2012 NASA MANAGEMENT CHALLENGEHUMBOLDT C. MANDELL, JR., Ph.D.THE PATHOLOGIES OF THE CONVENTIONALWISDOM OF NASA PROGRAM PLANNING ANDMANAGEMENT
MANAGEMENT PATHOLOGIES COULD BERUINING NASA’S FUTURE Human space exploration development times have increased monotonically for fifty years Costs have increased proportionally Causes: At least 6 pathologies Frozen, inefficient management culture Excessive overhead Cost estimating, budgeting, and control processes Risk aversion and institutional pessimism The myth that new technologies are required to perform advanced missions “Not invented here” aversion to ideas from outside Result: May be putting itself out of business
THE TREND OF PROGRAM LENGTHYEARS FROM START TO FIRST OPERATIONAL FLIGHT Development Time, Years 20 16 12 8 4 1950 1960 1970 1980 Year Started
COST AND SCHEDULE TRENDS CAN NOT BESUSTAINED Programs longer than 10 years are: More expensive than they need to be Almost impossible to plan: Situations and technologies change too fast Hard to sustain politically (> 2 presidential terms) Hard to keep public interest A plan longer than 10 years is no plan at all E.G., 2004 Vision for Space Exploration If it can be done, it can be done in 7 years Apollo lunar program was 6.8 years from start to human landing
NASA PLANNING INSTABILITY Every president since JFK has appointed at least one space advisory group Members usually prominent veterans of politics and/or high-technology program management Most do not have the necessary intimate knowledge of the inner workings of NASA and its pathologies. Often reflect the pessimism of the past (“it will take 30 years to get to Mars”) Sometimes unrealistic in expectations of the future (nuclear fusion reactors, VASIMR engines) and dismissive of internal NASA ideas Often contain members with vested interests in specific outcomes (2004 study dominated by moon advocates) Sometimes politically naïve Seldom produce a unified, affordable single focus for NASA programs Some enemies!
RESULTS OF NASA PLANNING INSTABILITY Resulting recommendations have almost never come to fruition Sometimes unworkable recommendations Resistance by the NASA culture Usually ignored by the President and Congress, who have had higher priorities As a result of this and other pathologies, NASA future plans have been tenuous, at best, and unstable for at least the past two decades: e.g.: Space Exploration Initiative Cancellation in 1992 Space Station Near Cancellation in 2003 Constellation Cancellation in 2009 STS Cancellation in 2010
WHY ARE NASA PROGRAMS SO LONG? A Small agency dominated by one or two programs Annual costs, peak annual funding are the primary constraints So, Funding growth can not be accommodated by higher annual costs, moving money around. And programs get longer. This has created the expectation that future programs will take just as long or longer And this gets built into the culture of NASA and its oversight agents (OMB, Congress).
PATHOLOGY 1: THE NASA MANAGEMENTCULTURE Born in the days of the Apollo Lunar program, The NASA culture is not appropriate for today‟s missions: Totally enculturated ways of doing business: excessive specs and operating procedures Based on plentiful resources and expensive multiple approaches to technology, use of money to mitigate risk Rare knowledge and skills, which are today more plentiful (but will become more scarce with time) Racing past detailed definition in the haste of the Cold War Violation of basic systems engineering practices (some not invented then) Starting programs before uncertainties resolved (e.g., EPS, TPS) Combining of public and private sector work forces (no one‟s responsibility) Technically forbidden Overlooked in the interest of national urgency But the practice persisted Violates “Unity of Command” basic management Management culture is the LARGEST cost driver!
PATHOLOGY 2: EXCESSIVE OVERHEAD The combination of urgency and pork politics produced TEN NASA installations All ten are still in operation Feeding this infrastructure takes about ¼ of the NASA budget About the amount of money required to do a very nice human mission to Mars For political reasons, unneeded installations will be difficult to close!
PATHOLOGY 3: COST ESTIMATION, BUDGETING,AND COST CONTROL PRACTICES NASA costs are as much as 6 to 10 times as much as private sector Some of this is because of how program management and budgeting have evolved Unnecessary costs result from the way NASA handles estimation. For example: Cost model estimates raised by growth factors: BUT: model estimates already have growth built in Costs always grow from the INITIAL estimate, which adds more growth to future cost model data
EXTRA GROWTH FACTORS CAUSE FUTURE COSTGROWTH 21.81.6 31.4 21.2 CER ESTIMATE 1 ORIG. EST. W/O EXTRA0.8 1 GROWTH0.6 ORIGINAL EST WITH EXTRA GROWTH0.4 1: RESERVES ADDED BY THE0.2 ESTIMATOR TO ACHIEVE ACCEPTABLE RISK 0 2. RESERVES ADDED BY THE CER DUPLICATE FINAL POLITICAL PROCESS ESTIMATES GROWTH RUNOUT FACTORS COSTS 3. EXTRA COST CARRIED TO NEXT GENERATION CER‟S
BUDGETING PATHOLOGIES THREE YEARS (OR MORE) FROM ESTIMATE TO APPROPRIATION (E.G. „71=„73 $) PROGRAMS ARE DESIGNED TO PEAK-YEAR FUNDING CONSTRAINTS, NOT OPTIMUM COSTS CONSTANT VERSUS “THEN YEAR” DOLLARS NO MORE SUPPLEMENTALS GROWTHS MUST BE ACCOMMODATED WITH SCHEDULE SLIPPAGES ASSUMPTION OF ELASTICITY OF PROGRAMS SCHEDULE SLIPPAGE TO MEET ANNUAL CONSTRAINT IS EXPENSIVE!
PATHOLOGY 4: INSTITUTIONAL PESSIMISM ANDRISK AVERSION At the end of the Apollo Lunar program many of the original risk takers left for more excitement With notable exceptions, left a work force where many were more focused on security than adventure Then, Challenger and Columbia losses had profound effect upon agency psyche NASA and Contractors Congress The Presidents
RESULTS OF A RISK AVERSE CULTURE “Conventional wisdom” that Mars would take 20- 35 years (moon had taken 7 from a cold start) False Prophets: For example: “Moon is a necessary precursor to Mars” (to reduce risk): In reality, the Moon is a poor analog for Mars May cost as much or more to send humans to Moon as to Mars Enemies: People threatened by Human Exploration programs will add their voices, using sometimes false premises (e.g., Steven Weinberg) Leaves a climate averse to major new programs
PATHOLOGY 5: THE MYTH THAT NEWTECHNOLOGIES ARE REQUIRED NASA management has often held out hope that spending money on technology will reduce cost and risk Some new technologies may indeed reduce cost and/or risk But few if any true breakthroughs are evident today or on the horizon Almost everything we can do in space can be done safely and affordably with today‟s technologies Far advanced from the technologies that took us to the moon, in every system
PATHOLOGY 6: “NOT INVENTED HERE, NOT THEWAY WE DO THINGS HERE” Many brilliant people have brought forth ideas to NASA Some ideas have been so powerful that they have prevailed: for example: Lunar Orbit Rendezvous (John Houbolt) In-Situ Resource Utilization (Robert Zubrin) But some have fallen by the wayside Management Improvement ideas Richard Reeves Larry Ross Jack Lee Mike Griffin
CONCLUSIONS If the US is to be a player in the future human exploration of the solar system, NASA must: Overcome at least these six pathologies Especiallyinstitutional risk aversion and pessimism Excessive NASA overhead Set affordable, ambitious, even risky, early goals (e.g., human Mars expedition in a decade) Implement new and bold management cultures, based on the sound research of recent years Work more closely with the international
CONCLUSIONS And Must Restore Political Support Make NASA relevant to solving some urgent national problems Demonstrate that they can do the job affordably Prove to the political world that they have re- invented the agency
CONVENTIONAL WISDOM IS THE ENEMY "Everything that can be invented has been invented," -- Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, US Office of Patents, 1899 "Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible," -- Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895. "Man will never reach the moon regardless of all future scientific advances." -- Dr. Lee DeForest, "Father of Radio & Grandfather of Television. "There is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom." -- Robert Millikan, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1923 "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." -- Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943 "There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home." -- Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., "640K ought to be enough for anybody." -- Bill Gates, 1981
AND “Human space exploration can never be justified” Steven Weinberg, Nobel Laureate, The University of Texas, 2009
“IF YOU DO WHAT YOU ALWAYS DID, YOU WILL GET WHAT YOU ALWAYS GOT” W. EDWARDS DEMING
REFERENCES 1. NASA HQ: “President Bush Announces New Vision for Space Exploration, remarks by the President on US Space Policy.” Washington DC, January 14, 2004 2. Levine, Arnold S., Managing NASA in the Apollo Era: Washington DC: NASA 1982 3. Anderson, Jr., Frank W., Orders of Magnitude. Washington, DC, NASA, 1981 4. McNamara, Bernard, Into the Final Frontier: The Human Exploration of Space.Ft Worth, Texas, Harcourt College Publishers, 2001 5. Mandell, H.C. Jr., and Griffin, Michael D., “Management as the Enabling Technology for Space Exploration,” 43rd Congress of the International Astronautical Federation, October 1992 6. Mandell, H.C., Jr., “The Human Exploration of Mars.” Austin, Texas, The University of Texas at Austin Center for Space Research, Feb 13, 2004. 7. Mandell, H.C., Jr., and Duke, Michael B., “Benchmarking Processes for Managing Large International Space Programs,” 44th Congress of the International Astronautical Federation, October 16, 1993. 8. “Space Exploration Programs Management Plan,” NASA Johnson Space Center, Exploration Programs Office, Houston, Texas February 1993