Thursday, March 02, 2006

NASA Still Can't Get It Right

I was reading the newspaper the other day, and my eyes couldn't help but leap to the words in a title stating, "House Panel Prods NASA for Improvement on Openness." As I know we are all too familiar with the communication failures NASA experienced in the Challenger and Columbia disasters, I thought it was very interesting to find a recent article criticizing yet again, their communication.

The story is featured in the February 17th edition of The New York Times and was written by Warren E. Leary and Andrew C. Revkin. I know its already March, but I didn't stumble upon the article until a few days ago! Regardless, the report examined how lawmakers from both the democratic and republican parties are urging NASA's leaders to improve the ways that the agency conveys scientific information to the public. The reason behind their notion is that negative reports have recently been filed about efforts made by the political appointees in the space agency's press office. The reports state that certain interviews have been restricted and news releases have been altered to appease the Bush administration in relation to policies on pollution, global warming, and other issues.

Dr. Michael D. Griffin, the administrator of NASA, said that agency emloyee's need to feel free to speak out, and that NASA was particularly concerned about openness because of the shuttle disasters of 1986 and 2003. In response, two actions are underway to hopefully eliminate these issues of openness. The first is that they plan to replace some of the agency's policies that date back to 1987, and the second is that senior administrators will heavily review the reports of communication troubles from NASA's research centers. But really, is this enough? I mean, it seems like the administration has traveled these roads before. They plan to look into the problems, but haven't the problems already been identified? To me, making some real changes and improvements seem to be the right courses of action.