OMB Deputy Director Johnson Thinks NASA’s Mission Statements are “Baloney”

By Keith Cowing
December 18, 2006
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OMB Deputy Director Johnson Thinks NASA’s Mission Statements are “Baloney”

Editor’s note: Based on some comments made recently by OMB Deputy Director Clay Johnson, there is not a lot of enthusiasm for what NASA is doing – especially the Vision for Space Exploration – at OMB.

Go to Government Executive’s TV page – specifically, the Leadership series. Go to “A Look at 2007 Agenda” (12/06/06) – and then head for the ‘discussion’ portion of the event (link is in the media player box).

Johnson comments on NASA: “Is anyone from NASA here?” {pause – and laughter} – no answer. “Perfect. Can I edit the tape of this thing before … I take exception with … personally, I am a reform movement of one … with a lot of NASA’s mission statements – they want to be ‘number one’ – and they want to explore the heavens … and they wanna … what kind of a goal statement is that? How can you be held accountable for that? NASA officials – and the President – my good friend as you say – talk about where ‘we are destined to explore the stars’ and ‘we are hard wired to explore over the horizon’ and that we are ‘just a people that just likes to explore’ – {frown on his face} That’s baloney!”

After trashing the initial premise for the VSE (as announced by the President in 2004), Johnson then goes on to talk about how investment bankers bankrolled Columbus, Magellan, and Lewis & Clark – and that it was ‘real estate’ that was behind all of that exploration. He then proposed that future expeditions be partially funded by the private sector.

There is lots of interesting – and confusing – thoughts to be found within Johnson’s comments. I am certain, in retrospect, that Johnson wishes that he had indeed been able to edit the tape.

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.