Congress, NASA

Scolese and the appropriators

The Commerce, Justice, and Science subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee will hold a hearing on NASA this Wednesday morning, the 29th, at 10 am. Appearing before the committee will be acting administrator Chris Scolese. (Thanks to a reader for pointing out this upcoming hearing.)

13 comments to Scolese and the appropriators

  • Sheridan

    I think Scolese is actually doing a really good job as NASA’s Administrator.

    I see no harm in letting him stay right where he is and just leave Shelby & Nelson to stew in their own self-imposed nominee blocking tactics.

  • TANSTAAFL

    SHERIDAN: I think Scolese is actually doing a really good job as NASA’s Administrator.

    Sheridan,

    How do you come to that conclusion? What specifically has Scolese done to justify a grade of “really good job”.

    Emphasis on the specifics. That is the only way you can measure “goodness”.

    FWIW,

    - TANSTAAFL

  • John Malkin

    Why wouldn’t they wait until the full budget has been released? To get a head start? Would the Committee get a draft copy of the budget?

  • TANSTAAFL,

    After Griffin, my standards for NASA admins are pretty low, so I’m going to have to agree with Sheridan that Scolese appears to be doing at least a tolerably good job. I’m not expecting miracles, but simply being honest, non-condescending, and not trying to foist ego-driven multi-billion dollar Moondoggle architectures on the rest of us seems good enough.

    ~Jon

  • TANSTAAFL

    GOFF: simply being honest, non-condescending, and not trying to foist ego-driven multi-billion dollar Moondoggle architectures on the rest of us seems good enough.

    Griffin was honest too. I believe Griffin believed what he said. (Some faulted him for being too honest.) Griffin was just wrong (very wrong) on a few key issues.

    Next, an “Acting” Administrator is not going to foist a multi-billion-dollar project — of any kind — on us. That is not his role. What Scolese has done for the last 3 months is not a good predictor of what he would do if he became Administrator.

    Therefore, the one specific discriminator you can give Scolese credit for is “not being condescending.”

    Fine. That is a good personal trait.

    But that is not sufficient to say “he is doing a really good job as Administrator” in my book.

    My challenge to Sheridan still stands — WHAT has Scolese specifically done to justify giving him a grade of “a really good job”?

    When your boss gives you a performance review, she does not just say “you did a really good job” — she tells you the specific results or actions your produced that justify the grade.

    FWIW,

    – TANSTAAFL

  • common sense

    @GOFF and TANSTAAFL:

    Alan Ladwig told us (http://www.spacepolitics.com/2009/04/24/does-nasa-need-a-new-administrator-yes-but/) that Scolese is doing a great job. Now as an ACTING administrator. His job is to keep everything going smoothly as they look for someone, it looks like. And Ladwig said he is doing fine. Ladwig is not his boss, as apparently he is a “special asistant” to the administrator (!) BUT he seems to be pretty close to the WH (?).

    So if the WH says Scolese is doing a fine job then great. But a fine job as an ACTING administrator does not mean Scolese would be doing a great job as an appointed administrator. I am sure the requirements for the job are totally different. Had Griffin be more tactful he’d probably be still running NASA (see Golding for example). That’s life.

  • It sounds like Scolese is getting ready to throw ESAS under the bus in the hearing today.

  • common sense

    There is certainly the smell of a re-org. The GS 15 jobs offered under ESMD are apparently being cancelled. FWIW

  • TANSTAAFL

    COMMON SENSE: But a fine job as an ACTING administrator does not mean Scolese would be doing a great job as an appointed administrator. I am sure the requirements for the job are totally different.

    Dear Common Sense,

    I have no reason to disagree with Alan Ladwig that Scolese is doing a fine job as the ACTING administrator. If Alan says Scolese is doing fine, I trust him.

    I also agree that the requirements for ACTING administrator job, and the appointed Administrator are totally different.

    The appointed Administrator needs to be somebody that is EXTERNALLY focused, on the needs and requirements (and thinking) of the President and Congress. As a general rule, career NASA engineers (even really good ones) do not have the knowledge, experience, skills, mind set, and desire to do the “external focused job” well.

    Griffin was right when he said that James Webb was NASA’s greatest administrator. We need another James Webb-like person.

    FWIW,

    – TANSTAAFL

  • common sense

    @TANSTAAFL:

    I believe we are essentially in agreement. I was merely trying to show there is a difference between acting and appointed as you just did too.

  • Judging from reading the Congressional testimony of Chris Scolese, the Constellation program is in firm place and is not changing anytime soon. Here is an excerpt from that testimony:

    “NASA is appreciative of full funding in FY 2009 for the Exploration Systems program. The
    Constellation Program continues to complete the formulation phase of its projects – in particular Ares I,
    Orion, and major ground facilities. Major development work is underway, contracts are in place; and we
    have a dedicated group of civil servants and contractors who are all working hard to accomplish the
    Constellation Program’s objectives. So far, NASA engineers have conducted about 6,500 hours of wind
    tunnel testing on subscale models of the Ares I to simulate how the current vehicle design performs in
    flight. These wind tunnel tests, as well as the Ares I-X test flight, will lay the groundwork for maturing
    the Ares I final design prior to its Critical Design Review (CDR). When launched later this year from
    NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the Ares I-X will climb about 25 miles in a two-minute
    powered test of the First Stage performance and the First Stage separation and parachute recovery system.
    Work on the Orion Project also continues to advance. Recently, NASA conducted testing of the water
    recovery process for the Orion capsule, and NASA also selected the material for Orion’s heat shield.
    Later this year, Orion’s PA-1 test will take place at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. PA-1 will
    demonstrate the Launch Abort System’s ability to pull crew to safety should there be an emergency while
    the Orion and Ares I stack is still on the launch pad. “

  • Mars Rocket

    The lack of vision and motivation from NASA is astounding. The fact that Scolese’s NASA is confused about “what do we mean by the moon” is really an exercise in blasting an out-of-tune-trumpet by weak management. It’s like trying to answer who we are before we talk about going to hunt for food. The simple truth is that NASA needs to finally take space leadership seriously. The STS program was meant to be a truck and the ISS was supposed to be permanent. Oh, wait, we need to discuss what “permanent” means. Realistically, it only means as long as there is a will to pay for it. Obama’s new appointment to NASA needs to have the gumption to lead. This means the new Administrator should step aside from a budget-driven risk-averse behaviour to an inspiring, straight talking, people-leveraging agressive goal seeker. I look forward to change at NASA. It is sorely needed.
    Mars R.

  • common sense

    @Mars Rocket:

    This is not NASA’s confusion, well not only. This is a WH/NASA/Congress/Public confusion. This has been going on for ever, not just now. It is a little more apparent today as 2 programs (Shuttle AND Constellation) face major challenges. People in general still refuse to accept whatever budget they have and to live WITHIN their means. Reminds you of something recent? Until then well you know… What is permanent again?

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