Personnel News: December 2020 Archives

Gil Moore

R. Gilbert Moore

"Gil Moore has been active with numerous organizations such as the American Rocket Society and its successor the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), Utah's Advisory Council on Science and Technology, the Hansen Planetarium, the Utah Science Center Authority, and the Utah State University Research Foundation board of trustees. He is a life member of the Air Force Association and has been a member of the American Meteorological Society, the Association for the Advancement of Science, the Society of the Sigma Xi, the U.S. Space Foundation, the National Space Foundation, the Aerospace States Association, and the Space Business Roundtable. Additionally, he has served as an unofficial advisor on space issues for two U.S. Congressman, two U.S. senators, and three state governors."

Congress won't block Trump's order to strip civil service protections from many federal workers, Washington Post

"The bill is silent regarding an executive order issued just before the election that would change the status of federal employees whose work involves making or carrying out policy or giving confidential advice to top officials. Under the order, they could be dismissed with little cause or recourse, much like the political appointees who come and go with each administration, and competition would no longer be required when filling such jobs. Federal agencies have been working to complete lists of such positions ahead of a Jan. 19 deadline -- the day before President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated -- for conversion into a new category of positions to be called "Schedule F."

- NASA Employees: Beware Of Schedule F - And Burrowing
- Civil Servants Are Going To Lose Protections, earlier post
- Executive Order on Creating Schedule F In The Excepted Service, White House

JoAnn Clayton Townsend

JoAnn Clayton Townsend (1935-2020), Space Policy Online

"JoAnn Clayton Townsend, former director of the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board (ASEB) at the National Academies and an AIAA Fellow, passed away last night from congestive heart failure. She had just turned 85. A native of Tulsa, OK, JoAnn traveled the world with her husband, John Clayton, a journalist with the U.S. Information Service, until his untimely death when their two children were still quite young."

NASA Administrator's Agency Honor Awards Virtual Ceremony

"Each year the NASA Administrator recognizes individual employees who have made an extraordinary and indelible impact on the agency's mission success throughout this past year. All of these individuals help enable missions to explore and discover both our world and the universe."

Keith's note: Let's take a look at the Program for the 2020 NASA Honor Awards to check on the gender of the people named. Guess what: only 3 of the 37 listed 2020 Distinguished Service Medal honorees are female. Of the 14 Distinguished Public Service Medal honorees none are female. It is rather baffling that with such an immense workforce NASA cannot seem to honor anyone except older male employees for their contributions. Why can't younger people - and women - be found who have made similar contributions?

This is not exactly new. Go look at the 2019 NASA Honor awards. 2 out of 32 Distinguished Service Medal winners were women. None of the 10 Distinguished Public Service Medal honorees were female. Yet in 2018 of the 27 Distinguished Service Medal honorees 9 were women - one third. That's not perfect - but it is certainly vastly better than the number of women deemed worthy of awards in 2019 and 2020. These women do exist, NASA - and they are certainly not hard to find. Just sayin'.

Keith's note: According to sources at NASA Headquarters, per standard protocol, when Jim Bridenstine and Jim Morhard leave NASA, Associate Administrator Steve Jurczyk will become the acting NASA Administrator. Given past history, Jurczyk will likely be in that position for 6 months or so. If the Democrats gain control of the Senate then an Administrator nominee will likely be approved sooner. If the Republicans retain control then that may take a while longer.

Trump's Plan to Gut the Civil Service, Lawfare

"But this new executive order exempts agencies from following the civil service rules for hiring and firing Schedule F employees. If you are a career civil servant in either the competitive or the excepted service, your agency can simply move you into Schedule F--after which you lose your civil service job protections and can be fired at will. You would also lose the right to file an appeal to the MSPB if you are fired from a Schedule F position. What's more, current political appointees can be placed into Schedule F positions without competition--a form of "burrowing in," which the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is supposed to guard against. Improper "burrowing in" occurs when a current (or recently departed) political appointee is hired into a permanent competitive service, nonpolitical excepted service, or career Senior Executive Service position."

Trump lays the groundwork for a massive government purge on his way out the door, Washington Post

"Now that he's lost, it's reasonable to wonder if Trump simply plans to fire (and perhaps not replace) as many career experts as possible, leaving Biden with a hollowed-out government unable to perform even its most basic functions. In other words: a purge. If that sounds alarmist, recall that Trump has engaged in similar government purges before, of both political appointees and career civil servants whom Congress intended to be shielded from such retaliation. This has usually happened under the guise of "draining the swamp."

Keith's note: As far as I can tell, NASA has yet to tell anyone if they've been re-classified as Schedule F. Given tidbits that have dribbled out of places such as OMB, a significant number of NASA employees could find themselves in this new category with little or no advanced notice. NASA apparently does not have to say anything to anyone about their reclassification decisions until 19 January 2021 - the day before the Trump Administration ends. Given the recent stacking of obscure panels with Trump loyalists and all of the insane election lawsuits, anything is now possible.

But wait, there's more. While being lumped into Schedule F can allow you to be fired for virtually any reason, Trump political employees already at NASA or elsewhere in the government can be reclassified as Schedule F with a moment's notice thus allowing them to burrow in to a NASA career position and thus stay employed past the end of this Administration - unless the Biden folks decide to fire them using Trump's new rules. Trump political appointees are located at NASA HQ. Most are heading out the door - as is the traditional, professional thing to do as an Administration comes to an end, and I wish them well. But at least two of them at the highest levels of the agency like working at NASA a little too much and are talking about trying to use political influence to get a schedule F reclassification i.e. *Shazam* and you have a new job that could last forever without having to compete for it.

I debated whether to get into this with folks since, well the pandemic already has everyone on edge, but I feel a responsibility to post what I know. Feedback is always welcome. Sources are protected. Happy holidays.

- Civil Servants Are Going To Lose Protections, earlier post
- Executive Order on Creating Schedule F In The Excepted Service

Chuck Yeager

NASA Administrator Statement on Passing of Gen. Chuck Yeager

"The following is a statement from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on the passing of Gen. Chuck Yeager: "Today's passing of Gen. Chuck Yeager is a tremendous loss to our nation. Gen. Yeager's pioneering and innovative spirit advanced America's abilities in the sky and set our nation's dreams soaring into the jet age and the space age. He said, 'You don't concentrate on risks. You concentrate on results. No risk is too great to prevent the necessary job from getting done.'"


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This page is an archive of entries in the Personnel News category from December 2020.

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