Crosscutting Processes


Manage Strategically
Provide Aerospace Products and Capabilities
Generate Knowledge
Communicate Knowledge

NASA is making significant progress in achieving our mission and goals by doing business faster, better, and cheaper while never compromising safety. Throughout the Agency, there are hundreds of examples of programs, projects, and management systems being delivered with better service and at lower costs. The Clinton Administration's "Reinvention Marching Orders," to deliver great customer service, foster partnerships and community solutions, and reinvent government to get the job done with less, and the principles of the Government Performance and Results Act guide our strategies to revolutionize the Agency. Four Crosscutting Processes have been established to support all Agency activities and Enterprises. The top-level goals, objectives, and strategies for the processes are described below.


Manage Strategically

This process provides policy, direction, and implementation guidelines to NASA's organizational elements and employees that enable the Agency to develop, conduct, and evaluate programs to achieve the Nation's goals in aeronautics and space.

The goal of this process is to ensure that the Agency carries out its responsibilities effectively and safely and that management makes critical decisions regarding implementation activities and resource allocations that support NASA's strategic, implementation, and performance plans.

The process objectives are as follows:

  • Align Agency direction and deployment decisions with external mandates and the requirements of our customers, partners, and stakeholders;

  • Communicate Agency direction and decisions throughout the NASA Team and to the external community in a timely, consistent, and understandable manner;

  • Optimize Agency investment strategies and systems to align human, physical, and financial resources with customer requirements, while ensuring compliance with applicable statutes and regulations;

  • Improve the effectiveness and efficiency of Agency acquisitions through the increased use of techniques and management that enhance contractor innovation and performance;

  • Ensure that information technology provides an open and secure exchange of information, is consistent with Agency technical architectures and standards, demonstrates a projected return on investment, reduces risk, and directly contributes to mission success; and

  • Foster leadership that demonstrates a commitment to the Agency's values, principles, goals, and objectives.

To achieve the goal and objectives for this process:

  • We will measure our performance and communicate our results, demonstrating NASA's relevance and contributions to national needs.

    NASA's performance in developing and delivering products and services is evaluated at Agency, Strategic Enterprise, Functional/Staff Office, program or project, Crosscutting Process, and individual levels. Each level has responsibility to execute the requirements and to measure, evaluate, and report the results. As each part of the organization completes its measurement process, data are used to validate that performance meets or exceeds planned goals, objectives, and performance targets. In those situations where performance does not meet the plan, opportunities for continuous improvement and reengineering are identified.

    On a semiannual basis, NASA's Senior Management Council will review performance against the goals and objectives contained in this Plan, the Enterprise Strategic Plans, and the Annual Performance Plan. These reviews will take place in March and September of each year. To assess progress in meeting the Agency's general goals, we will review performance goals and measures that relate to the near-term objectives of our Enterprises and of our Crosscutting Processes. Examples of the relationships between Agency goals and performance goals include:

    • Reducing development cycle time and cost and increasing launch rates for NASA spacecraft. This relates to the Agency goals to develop lower cost missions to characterize the Earth system and chart the evolution of the universe and solar system and to improve Shuttle safety and efficiency;

    • Increasing the accessibility and use of science and research data. This addresses NASA's goals to characterize the Earth system and chart the evolution of the universe and solar system, to explore nature's processes in space, and to facilitate and stimulate the productive use of science and technology in the public and private sectors; and

    • Increasing leverage of NASA's research and development investments in commercial partnerships with industry. This relates to our goals to develop new technologies and processes to enhance research and make aeronautics and space programs more affordable and to develop affordable technologies for U.S. leadership in aviation growth markets.

    These measures will be included in the Agency's Annual Performance Plan and associated Performance Report. (Appendix 2 provides a summary of Enterprise and Crosscutting Process objectives and associated measures.)

    At the program level, NASA's Program Management Council will continue to conduct reviews prior to initiation and throughout a program's life to confirm compliance with cost, schedule, and performance targets. In addition, NASA's Capital Investment Council will continually reaffirm that our investment decisions support overall program and institutional goals and that outcomes remain relevant and provide
    valuable contributions to the Nation's needs. To effectively manage our financial resources and evaluate Agency, Enterprise, and program-level performance, NASA is developing and implementing a new integrated financial management system. The integration of this system, and other initiatives such as full-cost accounting, will enable performance improvements to our financial and resource management.

    NASA also relies on external organizations to assess our ability to achieve goals and objectives. These reviews are conducted by such entities as the National Academy of Sciences, the General Accounting Office, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency. Reviews are also conducted by the NASA Office of the Inspector General.

  • We will change the way we work with our contractors and streamline regulations.

    Through the implementation of Performance Based Contracting and other initiatives, we will assign a higher level of integration responsibility and accountability to our contractors. By moving NASA civil service employees from detailed operations management to contract insight roles, we will enable the aerospace business, not direct it. We will fully integrate small, small disadvantaged, and women-owned businesses into the competitive base from which we purchase goods and services, urging prime contractors to forge permanent, mutually beneficial business relationships with small firms. As a result, we seek to enable these businesses to mature and play an increasing role in the economic growth within their communities.

    We will propose reporting and regulatory changes to ease the transition to a new way of doing business. We will continue to reduce the number of internal regulations and policy documents, administrative costs, and functional overlaps.

  • We will deliver on our commitments, be accountable for the success of our programs, and provide a balanced and stable aeronautics and space program by implementing strategic management throughout NASA.

    We are committed to managing through our strategic and implementation plans at all levels with a focus on relevant results for our customers. We will develop and retain the proper skill mix necessary to remain the recognized leader in aeronautics and aerospace. We will empower employees to perform their jobs and supervisors to manage, while holding all accountable for fulfilling their responsibilities. To ensure the alignment of individual activities with the goals of the strategic and implementation plans, performance plans will be developed to outline the contributions of each employee.

    We will ensure that our budget process, implementation planning, and deployment are tied to our srategic plans. We will manage effectively and efficiently, recognizing political and budgetary realities. We will work closely with our customers and stakeholders to develop long-term requirements and outcomes that will take us well into the next millennium.

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Provide Aerospace Products and Capabilities

This process is the means by which NASA's Strategic Enterprises and their Centers deliver systems (aeronautics, space, and ground), technologies, data, and operational services to NASA customers so they can conduct research, explore and develop space, and improve life on Earth. The Agency uses the process to answer fundamental questions: What cutting-edge technologies, processes, techniques, and engineering capabilities must we develop to enable our research agenda in the most productive, economical, and timely manner? How can we most effectively transfer the knowledge we gain from our research and discoveries to commercial ventures in the air, in space, and on Earth?

The goal of the process is to enable NASA's Strategic Enterprises and their Centers to deliver products and services to customers more effectively and efficiently while extending the technology, research, and science benefits broadly to the public and commercial sectors.

The process objectives are as follows:

  • Reduce the cost and development time to deliver products and operational services that meet or exceed customers' expectations;

  • Seek out and apply innovative approaches, in cooperation with NASA partners and customers, to enable ambitious new science, aeronautics, and exploration missions;

  • Focus on integrated technology planning and technology development driven by Strategic Enterprise and customer needs;

  • Facilitate the insertion of technology into all programs and proactively transfer technology, form commercialization partnerships, and integrate all innovative approaches to strengthen U.S. competitiveness;

  • Improve and maintain NASA's engineering capability, so that NASA will be recognized as the leading aerospace engineering research and development organization in the world; and

  • Capture and preserve engineering and technological best practices and process knowledge to continuously improve NASA's program/project management.

To achieve the goal and objectives for this process:

  • We will focus on what we do best by reestablishing NASA's role as a research and development agency.

    We will pursue our mission and goals aggressively, preserving each of our four Strategic Enterprises as an essential element of our service to the Nation. We will ensure that the Centers of Excellence are preeminent in their areas of technical expertise. We will emphasize research and development and transfer operational activities, as feasible, to commercial operators, educational institutions, or other Federal agencies. We will continue to seek opportunities to privatize and commercially purchase services that are not our main line of business. We will develop cutting-edge technologies to accomplish our current programs more efficiently and enable new programs necessary to achieve our long-term goals. We will develop technology programs to realize our research and exploration goals, applying new technologies and capabilities to multiple programs.

    We will conduct more frequent missions for fewer dollars, thereby enabling increased opportunities for research, exploration, and discovery.

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Generate Knowledge

This is the process by which NASA provides new scientific and technological knowledge from exploring Earth, the solar system, and the universe and from researching the space environment, aeronautics, and astronautics. This knowledge is provided to scientists, engineers, and technologists in industry, academia, and other organizations, as well as to natural resource managers, policymakers, educators, and other NASA customers. This process reflects the first and most basic part of NASA's mission statement and plays a major role in seeking answers to the fundamental questions of science and research.

The goals of this process are to extend the boundaries of knowledge of science and engineering, to capture new knowledge in useful and transferable media, and to share new knowledge with customers.

The process objectives are to improve the efficiency with which we:

  • Acquire advice from diverse communities;

  • Plan and set research priorities;

  • Select, fund, and conduct research programs; and

  • Archive data and publish, patent, and share results.

To achieve the goal and objective for this process:

  • We will collaborate with old and new partners.

    We will work with other Federal agencies and U.S. industry to complement and support our activities. NASA will continue to pursue mutually beneficial cooperative activities in aeronautics and space with other nations, strengthening American competitiveness, yet remaining consistent with the Space Act's directive to encourage peaceful international cooperation.

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Communicate Knowledge

NASA uses this process to increase understanding of science and technology, advance its broad application, and inspire achievement and innovation. This process also ensures that the knowledge derived from NASA's research and development programs is presented and transmitted to meet the specific needs and interests of each of the Agency's constituency groups.

The goal of this process is to ensure that NASA's customers receive the information derived from the Agency's research and development efforts that they want, when they want it, for as long as they want it.

The process objectives are as follows:

  • Highlight existing and identify new opportunities for NASA's customers, including the public, the academic community, and the Nation's students, to directly participate in the space research and discovery experience; and

  • Improve the external constituent communities' knowledge, understanding, and use of the results and opportunities associated with NASA's programs.

To achieve the goal and objectives for this process:

  • We will foster partnerships with teachers and students.

    We will work with teachers and others in the academic community to inspire America's students and create increased learning opportunities. We will help enlighten inquisitive minds and involve teachers and students in our endeavors to seek answers to fundamental questions of research and science.

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