Technical Excellence Initiative
NASA Instrument Capability Study
In July 2007, the NASA Office of the Chief Engineer chartered the NASA Instrument Capability Study (NICS) team to determine whether NASA instrument developers are facing challenges that impact the capability to design and build quality instruments or whether there are flaws in the acquisition strategy evidenced by schedule delays, cost overruns, and increased technical risk via design deficiencies.
The Study team was also chartered to determine if occurrences seen recently are coincident, but isolated cases or if there were generic issues causing such degradation. If the issues were found to be generic, the team was to offer solutions to recover such capability.
The NICS objectives were as follows:
- Obtain macro-level understanding of problem areas within the instrument development processes
(not root cause analysis)
- Determine problem areas that impact primary success indicators (cost, schedule, and technical
- Determine specific issues within the identified problem areas that impact instrument development processes and primary success indicators
- Identify potential issues for higher risk or more complex instrument developments
- Identify common, overarching themes spanning the instrument development processes
- Recommend options for solutions that address Study themes
The NICS team conducted two surveys — an Instrument Survey and a General Workforce Survey. Based upon the data obtained from the surveys, the team was able to:
+ Download the NASA Instrument Capability Study Final Report
- identify the top five cross-cutting problem areas and the most reported specific issues within these problem areas;
- evaluate data across three additional areas critical to instrument development: complexity, risk, and cost/schedule
- identify the overarching Study themes.