Agency gets set to launch eNASA

Agency gets set to launch eNASA<@VM>Major Programs

NASA’s new administrator, Sean O’Keefe, has been on the job only two months, but the space agency’s IT projects already bear his signature, insiders say.

O’Keefe, who left his post as deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget to take over NASA in December, has stressed e-government projects to improve efficiency at the administration, which he had criticized for its cost overruns.

“It’s been a real treat to get a new administrator who has played a role in drafting the President’s Management Agenda and e-government agenda,” said Lee Holcomb, NASA’s CIO. “He’s come into the agency very strongly supportive of working in that area.”

Holcomb endorsed O’Keefe’s emphasis on results.

“He’s a strong believer in good management,” the CIO said. “He’s going to hold program managers accountable to costs and to delivering on commitments.”

That attention to the bottom line can help NASA, Holcomb said, and the new administrator has said program managers can reinvest the savings they reap from successful projects.

“Is he going in with a knife to cut the budget? No, I haven’t seen that,” Holcomb said. “I think his perspective is very refreshing, and it’s certainly not threatening.”

Three-point program

The first step in NASA’s IT strategy is to expand its capital planning investment process to include major information systems, Holcomb said.

Next, the agency wants to strengthen systems security, a crucial consideration given NASA’s high profile, which makes it a frequent target of hackers.

The third element is the eNASA program, which is designed to move NASA into position as a leader in e-government, Holcomb said.

An objective of eNASA is to move the agency to One NASA, a program to share services for its systems using guidelines established by industrial models. One NASA is aimed at establishing an infrastructure the agency’s divisions can share rather than using a distributed architecture.

For eNASA, the agency will use commercial products to integrate its financial management operations. It will begin with core functions and expand the effort to include budget formulation, human resources, procurement and supply chain management. The first module of the system will roll out in a few weeks at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

In eNASA, the agency also will increase its interaction with the public. Through what Holcomb called e-Education, NASA will develop math, science and engineering materials for teachers to use in classrooms. The program will include hands-on activities such as letting students interact with astronauts in the International Space Station, as well as curriculum in Earth and space sciences.

Security training

Along with sharing data, NASA must secure data. Holcomb said NASA spends about $100 million annually on IT security, a substantial increase from previous years.

Training is the most basic element of NASA’s security. More than 75 percent of the agency’s employees receive training online. Employees can access training 24 hours a day. Courses include a test for security certification after completion of the course. Other workers and systems administrators who need more advanced training receive it in classrooms, Holcomb said.

The second element of NASA’s security is ensuring that mission-critical programs have audited, approved risk management plans. Such planning is time-consuming, but it’s crucial to a successful program, he said.

NASA conducts vulnerability assessments regularly. Agency technicians use commercial tools to test the security of NASA systems every quarter.

“We’re able to tell where there are holes,” Holcomb said. “We use active patches to go back and fix these holes.”<@vm>
  • International Space Station—NASA expects to spend $200 million on software development, data integration, software delivery integration and software management and control for the space station.

  • Integrated Financial Management Program—The $118 million project will overhaul NASA’s business infrastructure to bring industry best practices and better technology to the agency’s financial, physical and human resources IT systems.

  • Integrated Services Network—In this $101 million project, the space agency will provide voice, video and data services to link NASA centers, international sites, contractors and universities.

  • ADP Consolidation Center—The $19 million automatic data processing center upgrade is intended to reduce costs and improve performance, partly by standardizing software licenses, training staff members, managing capacity and maintaining systems.
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