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Volume 46 | Issue 5 | June 2004



Role of competition is evaluated

On a recently conducted One NASA survey, many employees identified competition within NASA as a barrier to collaboration and information sharing. Their feedback led to creation of One NASA Action 1c/1d: Program Priorities and Resources/Selecting Competing Projects.

Put into perspective, the NASA science enterprises have long used competition and peer review to successfully identify the best approaches to addressing scientific challenges within the Agency vision. More recently, new opportunities for competition by individuals and organizations at NASA centers are arising as a result of the Agency's new space exploration vision. NASA is faced with the issue of competition on a daily basis in efforts to balance the benefits of surfacing the best ideas and obtaining best value with the potentially adverse effects of hoarding knowledge, duplicating capabilities, inadequately maintaining critical infrastructure, and building organizational stovepipes.

To address this issue, a Competition Working Group (CWG) has been created to focus on the way competition is used at NASA.

"We're seeking to get a better understanding of the costs and benefits of internal competition so the Agency can use that information in a judicious manner," said Steve Pearson, member of the One NASA Implementation Team and CWG team lead. "As an Agency, we must find the optimal balance between competition and cooperation. This is a very challenging task given the mix of signals being received. Individuals at centers must compete for project funding and the use of various Agency resources, yet simultaneously promote cross-center teamwork."

The CWG will make recommendations and participate in implementation of any changes to current competitive practices assessed as unhealthy to One NASA principles. The more than twenty CWG participants, including representatives from various centers and enterprises, identified three competitive environments for detailed study: Science and Technology, Programs and Projects and Institutional Investments. Each competitive environment was assigned to a specific sub-team that will submit initial findings and draft recommendations by the end of June.

Once recommendations have been developed, the CWG will meet with senior Agency leadership to begin a dialog designed to optimize the effectiveness and success of the overall effort. Input to the CWG may be sent to

More information about the One NASA effort is available at