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Aldridge Report: Institutional Reform at NASA

Finding 3
The Commission finds that NASA?s relationship to the private sector, its organizational structure, business culture, and management processes ? all largely inherited from the Apollo era ? must be decisively transformed to implement the new, multi-decadal space exploration vision.

Recommendation 3-1
The Commission recommends NASA recognize and implement a far larger presence of private industry in space operations with the specific goal of allowing private industry to assume the primary role of providing services to NASA, and most immediately in accessing low-Earth orbit. In NASA decisions, the preferred choice for operational activities must be competitively awarded contracts with private and non-profit organizations and NASA?s role must be limited to only those areas where there is irrefutable demonstration that only government can perform the proposed activity.

Recommendation 3-2
The Commission recommends NASA be transformed to become more focused and effectively integrated to implement the national space exploration vision, with a structure that affixes clear authority and accountability.

Recommendation 3-3
The Commission recommends that NASA Centers be reconfigured as Federally Funded Research and Development Centers to enable innovation, to work effectively with the private sector, and to stimulate economic development. The Commission recognizes that certain specific functions should remain under federal management within a reconfigured Center.

Recommendation 3-4
The Commission recommends that the Administration and Congress work with NASA to create three new NASA organizations:

  • a technical advisory board that would give the Administrator and NASA leadership independent and responsive advice on technology and risk
    mitigation plans;

  • an independent cost estimating organization to ensure cost realism and accuracy; and
  • a research and technology organization that sponsors high risk/high payoff technology advancement while tolerating periodic failures.

Recommendation 3-5
The Commission recommends that NASA adopt proven personnel and management reforms to implement the national space exploration vision, to include:

  • use of ?system-of-systems? approach;
  • policies of spiral, evolutionary development;
  • reliance upon lead systems integrators; and
  • independent technical and cost assessments.

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