Personnel News: December 1998 Archives


10 December 1998: 
Letter to Alfred Castillo Director, Headquarters Human, Resources Management Division, NASA Headquarters from Donald Teague, President, NASA Headquarters Professional Association (NHPA) regarding Office Space Policy

10 December 1998:  A LESA member's commentary, by Dr. William H. Jones, Impact, LESA Bulletin98-003, IFPTE LOCAL 28 AFL-CIO & CLC, NASA LeRC.

9 December 1998: NASA discloses details of plan to convert Moffett, San Jose Mercury News

5 December 1998: 
[Bob Sieck] Veteran of shuttle program to retire from NASA after 34 years, Orlando Sentinel

16 November 1998: AFEU signs agreement with ARC management


"The Ames Federal Employees Union (AFEU) recently completed
signing a new Negotiated Agreement (contract) with management
that gives some of the best employee protections that we have seen,
and we hope that the partnership will yield better morale and
higher productivity for the approximately 1100 employees in the
bargaining unit. AFEU has a web site at
and the Negotiated Agreement is located at
We hope that you will consider mentioning our Negotiated
Agreement at NASA Watch as a national model for a successful
management/employee relationship that may be of interest to
other NASA centers and to your general public web visitors. "

5 November 1998: Letter from NHPA President Don Teague to Alfred Castillo, Director, Headquarters Human Resources Management Division, NASA HQ regarding the 3 Nov meeting on proposed Code Q office reconfiguration.

3 November 1998: Message from Donald Teague, President, NASA Headquarters Professional Association (NHPA) to NASA HQ Associate Administrators

"Tomorrow, November 4, at 2 PM, Chris Christensen will hold a meeting for all Headquarters AAs or their designated representatives. As I understand,
the purpose of the meeting is to obtain your agreement on a new
implementation of NASA Headquarters office space guidelines".

2 November 1998: Plans to move safety office at NASA HQ put on hold

Editor's note: Acting Deputy Administrator Jack Dailey was apparently all set to approve the demolition and reconstruction ("restacking" and "squishing") of Code Q's offices. Responding to a letter from the Headquarters employee's union (NHPA) which included a threat to file an unfair labor practice, Jack is apparently going to put these plans on hold and negotiate with the NHPA. Then again we hear that he may go ahead with them. Either way, I understand the Inspector General's Office is aware of the situation and is keeping an eye on the process.

28 October 1998: Message to GSFC employees from GSFC Center Director Al Diaz

29 October 1998: Memo from Jerry Simpson, Director Office of Human Resources to GSFC employees regarding "redesign of the entire GSFC promotion process".

29 September 1998: NASA's Midlife Crisis: A Bureaucracy in Search of a Mission, Beth Dickey, ABC News

29 September 1998: Program Taps NASA Retirees' Payload of Skills, Washington Post

"NASA is launching an experiment with George Mason University in Fairfax aimed at turning retired space engineers and managers into advisers for the Washington area's growing commercial space and satellite industry."

Editor's note: This is an excellent concept - one NASA would do well to repeat in other regions of the U.S.

14 September 1998: 
Comments and observations on the Stephenson announcement by

"One of those observations [made by Stephenson] was that
the average age of MSFC personnel is about 45 and that he is used
to working with a workforce whose average age is about 28 or 30.
This should be the first indication that some of the "graybeards"
are going to be handed their hats and shown the door."

12 September 1998: 
New MSFC boss steeped in space, Huntsville Times

"Goldin said he's known Stephenson for 25 years, dating back to when
both worked for TRW in California from 1987 to 1992.

Stephenson cited Goldin as one of his mentors."

Editor's Note: I am certain everyone at MSFC is thrilled to hear this.

11 September 1998:  (not online), Huntsville Times

"The Times quoted NASA officials as saying Goldin would not name
the new center director during a speech to Marshall employees
today despite rumors to the contrary. NASA spokesman Brian Welch
said he had bad information earlier this week."

11 September 1998:  Arthur G. Stephenson, President of Oceaneering Advanced Technologies, Houston, TX, has been named to become the next Director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, NASA press release

Editor's Note: Stephenson is one of JSC Center Director George Abbey's pals and apparently knows Dan Goldin from their days back at TRW. Oceaneering provides "Services Supporting Neutral Buoyancy Activity at MSFC" according to its website.

10 September 1998: 
Goldin due, but Marshall director isn't, Huntsville Times

"NASA spokesman Brian Welch said that Goldin plans to fly in by 9 a.m. and leave by 2 p.m. While he's here, he plans to give a speech to Marshall employees and receive a briefing on Marshall's Advanced Space Transportation Program.

Welch said Goldin will not announce a new center director, despite speculation to that effect."

Editor's Note: Gee Brian, you might want to check with your staff a bit more often. This press release has your name on it.

10 September 1998: 
Is a new MSFC Center Director about to be named?

Editor's note: Dan Goldin and company will be visiting MSFC on Friday. He will brief employees on "New Frontiers in Engineering." A question and answer session is to follow. Meanwhile word is circulating at MSFC that Dan Goldin might introduce a new Center Director. I have been hearing several names floated about. "Stephenson" is one of them. "Griner" is not. (FYI NASA Watch published the name "Stephenson" several weeks ago and rumor has it that Stephenon's picture has been hanging on the wall in the
lobby of bldg. 4200 for a week.)

1 September 1998: Ladwig, Heffernan and Garver named to key NASA roles, NASA press release

Editor's note: Gee PAO, it's about time you got around to announcing this! Ladwig actually moved his office upstairs almost a month ago - as reported here, of course. Let's see how long Code Z lasts. Dan's Acting Deputy, Jack Dailey, has never liked it as a separate code and has made his views rather widely known. With Mike Mott now gone, word has it that Jack is after turf.

Oh yes, all three individuals are solid, dedicated, creative professionals and will do very well in their new (confirmed) positions.

Oops! (to the 3 of you): I hope that comment doesn't somehow shorten your careers!

31 August 1998: 
JSC Senior Staff meeting minutes, Mission Operations Directorate

"New assignments have been made. D. Leestma is leaving CA to become Deputy
Director for Flight Projects in the Engineering Directorate. J. Wetherbee
will have a dual role as Deputy Center Director and Director of Flight
Crew Operations. Earl Thompson becomes Deputy Director of ISD."

28 August 1998: 
Is a new MSFC Center Director about to be named?

Editor's note: I have been hearing several names floated about. "Stephenson" is one of them. "Griner" is not. Meanwhile word is circulating at MSFC that Dan Goldin is supposed to visit on 11 September. Hmm, maybe Dan is going to introduce a new Center Director.....

31 July 1998: 
Management changes at Code Z, NASA HQ Office of Policy and Plans

Code Z AA Alan Ladwig will soon be reporting directly to Dan Goldin and will be working on "special projects".

Lori Garver will become the Acting AA for Code Z

13 July 1998: 3 Rocket Scientists Die, AP, Yahoo

11 July 1998: Three Surviving Members of von Braun's Team Die, Huntsville Times

9 July 1998: 
DFRC Center Director Ken Szalai to leave NASA.

Word has it that he's leaving on 1 August and will be going to work for IBP Aircraft as either president and/or CEO.

 Update from one of our ad hoc NASA Watch research staff:

"Using Infoseek and the search term "IBP Aircraft" I found one hit.The hit includes two pages of information. The first page describes the NASA/ US Industry/ Russian TU-144 flight research activity and its connection to Al Gore and Viktor Chernomyrdin. The second page is an organization chart of personnel involved entitled "TU-144 U.S. Team Project Organization". The footnote at the bottom of the chart reads: "IBP Aircraft LTD. of London provides translation and coordination services between the US Team and Tupolev".

1 July 1998: 
Code M is under the gun to move people out - or else.

Dan has apparently demanded that Code M at HQ get their head count down from 83 to 58. A number of Code M folks have found their name on a list. Managers with openings across the agency are supposed to interview the folks on this list. If an offer is made to an employee and they decline the job, termination proceedings begin immediately. Affected employees have no choice whatsoever - except to comply.

2 July 1998: So YOU want to be the MSFC Center Director.

Here's how

Carolyn Griner (Acting MSFC Center Director) told an all hands at MSFC the other day that she intends to apply and invited any of those in attendance who are interested to do the same. It is unlikely that she will get the job. Look for an outsider to get it. Stay tuned.

3 June 1998: 
Mike Mott soon to depart NASA HQ?

We understand that a press release is being prepared to announce the departure of Mike Mott, Associate Deputy Administrator (Technical). Word has it that he'll be going to work for Boeing at their Seal Beach, CA facility.

27 May 1998: 
Office of Space Science Associate Administrator, Dr. Wes Huntress Named Director of Carnegie Institution's Geophysical Laboratory, NASA

7 May 1998: Armstrong named Associate Administrator for Aeronautics and Space Transportation Technology, NASA press release

29 April 1998: Congress flunks agencies' performance plans, Government Executive Magazine

"Congress has given failing grades to federal agencies' fiscal 1999 performance plans, which lay out agencies' goals for next year."

On its Performance Plan Score: in April 1998 NASA got a 47.5 - the highest for an agency was 71 (DOT) and the lowest was 14 (GSA). On its Strategic Plan Score: in November 1997 NASA did better and got 67 with the highest (75) going to DOT and the lowest (28 ) going to DOC.

NASA's 1998 Strategic Plan (NASA Policy Directive (NPD)-1000.1 )

28 April 1998: 
Will Code F AA Gen. Sam Armstrong become the new Code R (Aeronautics) AA?

Stay tuned. Rumor has it that Codes J, F, and H may merge and that the new code would be managed by someone currently at GSFC.

24 April 1998:  Letter from the president of the Headquarters Professional Association (NHPA) to Acting Deputy Administrator Jack Daley regarding the "planned progressive conversion of enclosed office spaces for all but SES and supervisory personnel".

"While Headquarters Code reorganizations and re-stacking activities for space consolidation may result in a net loss of some enclosed office space, elimination of enclosed offices except for SES and supervisors entirely within the Headquarters building is unjustified in the absence of an Executive Order mandating a Government-wide change in policy."

Editor's Note: This is apparently the last chance Code C AA Chris Christensen has to make life miserable for HQ employees before he retires - yup - he's out the door and off to his farm very soon.

21 April 1998: 
Is the Wes Huntress replacement process narrowing down?

We have heard that the process of replacing Wes Huntress as Associate Administrator for Space Science has narrowed down to a short list of candidates. The short list includes: David Black, Lunar and Planetary Institute, and Annelia Sargent, California Institute of Technology. We have heard rumors that Dr. Black has declined the offer. Stay tuned.

17 April 1998: 
Dan Goldin and/or Carolyn Huntoon to DOE?

In his always entertaining and informative "What's New", Bob Park has reported rumors that Dan Goldin is being considered as a replacement for Frederico Pena as Secretary of Energy:

" There could be a cabinet shuffle: Bill Richardson, Ambassador to the UN and Dan Goldin, who has shown talent for liposuction of bloated bureaucracies, have both been mentioned. Madeleine Albright would like to see Richardson get the job, a lot of people in NASA would like to see it go to Goldin."

Meanwhile, back at NASA Watch, we have heard rumors that former JSC Center Director Carolyn Huntoon's name was being floated around for a senior (Assistant Secretary?) position at DOE.

8 April 1998: Why is NASA Headquarters looking to purchase surveillance gear?

The following sole-source announcement was posted by NASA HQ in the CBD on 2 April 1998: PURCHASE (3) EACH UNITEL 210X PROFESSIONAL INTELLIGENCE SYSTEM

"UNITEL 315 Hard-Wire Video Surveillance System. This system is designed to provide the investigator with a complete multi-purpose video surveillance kit. The system's low-light camera with four interchangeable lenses permits close-up, medium and long-range video surveillance. The circuit board camera with pinhole lens that is supplied with the kit allows for covert surveillance through a variety of concealments. A four-channel video switcher enables the investigator to monitor and record multiple video camera inputs. .....

UNITEL 210X Professional Audio Intelligence System with Repeater. Built into an inconspicuous commercial grade, high impact carrying case with compartments for all removable components and all operating controls......"

Editor's Note: I find the classification code for this RFP to be rather interesting. While I do know that procurement language is often unimaginative boilerplate lingo, I find it rather scary to see that NASA considers surveillance systems with pinhole cameras designed for "covert surveillance through a variety of concealments" by "investigators" housed in "an inconspicuous commercial grade, high impact carrying case" to be : "General purpose information technology equipment".

And just who will NASA Headquarters be watching with these toys?

UPDATE: The NASA Office of Inspector General is making these purchases.

2 April 1998: 
Flashlights, cameras, ACTION! JSC kept in the dark while Hollywood films

"Lighting is required to be de-energized in order to facilitate HBO in filming Rocket Park this evening. "

Editor's note: "de-energized" !? Of course, you can't just say "the lights will be turned off" at NASA. (= Never A Simple Answer).

1 April 1998:   Happy Anniversary Dan!

Editor's Note: Dan Goldin now has the 2nd longest tenure of any NASA Administrator - he took office on April Fool's Day, 1992. Dan has now had more time on the job than 7 out of 8 predecessors (Truly, Fletcher (1st and 2nd stints), Beggs, Frosch, Paine, and Glennan). Only James Webb has served longer (7.5 years).

31 March 1998: Federal Downsizing: Agency Officials' Views on Maintaining Performance During Downsizing at Selected Agencies, General Accounting Office [adobe acrobat file]

"NASA officials told us that unions, employee associations, and
employees should be involved with developing the agency downsizing
implementation strategy. In addition, officials said that (1) people
must be treated with compassion and must know they are valued by the
(2) there must be no favoritism even though management may be reluctant
to let some people leave; (3) buyouts need to be planned to prevent a
sudden loss of expertise; and (4) critical skills should be backed up by
more than one person so that, if people leave, the agency still has
employees with the required skills."

Editor's note: Huh? Did I miss something? Did NASA ever tell any of you about any of this? If so why didn't you let me know!

 23 March 1998: 
MSFC Center Director decision soon?

Rumour has it that Stennis center director Roy Estes has turned down the job and that Code Q AA Fred Gregory is back in the running. Acting MSFC center director Carolyn Griner is also still a contender. The rumors go on to include a Lockheed-Martin vice president and a retired military officer. Stay tuned.

12 March 1998: NASA Paranoia Update:

The day after we ran the piece about the blocked e-mail to Andy Thomas from the 4 March 1998 issue of the daily JSC POSA report, those reports started having noticeably less content, and the all caps banner "FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY" across the top of them.

Seems like the U.S. taxpayer isn't "official" enough for them -- this despite Mr. Goldin's statement that he wanted to have a "free and open agency".

FOIA Requests, anyone?

6 March 1998: 
Townsend named GSFC Deputy Director

William F. Townsend, Deputy Associate Administrator for Earth Science (Programs) at NASA HQ, has been named as Deputy Director of GSFC. Townsend begins his new assignment on 23 March.

23 February 1998: Shuttle veterans depart NASA, NASA press release

Astronauts Jerry M. Linenger, M.D., (Capt., USN), Blaine L.
Hammond (Col., USAF) and M. Rhea Seddon, M.D., have retired from
NASA to pursue private interests.

18 February 1998: Office of Space Science Associate Administrator Wes Huntress announces his departure from NASA, NASA press release

16 February 1998: Managing For Results: Agencies Annual Performance Plans Can Help Address Strategic Planning Challenges, General Accounting Office [.pdf format]

"Major management problems that could affect NASA's ability to achieve
its mission were not explicitly discussed in the draft plan. For
example, NASA did not discuss its long-standing problems with managing
contracts, managing information technology, and developing a fully
integrated accounting system, even though the agency has recognized them
as problems and has initiated some steps designed to address them. This
information could be beneficial to NASA and its stakeholders because
major management problems could impede the agency's efforts to achieve
its goals and objectives."

3 February 1998: Did Dan pay tribute to NASA Watch?

Editor's Note: I had planned to go to the NASA budget press conference yesterday, but decided instead to stay in my office and post the FY 99 budget info onto NASA Watch as soon as OMB/GPO posted it on their website. The following was sent to me by

"Noticed you missing at yesterday's budget press missed a direct reference to you by Dan Goldin...

The first question asked to the NASA Administrator was by a reporter asking about the apparent discrepency between the internal memo [regarding basic research funding for human missions to Mars] and Goldin's statements to Rep. Dave Weldon.

Goldin replied, "You know, I am really really glad that we have such an open agency that everyone gets to read our internal memos" Which, of course, was answered by laughter by the press.

Goldin continued, "No, I am serious. I am not mad -- it speaks well that we can be that open to share our internal memos."

He then warned the press to please consider the internal memos, as just that, internal. Nothings final until released to the public --"

Gee Dan, if you run 'such an open agency' then why not just publish these internal memos yourself! Once again, your public comments do not jive with your private actions: Why did you mount the witch hunts to find out who distributed the 12 January 1998
Engineering Directorate Staff Meeting Minutes from JSC or see who at MSFC contributed background information to the 6 October 1997 letter from Sen. Richard Shelby , Sen. Jeff Sessions, and Rep. Bud Cramer?

Just 'saying' you have an open agency isn't going to make it happen Dan. YOU have to work at making it happen. Lead by example.

2 February 1998: 
Minutes of the MSFC Director's Staff Meeting

"This is a excellent opportunity for employees to meet Mr. Rothenberg, hear his philosophy, and ask questions. He is an unknown entity to most of the Center. "

Editor's note: Code M AA Joe Rothenberg has been visiting MSFC for several days. Given his background and experience at GSFC, we expect Mr. Rothenberg to show much more interest in MSFC's AXAF, microgravity, and payload integration activities than have his predecessors whose interests often seemed to be focused only on MSFC's space station/space shuttle activities.

2 February 1998: Asrar named Associate Administrator for Earth Science, NASA press release

21 January 1998: 
Letter from Dan Goldin to Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) regarding the future of MSFC.

"Marshall has been assigned the responsibility to provide the leadership and analyses to conceive the required space propulsion investments that NASA can propose to the Administration and the Congress. They have also been tasked to manage those investments in the most efficient and effective manner. No other NASA Center has such a pivotal role in pacing the future of space flight. All other roles at Marshall are dwarfed in comparison to the importance of space propulsion to NASA's future. You may be assured that these activities will be fully supported in the forthcoming FY 1999 NASA budget request."

Note this letter was sent in response to a letter sent to Dan Goldin by Sen. Shelby, Sen. Sessions, and Rep. Cramer on 6 October 1997. From what we have learned Dan was not at all pleased by this letter and a witch hunt was conducted to see who at MSFC had been talking to Congress.

21 January 1998:  
Mission to Planet Earth Enterprise name changed to Earth Science, NASA press release

Just as we reported on 20 November 1997.

12 January 1998: Note from GSFC Center Director Al Diaz to GSFC employees.

"It's my first day on the job as Goddard's Center Director, and I want to share with you my excitement and anticipation of the future."

9 January 1998: 
Feedback from Rep. Weldon's KSC visit

"I attended the first meeting in HQ BLDG and found it to be interesting
and informative. Say what you will about the congressman, but I believe that his involvement and the negative press surrounding this layoff issue have at least put a temporary hold on the layoff while some very poignant questions can be asked. However, I was disappointed that the congressman did not expand on what he is doing to prepare to counter the budget shortfall created by the most recent budget proposed by President Clinton. Maybe he could respond now!!"

 8 January 1998: ALERT!  Paradigm Shift Ahead - Has Dan Goldin sent human space flight off in a new direction?, by Keith Cowing

"Every now and then Dan Goldin does something very right. Appointing Joe Rothenberg to be Associate Administrator of the Office of Space Flight (OSF) is one of those things.

 8 January 1998: 
Joe Rothenberg is the new OSF (Code M) AA; Al Diaz is the new GSFC Center Director. [NASA press release]

8 January 1998:  Rep. Dave Weldon to visit KSC for employee consultation, as posted on Space Coast Rumor Mill.

Congressman David Weldon will be visiting the Kennedy Space Center on 8 January 1998, to meet with employees to discuss the year in Congress and other issues relating to the Space program and the Space Coast. Make these meetings count! Give Rep. Weldon some hard information to work with. You'll see. Individuals CAN make a difference!

Rep. Weldon will be available to the workforce at the following times:

  • 9:45 AM -10:30 AM  NASA HQ Room 2201
  • 10:40 AM - 11:25 AM  NASA HQ Room 2201. (Room 2201 will hold approximately 45 people. Please contact the Fourth floor staff at 867-2218 for reservations. First come first served.)

  • 12:45 PM - 1:30 PM  NASA O&C Room 2004

  • 1:40 PM - 2:25 PM  NASA O&C Room 2004. (Room 2004 will hold approximately 30 people. Please contact the Fourth floor staff at 867-2218 for reservations. First come first served.)

  • 2:40 PM - 3:25 PM  SSPF Cafeteria . This opportunity will be on a first come first served basis. No appointments are necessary.

  • 3:40 PM - 4:25 PM  OPF Annex Break Room. (For those who call after the above meetings are filled, please recommend attendance at this meeting) .

5 January 1998:  Carolyn Griner named Acting MSFC Center Director

Carolyn Griner has been named the Acting Center Director at
MSFC. Whether she gets to remove the word "Acting" from her title
remains to be seen. A decision is reportedly still at least two
weeks away as to who will take on the permanent Center Director's role. JSC Center Director George Abbey certainly has a keen interest in this decision: check our "Changes" page for earlier rumors.

UPDATE: We understand that the MSFC Center Director's position - as well as a number of AA positions at NASA HQ - may actually be opened up for some sort of competition. More to follow.



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This page is an archive of entries in the Personnel News category from December 1998.

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