Press Release

President Signs NASA Work Force Flexibility Act Into Law

By SpaceRef Editor
February 25, 2004
Filed under ,

NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe today expressed his
appreciation to the President for signing into law a new act
giving NASA greater flexibility to restructure and revitalize
its work force. President George W. Bush yesterday signed the
NASA Flexibility Act of 2004.

“I am very excited about this human capital legislation,” said
Administrator O’Keefe. “With fewer students entering math and
science studies, there’s greater competition to attract those
graduates who do make science and technology a career. This law
now gives us additional tools to address the 21st century
challenges we face in recruiting and retaining the exceptional
talent required to carry out NASA’s mission of exploration and
discovery.”

NASA created a Human Capital Legislation Implementation Team in
August to begin work on the many tasks that must be
accomplished before using the new authorities provided in the
act. The team also is leading the change-management initiatives
underway to ensure effective communication with the entire NASA
work force regarding the human capital legislation.

Sponsored by U.S. Senator George Voinovich (R-Ohio) and U.S.
Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-N.Y.), the bill builds on existing
law. Among other reforms, it provides the agency the ability to
improve recruitment and retention, and to compete with the
private sector. The legislation also establishes a Science and
Technology Scholarship for Service Program, which provides
financial assistance to students in exchange for a commitment
to work for NASA.

A quarter of our work force will be eligible to retire in a few
years. We have to take creative steps to get students
interested in these important fields and energize them about
contributing to America’s technology future,” added
Administrator O’Keefe. “I appreciate the bipartisan
congressional support this measure received and we look forward
to working with the House, the Senate and the Administration as
we move forward during this important time for the agency.”

The General Accounting Office has continued to rank
“strengthening human capital” as one of NASA’s top management
challenges. The agency’s over-60 science and engineering work
force outnumbers its under-30 employees by nearly 3-to-1. The
potential departure of these individuals represents a dramatic
loss of knowledge, experience and leadership.

The bill adheres to existing merit principles, veterans’
preference and equal employment opportunity guidelines, as well
as supports the rights of labor organizations. NASA involved
its unions, the American Federation of Government Employees
(AFGE) and the International Federation of Professional and
Technical Engineers (IFPTE), in pursuing this important
legislation. Last year, the IFPTE, NASA’s largest union,
endorsed the measure.

Additional information about this NASA initiative is available
on the Internet at:

http://nasapeople.nasa.gov/hclwp/index.htm

SpaceRef staff editor.