Legal Notice

I’ve always gotten really good advice from the NASA legal office.  We have had many difficult problems with contracts, lawsuits, workplace issues, and the like.  My request to them was that I wanted to end my career without going to Leavenworth and their advice has always been good enough to keep me out of there.

As a senior government employee, the NASA legal office has given me quite a bit of legal advice and opinion about post-government employment restrictions and what the law and ethics restrict me from doing after I leave.  Since I’m not trained in the law, I have a lot of questions that they have patiently answered for me and explained down to the kindergarten level of understanding that I have about legal matters.  Anyway, the subject of continuing this NASA blog has come up.  Yep, as my old boss once told me, don’t ask the lawyers if you don’t want to know the answer.  But I really do want to know what is right and ethical and legal, so I did ask . . .

For the record, today – July 31 – as I write this, I am still, officially, a NASA employee.  Today being a Saturday, I had to check out yesterday, turn in my badges, blackberry, and everything, but legally I am a NASA employee until midnight tonight.  Just for the record.

So the answer from the legal office was that to continue this blog on the NASA web page, I would have to become a Special Government Employee (unpaid).  This would cause several complications:  having to get ethics training, having to continue to file personal financial disclosures, and having certain potential affects on any future employment I might choose to undertake.  This is just all too complicated and too much trouble for an old retired guy to contemplate.  I am really looking forward to decluttering my life.

Don’t complain to the lawyers – they are doing a great job.  And I really do believe that the nation’s ethics laws serve us well, so I have no complaints.

So, it looks like this is my last post on the NASA web page.  That is probably just as well.  I have always been mindful that speaking here is in effect representing NASA.  Therefore I have not addressed certain topics, nor provided opinions that are contrary to NASA policy.  I would feel duty bound to continue those restrictions if I blog here.

But I am rather enjoying blogging, so I guess I’ll have to find a new venue. 

Its been a great conversation!  And I wish the very best to those of you who are still in the trenches, fighting the good fight to explore the universe.  My hat is off to you.  And if I can be of any assistance in the future, please don’t hesitate to contact me; I’ll do whatever the law allows to help.

Wayne Hale – over and out

P. S.  No comments allowed for this post – a first – because  I won’t be around to moderate them!

Innovation,Dissent,Intellectual Property,and the Internet

This morning I moved the Barriers to Innovation video to the private section of you tube so most folks can’t watch it.  I really intended to delete it but can’t figure out how; so making the video private is the next best thing.  Some folks may wonder why I did that . . . and its a long story, so buckle in if you are up for it.

About two years ago, Mike Coats who is the director of Johnson Space Center started a forward looking initiative to improve creativity and innovation within NASA.  This is a critical goal.  Great leaders have great vision and this was the start of a process to make us over as a more effective, innovative, inclusive, creative agency.  Last spring, seven teams were formed to examine ways in which JSC or NASA could be improved:  recruiting, mentoring, communications, work/life fit, communications, IT, and a team to examine the barriers to innovation.  Everybody reported out in January; several groups made videos, all the groups both identified problems and proposed solutions.  By the way, this was an officially sanctioned part time activity with appropriate charge codes — just for you folks that care about that sort of thing.  And it was very intentional to include contractor representation on each team.

But the barriers team video hit a chord with me and also with a lot of folks when we posted it on you tube.  Lots of comments, lots of views, lots of discussion.  I will say that NASA senior management took the video and its message very well.  Absolutely nobody has told me that posting that video was a problem.  (I wonder if the dissenters to that opinion feel stifled?)  Anyway, the barriers team wanted to also post their “solutions”.  Originally this was a power point chart presentation.  I am not a big fan of powerpoint chart presentations although the team had some good ideas.  So the team decided to stick together and make a video of the solutions — not just a power point, but use the same actors (themselves) and the same themes and show proposed solutions.

So they have been working on that for the last couple of weeks.  As they got the video ready to post, somebody asked if we should get permission to use the TV theme music.  Silly me, I hadn’t thought of that.  Of course TV theme music is intellectual property and is protected by numerous laws.

Even though most folks on the internet don’t seem to worry too much about those laws, we should set a good example.  So we asked permission to make and post a couple of videos with the TV theme music.  The response from those who hold the intellectual property rights for that was OK — but only for internal use — no you tube.


So, we have done the right thing and removed the old video — while we continue to negotiate with the music property owners.

At the very least, we should be able to repost the original and new video without the music in a few days. 

In the meantime, I hope we can post all the video reports from all the teams.  Even though these are all made by video amateurs, there are lots of great lessons and proposals which could make our organization — and perhaps any organization — more creative and innovative.  JSC is already moving out to implement some of the best recommendations.

More to come!