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Personnel News

NASA Workforce Competency Dictionary: Preparation for a RIF?

By Keith Cowing
NASA Watch
March 23, 2005

NASA Workforce Competency Dictionary

“PURPOSE: The NASA Competency Management System (CMS) is a collection of business processes and tools that are used to measure and monitor the Agency’s corporate knowledge base. A competency is a conceptual representation of a body of knowledge. The competencies are used to categorize the capabilities of an employee, identify the knowledge requirements of a job position, forecast the workforce requirements for a project, and stimulate the interaction and sharing of knowledge across the Agency.”

Editor’s note: I tried to read this document, but I got a headache. I felt like I was reading the same words over and over again. Instead of simple, precise statements, this thing is laden with government phraseology designed to obscure – rather than clearly define ideas and job descriptions. Indeed, many of the jobs sound exactly the same despite different titles. I guess this document does serve one purpose: it perfectly encapsulates the Byzantine management morass NASA current finds itself burdened with.

But wait … there’s more … (a stealth RIF prelude?)

NASA Watch Reader Comment: “There is more than a suspicion about the CMS being used as a RIF tool. People at LaRC are all beefing up their descriptions, etc. to try and make themselves as RIF proof as possible. Management is also helping people get into areas that likely will be more insulated from a RIF even though this is not supposed to be possible.”

NASA Watch Reader Comment:“The NASA Competency Management System is located at, but is visible only to employees.

Although it is purported to be an innocent management tool, there are suspicions that it is intended to be used as a mechanism to categorize employees for subsequent targeting for directed transfers and reductions in force.

The three attached screen shots show in numerical order what an employee sees within the NASA Competency Management System. The images have been slightly edited to remove identifying information.”

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