Status Report

Report of the Roles, Responsibilities And Structures (“Clarity”) Team

By SpaceRef Editor
July 26, 2004
Filed under ,

Report of the Roles, Responsibilities And Structures (“Clarity”) Team 1

June 24, 2004

The Need to Transform the Structure and Management of NASA

Download full report [1.9 mb PDF]

On January 14, 2004, President Bush announced that the United States would pursue a new Vision for Space Exploration. NASA Immediately recognized that changes would need to be made in order to effectively and efficiently pursue that vision.

Shortly after the President’s announcement, the Deputy Administrator formed the Roles, Responsibilities and Structure Team (also known as the “Clarity Team”) charged to assess roles and responsibilities of the top-level agency management positions, as well as the strutural2 relationships between and among them. These management positions included:

  • Deputy Administrator
  • Institutional Program Officers, who are also Enterprise Associate Administrators3, the managers of NASA’s lines of business;
  • Assistant Administrators for various functional support offices, which support the Enterprises;
  • Center Directors; and
  • Program Managers (including the full hierarchy of Program Directors (or Theme Directors), Program Managers, and Project Managers).

Several of these kinds of concerns had already been percolating and some had been under review long before the President’s announcement. However, his announcement stimulated an urgency to come to a conclusion on these concerns. These concerns largely centered around four main areas:

  • Strategic Limitations – Whether the existing delegations of responsibility reinforce a ore limited approach to managing different areas of NASA without regard to the needs of or synergy with other areas.
  • Conflicts of Interest – Whether the existing delegations of responsibility conflict with the need to think strategically about what was in the best interest of NASA as a who and, hence, lead to stovepiped or sub-optimal decision making.
  • Ambiguous Reporting Lines – Whether the reporting relationships of these managers lead to ambiguities as to who reports to whom and thereby undermines accountability.
  • Excessive Span of Control – Whether the number of direct reports is too many to effectively manage.

Along the way, the Clarity Team identified and addressed a number of additional issues. In the end, based on many inputs from a wide variety of sources, the Clarity Team saw a number of good opportunities for improvement even beyond the four main areas of concern.

The Clarity Team was made up of a number4 selected by the Deputy Administrator who held widely differing views. All were united, however, in support of the new Vision for Space Exploration. All were well familiar with many of the challenges of managing within the existing constraints on a day-to-day basis. These managers knew the existing conflicts, the ambiguities, ands the narrowness of views that was sometimes produced by existing roles, responsibilities and structures.

Although the team members were well familiar with the concerns, the Clarity Team did not only rely on its own knowledge and ideas, but also on the ideas and opinions of many received through inputs from many managers and employees, and also from contractors within the NASA community. Additional assistance came from the Office of the NASA Inspector General, and other inputs were received from outside of NASA.

In addition, the team evaluated the findings and recommendations from the on-going OneNASA initiative. One NASA started as a grass roots effort to identify and raise concerns of the workforce to find ways in which the agency could behave in a manner more conducive to what was best for the agency, not a particular program, center or span of control of a given line of business (Enterprise), center or support function. One NASA has now become institutionalized and has included many interviews of NASA employees, followed by the organization of their thoughts and observations into a coherent plan to improve NASA. That effort was very valuable to this effort.

This report recommends specific changes that should be undertaken by NASA in order to be able to better respond to the Vision for Space Exploration and address the areas of concern. Surely, there may be more changes that can be made that will serve to promote NASA meetings its mission. As such, this effort is merely a step, hopefully a substantial one, on the journey of improving NASA and equipping it for the future.


1 This report represents the Clarity Team report, as modified and approved by the Executive and Leadership Councils on various occasions.

2 “Structural” is interpreted by the Clarity Team to mean the reporting and accountability relationships

3 This title will be changed. See Recommendation # 1,F.

4 The Clarity Team members included:

  • Theron Bradley (Chief Engineer)
  • Gwen Brown (Chief Financial Officer)
  • Julian Earls (Center Director Glenn Research Center)
  • General Jefferson Howell (Center Director – Johnson Space Center)
  • Mary Kicza (Enterprise Associate Administrator – Office of Biological and Physical Research)
  • Vic Lebacqz (Enterprise Associate Administrator – Office of Aeronautics; and Institutional Program Officer – Ames Research Center, Dryden Research Center, Glenn Research Center, and Langley Research Center)
  • Paul Pastorek (General Counsel) – Chair
  • William Readdy (Enterprise Associate Administrator – Office of Space Flight; and Institutional Program Officer – Johnson Space Center, Kennedy Space Center, Marshall Space Center, and Stennis Space Center)
  • Johnny Stephenson (Leader of the One NASA Initiative)

Download full report [1.9 mb PDF]

SpaceRef staff editor.