This section aims to provide a detailed overview of just some of the many NASA activities that exemplify the ideals of the Open Government Directive. These overviews will be supplemented through anecdotes of successful programs using Open Government frameworks and contain goals and milestones for making the program even more transparent, participatory, and collaborative.
Making NASA Information Public for More Than 40 Years
The Freedom of Information Act, enacted in 1966, provides the public access to the way the government conducts their business. This law established for the first time an effective statutory right of access to government information. NASA's FOIA program has, and continues to be, in the forefront of making documents available to the public through answering individual requests received and making frequently requested documents available on the Web. Each of NASA's 10 Centers maintains a FOIA Web site with contact information, information on how to make a request, and a reading room with frequently requested documents published for the public's use.
The Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs (OLIA) manages correspondence and requests for information received from the U.S. Congress and handles requests for legislative material. OLIA has procedures in place to ensure requests are handled quickly and in a consistent manner. OLIA's newsletter keeps the public informed of its activities with Congress.
The primary objective of the NASA Declassification Program is to review all historically valuable classified information to assess what needs to remain classified and what can be released to the public while protecting the national security interests of the United States Government. The NASA Declassification Program establishes the roles and responsibilities of the Mission Directorates, NASA Records Managers, FOIA Officers, Center Program Offices, Declassification Authorities (DCAs) and Center Protective Services Offices for completing declassification actions Agency wide. This program establishes procedures within the NASA Procedural Requirements (NPRs) that will ensure that mandatory declassification reviews, systematic reviews, and overall classification management requirements are completed in accordance with the mandates set out in pertinent Executive Orders.
Managing NASA's Records
Records document all aspects of NASA's business-its organizations, policies, decisions, achievements, and operations. Documented records-contained on paper, micrographics, and audiovisual and electronic media-are managed as information resources. Information in the form of records is a critical resource necessary to assure the success of the Space program and preserve its history. The objectives of NASA records management are to:
The mission of the Office of Procurement is to provide functional management, leadership, and policy direction of purchasing and financial assistance activities for NASA (excluding Space Act Agreements). Our goal is to ensure the Agency executes its mission successfully by effectively and efficiently managing the acquisition process. In the interest of furthering the principles of Open Government, we will be gauging interest through feedback in how the public can be more involved in our activities. Within the next year we plan to use a contest format to challenge NASA's procurement community to identifying new information to be shared with the public. Within two years we plan to develop an on-line best practices guide for NASA procurement professionals to stimulate new collaboration.
Connect with the Universe
NASA uses a variety of methods on the Internet to involve the public with its missions. At the forefront stands NASA.gov-an unparalleled wealth of information concerning NASA activities around the world. Additionally, we emphasize the use of social media applications in order to directly reach out to the public. Tens of thousands of people follow NASA activities on the official NASA Facebook page. NASA TV content on YouTube is one of the top ranked channels with more than one million people who followed Astronaut Mike Massimino's adventures as he was on the STS-125 Hubble repair mission in 2009.
Opening the Eyes of the World to NASA Activities
NASA TV provides detailed information on Agency activities, missions, and news both directly to the public and to various media outlets for use in news reports and documentaries.
Leveraging Technology to Involve, Inspire, and Educate the Public
NASA's Office of Education (OE) communicates education resources and information about NASA's missions and technological and scientific advances to numerous stakeholders. We actively engage students, educators, parents, and the general public through a variety of resources from downloadable learning guides on our Web site to engagement via a vast social networking presence. Our interactive resources include collaboration tools for access to NASA experts, virtual worlds that simulate space travel, and online remote controls to scientific instruments and that enable the students to directly take part in space missions.
Keeping the Universe Connected
NASA's reliable space communications and navigation (SCaN) networks are the backbone of all of NASA's space missions, providing the critical communication services for all Earth, space science, and human space flight missions. This includes all of the telemetry, tracking, and commanding (TTandC) required by each spacecraft to transfer key data to the ground systems to manage space operations, as well as the voice communications with the human space flight missions and data transfer for all of the Earth and space science missions. These networks enable NASA to show the live broadcasts to the public of exciting NASA events including launches, astronaut extra-vehicular activity (EVAs), life and work on-board the International Space Station (ISS), and the Mars Rovers' exploration of our neighboring planet.
NASA Prizes for the Citizen-Inventor
The Centennial Challenges program seeks new solutions to specific technical problems of interest to NASA. The Challenges, which encourage participatory research and development, are open to private companies, universities, independent teams, and individual inventors. Our original seven prize challenges have been successful in encouraging broad participation by a diverse group of innovators. Many of these technical challenges also have direct relevance to pressing national and global needs such as energy and transportation.
The Centennial Challenges program is a multi-year activity with funding from previous years available for on-going competitions until the challenges are met and the prize money is won. All of the Centennial Challenges funding is applied to the prize purses. The program relies on partnerships with non-profit organizations to administer each challenge.
NASA uses Space Act Agreements as the primary vehicle for partnering with the external community. Space Act Agreements enable us to enter into partnerships with organizations that give us access to a wider range of technologies and capabilities that are not part of NASA's core competency. These partnerships expand our ability to meet the difficult technical challenge we face in space exploration, often at virtually no cost to the taxpayer. A solid partnership enables us to bring our expertise, assets, or information together with a partner's core competency to help further our goals for aeronautics research and space exploration while simultaneously furthering the mission of our partner. In this sense, all of our partnerships are strategic alliances.
Sharing NASA's Inventions with the Nation
Resources for the Aerospace Engineering Community
The NASA Engineering Network is an integrated suite of tools that includes a search capability that mines resources from 45 engineering repositories and 1.4 million records, the Lessons Learned Information System of official NASA vetted lessons, communities of practice formed along engineering disciplines, and a portal to integrate these components. The NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) is a public database of NASA's current and historical technical literature. NTRS provides access to approximately 500,000 aerospace related citations, 90,000 full-text online documents, and 111,000 images and videos. The type of information found in NTRS includes conference papers, images, journal articles, photos, meeting papers, movies, patents, research reports, and technical videos.