NASA Administrator Bill Nelson is announcing new leadership roles, as well as the merging of two offices into the Office of Technology, Policy, and Strategy (OTPS), in support of Biden-Harris Administration priorities and the focus on space strategy.

  • Dr. Bhavya Lal will serve as the associate administrator for OTPS
  • Melanie Saunders will serve as the agency’s new chief resilience officer
  • Casey Swails will serve as the deputy associate administrator for business operations
  • Tom Cremins will serve as the associate administrator for space security interests
  • Douglas Terrier, the agency’s current chief technologist, will serve in a new position as the associate director for vision and strategy at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston. In the interim, Lal will serve as acting chief technologist

All appointments are effective immediately.

OTPS is being established to provide data- and evidence-driven technology, policy, and strategy advice to NASA leadership. The office is a merger of the Office of Strategic Engagements and Assessments and the Office of the Chief Technologist. OTPS will support NASA leadership in developing and guiding the agency’s activities across its six mission directorates. As the lead for the organization, Lal, who previously served as NASA’s acting chief of staff during the presidential transition and senior advisor for budget and finance, brings her extensive experience and background in space technology, exploration, science, and policy to the role. She will report to NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy.

“At NASA, we always have our eyes on the future. This is how we lead, thinking critically and strategically about the challenges we may face – both internally and externally,” said Nelson. “As we continue to push the boundaries of exploration, OTPS and these leadership positions will ensure our cutting-edge technology, strategy, and policy shape our agency’s success. We also are increasing our analysis and guidance on geopolitical issues and risks that NASA, or the space industry, may be facing.”

Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and unprecedented scope of work that Saunders has been leading, she will move into a new, dedicated role focused on the agency’s coronavirus response and implementation of requirements related to it. In addition, she will oversee and integrate NASA’s Future of Work program as it specifically ties to the pandemic, such as the agency’s return to more onsite work. Saunders also will be responsible for the continued development and implementation of NASA’s pilots, policies, and strategies, enabling a hybrid workforce and innovation in the workplace. Saunders will report to Melroy.

“Melanie has a long history of serving our agency in a variety of key leadership positions, including her critical leadership roles in the International Space Station Program and at JSC, through her time most recently leading and implementing a variety of NASA functional, policy, and program integration activities,” said Melroy. “I know she’ll continue to excel in her new role guiding and navigating the workforce through challenging times.”

Swails, who most recently served as senior advisor and chief of staff to the associate administrator, as well as the agency’s acting deputy chief of staff during the presidential transition, will lead and facilitate the integration of mission support functions across the agency, build and advance NASA’s industry partnerships, and act as the principal advisor to NASA Associate Administrator Bob Cabana. Swails will report to Cabana.

“Given her experience at NASA in leading and executing large scale internal operations and change efforts for agency programs, including workforce transition for Constellation, formulation and organizational design of commercial crew, Mission Support Architecture Program – MAP, and the successful initiation of an agencywide Executive Services function, I’m confident that Casey will exceed expectations in this new role,” said Cabana. “Casey is absolutely the right person for this job.”

In his new role, Cremins will report to the administrator and provide a broad security focus on NASA’s civil space efforts within the larger national and global environment. Cremins also will support enterprise protection and assessment efforts, representing NASA and working with our federal agency partners to secure and advance our national posture.

“Tom’s new role will help ensure NASA’s equities are considered in strategic issues and policy discussions. He’ll also provide input on the agency’s emerging space security areas of opportunity and focus, such as in cislunar space and broader Moon to Mars exploration strategy and architecture,” said Nelson. “Tom’s strategic input and advice will continue to assist us as we expand our deep space exploration.”

In his new role as the associate director for vision and strategy at Johnson, Terrier will be responsible for leading the strategy, creation, integration, and overall execution of Johnson’s ongoing transformation initiatives revolutionizing the center’s policies, plans, and processes around workforce, facilities, and products to advance human spaceflight. Terrier also will provide executive and functional leadership to expand the center’s collaboration across the agency, industry, academia, and international community, to ensure alignment with NASA’s strategic plan and missions.

“As the principal advisor for technology during the last six years, Douglas and his team have helped align and coordinate NASA’s agencywide technology investments with mission needs, and advanced technology collaboration with other government agencies and the private sector,” said Nelson. “We appreciate all Douglas has done as the agency’s chief technologist and look forward to what he’ll accomplish in his new role at JSC.”

Nelson added, “These leadership roles are critical for both sustaining and advancing NASA’s missions, and this team will guide us on our significant work ahead as we continue to take care of our people, advance o
ur technologies, make our skies safer, enable groundbreaking scientific discoveries, protect our home planet, and push humanity’s exploration farther into the solar system than ever before.”

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