Of the four people on the previously-announced “shortlist” for the NASA administrator job, we know now that Steve Isakowitz is remaining at the Department of Energy and Scott Gration has been tapped to be a special envoy to Sudan. That would seem to leave two candidates: Charles Bolden and Lester Lyles. Or does it? The Orlando Sentinel reports that neither person is likely to be named to the job soon: Lyles does not appear that interested in the job, preferring the better renumeration of work in the private sector after a long military career (which is similar to what Space News reported in its print edition last week) and the administration is not interested in Bolden, the favorite of Sen. Bill Nelson. Even “people close to Nelson”, the Sentinel reports, are resigning themselves to that fact.
So it would seem that the shortlist is now empty (unless one takes seriously the reports that former astronaut Mae Jemison is under consideration, which, it appears, many people aren’t). If the administration is starting over in its NASA administrator search, it suggests that it may be well into summer before a permanent administrator is in place, given the delay between when a nomination is announced (not before next month, according to the Sentinel) and confirmation by the Senate. One possibility, the Sentinel reports: acting administrator Chris Scolese might be asked to become the permanent administrator. He would still have to go through the nomination process, but presumably could take on duties beyond his current “caretaker” role after being nominated.