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Is NASA Paying Less Than Minimum Wage To Analyze STEM Education Metrics?

By Keith Cowing
August 1, 2021
Filed under ,
Is NASA Paying Less Than Minimum Wage To Analyze STEM Education Metrics?

Name of Information Collection: Generic Clearance for the NASA Office of STEM Engagement Performance Measurement and Evaluation (Testing), Federal Register
“Methodological testing will include focus group discussions, pilot surveys to test new individual question items as well as the complete form and instrument. In addition, test-retest and similar protocols will be used to determine reliability characteristics of the forms and instruments. Methodological testing will assure that forms and instruments accurately and consistently collect and measure what they are intended to measure and that data collection items are interpreted precisely and consistently, all towards the goal of accurate Agency reporting while improving the execution of NASA STEM Engagement activities.
Affected Public: Individuals and Households.
Estimated Annual Number of Activities: 8.
Estimated Number of Respondents per Activity: 2,800.
Annual Responses: 1.
Estimated Time per Response: 15 minutes.
Estimated Total Annual Burden Hours: 5,600.
Estimated Total Annual Cost: $54,082.”

Keith’s note: This effort will involve 5,600 hours of work at a total annual cost of $54,082. Let’s do some simple math. You get a pay rate of $9.68 an hour. Minimum wage is set at $7.25 but states are raising it. DC raised its rate to $15.25. The states around NASA HQ – Virgina – raised it to $9.50 and Maryland – raised to $11.75. So people are being paid at or probably below minimum wage to do all of this fancy “methodical testing”, data collection and interpretation. If this is about civil servant labor then this rate/hour total simply makes no sense. That said it strikes me as odd that you’d entrust something as complex as this to people earning less than the minimum wage. Or is this just one of those boilerplate Federal Register notices that really do not actually mean anything?

NASA Watch founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.