction that they cause. The Federal Government must force it to happen. If we do not understand the full extent and costs of environmental issues, we may find that the developed world's future economic resources are diverted toward costly mitigation of ever more costly and dangerous climate changes. Future funding of lunar or Mars missions cannot be sustained under such conditions.

26. Manned spaceflight is very expensive and very low in science return.

27. "Inspiration, innovation and discovery" are not limited to manned missions, as is implied.

28. Per the Webcast on 16 June: "Comments to the new vision were 7:1 in favor". The reliance on such popularity polls is dangerous, because the general population is not knowledgeable enough about the tradeoffs involved. We should "boldly go where no man has gone before", but not at the expense of earth science and not before robots have done a great deal.

29. Per the Webcast on 16 June: "Just ask the kids" these "are probably the right people to go to for the motivation". This is nonsense! Kids get there excitement about space from Sci-Fi films, and the reality is much different.

30. The "go as you can pay" by way of annual funding reviews advocated in this report has been shown to be incompatible with "a significant national priority" that is hoped for. Multi-year funding commitments are needed.

31. Before advocating sweeping changes at NASA, the commission should look in detail at what NASA is already doing now! To advocate a "far larger presence of private industry in space operations" ignores the large percentage already there. To protect the taxpayer's money, there must be a significant government oversight.

32. It seems misleading to state that this Vision "will significantly help the US protect its technological leadership, economic vitality, and security. With essentially the same funding, the 'new' NASA's impact in these areas will probably be about the same as before. Without Earth Science and the understanding of how sick the global biosphere is, we will be blind to the climate changing dangers facing the US and thus our economic vitality and national security will suffer.

a. using more private sector involvement while maintaining the continuity, well trained "fresh outs", in house facilities and labs, and the "proper amount" of needed government insight and oversight

ii. how we are to involve international partners and at what level

iii. since we want NASA to better reach out to the public and students(i.e.: will a charge number be provided in WEBTADS down to our level for student outreach and community outreach.)

iv. who coordinates and settles conflicts between these below:

the Administration and Congress work with NASA to create 3 new NASA organizations:

  • a technical advisory board that would give the Administrator and NASA leadership independent and responsive advice on technology and risk mitigation plans;
  • an independent cost estimating organization to ensure cost realism and accuracy; and
  • a research and technology organization that sponsors high risk/high payoff technology advancement while tolerating periodic failures; and

v. what happens to ISS after 2010? What if the vehicle to replace Shuttle is delayed as with Shuttle replacing Saturn IV? And recall Skylab falling back to Earth in 1979. If these programs(ISS, Shuttle, CODE T initiatives, Shuttle replacement) all overlap for a short while at near full funding targets can we pay for it all?

33. From a management perspective, I can see the value in having an external committee provide such recommendations. However, I object to the seemingly blind acceptance of those recommendations without proper discussion and debate. Some of the recommendations may have merit. For others, I my personal experiences lead me to believe they will actually have a negative affect if implemented. Garnering employee feedback in such a such a confined and breakneck manner strikes me as disingenuous. If the NASA Administrator truly values employee input, he should form a diverse cross Agency team to come up with internally generated recommendations to carry out the President's new vision. From there, both the internal and external inputs should be weighed and debated to arrive at the best overall course for NASA.

34. Future of NASA is dependent on the public opinion. Well educated public in math and science will be able to grasp, support and suggest goals of NASA. Learn from the health industry that has enabled general public to understand complex matters related to health in simple terms right at the elementary and secondary education. Supplementing education with exposing public to NASA missions and achievements through news and television media will be extremely beneficial for the future of NASA.

35. NASA has anew vision now unlike what we had before. This requires energizing scientific community who make our missions worthwhile to retool and think differently. National Academy of Sciences in cooperation with NASA administration can definitely try to inspire scientific community to think differently

36. Commission conducted extensive public outreach --- Why did the commission failed to reach out to the employees of NASA who could have given them valuable insight toward successful implementation.

37. The assertion that the only way to get to the Moon and Mars is the elimination the NASA civil service, and more centralized control and 'steering' by the White House with less congressional oversight follows a political agenda rather than an exploration agenda. Centralized steering by the White House is a power grab to reduce the government role and squash scientific inquiry that is inconsistent with the political beliefs and agenda of the administration. Research that would get congressional approval if given the chance will be stillborn in the White House steering committee, a nip-it-in-the-bud strategy. The abortion of scientific enquiry giving bad news does not serve the public interest, though it might serve certain private interests. To people NASA with a corps of yes-men administrators and check writers being directly steered by the White House steals ownership of NASA from the citizens of this country. And to top off this malevolent strategy, gift wrapping this wolf in sheep's clothing with the noble cause of educating and inspiring our youth is the height of high-handed arrogance and manipulation.

37. Why are NASA civil servants given only "one day" to review a 60 page document that might have far reaching implications on their careers? Even the Aldridge commission was given "120 days" to formulate their recommendations. Is HQ looking for real feedback on this report or do they just want to be able to say that all NASA employees were given a chance to comment. Actually, our direction wasn't so much to "comment" on the report but to choose which 3 of the 15 recommendations to implement first. Why does it appear to be a forgone conclusion that NASA will implement all of the 15 recommendations?

38. I am open to the idea of at least considering turning the NASA Centers into FFRDC labs, but where is the debate? What are the ramifications for me? For Goddard? For NASA? Let's get people on both sides of this recommendation identifying the Pros and Cons and then make this data available to the NASA civil servants before heading down this slippery path that might mean the end of NASA.

39. Diluting the engineering at NASA and thus reducing the NASA centers to groups of contracting officers (i.e., inherently governmental function) writing big checks to big private companies will mean big waste, fraud and abuse scandals! We must have experienced engineers at NASA to make sure that requirements are being followed and that corners are not being cut for the sake of profits. NASA must continue to do in-house missions to train the engineering workforce to properly monitor the large private contracts necessary for building a program to the moon and Mars.

40. Why is it that a committee formed to determine the future of NASA and its projects does not have any NASA personnel as committee members?

41. The invocation of the terms entrepreneurial, industry and commercial bring to my mind the idea that this is a tendency to "privatize" NASA or at least to get much of the taxpayers dollars into corporate hands. This may or may not be a good thing. In addition to the military-industrial complex we may be heading toward, a Space exploration-industrial complex with decidedly profit and stock option motives. The late Dwight D. Eisenhower wrote and commented extensively on the possible pitfalls of this military industrial complex. And so, I think should we. Proceed with extreme caution and answer many specific questions. One question I deem very important: Does this truly benefit all Americans or just a few at the top of the social-economic ladder?

42. The Abraham Lincoln analogy is a poor example, as Americans ended up with a civil war in the East and exploited the West and its inhabitants. Is this a good model for the space exploration initiative?

43. The key recommendations expressed in the report are nearly entirely covered in the existing NASA procedures, directives, policies and mission statements.

44. The primary issue is the ability of NASA to proceed in the proposed direction. This involves NASA's inability to communicate within and between levels internally, and between internal and external organizations due to perceived and real legal restrictions, chain of command issues, and the complete disarray of intra-organizational operations.

45. NASA's primary issues in direction are the ability to move in a direction in a concerted manner.

46. In response to the commission's report on NASA's support of education and supplying scientists and engineers for the future. Having been between jobs since the fall of the Berlin wall, the issue is market. There is currently little or no market for scientists, especially at the master's or doctoral level. Business and management, which in technological companies has in general shifted from technically based leadership to financially based management. Investment in the future through research is now considered a liability by most companies, unless like except research houses, someone else is picking up the tab. Technology companies at one time made significant investments in research and development (10% or more of gross income) irrespective of quarterly profits. This lead to the large gains and changes between the 1900's and 1980's. Now there are many scientists and engineers who are retiring, changing professions or otherwise dropping out of the technical job market because of its futility. The market is not nearly as soft for engineers as it is for scientists. Just look at the number of positions open for scientists and engineers, and the total number of students graduating high school.

47. The shift to "Investor loyalty," driven operations (showing maximum quarterly profits) has nearly killed independent research investment. NASA has no hope to change the philosophy of American business. Unless research and development become more profitable, industry is not going to do it. Research and development as an industrial activity primarily exists now at the absolutely required to survive level it is typically carried out only at the survival level. Industrial research is primarily crisis management technology support rather than anything that might make a quantum leap. This is rolling into governmentally funded research as well, which means that it is trickling down into academic research as well. The concept of a research project not proving its hypothesis is now considered a failure, and is typically swept under the rug. A failed proposition often provides more information and insight than a "success."

48. Success in the process of traveling to the moon, Mars and beyond is a matter of enabling NASA to do what NASA needs to do. Better oversee the focus and activities of administration whose job it is to facilitate the achievements of the organization. If you want rapid action, change the job paradigm from: "what do you want me not to do that I am doing, so that I can do the next thing," to "what additional resources do you need to do the next thing."

49. Untie NASA's hands, provide the front line real direction, give them the resources, and let them do it. It will happen. No one outside of the aerospace community really has a complete understanding of what is really required to go to the moon, or to Mars. There may not even be anyone in the aerospace that knows now either.

50. I have felt for all the time I have worked for NASA and especially GSFC that the Public Relations was a weak point. The average tax payer, state and federal, have little or no idea what comes from all the research that we accomplish. The publication "Spinoff" that comes to government employees is a good example. It only comes to NASA employees. Things that are in this publication should be wider advertised. This would also help in NASA receiving public support which equates MONEY!

(Note: this paragraph came from bottom bullet on page 6) The space exploration vision must be managed as a significant national priority, a shared commitment of the President, Congress, and the American people.

51. The Commission recommends NASA recognize and implement a far larger presence Of private industry in space operations with the specific goal of allowing private industry to assume the primary role of providing services to NASA, and most immediately in accessing low-Earth orbit. (ISN'T THIS ALREADY DONE?) In NASA decisions, the preferred choice for operational activities must be competitively awarded contracts with private and non-profit organizations and NASA's role must be limited to only those areas where there is irrefutable demonstration that only government can perform the proposed activity. (THERE ARE MANY EXAMPLES OF HOW THE NASA FIELD CENTERS HAVE "BAILED OUT" PRIVATE INDUSTRY.)

52. I agree that the new direction of the agency to focus on human and robotic missions to the Moon, Mars, and beyond will enhance our world-renown technological leadership and economic vitality. However, are we going to do this at the expense of furthering our knowledge of our home planet? As we eagerly plan on ways to inhabit the Moon and Mars and to explore the outer regions of our solar system, we still need to focus some of our resources on the study of Planet Earth. Until we discover or create the means to take us from here to "there", NASA needs to continue its Earth Science research. Why? Through NASA technology, we are discovering trends relevant to the depletion of vital, natural resources - resources crucial to our survival. It is this same technology that can lead us to ways of mitigating further depletion of these resources. We need to sustain our current living environment for as long as we can. NASA technology and research will help us do this. We are the experts that design, build, and send the satellites into orbit to produce this type of data. This capability should remain in the hands of the experts - NASA.

53. I agree that the new direction of the agency to focus on human and robotic missions to the Moon, Mars, and beyond will enhance our world-renown technological leadership and economic vitality. However, are we going to do this at the expense of furthering our knowledge of our home planet? As we eagerly plan on ways to inhabit the Moon and Mars and to explore the outer regions of our solar system, we still need to focus some of our resources on the study of Planet Earth. Until we discover or create the means to take us from here to "there", NASA needs to continue its Earth Science research. Why? Through NASA technology, we are discovering trends relevant to the depletion of vital, natural resources - resources crucial to our survival. It is this same technology that can lead us to ways of mitigating further depletion of these resources. We need to sustain our current living environment for as long as we can. NASA technology and research will help us do this. We are the experts that design, build, and send the satellites into orbit to produce this type of data. This capability should remain in the hands of the experts - NASA.

54. I agree that the new direction

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