Press Release

Administrator Unveils Next Steps of NASA Transformation

By SpaceRef Editor
June 24, 2004
Filed under ,
Administrator Unveils Next Steps of NASA Transformation
Administrator Sean O'Keefe

In the latest of what will be ongoing briefings, Administrator Sean O’Keefe today announced a transformation of NASA’s organization structure designed to streamline the agency and position it to better implement the Vision for
Space Exploration.

In a report released last week, the President’s Commission on
Implementation of U.S. Space Exploration Policy found, “NASA
needs to transform itself into a leaner, more focused agency
by developing an organizational structure that recognizes the
need for a more integrated approach to science requirements,
management, and implementation of systems development and
exploration missions.”

“Our task is to align Headquarters to eliminate the ‘stove
pipes,’ promote synergy across the agency, and support the
long-term exploration vision in a way that is sustainable and
affordable,” said Administrator O’Keefe. “We need to take
these critical steps to streamline the organization and
create a structure that affixes clear authority and

This transformation fundamentally restructures NASA’s
Strategic Enterprises into Mission Directorates to better
align with the Vision. It also restructures Headquarters
support functions and clarifies organizational roles and
responsibilities. The Mission Directorate organizational
structure includes:

  • Aeronautics Research: Research and develop aeronautical
    technologies for safe, reliable and efficient aviation

  • Science: Carry out the scientific exploration of the
    Earth, Moon, Mars and beyond; chart the best route of
    discovery; and reap the benefits of Earth and space
    exploration for society. A combined organization is
    best able to establish an understanding of the Earth,
    other planets and their evolution, bring the lessons of
    our study of Earth to the exploration of the Solar
    System, and to assure the discoveries made here will
    enhance our work there

  • Exploration Systems: Develops capabilities and
    supporting research and technology that enable
    sustained and affordable human and robotic exploration;
    includes the biological and physical research necessary
    to ensure the health and safety of crew during long
    duration space flight

  • Space Operations: Direct space flight operations, space
    launches and space communications, as well as the
    operation of integrated systems in low-Earth orbit and

Two agency-wide priorities will continue with direct
responsibility for all related activities across NASA.

  • Safety and Mission Assurance Officer: Reports directly
    to the Administrator and reflects NASA’s commitment to
    provide a clear and direct line to agency senior
    leadership for issues regarding safety

  • Chief Education Officer: Directs the agency’s important
    work to improve scientific and technological literacy
    and inspire a new generation of explorers

NASA functional offices will be restructured as Mission
Support Offices. Headquarters and field center offices will
be aligned to improve communications and responsibility.

    The major Mission Support Offices are:

  • Chief Financial Officer (CFO): Conducts all financial
    matters, including procurement and small and
    disadvantaged business activities. All field center
    financial officers report directly to the Headquarters
    CFO to better address critical financial issues

  • Associate Administrator for Institutions and
    Management: Responsible for providing operational and
    management support for Headquarters; directs a full
    range of activities relating to personnel and
    institutional management across the agency

  • Chief Information Officer: Responsible for the
    development of an integrated focus on information
    resource management strategies, policies and practices

  • Chief Engineer: Ensures the development efforts and
    missions operations are being planned and conducted on
    a sound engineering basis; assures independent
    technical authority within the agency’s engineering,
    operations and safety organizations

  • Chief of Strategic Communications: Directs NASA’s
    communication efforts in Public Affairs, Legislative
    Affairs and External Relations; responsible for
    internal communications management

  • General Counsel: Responsible for the legal aspects of
    all NASA’s activities; manages the agency’s
    intellectual property and ethics programs

To improve the decision-making process, NASA will create:

  • Strategic Planning Council: Chaired by the NASA
    Administrator, the Council develops multi-year
    strategic plans, strategic roadmaps, and a multi-year
    detailed plan that forms the basis for policies and

  • Director of Advanced Planning: Responsible for the
    preparation of options, studies and assessments for the
    Strategic Planning Council

  • Chief Operating Officer Council: Chaired by the Deputy
    Administrator, implements direction provided by the
    Strategic Planning Council and develops standard
    administrative practices to build on the President’s
    Management Agenda

The Associate Deputy Administrator for Systems Integration is
responsible for strategic and systems integration across
Mission Directorates and mission support functions

The agency will also redefine its relationships with the NASA
Field Centers by developing clear and straightforward lines
of responsibility and accountability. Specific Mission
Associate Administrators will be assigned as Headquarters
Center Executives. They will have oversight of field center
performance in implementing agency policies and programs. The
Associate Administrator for Institutions and Management will
address field center infrastructure concerns.

The changes outlined today become effective August 1, 2004.
They represent the next step in implementing the
recommendations of the President’s Commission on
Implementation of U.S. Space Exploration Policy and reflect
NASA’s ongoing efforts to apply the findings and
recommendations of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board
across the agency.

Over the next several weeks, the Administrator will engage
teams in each NASA location to provide front line guidance on
implementing their early stages of the transformation plan.
The discussions will be the precursor for a renewed
commitment to mission success and excellence in an employee-
centric organization.

“This transformation will be an evolutionary process,
exploring new ways to move forward and implement change.
We’ll also be engaging other government agencies, industry,
academia and the international community to assist us in
developing the tools and processes we need to successfully
advance the Vision for Space Exploration,” added
Administrator O’Keefe. “Doing so will enable us to take the
next bold steps into space and rekindle the innovation and
entrepreneurial skills that is our legacy to humankind.”

Additional presentation information and a new NASA
organization chart is available on the Internet at:

SpaceRef staff editor.