NASA's Strategic Direction and the Need for a National Consensus

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The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is widely admired for astonishing accomplishments since its formation in 1958. Looking ahead over a comparable period of time, what can the nation and the world expect of NASA? What will be the agency's goals and objectives, and what will be the strategy for achieving them? More fundamentally, how will the goals, objectives, and strategy be established and by whom? How will they be modified to reflect changes in science, technology, national priorities, and available resources?

In late 2011, the United States Congress directed the NASA Office of Inspector General to commission a "comprehensive independent assessment of NASA's strategic direction and agency management." Subsequently, NASA requested that the National Research Council (NRC) conduct this independent assessment. In the spring of 2012, the NRC Committee on NASA's Strategic Direction was formed and began work on its task. The committee determined that, only with a national consensus on the agency's future strategic direction—along the lines described in the full NRC report—can NASA continue to deliver the wonder, the knowledge, the national security and economic benefits, and the technology that have been typified by its earlier history. NASA's Strategic Direction and the Need for a National Consensus summarizes the findings and recommendations of the committee.
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Publisher
National Academies Press
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Published on
Jan 16, 2013
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Pages
62
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ISBN
9780309313551
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Language
English
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Genres
Science / Physics / Astrophysics
Science / Space Science
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This content is DRM free.
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Cost and schedule growth is a problem experienced by many types of projects in many fields of endeavor. Based on prior studies of cost growth in NASA and Department of Defense projects, this book identifies specific causes of cost growth associated with NASA Earth and space science missions and provides guidance on how NASA can overcome these specific problems.

The recommendations in this book focus on changes in NASA policies that would directly reduce or eliminate the cost growth of Earth and space science missions. Large cost growth is a concern for Earth and space science missions, and it can be a concern for other missions as well. If the cost growth is large enough, it can create liquidity problems for NASA's Science Mission Directorate that in turn cause cost profile changes and development delays that amplify the overall cost growth for other concurrent and/or pending missions. Addressing cost growth through the allocation of artificially high reserves is an inefficient use of resources because it unnecessarily diminishes the portfolio of planned flights. The most efficient use of resources is to establish realistic budgets and reserves and effective management processes that maximize the likelihood that mission costs will not exceed reserves. NASA is already taking action to reduce cost growth; additional steps, as recommended herein, will help improve NASA's mission planning process and achieve the goal of ensuring frequent mission opportunities for NASA Earth and space science.
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