NASA Centers as FFRDCs? White House Proposes a Massive Reorganization of Federal Agencies

  06.21.18 — The White House has just announced a massive reorganization of Federal  Agencies, including NASA. See the GovExec article here for details.  The actual report can be viewed at this link.

What does it mean for NASA?

  • “Establish an accelerated process for determining whether one or more of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Centers should be converted to, or host, a Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC). FFRDCs can potentially allow the agency to be more agile in rapidly responding to changing needs and in recruiting and retaining scientific and technical expertise.” (p.17)
See pages 83 – 84 for details of the report  for details.  Notable elements are:
  • FFRDCs  “….can convey a number of benefits, including the ability to recruit and retain scientific and technical expertise, and to more rapidly respond to the R&D needs of a Federal agency than would be possible with a civil servant workforce.” And, “they are free from many of the outdated mechanisms inherent in the civil service“.  That is, eliminate civil servants.
What is the timeline?
  • “This proposal lays a process to determine if one or more of NASA’s other Centers should be converted to, or host, an FFRDC. NASA would oversee this process and provide an analysis, including recommendations, to the White House by the end of August 2018 so that the outcome can be reflected in future budget and policy plans and proposals.”
  • “Conversion of a Center, or parts of a Center’s operation, to an FFRDC would require several steps related to developing the sponsoring agreement with the organization managing the FFRDC, and addressing human capital issues. The analysis will examine these steps and estimate their feasibility.”  That is, how to deal with civil servants at the FFRDC — RIFs (Reductions in Force), firings, relocations, directed reassignments to other Centers?