Information Technology Update October 2008

Improving Integration, Security, and Efficiency of NASA’s Information Technology

When I gave you an Information Technology (IT) update last May, I described several strategic IT initiatives. Today, I’m focusing on one of them: improving integration, security, and efficiency of IT by consolidating infrastructure and management control.

As background, we now have a decentralized approach to managing much of our IT infrastructure, particularly for local area networks, data centers, IT security services, and Web services. Industry best practices, OMB analysis, NASA’s Program Analysis and Evaluation studies, and business cases from NASA’s Office of the Chief Information Officer have all indicated that there are significant efficiencies and advantages to consolidation and central management of NASA’s IT infrastructure. Achieving such strategic change, NASA expects to (1) better integrate the Agency’s people, processes, and information; (2) improve IT security; and (3) realize cost savings.

Currently, we have five Agency-wide procurements under way which, collectively, are a significant step toward NASA’s IT consolidation efforts. I’m pleased to report that in the first quarter of 2009, we will issue the draft requests for proposals (RFP) for these procurements, which are identified and assigned to Centers as follows:

Agency Consolidated End User Services (ACES)
NASA Shared Services Center at the Stennis Space Center

NASA Integrated Communications Services (NICS)
Marshall Space Flight Center

NASA Enterprise Data Center (NEDC) Services
Kennedy Space Center

Enterprise Applications Service Technologies (EAST)
Marshall Space Flight Center

Web Services Technologies (WEST)
NASA Headquarters

These five acquisitions will address NASA’s top-level initiatives for infrastructure integration. These initiatives are:

1. Define network perimeter and consolidate network management.

2. Establish Agency network visibility of IT assets and consolidate Agency security monitoring and management.

3. Enable cross-Center collaboration and strengthen user authorization.

4. Migrate systems to physically secure and properly managed data centers.

5. Make NASA’s information easier to find, access and share.

6. Standardize and consolidate the management of end-user devices.

    NASA’s IT infrastructure consolidation will mean some culture change at NASA, especially where we have operated independently in the past and need to work more collaboratively in the future. While it is generally easy to use IT services at a single Center, we intend to enable seamless collaboration across Centers by providing people with a common user experience regardless of location or organizational alignment. By providing tools such as a common help desk, an online catalog for ordering IT services, and an integrated Agency-wide network, NASA will transition to systems and data with modular, interoperable services that support the efficient execution of NASA’s missions. At the same time, we will secure NASA data and resources while we’re making them more readily available.

    In the future, we will be able to easily share data, using sophisticated collaboration tools without the awkward “workarounds” we experience today. It will also be even easier to work at a Center other than your own because we’ll have a common way to “plug into” NASA’s network.

    We will move systems to physically secure and properly managed data centers. Currently, NASA has approximately 75 data centers that are serviced by multiple vendors with inconsistent availability of information and disaster recovery services. Data center consolidation will significantly improve access to information and will reduce cost.

    NASA plans to approach the data center consolidation in phases. Consolidation will start with applications that need immediate improvement in disaster recovery and continuity of operations support, such as NOMAD, which is our e-mail and calendar tool. Follow-on activities will include Agency-wide applications [e.g., Integrated Enterprise Management Program (IEMP)], multi-Center applications, Center back office support, and program and project applications for which it makes technical, financial, and logical sense to consolidate.

    When these procurements are completed, we will have the following advantages.

    • Systems can be seamlessly deployed, used and secured across Center boundaries.
    • Smarter investments in the right IT solutions provide the greatest benefit to the NASA mission.
    • We’ll have a reliable, efficient, secure, and well-managed IT infrastructure that enables NASA’s mission.

    In closing, I want to thank the NASA employees who are working on the acquisition teams. Thanks to their efforts, we should have new contracts in place by early 2010 and be on our way to consolidating NASA’s IT infrastructure.

    Chicago Future Forum

    Future Forums

    October 10th marked the seventh and final Future Forum celebrating NASA’s 50th anniversary at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, Illinois. Before I provide a brief rundown on the Chicago Future Forum, I would like to take a moment to thank the NASA team for their efforts.

    Special thanks go to NASA’s Office of Communications Planning, who coordinated and managed all the Forums, along with the great support of the Office of Public Affairs, the Office of Education, the NASA Mission Directorates, and the NASA Centers.

    We achieved the goal of reaching out to communities that do not have direct connections to NASA to engage them on the importance of space exploration to their daily lives. We touched over 1,500 business leaders, museum attendees, students, and civic leaders around the country this year alone. The tremendous amount of hard work and effort put into these events cannot be overstated and I commend the entire NASA team for taking the Future Forum concept into reality. Without you, these events would not have been such a success.

    Chicago Future Forum

    I would like to thank Dr. Paul Knappenberger, Director of the Adler Planetarium, for being such a wonderful host and master of ceremony. I also would like to thank our sponsors and key partners for helping to make the Chicago Future Forum possible.

    NASA has an interesting connection to the Adler. NASA Astronaut John Grunsfeld’s grandfather, Ernest Grunsfeld, was the lead architect in its design in the 1920s. I have said in previous blogs that Future Forums are a series of one-day events that highlight the benefits of space exploration through the themes of inspiration, innovation and discovery and connect those themes to a local, regional and state perspective. They also provide a venue to educate the public about the future of space exploration.

    An impressive group of individuals from academia and industry volunteered their time to participate on the panels. I would like to thank the NASA speakers for their contributions at the Chicago Future Forum: Woodrow Whitlow, Director, NASA Glenn Research Center; Bernice Alston, Deputy Associate Administrator for Education; Astronauts Bobby Satcher and Ken Ham; and Astronaut Carl Walz, Director of the Advanced Capabilities Division in ESMD. I would also like to thank Kristen Erickson, Mike Green, Jim Hull, and Roselee Roberts from NASA Headquarters for their efforts in all of the Future Forums held across the country celebrating NASA’s 50 years of exploration. Finally, thanks to Bob Hopkins for coming up with the Future Forum idea and all the work he did before departing the Agency to be the Senior Vice President and Marketing Director of Washington Operations at Phillips & Co., a business consulting firm.

    Legislative Wrap-Up for the 110th Congress

    From a legislative perspective, the last nine weeks have been a whirlwind. Since my last legislative status report in August, NASA funding by way of a Continuing Resolution (through March 2009), including extension of NASA’s exemption under INKSNA, has been signed by the President, and the Authorization Act has been cleared by the Congress and transmitted to the President for signature.

    On September 30, the President signed the Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2009, (H.R. 2638), otherwise known as the Continuing Resolution (CR). This legislation funds NASA at FY 2008 levels through March 6, 2009, or until a full-year appropriations bill is passed. Also for NASA, the bill includes $30 million in disaster funding (for damage caused by Hurricane Ike) and an important anomaly related to the Agency’s account and budget structure, which allows NASA to execute appropriations under the Continuing Resolution in the proposed FY 2009 account structure. To further explain, the FY2008 appropriations bill required a new accounting structure for NASA (moving from four to seven appropriations accounts). NASA needed the special authority to proceed with this new structure in FY2009 because a CR requires the same funding and structure as in FY2008. To reverse back to the four-account structure would be very costly so the appropriations gave us special “anomaly” authority in the CR.

    Of particular note, the Act includes an extension of our waiver of the Iran North Korea Syria Non-Proliferation Act (INKSNA) provision. This extension allows NASA to continue purchasing Soyuz flights beyond 2011, through July 1, 2016. This will enable NASA to continue to send American astronauts, as well as our international partner crew members, to and from the International Space Station during the “gap” between the time the Shuttle is retired and Orion/Ares I comes on-line. The Agency does not intend to purchase Progress cargo services after 2011, and will look to the U.S. commercial sector to provide our needs. Mike and I worked closely with the Senate Foreign Relations and House Foreign Affairs Committees (both of which approved extensions to our exception), House and Senate leadership, and our House and Senate Appropriations and Authorization Committees to secure this extension.

    On the authorization front, on September 27, the House cleared, by voice vote, the one-year, $20.2 billion NASA Authorization Act of 2008 (H.R. 6063). The Senate passed the measure by unanimous consent on September 25. Most critical for NASA, this bill reaffirms Congress’ strong bipartisan support for the “Vision for Space Exploration,” including human exploration of the Moon and eventually Mars. The bill signals Congressional intent to the next Administration by supporting accelerated development of the Orion and Ares programs, as well as directing that there be no activity between now and April 30, 2009 that would preclude the continued flight of the Space Shuttle after FY 2010. The measure also directs NASA to fly one additional Space Shuttle flight to deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer to the International Space Station, but only if it can be done before the end of calendar year 2010 and would not result in significant increased costs or unacceptable safety risks. There are other provisions of the bill but these can wait until the President actually signs it into law.