“The National Research Council (NRC) is recommending steps NASA should take to rein in cost and schedule problems on its Earth and space science missions, but senior agency officials say much of the panel’s advice has already been adopted – so far without evident success – on large development projects including the $5 billion James Webb Space Telescope.
“In a report released July 13 during a two-day meeting of the NASA Advisory Council’s Science Committee, NRC commended NASA on recent changes in how it estimates spending on space and Earth science programs, but said the agency needs a broad, integrated strategy to contain costs and maintain schedule on these missions. The report, ‘Cost Growth in NASA Earth and Space Science Missions,’ also said the agency should wait to lock in program cost estimates until the preliminary design review stage.
“Ed Weiler, NASA associate administrator for science, sees strong merit in those recommendations, but said other suggestions in the report, such as conducting multiple cost reviews and spending more time and money fleshing out projects during the early design stages, were applied to the James Webb Space Telescope without success.
“The Senate Appropriations Committee last week voted to give the Obama administration just 70 percent of requested fiscal 2011 funding for some of its key information-technology initiatives.
“The Office of Management and Budget asked for $35 million for its E-Government Fund, about the same as it received in 2010, and $50 million for a new Integrated, Efficient and Effective Uses of Information Technology program.
“In marking up the 2001 Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill, the committee on July 29 gave OMB $20 million and $40 million, respectively, for the programs.
“The Army didn’t just receive 25 new software tools for improving how the service works through its Apps for the Army contest. Maybe more importantly, it received solid proof that agile software development can work in the government.
“Lt. Gen. Jeff Sorenson, the Army’s chief information officer, says the success of the competition will lead to a major change in how the service approaches certain kinds of technology creation in the future.
“In fact, Sorenson and Army Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics and Technology Malcolm O’Neill will issue an Acquisition Decision Memorandum in the coming weeks detailing major changes to the application development process.
“If a Maryland lawmaker has her way, a federal agency that already leads the battle for cybersecurity will soon have an enhanced role, and additional funding, in pursuit of its mission.
“Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) has several reasons to be interested in cybersecurity.
“For one thing, she is the chairwoman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies and as such, helps approve spending bills for the Commerce Department and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
“Mikulski also takes pride in pointing out that NIST is headquartered in prime Maryland territory — a large, sprawling campus in Germantown, Md., just west of I-270 in the Montgomery County Tech Corridor.
“A panel chartered by Congress to review long-term threats to the United States has reopened a hotly contested debate on how the government should counter cyberattacks by calling for the Defense Department to expand its authority by defending all federal and key commercial computer networks.
“The recommendation, included in a report released on July 30 by the Quadrennial Defense Review Independent Panel, encroaches on the Homeland Security Department, which has responsibility for overseeing cybersecurity at civilian agencies. The panel, chaired by William Perry, secretary of Defense in the Clinton administration, said, “[Defense] should be given clear authority to support DHS for cybersecurity of both the .gov and .com domains so that DHS does not have to replicate the capabilities now resident in U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency.'”