ESMD's Revolving Door

Editor's update: I finally heard back from ESMD PAO today - three weeks after I asked them a few questions - and only after sending multiple emails. They replied "If you recall back when you originally posed your questions about Dr. Horowitz, I told you that he is a special government employee. Here, for your reference, a relevant excerpt from 18 US Code Section 202 that defines special government employee. And here's a link, if you want to look it up for yourself: http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode18/usc_sec_18_00000202----000-.html. As you can see, a special government employee is employed directly by the federal government."

Alas they still have not answered all of the questions I asked i.e. Is Scott Horowitz working on composite structures for the CEV at the NESC? Did Scott Horowitz oversee and/or fund work on composite structures at the NESC while he was the ESMD AA?

Editor's update: I just got an answer - a non-answer - the same one that ESMD PAO sent me in November: "Scott Horowitz is serving NASA in a very limited capacity as a special government employee. On occasion, he is called in as a technical advisor reporting to Ralph Roe, who manages the NASA Engineering and Safety Center. From time to time, Horowitz will be asked to review projects and milestones that may or may not be part of NASA's Constellation Program. Horowitz has not taken an office at the Langley Research Center. He continues to live and work in Park City, Utah."

In other words when I ask specific questions I cannot get a simple 'yes' or 'no' but instead get this non-answer with regard to what Horowitz is working on i.e "from time to time", "may or may not" etc. Why NASA ESMD PAO is being so elusive escapes me.

Editor's further update: But wait there's more: The latest email from ESMD PAO states: "NESC is an independent NASA entity and ESMD does not keep track of the duties of NESC employees. If you have further questions about Dr. Horowitz's specific duties, your best option is to ask the public affairs office at Langley, which serves NESC."

ESMD at NASA HQ sends multiple tasks down to NESC - many at the personal behest of Mike Griffin. Moreover, the former ESMD AA now works there. Yet NASA Headquarters does not know and/or cannot tell me what Horowitz - or other employees working on ESMD tasks - are doing?

Curiously, Horowitz's name is nowhere to be found on the NESC's official management chart. You'd think that someone of his prominence (past and present) would be listed.

And yet then there is this picture on the NESC website - with an update of 19 December 2007 - that shows Horowitz sitting front and center at a Max Launch Abort System (MLAS) Team meeting with the caption "MLAS team members pictured above, attending a technical interchange meeting held at LaRC in November 2007." Horowitz left his position at NASA in October 2007.

As for what people are doing at NESC, a November 2007 presentation by NESC Director Ralph Roe states "NASA's Former Associate Administrator for Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, Scott Horowitz, asked the NESC to develop an alternate design as risk mitigation for the Orion Launch Abort System (LAS) concept. The alternate concept will be demonstrated by a pad aboard test." It sure sounds to me like they have been sending design work to NESC. I cannot imagine that ESMD does not have the same level of oversight/insight into this task as they do with other Orion and Ares tasks at other NASA locations.

Curiously Horowitz is shown attending a meeting focused on a task that he himself sent to NESC while ESMD AA - and he is doing so as a "special employee" at NESC after he left his ESMD AA position.

Earlier postings below.

Editor's 12 Dec note: According to NASA sources former Exploration Systems Mission Directorate (ESMD) Associate Administrator Scott Horowitz is currently employed as a consultant at the NASA Engineering and Safety Center (NESC) via a contract with ATK.

Horowitz went to work for ATK when he left the NASA Astronaut Corps and was working at ATK when he was hired back to run NASA ESMD.

Upon his return to NASA, ESMD chose a launch vehicle concept ("The Stick" aka Ares 1) that originated within ATK - one that utilizes an ATK-provided first stage provided on a sole source basis.

Among the things Horowitz is working on now is composite structures for the CEV - something he sent to the NESC to work on when engineers at JSC and elsewhere said that it was not going to provide the benefits Horowitz had been hoping for.

Despite sending a specific request to Melissa Mathews at ESMD PAO (December 12, 2007 12:18:05 PM EST) ESMD PAO has not acknowledged my request or provided any response to the questions I asked.

Editor's 30 Dec update: There have been some PAO personnel changes at ESMD which might account for some of the delay in responding. Then again, this request has been known to ESMD management for a while (with repeated requests) - well before the holidays. It has now been two and a half weeks since my request was made and no one has officially responded - yet they have replied to other requests I have made. Gee, I wonder why ....

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on January 3, 2008 10:54 AM.

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