NASA Faster, Better, Cheaper (FBC) Task Final Report

Report on Project Management in NASA
by the Mars Climate Orbiter Mishap Investigation Board

Peggy Wilhide

Headquarters, Washington, DC
(Phone: 202/358-1898)

RELEASE: 00-37

NASA Administrator Daniel S. Goldin today praised the
work of two panels reporting on NASA project management
issues, noting that the teams “have done a great service to
the Agency and to the Nation.”

The Phase II report by the Mars Climate Orbiter Mishap
Investigation Board, led by Marshall Space Flight Center
Director Arthur G. Stephenson, and the Faster, Better,
Cheaper report by former Jet Propulsion Laboratory project
manager Anthony Spear, are part of a top-to-bottom review of
Agency programs Goldin chartered within the past few months.

The two reports released today join the work of another
review panel, the Shuttle Independent Assessment Team, led by
Ames Research Center Director Dr. Henry McDonald, which
looked into Space Shuttle processing issues. That report was
released March 9. An additional review, by a team under
former Lockheed Martin executive Thomas Young, is due to NASA
this week, and after a short period of study will be publicly
released later this month.

“These teams have performed magnificently,” Goldin said.
“They have zeroed in on problem areas and have provided a
roadmap for improving our performance in the future. The
American people have said loud and clear they desire a
government which costs less and does more. NASA has heard
that message and embarked on a fundamental cultural change
over the last several years.

“We knew this change would not be easy. We knew we
would have problems,” Goldin said. “We pushed, we monitored,
and we initiated these reviews to find the areas which need
correction. These reviews make clear there is no turning
back from our overall goal and have identified where we can
and must do better.”

Goldin has asked NASA Chief Engineer W. Brian Keegan to
lead an internal group of experts in considering the reports
as a whole and developing an integrated set of responses. “I
have asked the Chief Engineer to work with the heads of each
of the major NASA Enterprises and the NASA field centers to
develop an across-the-board approach to implementing these
recommendations. Specific actions will be defined by mid-
summer,” Goldin said.

Among the report findings, Goldin noted the following:

* The Shuttle Independent Assessment Team documented 81
recommendations set against four time frames: immediate,
short-term, intermediate and long-term. “We have already
implemented the immediate recommendations,” Goldin said. 3I
have asked Joe Rothenberg (Associate Administrator for Space
Flight) to prepare a plan for implementing the other
recommendations. We are adding a significant number of
people to the program, but we’re not going to stop there.
This report raises very significant technical and management
issues, some going back to the origins of the program. We
are systematically working on each of the issues, and this
report has given us 20-20 vision. In the meantime, we must
guard against the notion that simply adding more people to
the Shuttle program will solve all of our problems. As Harry
McDonald’s team has noted, our challenge is more complex than
simple addition. It will involve augmenting an already
highly accomplished team with new skills, the right skills,
more training and more discipline. Because Harry’s team and
the Shuttle program had the courage to tackle these difficult
issues, NASA will be better and the Shuttle will be safer.2

* The Mars Climate Orbiter Mishap Investigation Board
provided a comprehensive project management strategy –
“Mission Success First” – for improving the likelihood of
mission success in every NASA endeavor. “This represents a
fourth element of the Faster, Better, Cheaper approach,”
Goldin said, “and that is, doing our work smarter. It means
picking the right people, giving them the right resources,
infusing the right technology, holding the right people
accountable, and doing the right kind of risk management.”

* The Faster, Better, Cheaper Report, a set of personal
observations by Spear, “adds a wonderful dimension to these
reviews,” Goldin said. “Tony Spear was a legendary project
manager at JPL and helped make Mars Pathfinder the riveting
success that it was. If we could bottle his experience we
would do so – this report is the next best thing.”

Goldin said copies of all the reports will be provided
to NASA managers to share with their employees to help
incorporate the lessons learned into NASA management
practices. “NASA has an incredible team of employees and
contractors,” Goldin said. “They are the best in the world
at what they do, and I am proud to be a part of that team.”

– end –