Status Report

Testimony by Sean O’Keefe on NASA’s FY 2003 Budget before the House Science Committee (Part 3)

By SpaceRef Editor
February 27, 2002
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Part [1][2][3]

Pioneer Technology Innovation

Under this goal, NASA aims to revolutionize the developmental processes, tools, and capabilities of the aerospace industry. In cooperation with all NASA Enterprises, our investment decisions are based on rigorous systems analysis of future systems needs. As the aerospace transportation systems of the future become increasingly complex, we need to develop a new approach to engineering that can examine and test safety, reliability and mission assurance before building hardware. Collaborative tools and human-like intuitive environments are critical to allowing us to “virtually” build and test vehicles and systems before we spend money on expensive hardware. System characteristics such as intelligence, rapid self-repair, and adaptability will come about through innovation and integration of leading-edge technologies, such as biotechnology, nanotechnology, and information technology systems. Pioneer Technology Innovation focuses on both specific technology innovations and the processes that drive them.

Three programs work in concert to pioneer technology innovation. The Computing, Information and Communications Technology (CICT) program focuses on developing and demonstrating revolutionary computing, intelligent and thinking systems, and advanced communications technologies that will enable, among other things, smarter, more adaptive systems and tools that work collaboratively with humans. The objective of the Enabling Concepts and Technologies program is to provide revolutionary aerospace system concenTMAthat can enable other NASA programs to achieve their goals faster, cheaper and with more capability and expand future mission possibilities. This program aims to develop high pay-off/high risk technologies. An example would include advanced energetics technology to provide power and propulsion for enhanced mission capabilities and to enable missions beyond current horizons.

The Engineering for Complex Systems (ECS) Program is a new and exciting initiative, (reformulated from Design for Safety), that will significantly advance our goal to pioneer revolutionary technology. ECS is a systems design research & technology program addressing the complex issues and methodologies concerning the next generation of NASA missions. ECS is a significant shift in the process of how systems engineering and operations are performed, and aims to place risk estimation and risk countermeasures for overall mission and human safety on a more rigorous, explicit, and quantifiable basis. This would allow design trades to be evaluated based on a risk factor, with the same fidelity and confidence used for other mission or system properties such as cost, schedule, and performance. In FY 2002, we will test a new generation of vehicle health management systems in a laboratory environment and in FY 2003 we will deliver an initial organization risk model and initial high dependability computing testbeds.

Commercialize Technology

Since its inception in 1958, NASA has been charged with ensuring that technologies resulting from its technology creation activities are shared and jointly developed with the U.S. industrial community, thereby contributing to the Nation’s competitive position in the world market. The FY 2003 budget request supports continuation of this important aspect of our mission. The Agency’s commercialization effort encompasses all technologies and innovations created at NASA Centers by NASA employees. About 75% of the amount requested for NASA’s Commercial Technology Program effort is for NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program, which is focused on developing innovative technology needed for NASA missions. Simultaneously it has contributed to the U.S. economy, fostering the establishment and growth of over 1,100 small, high technology businesses.

We are increasing our emphasis on establishing technology development partnerships that are relevant to NASA missions that could contribute to the fulfillment of NASA’s unique mission needs and foster the creation of market driven technology products. We are focusing our partnership activity in those technology industry sectors important to the U.S. economy and whose technology needs map very closely to NASA’s core competencies. These include sectors such as advanced materials, sensors, biomedical technology, and information technology. One objective of these high-value R&D partnerships is to accelerate the development of new technology by innovative leveraging of each partner’s unique capabilities and to consequently reduce development costs and risk for both.

In addition to NASA’s technology partnership initiatives, we are also continuing to transfer NASA technology beyond the aerospace sector and into the broader economy. For example, both market and national needs were addressed through a licensing agreement when Intergraph Government Solutions of Huntsville, Alabama, adapted a technology originally developed at Marshall Space Flight Center for mission critical enhanced video imaging. Marshall’s scientists developed the Video Image Stabilization and Registration (VISAR) technology to help FBI agents analyze video footage of the 1996 Olympic Summer Games bombing in Atlanta, Georgia. VISAR technology enhanced nighttime videotapes made with hand-held camcorders, revealing important details about the explosion. Adaptable to many uses, Intergraph’s Video Analyst System meets the stringent demands of the law enforcemenAAAAdustry in the areas of surveillance, crime scene footage, sting operations, and dash-mounted video cameras.

Strengthening Management

Consistent with the Government-wide President’s Management Agenda, NASA is seeking to improve Agency management in a number of areas that will benefit all NASA activities.

1. Improving Human Capital

Currently, NASA’s work is accomplished by approximately 19,000 civil servants and 30,000 on-site and near-site support contractor employees. In earlier workforce reviews, NASA reduced the civil service workforce by approximately 25 percent between FY 1993-2000, including a 50 percent reduction in Headquarters FTE, and reduced supervisory positions by 52 percent, thereby increasing the Agency-wide supervisory ratio from 1:6 to 1:10. The foremost principle that arose from these earlier workforce reviews was that NASA, as a premier research and development agency, should do only those things that no one else can do. Work that can be done in the private sector should be performed there.

NASA is pursuing management reforms that will improve the ability of its workforce to meet the challenges of the future. NASA must continue to attract and retain employees with critical skills while depending on outside organizations for most others. However, NASA currently has skill imbalances in some key areas and new imbalances could occur as management reforms are implemented and much of the workforce is eligible to retire; NASA also currently has limited capability for personnel tracking and planning, particularly across the agency. To address these challenges, NASA is developing and will implement an overall human capital strategic plan.ÊÊ A component of this plan will be an Agency-wide workforce analysis and planning system. To the extent transformations of Agency efforts are implemented, such as Shuttle competitive sourcing and/or a non-government organization for ISS Research, the Agency must couple such transformations with human resources strategies that:Ê transition necessary skills; minimize adverse impact on the NASA employees directly affected by the transformation; and ensure that the remaining NASA workforce has the necessary skills and dedication to accomplish the mission. Such human resources strategies may include a variety of tools, such as traditional tools of early retirement, buyouts, outplacement assistance, and reassignments, and may include new authorities such as benefits portability through legislative initiatives. NASA will continue to maximize its use of existing tools and flexibilities to recruit and retain critical talent and will pursue additional authorities asneeded.ÊÊ Finally, NASA continues to take steps to further strengthen workforce development and knowledge management efforts, as well as to assure a qualified pool of potential future leaders. NASA recognizes mission success depends on a high performing diverse workforce. The Agency has devoted considerable attention and resources to assuring the availability and development of top quality talent and will continue in these efforts consistent with the Strategic Management of Human Capital Initiative in the President’s Management Agenda.

2. Competitive Sourcing

In order to effectively implement the President’s Competitive Sourcing Initiative, NASA has consolidated the responsibility for FAIR Act Inventory and OMB Circular A-76 implementation under the cognizance of one office. The Office of Procurement will be the focal point for Agency-wide implementation of the Competitive Sourcing Initiative. Within the Office of Procurement, a competitive sourcing team has been established to coordinate activities at the various Centers to promote training, provide guidance for developing the 2002 inventory, and assist in selecting candidates for perfEEEEng public/private competitions. We are currently developing the organizational infrastructure and establishing the necessary processes that will fully implement the Competitive Sourcing Initiative. NASA will incorporate the three major outsourcing efforts for Space Shuttle competitive sourcing, Space Station non-government organization, and Strategic Resources Review initiatives into its next FAIR Act inventory analysis. NASA will also develop an integrated competitive sourcing plan in 2002 to achieve long-term goals, including specific targets, costs, schedules and competitive sourcing mechanisms.

3. Improved Financial Management

The financial management element of the President’s Management Agenda focuses on three Government-wide problem areas:Ê erroneous benefit and assistance payments, a “clean” financial audit of the Federal Government, and accurate and timely financial information. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) guidance states that an agency must meet the following criteria in order to execute the financial management initiative successfully:

1. Agency receives an unqualified and timely audit opinion on the annual financial statements; there are no material internal control weaknesses reported by the auditors;

2. Financial management systems meet Federal financial management system requirements and applicable Federal accounting and transaction standards as reported by the agency head;

3. Financial information is timely and accurate;

4. Financial and performance management systems supporting day-to-day operations are fully integrated.

In evaluating NASA’s performance against these criteria, OMB determined that NASA was making progress, but more work was needed before NASA fully achieved the objectives of the financial management initiative.

NASA has received a “clean” or unqualified audit opinion on its financial statements for seven consecutive years; the auditors have not identified any material internal control weaknesses. However, the auCentof NASA’s FY 2001 financial statements was conducted using new, stricter audit standards and the auditors did not express an opinion on NASA’s financial statements. The auditors asked for more data than had been requested previously. NASA is working with the auditors to develop a better understanding of what data the auditors need and to work out a process for providing requested data to the auditors on a timely basis.

Due to the use of individual, non-integrated systems at Headquarters and Centers to meet statutory and regulatory reporting requirements, NASA reports its financial systems as a significant area of management concern in its annual report pursuant to the requirements of the Federal Managers’ Financial Integrity Act. While financial management systems are not integrated, NASA has implemented compensating policies and procedures that provide appropriate assurance regarding the fundamental completeness and integrity of internal accounting and administrative controls related to financial statements.

NASA has underway a major effort to implement a single, integrated financial management system across the Agency. The Integrated Financial Management (IFM) Program consists of a series of projects that, when fully completed, will result in a single, fully integrated financial management system encompassing core finance, including budget execution; travel; resume; position description; budget formulation; human resources, including time and attendance and payroll; asset management; and, procurement. The resume project is complete and the remainder, except asset management and procurement, are underway. While all components of the IFM Program are important, the successful completion of the core finance project is particularly critical to the satisfaction of the four OMB criteria. Core finance will provide the cost accounting capability NASA needs to fully implement its full cost initiative and manage, budget, and account on a full cost basis. The core finance project is on budget and on schedule and adequate financial resources are available. Core finance will be fully implemented across NASA by June 2003.

In summary, NASA’s IFM Program is on schedule and will enable NASA to meet OMB’s criteria for the financial management initiative and better manage the taxpayer’s investment in NASA. NASA will use IFM to improve budget tracking and program execution and increase the transparency and visibility of budget and performance data across the Agency and at all levels of management.

4. Expanded Electronic Government

OMB identified weaknesses in NASA’s IT planning processes and documentation justifying IT investments. NASA is strengthening capital planning and investment control process to provide a balanced portfolio of investments not only for core business systems but also critical mission systems. The governance model for IT investment planning and control is being strengthened based on best practices in other Federal agencies and industry. NASA is also implementing a Government-wide IT investment control and reporting system to capture and document investment decisions through the entire life-cycle.

Expanded electronic Government is a critical element of the President’s Management Agenda. NASA is prepared to aggressively advance this call for citizen-centered Government and increased value to the citizen. As one of the four Federal Agencies that brought the Internet into being, NASA became an early adopter of the Internet for communicating science and engineering information. The Pathfinder web site held the Internet daily volume record for over 8 months and NASA web content has received numerous awards. NASA provides over 4 million web pages on FirstGov – more than any other Federal agency. NASA has implemented a Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) and has demonstrated technical interoperability with the Federal PKI bridge to promote digital signatures and increased security and privacy. NASA was the first Federal agency to provide our partners and suppliers with comprehensive online procurement opportunities, which provided the technical foundation for FedBizOpps- the Federal e-procurement portal. In partnership with industry and other government agencies, NASA has established a strategy to unify, simplify and web-enable our core business, engineering and scientific process to increase effectiveness, reduce costs and increase customer focus.

NASA will advance the E-government strategy through strengthening our information technology capital planning and investment control process to provide a balanced portfolio of investments not only for core business systems but also critical mission systems. As called for under the Government Information Security Reporting Act, NASA will aggressively implement the agency-developed IT security corrective action plan to strengthen our IT security posture. NASA recognizes the weaknesses called out by OMB in its analysis of our Government Information Security Reform Act (GISRA) report and is working to remedy them. Examples of the actions we are taking include:Ê

1. Enhancing, by October 1, 2002, our existing performance metrics associated with scanning of our computer systems for vulnerabilities and how we respond to computer security incidents

2. Developing and implementing a standard Center IT Security incident reporting procedure by June 1, 2002

3. Developing and implementing a training measure for contractor system administrators by July 1, 2002

4. Strengthening our Disaster Recovery Plans and associated Corrective Action Plans documentation associated with Special Management Attention systems by July 1, 2002

5. Ensuring that 100% of our computer systems have security plans by July 1, 2002. Providing training on developing IT Security plans by October 1, 2002.

Finally NASA will pursue three key efforts to further the President’s E-government agenda:

1. Transition and strengthen common IT infrastructure and shared services based on industry best practices to support “one NASA”- a move from distributed business processes to federated, shared services;

2. Exploit the power of a single commercial off the shelf (COTS) solution for integrated financial management, executive information, budgeting, human resources, procurement, supply chain management. This accelerated agency-wide initiative unifies and simplifies business and management processes across the Agency; and,

3. Deliver coordinated education themes and messages through a comprehensive set of exciting electronic linkage campaigns and research-based web experiences.ÊÊ These capabilities will be offered throughout the year to the general public, responding to citizen-based educational needs.


5. Budget/Performance Integration:

In further integrating budget and performance, NASA will be developing its FY 2004 budget in a full cost format with linkages between its main budget elements and performance metrics. In a full cost budget, all institutional funds will be allocated with the appropriate project. NASA is also working with OMB and other agencies in developing more appropriate means for evaluating the performance of basic and applied research programs.


Mr. Chairman, I believe the programs, initiatives and Budget I have described represent a strong commitment to a healthy and forward-moving NASA. I believe it is deserving of the Committee’s strong support and I look forward to working with the Committee to achieve authorization legislation that supports the President’s budget request and includes the authorities and guidance that are needed to help restore the lustre of this “Crown Jewel” of our Government.

I believe we are at the beginning of a new dawn for NASA as we begin to address the challenges before us and continue in our efforts to expand the horizons of science and our understanding of our home planet and the solar system and universe of which we are a part. I know that the NASA family is eager to keep moving forward and that it is up to the tasks set before us in this budget and in our plans for the future.

At the beginning of my statement, I mentioned the opportunity I have had to meet the men and women of NASA, working in our installations across this land. I have visited the Centers where they work and the communities they call home. We have a diverse and resilient workforce, and they are proud and excited about the work they are doing. They are our greatest asset and I believe our greatest hope for the future of this Agency.

Rather than finding them divided among separate, unique institutions, I have found them yearning for the important contribution of their work to have even greater meaning in the larger dreams represented by the Agency they serve. I have told them, as I now tell the Committee, that I have found one NASA as I have traveled the country; one Agency with one charter in which their programs, projects, and Centers play important roles, and a charter which–together–we will define to meet the challenges of our time and seek the opportunities of our future. They have shown me their desire to be a part of that one NASA and their expressions of support and the strength of their resolve, coupled with their eagerness and dedication, tell me that we can accomplish what we have set out in this budget to accomplish–and more.

Thank you.

Part [1][2][3]

SpaceRef staff editor.