External Customers

The NASA Strategic Plan is based on a commitment to satisfy our external customers. Our performance in carrying out programs, and our success as an Agency, will be judged by our customers, based on our ability to meet their requirements.

We have identified the following groups as our external customers and stakeholders:

  • The Administration and Congress, our primary stakeholders, provide us with the policy direction and financial resources to conduct the Nation's aeronautics and space programs.

  • The science and education communities, aerospace and nonaerospace industries, Federal agencies, and other primary customers receive our products directly and use them for purposes that yield public benefit.

  • The public is both the ultimate resource provider and the ultimate beneficiary of our products.

Strategic Enterprises

The NASA Strategic Plan establishes a framework for making management decisions by separating the Agency's programs into four Strategic Enterprises through which we implement our mission and communicate with our external customers:

  • Space Science

  • Mission to Planet Earth (MTPE)

  • Human Exploration and Development of Space (HEDS)

  • Aeronautics and Space Transportation Technology (ASTT)

NASA's Strategic Enterprises identify at the most fundamental level what we do and for whom. They focus us on the ends, not the means, of our endeavors. Each of our Strategic Enterprises is analogous to a strategic business unit, employed by private-sector companies to focus on and respond to its customers' needs. Each Strategic Enterprise has a unique set of goals, objectives, and strategies that address the requirements of its primary external customers. However, each Enterprise must ensure synergy with and support of the Agency's common goals and the strategies of the other Enterprises.

Although NASA's broad mission is driven by the Space Act, the specific programs that are conducted within its Enterprises, and the priorities placed on them, are driven by the directives of the Administration and Congress. As such, the programmatic content of the Enterprises changes over time as we respond to shifts in customer needs and domestic and international policy priorities. The specific content of activities for the Enterprises is presented within their own Strategic Plans. The development of a balanced set of programs and Agency priorities among the Enterprises will lay the groundwork for the budget process.

Crosscutting Processes

Underlying NASA's activities are critical processes that are the means by which we develop and deliver our products and services to internal and external customers. In performing their jobs, all NASA employees are engaged in one or more of these processes. Through these we transform inputs, such as policies and resources, into outputs, such as knowledge.

Stakeholders, Enterprises, Customers, and Beneficiaries

Stakeholders, Enterprises, Customers, and Beneficiaries

The Manage Strategically process focuses on activities that provide both critical capabilities to our internal customers and external coordination with oversight and audit agencies of the Administration and Congress. NASA's other processes—Provide Aerospace Products and Capabilities, Generate Knowledge, and Communicate Knowledge—are primarily implemented by the Agency across its Strategic Enterprises to support external customers.

In carrying out these processes, NASA is employing overarching strategies to enhance our position as a premier research and development agency and to align our activities with the policies and directives of the Administration and Congress. Our ability to respond to future opportunities under tight fiscal constraints requires us to become more effective and efficient. Effective implementation of these processes will help us deliver better products and services and cut development time and costs in current and future programs.

Headquarters and NASA Centers

NASA's programs are implemented through its nine Centers and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. To improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our programs, we have defined the roles and responsibilities for each Center. To reduce overlap and streamline administrative and programmatic functions, NASA's senior management has established areas of excellence and specific missions for each Center and Headquarters.

Agency management, which primarily resides at NASA Headquarters, is responsible for leadership and management across the Strategic Enterprises as well as the development of strategy ("what, why, and for whom"). It serves as the principal interface with the Administration and Congress and is the focal point for accountability, communication, and liaison with external entities. It also provides budget integration, long-term institutional investment strategy, Agency policy and procedures, and functional leadership.

Centers of Excellence

Centers of Excellence

Each Center of Excellence represents a focused, Agency-wide leadership responsibility in a specific area of technology or knowledge. Centers of Excellence are chartered with a clear definition of their capabilities and boundaries. They are charged to be preeminent within the Agency, if not worldwide, with respect to the human resources, facilities, and other critical capabilities associated with the particular area of excellence. Each Center of Excellence must maintain or increase the Agency's preeminent position in the assigned area in line with the program requirements of the Strategic Enterprises and the long-term interests of the Agency. The capabilities to support a Center of Excellence can be distributed across multiple Centers. These capabilities are available to all of the Strategic Enterprises.

Center Missions, which are described in the four Strategic Enterprise sections, identify the concentration of capabilities to support the accomplishment of Strategic Enterprise goals. Each Center has been assigned responsibilities, which provide a basis for building human resource capabilities and a physical infrastructure in direct support of Enterprise requirements. Enterprise program and project assignments are based on Center Mission designations. Other Centers may support a primary Center in carrying out an Enterprise's missions.

In general, each NASA program is assigned to a Lead Center, which is responsible for implementation, accountability for meeting schedule and budget guidelines, and safety and reliability standards.

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