The preparation for budget rollout is always intense. This year, it was even more so because the budget experts at NASA were dealing with preparing the fiscal year (FY) 2008 operating plan for submission back to the Hill; rapidly reworking the account structure for NASA for the FY2009 budget and five-year run-out (as required by the FY2008 Omnibus Appropriations Act); preparing for FY2009 budget rollout; and working the strategic planning guidance for all areas of NASA to start preparation of the FY2010 budget request.
I have to admit that I am glad last week is over. The budget press conference on Monday (February 4) went well. Lynn Cline (Deputy Associate Administrator [AA] for Space Operations), Rick Gilbrech (AA for Exploration), Jaiwon Shin (AA for Aeronautics), and Alan Stern (AA for Science) joined me for the press conference and the Q&A went very fast. At the end, I was thinking, “Are there no more questions?” I decided to keep that as an internal thought bubble and not say it out loud.
On Thursday of last week (February 7), I spoke before the National Space Club at what has become an annual event to communicate with the Washington, DC crowd about the budget request.
Presidential Rank Awards
After days filled with budget books and numbers, I had the pleasure of honoring the NASA Presidential Rank Award winners. Each year, the President recognizes a small group of career Senior Executives with the Presidential Rank Award for exceptional long-term accomplishments. Winners of this prestigious award are strong leaders, professionals, and scientists who achieve results and consistently demonstrate strength, integrity, industry, and a relentless commitment to excellence in public service.
There are two categories of rank awards: Distinguished and Meritorious. Award winners are chosen through a rigorous selection process. They are nominated by their agency heads, evaluated by boards of private citizens, and approved by the President. The evaluation criteria focus on leadership and results.
The NASA awardees are employees dedicated to NASA’s missions, to aeronautics and science and human space flight. Accomplishments made by awardees include leading teams that investigated technical issues directly related to the loss of Columbia; being part of the Hubble Space Telescope program’s incredible success; streamlining aeronautics operations at Ames; making major contributions to the aeronautics budget development process; developing and implementing NASA’s solar physics and geospace science programs; overseeing NASA’s spectacular astrophysics programs; ensuring the success of the avionics and software for International Space Station; leading the development of Orion Service module; and selecting, tailoring, and applying technical requirements as we develop the Ares I launch vehicle.
We should thank all of these employees for their service and commitment to excellence. The list of Rank Award winners can be found at http://www.opm.gov/ses/presrankaward.asp.
Events Next Week
On Monday, February 18, I travel to San Jose, CA, to give the keynote address at the National Association of Women Business Owners of Silicon Valley (NAWBO-SV) Awards luncheon. I was surprised to get the invitation and wanted to know why they wanted someone from NASA. My hope is that our collective efforts to reach out to industries and groups beyond traditional aerospace are resonating. Mike Griffin and I consider this another great opportunity to spread the message about the exciting work that NASA is engaged in and how what we do in the space program has relevance to everyday life.
Since this is a group of female entrepreneurs who have started and own their own businesses, I will tailor my speech around the space economy. We define space economy as the full range of activities that create and provide value to human beings in the course of exploring, understanding, and utilizing space. Space is pervasive in our lives, invisible yet critical to so many aspects of our daily activities and well-being. One of our jobs is to highlight the technologies derived from space exploration that most people take for granted.
I have found that people in the high-tech industries are very receptive to the message of how NASA drives markets (microprocessors during the Apollo days) and develops technologies for space exploration that are then modified or transformed for a specific application here on Earth (advanced breast cancer imaging and robots that search for improvised explosive devices). All of this leads to NASA spurring innovation and helping drive U.S. economic competitiveness. The goal is to link the awe-inspiring work we do at NASA (people around the country are very interested in and excited by our work) with something that hits home with the listener. For NAWBO, I believe they will be very interested in how space exploration spurs U.S. economic competitiveness.
Then I fly to Columbus, OH, for the second NASA Future Forum, which will be held at the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) on February 21. The Columbus Future Forum will focus on how space exploration benefits Ohio’s economy. Astronaut Carl Walz, director of NASA’s Advanced Capabilities Division, will provide an overview of NASA’s exploration program. Other NASA participants include Woodrow Whitlow, director of NASA’s Glenn Research Center, and Glenn employees John Hairston and Dr. Geoffrey Landis.
Our industry and University speakers include Dr. Anthony Dennis, President and CEO, BioOhio; Dr. John Stanford, Executive Assistant for Education Policy, State of Ohio; Dr. Kim Kiehl, Vice President of Strategy and Partnerships, COSI; and Ms. Dorothy Baunach, President and CEO, NorTech. Ohio Governor Ted Strickland will deliver the luncheon keynote.
The Seattle Future Forum in January was very successful and exceeded my high expectations. I believe the Columbus Future Forum will be equally impressive. The Future Forums coming up are St. Louis in March, Miami in April, and San Jose in May.