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.