Findings
 

The conversations with individuals during visits to NASA Centers and Headquarters by the CK Process Team validated that NASA employees truly believe in NASA's vision statement: "NASA is an investment in America's future. As explorers, pioneers, and innovators, we boldly expand frontiers in air and space to inspire and serve America and to benefit the quality of life on Earth." They also validated that most employees understand that an effective CK Process is essential to attaining that vision.

  1. The primary finding was that there are some exemplary CK activities already taking place within NASA and some of the other Agencies visited. The team members discerned a technical workforce comprehension of the need to show the relevance of their scientific endeavors to the American public. These exemplary CK activities are driven by professional incentives, contractual obligations, official policies, or personal commitments that are frequently carried out on personal time. NASA's Space Act charter, specifying that it disseminate its information to the public, provided an impetus to communicate knowledge unavailable to other Government Agencies.
  2. Although much work is currently being done to communicate knowledge, the potential is for NASA to do significantly better in providing a process, monitoring the output, examining the outcome, and widely publicizing the results.
  3. NASA's CK efforts follow numerous and mostly ad hoc processes. There are perceived and real impediments, including inadequate funding and travel budget, as well as a lack of management support, guidance, time, or incentive for accomplishment. A formal process is needed, which can then be improved.
  4. The Agency needs to set policy and provide guidance detailing knowledge-communicating techniques in the form of a NASA Policy Directive (NPD) and a NASA Policy Guide (NPG).
  5. Although the team did not find a consistent CK Process across the NASA Centers or at Headquarters, the other Government or Government-sponsored entities sampled had formal pieces of what the team defined as the CK Process. For example, the Naval Research Laboratory, the Sandia National Laboratories, and the RTTC's and NTTC have a very well-defined and implemented technology transfer process. The Space Science Telescope Institute has a very thorough formal process for educational outreach.
  6. Within NASA, data bases were inconsistently assigned, maintained, and archived, such that many could not be located without the knowledge of the scientist or technologist.
  7. There are many excellent technical publications published at Headquarters and the Centers. If a publication presented "knowledge" and provided a way for the reader to contact someone who could answer questions, it was considered a CK instrument. Center Director Discretionary Fund Reports are examples of this classification of publication.
  8. Not surprisingly, the CK Process worked best when it included (a) a formal Communications Plan, (b) resources directed for implementing the Communications Plan, and (c) top management commitment.
  9. Exemplary CK practices were observed at every site visited. These were practices that showed innovation or extra effort applied to the typical Center functions for the offices mentioned earlier. The CK Process Team was initially reluctant to list these host practices as best without further analysis. Because one of the prime reasons for the CK Process Team effort in this report was to provide assistance to those engaged in the CK Process, it was agreed to list best practices in Appendix D and subsequently in a data base. In a central data base created at NASA Headquarters, each Center CK Process Owner will become the manager of all best practices performed at that Center.

 


Each one has the right to share in the knowledge and understanding which society provides.

Albert Einstein
1936