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Marny Skora
(Phone: 757/864-6121, 757/344-6111)
RELEASE : 05-039
Saunders to Lead Independent Program Assessment Office (IPAO)

Mark P. Saunders has been named Director of the Agency's Independent Program Assessment Office (IPAO) located at NASA's Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va. The IPAO is the assessment arm of the newly formed Office of Program Assessment and Evaluation that reports directly to the NASA Administrator and is headed by Scott Pace.

As IPAO Director, Saunders will lead the assessment of newly proposed and ongoing programs and projects to provide independent, unbiased information and findings to Agency decision makers.

Prior to his selection, Saunders was Director of Exploration Systems and Space Operations Technology at Langley where he led the development of new exploration technologies and supported Constellation, Shuttle, International Space Station as well as planetary entry, descent and landing.

He has also served as Director of the Langley Space Access and Exploration Office and manager of the Discovery Program. Saunders has extensive hardware and analysis experience.

"Mark's leadership of Langley's contributions to the Columbia accident investigation highlighted his skill in program analysis and assessment," said Langley Director Roy D. Bridges Jr. "Also, as a result of his efforts, Langley has figured prominently in helping prepare Discovery for STS-114 and the Center has won technology development programs that will contribute to the success of the Vision for Space Exploration. We wish Mark much success in his new role and are pleased that he and his family will remain in the area."

Saunders replaces Michael J. Benik who is returning to Kennedy Space Center as Special Assistant to the Director.

"Under Mike's leadership, the IPAO has provided standardization and consistency across the independent review process," said PA&E Associate Administrator Pace. "The Agency has greatly benefited from his talents and services."

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