Personnel News: October 2010 Archives

United Space Alliance Memo: CEO/COO Message: Retirement Plan Changes

"As you know, United Space Alliance has been undergoing a significant transformation in order for the company to remain competitive and successful following the completion of Shuttle Program operations and the closeout of the Space Program Operations Contract (SPOC). Retirement plans like USA's defined benefits plans are a significant cost driver, and many of USA's competitors have eliminated such plans to drive their costs down. After fully considering all options available, USA is announcing its intention to terminate all of its defined benefit plans, effective as of the close of this plan year. You will receive official notices via US Mail to your home. This memo is an explanatory "heads up" of what this means to you."

NASA contractors dispute statements about access, Washington Post

"During oral arguments, Katyal told justices that the questions are justified on national security grounds because ID badges worn by contractors give them access to JPL and all other NASA facilities. "It's such an important credential that it would allow them to get within, for example, six to 10 feet of the space shuttle as it's being repaired and readied for launch," Katyal said. In a letter sent late last week to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden Jr., Robert M. Nelson, the lead plaintiff in the case, demanded a retraction of Katyal's statement, calling it "an insult to all of our co-workers at Kennedy Space Center who labor continuously to protect the safety of all NASA launch vehicles."

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Scientists Demand Retraction From Gov't Attorney In NASA Privacy Case, space.com

"A group of scientists has demanded that the U.S. Attorney General's office immediately retract remarks made by a government attorney during arguments before the Supreme Court over privacy concerns with NASA background checks. The scientists said they want the attorney general to retract a statement made by acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal during his opening statement, which at one point addressed how easily employees at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., could access sensitive areas and facilities using a new security badge."

JPL scientists demand retraction in Supreme Court privacy case, Pasadena Star News

"Jet Propulsion Laboratory employees Thursday accused the federal government's lawyers of lying to the U.S. Supreme Court when the justices heard arguments this week in a legal battle involving new security background checks."

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Court considers NASA employee background checks, Reuters

"Supreme Court justices questioned on Tuesday whether the federal government in its background investigations of employees can ask about their drug treatment, medical conditions or sexual practices. The high court during arguments in a case about NASA background checks of scientists in California considered what questions could be asked without violating their constitutional privacy rights. Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Samuel Alito asked the Obama administration attorney whether any limit existed on the questions that can be asked. They cited questions about sexual practices, genetic tests, medical conditions and even about what a person reads. Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal defended the background investigations and described them as standard for federal employees since 1953 and for contractors since 2005."

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Supreme Court to hear NASA privacy case, AP

"None of the JPL workers who sued work on classified projects or have security clearances, though several are involved in high-profile missions including the twin Mars rovers and the Cassini spacecraft studying Saturn and its moons. The plaintiffs don't deny that the government has the right to confirm a person's identity and education for employment. But requiring background checks of low-risk employees, which includes probes into medical records, finances and drug history, is an invasion of privacy, they say."

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Layoff Update

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to lay off 45, AP

"JPL spokesperson Veronical McGregor tells the Pasadena Star-News the layoffs will affect less than two percent of the total workforce of about 5,000 employees. McGregor says there was no single area or departments selected for workforce reductions. A JPL contractor tells the newspaper so far people have been let go in the acquisition, housekeeping and travel accounting departments."

Amid layoffs, NASA charts a new direction, space.com

"With the end of that program, scores of jobs at NASA and its contractors will be lost. On Friday, nearly 1,400 shuttle workers were laid off at NASA contractor United Space Alliance, a joint venture by Boeing and Lockheed Martin."

NASA Workers Join Unemployed, My Fox Houston

"Houston's space community found little to celebrate on Friday. We've known for months, but today reality set in when 333 NASA contract workers in the Houston area got pink slips. In all, the main supporter of NASA's space shuttle program, United Space Alliance, announced it will layoff about 15% of its workforce or 1,200 employees."

NASA still expects Huntsville layoffs, but says jobs may come back, Huntsville times

"Marshall Director Robert Lightfoot warned NASA and contract workers in an "all hands" meeting Tuesday that the layoffs were likely if Congress ordered NASA to start the new fiscal year under a continuing budget resolution. Until it gets a new appropriation, NASA must work on the new program with the current budget, meaning a so-called "ramp down" of Constellation was inevitable before it ends completely. NASA expects to be under the continuing resolution until early December, at the earliest."

Marshall Center Director Robert Lightfoot to Meet With Media to Discuss Impact of NASA Authorization Bill

"On Oct. 5, Robert Lightfoot, director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., will be available to discuss the significance and impact on Marshall Center of the NASA authorization bill recently passed by Congress."


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