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NASA - Frequently Asked Questions About the NESC

Why was the NESC formed?

The NESC was formed to respond to the observations of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) that NASA's current safety organization lacks adequate technical expertise and resources for independent technical reviews of NASA's programs. The NESC is comprised of the best engineering expertise from across the Agency and also includes partnerships with other government organizations, National Laboratories, universities, and expert consultants. The country's best experts are brought to bear on the problems and challenges of NASA programs.

Where is the NESC located?

The NESC Management Office is located at NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton Virginia, but the NESC has technical resources at all 10 NASA Centers and Headquarters, as well as partnerships with academia, industry and other Government organizations. These technical resources are pooled to perform NESC activities and services.

Is NESC tied to a specific NASA program or center?

No. The NESC functions as an independent engineering chain of command to assure an avenue for consideration of all points of view for complex technical issues. The NESC is funded at the corporate level to enhance its independence.

Do NASA program managers look to the NESC to handle the safety of their programs?

Rather than relieving NASA program managers from their responsibility for safety, the NESC complements the programs by providing an independent technical review with adequate technical expertise and funding. Additionally, the NESC provides a centralized location for the management of independent engineering assessment by expert personnel and state of the art tools and methods for the purpose of assuring safety. The NESC is staffed with civil service, high grade, high performing scientists and engineers who are considered experts in their fields. This workforce is distributed across NASA's Centers but is centrally managed and funded, through the Office of Chief Engineer and supplemented by partnerships from across the Nation.

How does the NESC make decisions with such a large and diverse group?

The NESC established the NESC Review Board (NRB). The NRB consists of approximately 35 members and is chaired by the Director of the NESC. All major decisions of the NESC are presented and voted on by the board. The NRB meets weekly, utilizing the latest communication tools and services available. Consensus is always sought for major decisions, but where consensus can't be reached, the alternate view points are dispositioned and documented.

How is the NESC funded?

The NESC is independently funded through the Office of Chief Engineer.

How do you determine that an activity or service completed is sanctioned by the NESC?

It is the intent of NESC to complete, approve and release final reports on activities sanctioned by the NESC. The NESC seal will not be added to final reports unless it has been approved by the NRB and released as an NESC sanctioned document after all signatures are obtained.

What is the relationship of the NESC with the NASA Safety and Reporting System (NSRS)?

Currently, the NESC request process and the NSRS are separate processes. The NESC will, however, address any technical concerns reported through the NSRS. The Safety and Mission Assurance organizations will address all industrial safety concerns reported through the NSRS or the NESC.

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Page Last Updated: September 18th, 2013
Page Editor: NASA Administrator