National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Daniel S. Goldin, Administrator

Mission Statement

The mission of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) encompasses the following: The outcomes of NASA's activities contribute significantly to the achievement of America's goals in four key areas:

Summary Budget Information

FY 1993 (Actual) FY 1996 (Budgeted)
Budget Staff Budget Staff
$14.305 billion 25,700 $13.821 billion 21,555

Reinvention Highlights

I became NASA's Administrator in 1992, and the agency's budget was $14.3 billion with an average cost overrun of 77 percent as reported by the General Accounting Office. We now have a 5 percent underrun. Congress told me that NASA was out of contact with the fiscal realities of the United States. But it took the elections of 1992 and 1994 for the people's message demanding a smaller, more efficient government really to hit home. When it did, NASA, along with our partners in industry, made real change happen. For example, it used to cost an average of $600 million to build a scientific spacecraft. Today, it costs an average of $200 million, and that price tag will drop to $85 million by the end of this decade.

Better, Faster, Cheaper. Other efforts, specifically work on the reusable launch vehicle, should get the price of a launch down from $10,000 per pound to $1,000 per pound. Two decades ago, NASA and the Department of Defense drove the semiconductor, advance materials, software, computers, and communications industries. Today, we're a fraction of a percent of these markets.

We think a rough measurement of our productivity improvement shows us up 40 percent. We started 21 new programs, even though the budget has come down 36 percent over a five-year budget projection. That means we're going to do more with 55,000 fewer people. We had 25,000 NASA employees in 1992; today, we have about 20,000, and we're reducing further to a target of about 17,500 by the year 2000. We also will lose 47,000 contract employees.

Not only are we going to do more with less people, we're going to do an even better job. The average cycle time to design and develop a scientific spacecraft was eight years. Today, it's four; and in three years, it will be three. Hopefully, by the turn of the century, the average cycle time will be two years. On average, in the early 1990s, NASA launched two scientific robotic spacecraft per year. In the next few years, we'll be launching about eight per year; by the year 2000, we should be launching a dozen robotic spacecraft per year.

To eliminate duplication and overlap, especially at our field centers, and to improve efficiency and effectiveness in the application of diminished resources, NASA has moved to the exciting concept of mission-specific centers. In 1993, we conducted a Zero-Based Review. We told the centers that "Unless you could be best in class, you aren't a world class center; we have to shut you down." So each field center now has a clear mission and area of expertise. For example, the Marshall Space Flight Center is the focal point for launch and propulsion; the Johnson Space Flight Center's mission is Human Space Flight; the Goddard Space Flight Center handles astrophysics and earth science; the Ames Research Center focuses on information technology; and the Lewis Research Center is the center of excellence in turbomachinery.

The impact was considerable. For example, Lewis will focus on building the best jet engines and SCRAM jet engines and RAM jet engines in the world. We haven't canceled programs; we've realigned the infrastructure so we can focus on excellence. And if we find that industry has a better center of excellence, we'll shut ours down and use theirs.

Sharpening Focus on Mission. We're refocusing NASA on being a high-tech research and development agency. We're cutting way back on operations, and we're buying commercial services. We're moving from time-and-materials contracts to performance-based contracts, and we will hold individual CEOs personally accountable for their company's performance while we ensure safety through the features we have in NASA. Not only does this afford us an unbelievable opportunity to cut the budget, reduce the staff, and increase efficiency by partnering with a mature industry, it also affords industry the opportunity to develop new cutting-edge products that they couldn't develop if we held them to time-and-materials contracts.

Accountability and personal responsibility are key themes in NASA's reinvention, but we also are committed to teamwork and partnering within NASA, as well as with our outside partners. To ensure that every member of the team knows what's happening, we established the NASA Program Management Council, which reviews every major program and program commitment agreement (a contract specifying schedules, dollars, and milestones) in NASA at least once a year. And we have no outside consultants helping us do this. That's our rule. We think we have the most capable management team in government, and we don't need outsiders telling us how to manage ourselves.

We have a vision at NASA. We see ourselves as "an investment in America's future. As explorers, pioneers, and innovators, we boldly expand frontiers in air and space to inspire and serve America and to benefit the quality of life on Earth." We also have a strategic plan written by NASA's employees and managers and reviewed by the White House, Congress, civic groups, and scientific groups. Every employee has a copy, and every employee will also have a performance plan in the coming year that links to that strategic plan. We have a focus; we know where we're going. By next year, NASA will have a plan that extends this vision out 25 years. We know what steps to take over the next five years and what our financial performance plan should be for the next year. We've come a long way since 1992.


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