NASA creates CIO office

National Aeronautic and Space Administration

One change at NASA in the wake of President Bush's new space agenda is a new Office of the Chief Information Officer.

NASA Deputy Administrator Frederick Gregory announced today that a restructuring would immediately go into effect for the offices within agency headquarters. The changes are designed to help NASA meet Bush's space exploration goals while also responding to management and cultural issues cited by the Columbia Accident Investigation Board.

The realignment includes four new independent offices that were previously under the umbrella of the Office of the NASA Administrator.

Among this group is the Office of the Chief Information Officer, responsible for managing the agency's information technology investments and leading the development of an IT strategic plan and creating a roadmap for IT programs and policies.

NASA's chief information officer is Patricia Dunnington, who has held the CIO's post since March 24, 2003.

The new alignment does not change the basic job description of the CIO, but the creation of an independent office does add more formal authority, according to NASA spokesman Brian Dunbar.

"It doesn't change the portfolio per se," Dunbar said, while noting that the realignment process began in mid-2003.

According to Dunbar, much of the authority on IT issues is normally delegated to officials at the agency's 10 field centers. However, the new structure does call for more operational management by the CIO's office, along with the accompanying accountability.

Additional management changes announced by Gregory include the creation of the Office of Exploration Systems, which will be led by retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Craig Steidle. This office is charged with identifying, developing and validating new exploration technology.

Other new organizations include the Office of Aeronautics, the Office of the Chief Engineer, the Office of Health and Medical Systems and the Office of Institutional and Corporate Management.

"These management adjustments will give us new opportunities for more effective leadership, policy and program success," Gregory said.

President Bush outlined his space exploration goals this week, highlighted by an American return to the Moon as early as 2015 and a long-term aim of sending astronauts to other planets such as Mars.

Bush's space agenda also includes conducting robotic missions, which would be similar in nature to the Mars Rovers program, on the Moon by 2008 and developing a new spacecraft, the Crew Exploration Vehicle, by the same year.


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