NASA has a unique charter in the Space Act of 1958 to "provide for the widest practicable and appropriate dissemination of information concerning its activities and the results thereof." As NASA approaches the new millennium, Government legislation and regulations, budgetary reductions that have necessitated downsizing the workforce, an emphasis on measurable results from Government agencies, and technological communications breakthroughs have provided the impetus for NASA to reexamine the way it communicates the knowledge that it generates. NASA has been challenged to manage knowledge as a resource that we owe to the American people.
Throughout its 40-year history, NASA has enjoyed exemplary success in communicating its knowledge to its customer groups using a variety of media. In many cases, these successes were achieved as a result of the individual initiatives of scientists who received funding for a scientific project, began producing results, and knew whom to contact within NASA's employee hierarchy, or were themselves contacted by appropriate professionals, enabling the scientists to reach various audiences in a timely manner. Achieving this success required the combined expertise of numerous offices in a traditional Government organizational chartthe science project office, the technology project office, the operations office, the public affairs office, the education office, the history office, the scientific and technical information office, the information technology and communications office, libraries, and record depositories.
In 1997, NASA Administrator Daniel S. Goldin assigned General Spence M. Armstrong, who was then NASA Associate Administrator for Human Resources and Education, the responsibility for documenting NASA's "Communicate Knowledge" (CK) Process. Armstrong assembled a Communicate Knowledge Process Team, which conducted 274 research and technical interviews at 27 locations throughout the country within and outside of NASA. The analysis of these interviews led to the recommendations for the process made in this report.
This report proposes that a Headquarters Communicate Knowledge Board of Directors, chaired by the Headquarters CK Process Owner, be created, consisting of Associate Administrators or Deputy Associate Administrators reporting periodically to NASA's Capital Investment Council. A Headquarters Communicate Knowledge Working Group would be formed to assist the Process Owner in applying metrics, implementing policy, monitoring progress, and integrating Center Communications Plans from an Agencywide perspective.
In addition, a full-time CK Process Owner would be appointed by and directly report to each of NASA's 10 Center Directors. Each Center Director, with the Center Process Owner, would also designate, on a part-time basis, subject matter experts in such areas as public affairs, education, history, and scientific and technical information. The CK Process Owner would coordinate the work of these subject matter experts with the Center's data base administrator, librarian, and records manager to form the Center Integrated Communication Team (ICT). For each new project or new phase of an ongoing project, this team would meet and work with the project manager and the scientists, technologists, and engineers. Subsequently, the project at each NASA Center would develop a CK plan to ensure that each manager, scientist, technologist, and engineer has a system to use that could maximize dissemination of the scientific and technological results. The Center CK Process Owner would be responsible for helping develop the metrics, collecting them periodically, and forwarding them to record at Headquarters to fulfill the requirements of the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993.