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Letter from CASIS to NASA: Response regarding Notification of Actions Following Dr. Becker's Resignation

Status Report From: Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS)
Posted: Wednesday, April 18, 2012

image March 28, 2012

Mr. Bradley Carpenter
Grant Officer - CASIS Cooperative Agreement
Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate
National Aeronautics and Space Administration Headquarters
Washington, DC 205460001

Re: Formal Response to the topics raised in your Response to Mr. Frank DiBello regarding Notification of Actions Following Dr. Becker's Resignation, dated March 21, 2012.

Mr. Carpenter:

Thank you for your quick and concise response to our explanation of the actions taken and proposed by the Interim Board following Dr. Becker's resignation as the Executive Director of the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS). With this formal response, the interim board addresses the several concerns raised by NASA in the referenced letter, and to which we concur, must be mutually addressed.

The Interim Board understands that continuation of the Cooperative Agreement is dependent upon demonstrated performance under the agreement. We, also, understand that the Cooperative Agreement defines the Executive Director of CASIS as the Principal Investigator (PI) for this agreement and that in addition to approving a change in the PI, the NASA Grants Officer must approve the alternative arrangements made by the CASIS Interim Board during this transition period. This approval must be in writing by the Grant Officer.

Respective to the preceding paragraph we request formal approval from you of our action to have Mr. Jim Royston assume duties as the Interim Executive Director for a limited period, during which a nationwide search is being conducted to select a permanent Executive Director. Mr. Royston will fulfill these duties as a full time employee of CASIS reporting to the Board. Once a permanent Executive Director is selected, Mr. Royston will return to his former duties as the Director of Strategy & Planning.

We do wish to modify our proposed action of creating an Executive Office of the Chairman within CASIS. Given the benefit of further discussions and evaluation of the need to provide additional capacity within CASIS management, we no longer see the benefit to create such an office given that in place management has organized to make up for their recent loss of personnel and has added sufficient additional resources with appropriate management and scientific credentials. We therefore withdraw the proposal of assigning a member of the Interim Board with daily advisory operational duties within CASIS.

In addition, we believe it is a benefit to the management of CASIS both in appearance and in fact, that we seek to transition the CASIS Interim Board to a more independent membership profile in the spirit of the Reference Model as soon as is practical, while the formal selection process for the initial Permanent Board is in process. Specifically, we propose that, in consultation with you, we would replace current members Ms. Denise Swanson and Mr. Howard Haug with new qualified individuals with strong experience and backgrounds that would match the profiles of a managing member and a scientific member. If you concur, we will communicate with you and keep you informed of our progress with this action.

Lastly, we agree that the functions identified in the Cooperative Agreement and the milestones in the Annual Program Plan (APP) are critical and, based on our review of performance to date, we believe that CASIS will be able to meet the milestones defined in the APP for this reporting period.

The following are key elements of performance that we will report on at the end of the initial first two quarters of operation. In general, they represent progress on the key goals of facing the market, finding new customers for the ISS, and standing up the organization to service existing and new markets:

Technical/Operational - Engaging and Servicing New Customers:

A Selection process for the full Initial Board has been approved and is underway.

- a plan for selection of the permanent Science Collegium has been developed and is ready for implementation by the Initial Board once selected.

- An Interim Chief Scientist has been appointed.

- An Interim Scientific Collegium (ISC) has been created and is in operation.

- ISC analyzed 132 ISS experiments, identified pathways that are most promising and facilitate a shorter

- Three major pathways identified, with subpathways defined, based on market place analysis.

- Outreach has been initiated to marketplace customers with near-term potential for flight programs in the pathways of interest.

Performance Metrics - CASIS Implementation:

- Organizational policies, procedures and protocols are defined and implemented.

- Organizational staffing currently at 20, representing approximately 60 percent of plan.

- A Valuation and Prioritization methodology is developed and is being tested with both theoretical and actual experiments.

- An initial capital marketplace has been established to provide an access point for potential research

- Member structure is defined and member software is being implemented.

- Marketplace validation is underway.

- A Program for marketplace messaging has been developed.

- Branding, communications, marketing and public relations campaigns are developed and being developed and being implemented.

- Existing ISS National Lab user's agreements are being transitioned and are being finalized.

- Customer Service offerings and procedures have been developed and servicing of existing User Agreements has begun.

- A "new user" agreement has been developed and is being negotiated with a "new" first flight payload customer.

- website is in beta testing. Should be functional by mid-April.

I thank you again for you consideration and response to our request. If you have any questions or wish us to address additional matters please don;t hesitate to contact me directly.

Frank A. DiBello Chairman, CASIS Interim Board

Cc: William Gerstenmaier, NASA HQ

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