Possible Budget Impacts Pending, Strategic Plans Press On
At a standing-room-only Town Hall meeting on Tuesday, NASA Langley’s Center Director Lesa Roe offered some early insight into the potential across-the-board, federal agency spending cuts – known as "sequestration" - that could go into effect as soon as March 1.
Not when, but "if" sequestration occurs, the projected impact to NASA is $730 million below President Obama's budget request for FY13. The most significant impacts are expected in the areas of Space Technology and Commercial Space Flight.
At this point, Roe says the impact to the center from a possible sequestration is "uncertain." But she pointed out that, originally, the projected impact was thought to be at an 8 percent reduction across the board. Since then, that number has dropped closer to 5 percent as projected full year level cuts.
"In CM&O (Center Management & Operations) we are already operating at sequestration level, we believe," Roe said.
In the meantime, Roe says the center is spending thoughtfully.
"There is a lot going on in the federal government, and we want to make sure we do the smart thing," Roe said.
"Fiscal cliff" uncertainties are delaying the FY14 budget rollout, which is expected in late March or early April. The current FY13 Continuing Resolution runs through March 27, and the Agency has directed the center to continue on that current plan.
NASA Headquarters is developing an operating plan, which will provide further details on impacts to each NASA center.
Despite budget issues being at the forefront of many minds, it was revealed that NASA is “the best place to work” according to 2012 Employee Viewpoint Surveys (EVS). Out of 19 federal agencies, NASA ranked number one in government. Roe noted that while overall government EVS scores were down, NASA's improved.
NASA Langley ranked 22 out of 292 Agency subcomponents, and the center improved in 52 out of 77 (68 percent) EVS questions. Greatest improvements were shown in "Work/Life" as well as "My Supervisor/Team Leader."
Roe also spoke about Langley's leadership efforts to clarify roles at the center through business development, making sure work quality matches the support needed by the Agency and the nation. By better understanding NASA and external customer needs, those needs can be met with improvement.
Roe went through the Agency's six strategic goals, to which the Center is aligning its efforts:
- Extend and sustain human activities across the solar system;
- Expand scientific understanding of the earth and the universe in which we live;
- Create the innovative new technologies for our exploration, science and economic future;
- Advance aeronautics research for societal benefit;
- Enable program and institutional capabilities to conduct NASA’s aeronautic and space activities;
- Share NASA with the public, educators and students to provide opportunities to participate in our mission, foster innovation and contribute to a strong national economy.
Within each of those goals, strategic focus areas for the center have been, and continue to be, identified. The vision is that those focused areas, such as radiation protection and Entry, Descent and Landing (EDL) systems, will eventually lead to on-demand air mobility, understanding Earth’s climate, and space exploration for everyone.
Roe spoke of the ongoing and successful revitalization program at the center, called VITAL. With steel frames up, construction of the Integrated Engineering Services Building (IESB) is well underway, with an early 2014 occupancy expected. Occupants of the future Measurement Science Laboratory are participating in the design process of the base-lined 124,000 sq. ft. facility, expected to begin construction in FY15. Other upcoming FY14 construction includes rehab of Building 1230, the Safety-Critical Avionics Research Laboratory (SCARL).
Roe also spoke about her lead in an Agency Workforce Flexibility effort to operate as a “seamless, fully integrated organization with no barriers to share resources and work as a unified team.” More information about this effort is forthcoming, but Roe says employees will be asked to value and support innovation as line and project managers work together on ensuring the success of mission milestones.
A Center Workforce Strategy has also been set in place through a team that intends to align the center’s entire workforce with NASA’s mission. The idea is to build the skills of the workforce in emerging areas for future opportunities.
Roe spoke of 2012 accomplishments, going into some detail about future goals, missions and strategic opportunity plans, which can help to shape the center for decades to come.
Employees were also briefed about efforts made toward a LaRC Comprehensive Digital Transformation, the Langley Communications Plan, and the Systems Study of Langley Education Activities, which resulted in the first comprehensive catalogue of the Langley Education Portfolio with 53 individual programs and activities.
Roe made it clear that center leadership is positioning the center for future opportunities, pressing on with high hopes for its workforce and their abilities to make improvements across the board despite any budget obstacles that may, or may not, arise.
By: Denise Lineberry
The Researcher News
NASA Langley Research Center
Editor & Curator: Denise Lineberry
Executive Editor & Responsible NASA Official: Rob Wyman