Personnel News: March 2005 Archives

About 30 NASA Langley workers take buyout offer, Virginia Pilot

"The center could have paid for as many as 300 buyouts, said Leah M. Meisel, director of Langley's Office of Human Capital Management. "While we had hoped for bigger numbers, we are pleased that we were able to give so many of our employees the opportunity to take a buyout," she said in an e-mail."

Unconfirmed Mountain Lion Sighting on NASA ARC

"On March 23, 2005 at 12:45 a.m., there was an unconfirmed sighting of mountain lions on the east side of the Ames Research Center near the golf course. In recent years there have been confirmed sightings of mountain lions in the Palo Alto area. Although the likelihood of a mountain lion attack is less than being struck by lightening, it is wise to be prepared for such an encounter."

Editor's note: This, of course, reminds me of a classic humor item posted on NASA Watch a decade ago: "Secretary of the Interior Babbit Announces Hstoric Cooperative Agreement Between NASA and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service"

"This agreement with the Fish and Wildlife Service will introduce ecologically sound management practices that will replace the 'business as usual' approach to personnel issues at NASA. Federal agency work forces are no different than overpopulated herds of deer or elk in our country today. We, too, need to thin the herds," said Goldin."

Employee Survey Results after the 28 February 2005 NASA LaRC Town Hall Meeting

"Stop wasting your time on Coffee/Canteen issues. If 30% of CS workforce is eliminated, does that not also include 30% of the Strategic Leadership Council? NO.1: Figure out how reduce cost of 380K/FTE or get somebody who can. Until this happens, we will never be competitive. BTW, nobody appreciates the Vehicle Systems planning group having a "retreat" in Phoenix, AZ during these lean times."

"The discussion of a "possible" CS workforce RIF is entertaining, considering that most of those folks that will be affected in the future have ample time to plan, and make their decisions. The contractors on the otherhand are being released on a moments notice, with little to no warning. It is both morally and ethically wrong not to specifically forwarn the contract positions that will be descoped in the near furture. You should provide these folks with ample time to find a new position, rather than treating them like tempoarary labor. You should be ashamed of yourselves."

NASA LaRC Strategic Leadership Council Response to Employee Survey

"Following the February 28 Town Meeting that shared the outcome of the senior leadership retreat, a survey was posted asking employees to comment on the event. Over 100 comments, questions and recommendations were received. This is the Strategic Leadership Council (SLC) response to that input."

LaRC Buyout Is a Flop

NASA gets few takers on buyout offers to workers, Daily Press

"The latest buyout, eligible to 2,040 civil servants, received only 29 takers by Monday's deadline, according to Keith Henry, Langley spokesman. Employees are supposed to agree to leave the workforce by April 3, although 14 of the applicants requested a time extension."

GRC All Hands Cancelled

From a NASA Watch Reader: "The All Hands Meeting that was scheduled today at 10:45 has been cancelled due to a mechanical difficulty. It will be rescheduled at a later date. This is due to aircraft problems. How ironic :-) "

NASA Workforce Competency Dictionary

"PURPOSE: The NASA Competency Management System (CMS) is a collection of business processes and tools that are used to measure and monitor the Agency's corporate knowledge base. A competency is a conceptual representation of a body of knowledge. The competencies are used to categorize the capabilities of an employee, identify the knowledge requirements of a job position, forecast the workforce requirements for a project, and stimulate the interaction and sharing of knowledge across the Agency."

Editor's note: I tried to read this document, but I got a headache. I felt like I was reading the same words over and over again. Instead of simple, precise statements, this thing is laden with government phraseology designed to obscure - rather than clearly define ideas and job descriptions. Indeed, many of the jobs sound exactly the same despite different titles. I guess this document does serve one purpose: it perfectly encapsulates the Byzantine management morass NASA current finds itself burdened with.

But wait ... there's more ... (a stealth RIF prelude?)

JSC Buyout Info

NASA JSC Internal Memo: Limited Buyout/Early-Out At JSC

"Our buyout/early-out plan has been approved by NASA Headquarters.In accordance with NASA Headquarters guidelines, this plan is very limited and targeted to specific excess competencies and/or functions within JSC.The positions included were reviewed and approved by organizational and Center Management.Employees who may be eligible will be notified by their supervisors.The eligible employees may then volunteer for buyout consideration.Those who receive final approval must be off the Center's rolls by April 3, 2005."

Shift to moon-Mars focus affects 2,680 NASA jobs, Government Executive

"About 15 percent of NASA's civil service workforce will be transferred or paid to leave by the end of fiscal 2006 as the agency focuses on President Bush's vision for exploring the moon and Mars."

NASA Plans Cuts By Summer '06, Washington Post

"NASA said yesterday that it plans to cut its full-time workforce by as much as 15.3 percent by the summer of 2006, putting 2,680 jobs at risk as the agency refocuses its activities toward President Bush's exploration initiative to the moon and Mars."


NASA Langley offers another buyout, Daily Press

"In a continuing effort to reduce its work force, NASA Langley Research Center started on Thursday its third and most expansive buyout offer of the fiscal year."

NASA juggles work force as it shifts focus to Mars, Houston Chronicle

"About one of every seven NASA workers nationwide will be transferred or paid to leave in the next 1 1/2 years as the space agency focuses on President Bush's moon-Mars exploration plan, officials said Thursday."

Expect buyouts at NASA Glenn, Crains Cleveland

"The NASA Glenn Research Center can expect another round of employee buyouts in the next few months as the agency looks to slash the centers work force by 700 jobs, said NASA associate deputy administrator James Jennings."

NASA sees task as job 'reshaping', Hunsville Times

"By fiscal 2007, NASA hopes to trim or find new projects - and money - for the equivalent of 2,680 full-time jobs agencywide, perhaps avoiding layoffs, he said. Details about how many jobs might be affected at Marshall Space Flight Center - or any other center - were not available. "We haven't worked through that," Jennings said."

Editor's note:This was provided to NASA Watch by NASA PAO - per Rick Keegan of Jim Jennings office:

"FY 2005 there are 2425 employees eligible for retirement.
FY 2006 there will be 2927 employees

NOTE: The 2006 number is the current 2005 PLUS an additional newly eligible group. It assumes no one retires this year. This accounting is based on the fact that many employees who are eligible do not always retire. Thus these numbers represent the "maximum" number used for planning purposes.

No firm numbers are available on how many people are going to be offered/eligible for a buyout since the buyout plans for all the centers have yet to be approved. These numbers were provided to the reporter from the FEDERAL TIMES who asked the question."

Editor's note: In comments by Jim Jennings today, 10 March, during an agency-wide televised briefing, Jennings sought to dismiss workforce numbers that were circulating around the agency: "There are some numbers floating around." "The truth of the matter is that we do not know what it is going to take to implement the VSE." "All of our employees are funded through FY 2006." "It is important to bring folks into the workforce - they will carry the workforce for the next 30-40 years." "My committment is that I will give the facts to you when I know them." "I've seen a lot of charts floating around where the numbers were not accurate."

Editor's note:This is rather confusing. It is important to note that the numbers Mr. Jennings now seeks to dismiss were contained in a briefing authored by him which he circulated around the agency. Indeed, during the agency-wide Q&A today four NASA employees asked him questions about his 14 February 2005 presentation and the numbers contained therein.

If there is any confusion, especially with regard to numbers that are clearly in this presentation, it is clearly due to the way that Mr. Jennings (mis)presented the information in the first place. It is rather lazy and less than forthcoming for Mr. Jennings to stumble through answering questions about his numbers by dismissing these numbers as if they were not official when indeed they ARE official!

Through out all these discussions, the contractor workforce is not mentioned at all. In a press briefing following the employees briefing, Jennings admitted that he does not have numbers reflecting the contractor workforce or how it would be affected by these changes.

When asked by a reporter what the 2,680 or so people NASA seeks to have depart the agency are doing right now - since there is not enough work for everyone to go around, Jennings said "they are working on strategic things, on bids and proposals. They are gainfully employed. I do not have a lot of specifics on what they are working on."

When asked by reporters for a breakdown by center as to what sorts of positions need to be eliminated because they are not matched against specific projects, Jennings repeatedly declined the request saying that he did not have that information. Yet curiously, at the same time Jennings does not know this information, the field centers all know how many buyouts they need to offer and are already offering them to employees.

Summary: 13 months into the implementation of the VSE, NASA in general, and Mr. Jennings in particular, still do not know what sort of workforce NASA does or does not need. As a result, NASA HQ is punting for a year or so until someone does know. In the mean time, the more people who leave the agency, the better.

LaRC Opportunity

NASA LaRC Buyout Opportunity

"The Agency has received authority to offer buyouts at most of the Centers. Even though Langley has offered buyout opportunities twice this fiscal year, we also wanted to participate in the Agency effort, since it expands the eligible pool to positions not included in prior buyouts. Approximately 2,040 positions at the Center are included in this buyout pool. That essentially covers all employees who are General Schedule and employees who are not AST employees in the NASA Engineering and Safety Center."

NASA HQ Workforce Transformation Discussion

"Thursday, March 10, 1 p.m., auditorium. Join Associate Administrator for Institutions and Management James Jennings for an important discussion regarding the agency's work force Thursday, March 10, at 1 p.m. in the auditorium. "Work Force Transformation" will be an open and direct discussion about the personnel issues facing NASA today and in the future."

Buyout Update at ARC

With layoffs looming, NASA/Ames offers buyouts, SJ Mercury News

"NASA/Ames is set to offer buyouts this week to all but 70 of its 1,400 federal employees as part of one of the most dramatic makeovers the research center has undergone in two decades."

NASA LaRC Internal File: Human Capital Instructional

"The last activity, if necessary, will be reductions-in-force with the goal of having all the unfunded capacity off the rolls by August 6, FY 2006. Employees separated under reductions-in-force will receive not only a lump payment for their annual leave but may also receive severance pay which may be substantial depending on the age and length of service of the separated employee."

Ohio Leaders Plan to Fight NASA Budget Cuts, NPR

"Morning Edition, March 7, 2005 NASA is one of a handful of federal agencies targeted for a slight increase in the proposed 2006 budget. But at research labs around the country, aeronautics budgets are slated to be slashed by 1/3 over the next two years. In Ohio, where major job cuts are planned, local Congressional delegations are fighting back."

NASA Langley tests the air, Daily Press

"If wind tunnels won the debate decades ago, it seems odd - at least at first glance - that NASA Headquarters circulated a memo last month stating that all the major wind tunnels at Langley would likely close because they weren't needed for the agency's future aeronautics projects. Government unions and aeronautics supporters decried the announcement as a potential deathblow for Langley. But Langley Center Director Roy Bridges said the memo was an attempt to get a response from the Department of Defense and private industry."

Hampton group sees way to help Langley, Daily Press

"As layoffs, budget cuts and wind tunnel closures cast a shadow over NASA Langley Research Center, a neighboring institute in Hampton enjoys a growing work force and budget. Robert Lindberg, executive director of the National Institute of Aerospace, said his organization can help transform NASA Langley."

NASA Langley is running out of wind, Daily Press

"Government unions and aeronautics supporters wonder how much Langley can transform before it ceases to exist. A scary question lingers on the minds of local politicians, flight researchers and Langley employees: Is NASA Langley heading toward closure?"

NASA is surviving a culture shift, again, Daily Press

"Budget cuts, wind tunnel closures and layoffs are forcing NASA Langley Research Center to go through the most painful transformation in its 88-year history. But the center has shown remarkable flexibility in the past, said Wilson Lundy, director of Langley operations."

LaRC Personnel Update

Internal NASA LaRC Memo: Summary of SLT Retreat

"We will focus on reducing the over-capacity work force by the start of FY07. No involuntary personnel actions are planned in FY05 beyond the small number of positions affected by the A-76 competition as previously announced. Involuntary personnel actions are likely in FY06, although a Reduction in Force (RIF) will be a last resort."

Complaints About NASA Raises Follow Switch to Performance-Based System, Washington Post

"Concerns about the new pay system have recently emerged at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, providing a glimpse of the challenges involved in winning acceptance of performance-based systems."

Anxious in Ohio

NASA layoffs discussed at event, Akron Beacon Journal

Congressman says delegation united to save NASA jobs, WKYC

"Democrat Dennis Kucinich, who ran for president last year on an anti-war platform, says NASA Glenn employees are counting on help from Republican leaders, including Governor Bob Taft and Senators Mike DeWine and George Voinovich."

Marshall payroll projections moving target; union uneasy, Huntsville Times

"Marshall Space Flight Center is in line to lose jobs if the fiscal 2006 NASA budget passes Congress in its current version, while space centers in Texas and Florida may see slight job gains. According to NASA budget documents, Marshall's federal employment will shrink by 148 jobs in fiscal 2006 from its current 2,657 employees. Johnson Space Center, near Houston, would gain 36 jobs, and Kennedy Space Center in Florida would add 19 jobs under the proposed budget."


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This page is an archive of entries in the Personnel News category from March 2005.

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