Traceability of Mission-Enabling Activities from Strategic Goals
A detailed example, following a single hypothetical thread in the Planetary Science Division, is illustrated in Figure C.1. Each major division goal is broken down into scientific tasks and subtasks, and the requirements for particular scientific capabilities and activities are then identified for each subtask. In that way, mission-enabling activities spanning the general scope of knowledge base, technology development, and workforce maintenance are identified at the activity level. The process of translating top-level goals into more detailed objectives, requirements, and activities can benefit by drawing on research community input via the advisory committee process.
Once a mission-enabling traceability matrix is generated for each Science Mission Directorate (SMD) division, the resultant mission-enabling activities can be compared with those activities contained within the program elements identified in an inventory used to enhance budget transparency. Ultimately, these should converge. Initially, this exercise is likely to identify areas of necessary mission-enabling activities that are not currently supported within SMD.
Traceability obviates the practice of restoring overall mission-enabling funding cuts or expanding mission-enabling funding primarily through the creation of new programs. The committee heard that there is the perception within SMD that the Office of Management and Budget will not approve the expansion of existing programs (even to restore a prior cut in funding). The result is program element proliferation and subject redundancy, which decreases efficiency in management and increases the need to write more proposals and subsequent multiple submissions of the same proposals by members of the science community. Appropriately sizing a mission-enabling activity within a single program element, instead of fragmenting its funding across several program elements, offers benefits to both managers and scientists.
Having identified firmly grounded funding levels for all mission-enabling activities and programs, all linked to and flowing from strategic goals, comparisons with existing budgets will likely reveal a range of disparate results from substantial funding to no funding at all. The worst response to such a scenario would be a sudden reallocation of resources across all programs to achieve a common level of underfunding.