National Academies Press: OpenBook

Review of the Draft 2019 Science Mission Directorate Science Plan (2019)

Chapter:5 Identification of Additional Guiding Principles

« Previous: 4 Ability to Meet Science Objectives in Decadal Surveys
Suggested Citation:"5 Identification of Additional Guiding Principles." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Review of the Draft 2019 Science Mission Directorate Science Plan. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25587.
×

5

Identification of Additional Guiding Principles

NASA officials specifically asked the committee to identify any strategies (see Figure 2.1)—that is, what the committee believes are more appropriately termed guiding principles—that the draft document misses. In addition to identifying possible new guiding principles, the committee also identified concerns with the overall framework.

LEADERSHIP PRIORITIES AND GUIDING PRINCIPLES

The draft document’s introduction of leadership priorities appropriately asserts that leadership is required for SMD to deliver on NASA’s four core values (i.e., safety, integrity, teamwork, and excellence). However, the addition of leadership as a core value (see Figure 1.1) within SMD leads the committee to question whether the values of SMD are distinct from those of NASA itself. Rather, the importance of leadership by and within SMD can be asserted when introducing the directorate’s four leadership priorities. This could be achieved by moving portions of the text in the “leadership” section of the draft document into the preamble of the section “Who We Are.”

Recommendation: Do not insert leadership as a fifth core value. Rather, the importance of leadership should be asserted when introducing the four leadership priorities.

The high-level headings (the guiding principles) as written do not include language to make clear the mechanism(s) by which they will be fulfilled; thus, there is no way of knowing how SMD might determine in the future whether or how progress has been made.

Recommendation: Describe the guiding principles in enough detail to provide definition, context, and examples whenever possible.

Some descriptions of guiding principles do not include definitions that sufficiently or accurately explain the intended meaning. Some are not sufficiently developed with helpful examples. However, some of the examples that are included are odd, inappropriate, and/or inconsistent with the stated principle. A specific instance can be found in the text related to the guiding principle, “Pursue public-private partnerships in support of shared interests with industry” (i.e., the draft document’s Strategy 3.5). The example given refers to a private foundation, a foreign space agency, and a not-for-profit organization and begs the question of why these specific endeavors were chosen as examples. The selection of examples requires care, as readers will attach significance to the examples chosen.

Suggested Citation:"5 Identification of Additional Guiding Principles." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Review of the Draft 2019 Science Mission Directorate Science Plan. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25587.
×
Image
FIGURE 5.1 The 2024 Future State. SOURCE: Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA/SMD, presentation to the committee.

EVALUATION OF ACHIEVEMENTS

SMD Associate Administrator Thomas H. Zurbuchen’s presentation to the committee included a list of items representing the 2024 Future State (Figure 5.1). This list provides a sense of what the successful implementation of the draft document might look like in 2024. However, this topic is not included in the draft document reviewed by the committee. As it stands, there are currently no measures of success identified in the draft document. Without such measures, sustainable improvement will be difficult to assess.

Recommendation: Describe the desired future state. The 2024 Future State slide presented to the committee may be an appropriate starting point for a section on this topic.

DIVERSITY, INCLUSION, AND THE WORKFORCE

The draft document appropriately identifies that a key NASA SMD principle is the “importance of diverse teams to most effectively tackle strategic problems and maximize scientific return” (see explanatory text for Strategy 4.1). However, diversity of thought and backgrounds is not a means toward “Inspiration,” the current location of Strategy 4.1; it is, rather, a critical contributor to achieving “Innovation.”

Recommendation: Move the guiding principle “Increase the diversity of thought and backgrounds represented across the entire NASA Science portfolio through a more inclusive environment” from the section on “Inspiration” to the section on “Innovation.”

Suggested Citation:"5 Identification of Additional Guiding Principles." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Review of the Draft 2019 Science Mission Directorate Science Plan. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25587.
×

The draft document describes the benefits of diversity and inclusivity well. However, the only specific approach for achieving these goals is listed as “initiating several efforts designed to address the problem of harassment” (see explanatory text for Strategy 4.1). The elimination of harassment is certainly essential but by itself does not achieve a diverse and inclusive environment. The National Science Foundation and American Geophysical Union have particularly thorough documents addressing these goals and the elements needed to achieve them;1,2 they may serve as a basis for developing a NASA SMD strategy for achieving diversity and inclusivity.

Recommendation: Expand the discussion of diversity and inclusion by recognizing the variety of approaches necessary to achieve this goal.

The draft document does not discuss workforce development as a part of its leadership priority on inspiration. Effective development of the workforce requires recruiting, mentoring, and retaining a diverse workforce.

Recommendation: Spell out the aim and means to effectively collaborate with universities, research institutions, and industry in carrying out SMD’s programs as well as developing the diverse future workforce.

Recommendation: Add a new guiding principle 4.1, “Develop the Future SMD Workforce.” This principle should explicitly incorporate the importance of mentorship, recruiting, and training, as well as link to the principle about increasing diversity of thought and backgrounds (in “Innovation”).

___________________

1 NSF Diversity Initiatives, 2019, https://www.nsf.gov/od/odi/diversity.jsp.

2 AGU Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan, 2019, https://ethics.agu.org/agu-diversity-and-inclusion/.

Suggested Citation:"5 Identification of Additional Guiding Principles." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Review of the Draft 2019 Science Mission Directorate Science Plan. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25587.
×
Page14
Suggested Citation:"5 Identification of Additional Guiding Principles." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Review of the Draft 2019 Science Mission Directorate Science Plan. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25587.
×
Page15
Suggested Citation:"5 Identification of Additional Guiding Principles." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2019. Review of the Draft 2019 Science Mission Directorate Science Plan. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25587.
×
Page16
Next: 6 Conclusions »
Review of the Draft 2019 Science Mission Directorate Science Plan Get This Book
×
Buy Ebook | $9.99
MyNAP members save 10% online.
Login or Register to save!
Download Free PDF

NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD) ties together diverse researchers, sponsors, and resources to develop the science community’s understanding of the universe. Within scientific organizations like NASA, it is important to establish clear strategies and goals to guide research and foster new discoveries across varying missions. SMD created a draft for their 2019 Science Plan, and a review of this draft is necessary to ensure that the plan establishes clear, attainable, relevant, and ambitious goals.

Review of the Draft 2019 Science Mission Directorate Science Plan provides comments on and recommendations for SMD’s draft. Comments in this report focus on the level of ambition of the specified strategies in light of current and emerging opportunities to advance Earth and space science over the next 5 years, the ability of SMD to meet the science objectives in the most recent decadal surveys through implementation of specified strategies, additional strategies for SMD’s considerations, and the general readability and clarity of the draft. Recommendations in this report identify important improvements for the 2019 Science Plan.

  1. ×

    Welcome to OpenBook!

    You're looking at OpenBook, NAP.edu's online reading room since 1999. Based on feedback from you, our users, we've made some improvements that make it easier than ever to read thousands of publications on our website.

    Do you want to take a quick tour of the OpenBook's features?

    No Thanks Take a Tour »
  2. ×

    Show this book's table of contents, where you can jump to any chapter by name.

    « Back Next »
  3. ×

    ...or use these buttons to go back to the previous chapter or skip to the next one.

    « Back Next »
  4. ×

    Jump up to the previous page or down to the next one. Also, you can type in a page number and press Enter to go directly to that page in the book.

    « Back Next »
  5. ×

    Switch between the Original Pages, where you can read the report as it appeared in print, and Text Pages for the web version, where you can highlight and search the text.

    « Back Next »
  6. ×

    To search the entire text of this book, type in your search term here and press Enter.

    « Back Next »
  7. ×

    Share a link to this book page on your preferred social network or via email.

    « Back Next »
  8. ×

    View our suggested citation for this chapter.

    « Back Next »
  9. ×

    Ready to take your reading offline? Click here to buy this book in print or download it as a free PDF, if available.

    « Back Next »
Stay Connected!