External Environment

To ensure that NASA's Strategic Plan is fully reflective of the dynamic nature of the national and international environment, our annual review of the Plan includes an assessment of the external environment and a revalidation of our key assumptions.


Over the past few years, the environment in which NASA operates has changed significantly. The Cold War has ended, but we find ourselves in the midst of vigorous global economic competition. There are also increased domestic demands on Federal resources. We have sought to understand the implications of these dramatic changes as we have developed our strategy. Four areas deserve particular attention-foreign policy and national security concerns, domestic policy priorities, political support, and public support.

In the post-Cold War era, the foreign policy aspect of the civil space program will focus on a spirit of expanded cooperation with our traditional international partners and the forging of new partnerships. We have been asked to play a major role in international ventures with Russia and the other former Soviet republics to expand space exploration opportunities and to promote the peaceful uses of technology. There are also increased opportunities for cooperation with developing countries. These new relationships, along with strengthened ties to our traditional partners in Europe, Japan, and Canada, can help reinforce the economic and technological bonds in the new global society.

Domestic policy priorities are being adjusted in light of large Federal deficits, constrained budgets, and widespread concern over America's vitality and competitiveness. The Administration has placed a high priority on supporting and promoting high technology for economic growth through effective partnerships within Government and with industry. With increased emphasis on pressing domestic needs, we will be required to ensure the relevance of our programs to national technology priorities and to other domestic goals in areas such as the environment, health, education, aviation, and fundamental science.

The support of America's political leadership is vital to our success. The President has demonstrated his support for NASA and has indicated that we will play a significant role in the Administration's science and technology agenda and its foreign policy initiatives. In Congress, NASA continues to enjoy bipartisan support. Continued political support will depend on our ability to play a role in addressing broad national needs and to deliver on our promises.

Public support for NASA's programs has been positive and generally stable throughout our history. Recent public opinion polls continue to show support for U.S. endeavors in space. Continued public support will depend on our ability to satisfy the Nation's needs and to keep the public fully informed about our activities and their relevance.

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