Status Report

Memo from NASA Deputy Associate Administrator for Space Flight – Subject: ‘Can We Talk?’

By SpaceRef Editor
May 11, 2004
Filed under ,

Date: Tue, 11 May 2004 19:44:51 -0400


From: Lynn Cline

Subject: Can We Talk?

As you are aware, results of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board review, our own Safety and Mission Success Week discussions in November, and the more recent culture survey, all include a common theme that NASA needs to improve its internal communications.  We are trying to increase communications in multiple ways.  In that spirit, Bill Readdy agreed that within the Office of Space Flight we should emulate the “Can We Talk” series that the Administrator is doing with HQ employees, where a small group of employees have lunch with him to discuss a wide range of topics.  I asked the Employee Leadership Forum to suggest an approach for us to use in OSF for a similar forum.  Bill and I have approved the proposal, which is attached.  Becky Ramsey has agreed to serve as the Can We Talk coordinator, and is working the logistical arrangements for our first session in June and monthly sessions thereafter. Once the date is set, Becky will send an e-mail announcement out so interested employees can sign up.

This is intended to be an open and informal forum, and you should feel free to bring any ideas, concerns or issues up in this forum.  We will not be taking notes, but if ideas are generated or topics surfaced that merit follow-up action, we will be tracking these actions. 

Stay tuned for more information.

Lynn F. H. Cline

Deputy Associate Administrator

for  Space Flight

NASA Headquarters

Washington, DC 20546


Employee Leadership Forum Proposal:

Can We Talk Series

April 2004


The Employee Leadership Forum (ELF) was tasked by the Deputy Associate Administrator (DAA) to develop a concept for an Office of Space Flight (OSF) “Can We Talk” (CWT) series with the Associate Administrator (AA) and DAA, similar to the “Can We Talk” series held by the Administrator and Deputy Administrator. It was suggested to be a quarterly event that was separate from any other OSF activity that wouldn’t require travel time or great expense.


Frequency: Monthly initially, with the AA and DAA participating alternative sessions. After participant feedback, it may be appropriate to schedule CWTs bimonthly or quarterly.

Management participation: The ELF recommends a special guest join the AA or DAA each month, either the DAA for International Space Station and Space Shuttle or one of the Assistant Associate Administrators (AAA), to provide an opportunity to interact with the other senior leadership as well as to provide focus to the discussion on a particular area.

Employee participation: Two weeks before each CWT, an email would be sent out notifying staff of time, place, and management participants, asking for employees to sign up and to provide a topic or question they would like to discuss within a week. The topic submission can be anonymous. This list of topics will be provided to the management participants a week in advance to enable them to prepare for the discussion and to make sure they get a chance to address each individual’s issue. Participants will be notified that in order to allow for an open dialogue, the discussion is not for public distribution.

The number of participants should be kept at 10, to enable more in-depth discussion and to allow each person an opportunity to be heard. If more than 10 people sign up, then those after the first 10 responses will be first on the list for the next CWT. With monthly meetings, most employees will have an opportunity to participate in at least one CWT a year.

Venue: The ELF recommends a fairly informal setting in 7AA1, which is convenient for the AA, DAA, and AAAs. In order to set the stage for discussion rather than a business meeting, the table would be moved against the far wall to be used as a buffet. Chairs would be arranged in a circle for easy communication.

Time: Due to schedule constraints, the ELF recommends providing two different times to enable more people to participate. We recommend 12:00 – 1:00 for the AA’s CWTs, with pizza and beer, and 3:00 – 4:00 for the DAA’s CWTs, with wine and cheese.

Follow Up: Feedback from participants is key in both assuring that each person felt his or her issue was addressed and to improve future CWTs. At the end of each CWT, either a blank card or form with a few questions should be provided to each participant to fill out (anonymously, if preferred) and provide to the CWT manager. This card can also be used to track any follow-up activities generated during the CWT discussion.

Implementation: The ELF recommends that the DAA assign an individual or team to be responsible for managing the CWTs, to include:

  • sending out the invitational email,
  • tracking signups,
  • arranging the schedule with the AA, DAA, and AAA’s secretary,
  • providing these management participants with the list of names and issues a week before the CWT,
  • arranging the refreshments, and
  • initiating follow up with participants.


The ELF believes that by providing a fairly informal atmosphere on a monthly basis to a small group of OSF employees to talk openly with OSF senior management, better communication and understanding will grow. The CWT as outlined above should provide such an opportunity. The ELF notes that other avenues for communication with senior management should continue to be pursued.

SpaceRef staff editor.