Personnel News: March 2017 Archives

Keith's note: One of the signs on a reserved chair in the NAC meeting room has a name tag for Shana Dale with titles "Chief of Staff (acting)" and "Senior White House Advisor" on it. One would assume that she assumed these roles when Trump transition team member Erik Noble (who had these jobs) left NASA last week. It is my understanding that she is only at NASA on loan from FAA for a few months.

Jen Rae Wang Appointed to Head NASA's Office of Communications

"Jen Rae Wang has been selected by Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot as NASA's Associate Administrator for the Office of Communications. Wang joins NASA with more than a decade of experience at the highest levels of state and federal government in public, legislative, and media affairs both domestically and internationally, strategic communications, as well as small and large-scale organizational executive leadership."

Trump's Team at EPA Vetting 'Controversial' Public Meetings and Presentations, Pro Publica

"Wang helped lead the Trump presidential campaign in Nebraska and last month had been announced as a deputy chief of staff to newly elected U.S. Rep. Don Bacon, a Nebraska Republican."

Keith's trivia note: If Rep. Bridenstine is named NASA Administrator he and Jen Rae Wang have something to talk about: swimming. He holds the Oklahoma record in 200 meter swimming (freestyle, relay) and Jen Rae Wang has an entry in U.S. Masters swimming.

Keith's note: Erik Noble, a member of the Trump Beachhead team at NASA headquarters has departed NASA for a position at NOAA. Noble had been serving as Chief of Staff on the 9th floor. No word yet as to who is replacing him in that position.

Firing federal workers isn't as easy as Trump makes it seem in his budget, Washington Post

"Under President Trump's budget proposal, federal employees at many agencies may need to acquaint themselves with a lately dormant but still much-feared term: Reduction in Force. If Trump's budget is enacted into law, it would hike defense spending by $54 billion - and pay for it with an equal cut in domestic spending at other federal agencies. Trump has said that reducing the size of the federal workforce -- better known by its acronym, RIF - is a top priority. It may not be as easy as Trump would like. Laying off federal workers requires going through a formal process that can be lengthy, expensive and disruptive to the workplace, experts say. And various legal and union rights may come into play, as they do for the similarly complex process of firing a federal worker for misconduct."

What is a RIF? A federal worker's guide to the Trump budget, Washington Post

Trump budget expected to seek historic contraction of federal workforce, Washington Post

"Preliminary budget documents have also shown that Trump advisers have also looked at cutting the Environmental Protection Agency's staff by about 20 percent and tightening the Commerce Department's budget by about 18 percent, which would impact climate change research and weather satellite programs, among other things. Trump and his advisers have said that they believe the federal workforce is too big, and that the federal government spends - and wastes - too much money. They have said that Washington - the federal workers and contractors, among others - has benefited from government largesse while many other Americans have suffered. Federal spending, they have argued, crowds the private sector and piles regulations and bureaucracy onto companies. Trump's chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, has said Trump will lead a "deconstruction of the administrative state." On Friday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Obama loyalists had "burrowed into government." Last month, Trump said the government would have to "do more with less."

NASA Kennedy Seeks Media Nominations for 'Chroniclers' Awards, NASA

"NASA's Kennedy Space Center is soliciting members of the working news media for names of former colleagues they deem worthy of designation as a space program "Chronicler" at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Florida. "The Chroniclers" program honors broadcasters, journalists, authors, contractor public relations representatives and NASA Public Affairs officers who excelled in sharing news from Kennedy about U.S. efforts in space exploration with the American public and the world. Deadline for submissions is close of business Monday, March 20, 2017."

Keith's note: I just nominated the late Frank Sietzen for the NASA Chroniclers Award. Frank and I wrote a book together. He served as editor for Ad Astra Magazine, wrote for UPI, served as Charlie Bolden's speech writer, and covered all aspects of space exploration for decades. He lived and breathed space. Were he here with us today he'd be sitting on the edge of his seat covering all of the changes that are going on within the space community. Please consider nominating him. He earned it.Here's how.

Federal workers grow increasingly nervous about Trump's proposed budget cuts, Washington Post

"To the president and his supporters who see a bloated bureaucracy with lots of duplication and rules that choke jobs, the budget cuts are a necessary first step to make government run more efficiently. Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said this week that non-military spending will take the "largest-proposed reduction since the early years of the Reagan administration." To prepare for that possibility, agencies are preparing to shave 10 percent off their budgets, on average. And words like buyouts, furloughs and RIFs (or reduction in force) - government-speak for layoffs - are now being tossed around at the water cooler as civil servants face the possibility of massive downsizing. Some of these strategies were used when Ronald Reagan was president and others more recently to meet the goals of budget caps known as sequestration."

Keith's note: As you all know it is much harder to lay off government employees than contractor employes. Yet that now seems to be what is in the plans. But if NASA is faced with making substantial cuts in its expenses then you can be assured that contractor personnel will bear a large part of the pain. Contractor employees have far fewer protections than civil servants. Also, in the past when budgets have gotten tight NASA has delayed solicitations, delayed and decreased the number of awards, and the cut the value of awards. With huge cuts in its budget looming on the horizon, you can expect that NASA procurement practices will respond to these cuts with surprising speed.

At the NASA Planetary Science Vision 2050 Workshop this week I asked a panel a question noting that there were "some very depressed people up on the 9th floor working on the budget passback to OMB". I asked the panel "what sort of box outside of which they needed to be thinking they had yet to think outside of" when it came to dealing with these looming budget cuts. The panel dodged the question and paradoxically started to talk about doing more things rather than less. I reiterated the harsh reality that goes with a President who "thinks potholes are more important than planets". Alas, the panel continued along their merry way in denial with some throw away lines such as "clearly we need to be doing things cheaper".

A storm is coming folks. You cannot hide under your desks and try and to ride it out. Not this time. You need to be preparing contingency plans and be ready to try things that you have never tried before to accomplish the tasks you have been given to do. Otherwise those things will not get done.



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This page is an archive of entries in the Personnel News category from March 2017.

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