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FCW Insider: More on the HSPD-12 personnel questions

I mentioned last week about the seeming growing chorus of concerns about HSPD-12 and the group of NASA scientists who have filed a lawsuit against the directive.

The group has its own Web site: hspd12jpl.org. It notes at the top of the page that this is not an official NASA JPL Web site.

Note: This is not a JPL site. For official JPL HSPD12 information, please see http://hspd12.jpl.nasa.gov (JPL access only)

I still remain quite shocked by NASA Administrator Michael Griffin's way of dealing with this whole issue. Here, again, is his quote in the LAT:

NASA Administrator Michael Griffin, in a meeting with employees June 4, said the increased security was a direct result of the Sept. 11 terror attacks. He said the agency would not budge on the new security order.

"We will miss those folks" who do not comply with the order, he said. "That is their choice."

Coincidently, over the weekend, the LAT wrote a story about how companies are increasingly seeking to retain their workforce. (Note the last graph of the excerpt.)

Companies try to retain older workers [LAT, 9.3.2007]

Every time John Remore steps up to his workstation to form a piece of sheet metal, he brings an intangible asset to the job: 42 years of experience, dating to lessons from his father.

Remore, 60, doesn't brag, but that won't stop his boss. "He's invaluable. He is priceless," said Kellie Johnson, president of Torrance-based Ace Clearwater Enterprises, which makes parts for major aerospace companies.

She worries that when Remore and others of his generation retire, she will find it almost impossible to replace their skills. The average age of her workforce is 48.

"We're in the fight of our lives for skilled talent," said Johnson, whose grandfather launched the business in the 1940s by welding bicycles, coffeepots and tools. "Looking forward, that will be the No. 1 issue that affects our ability to compete in the global marketplace, without a doubt."

In a society that exalts youth, older workers may sometimes feel like outcasts of the economy -- prodded into early retirement by corporate buyouts, overlooked for training and promotions, typecast by younger managers as past their prime.

Indeed, one 2005 study found that job applicants under age 50 were 42 percent more likely to be called for interviews than those over 50.

Yet there may be early glimmers of change. The oldest baby boomers are entering their 60s, raising the prospect of a vast wave of retirements. The post-World War II baby boom, moreover, was followed by a smaller "baby bust" generation.

As a result, some employers are worried they will lose too many people -- and are pioneering policies to make the workplace more friendly to older employees.

"I think we're beginning to see a much broader range of options and opportunities for mature workers," said Diane Piktialis, a specialist in older-worker issues with the Conference Board, a business research organization in New York. "This is an area where there's just enormous room for creativity in terms of how companies can adapt."

Concerns are particularly acute in the areas of manufacturing, healthcare and government.

I have a call in to NASA folks seeking to confirm the quote -- or seeking some explanation -- because I cannot believe that they are just taking the "if you don't like it, there is the door" approach.

Posted by Christopher Dorobek on Sep 04, 2007 at 12:17 PM


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