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More On The "CAD Problem"

Jeff Finckenor responds to some of his critics in the comments section:

"He's a whiner who didn't get his way and went to the IG"

Not a terribly polite way to put things, but I suppose it is somewhat accurate. Of course "my way" which I was always advocating was a call to do a technical evaluation to determine what we really needed to do. You know, things like writing requirements, then making selections based on those requirements. Some people would call that good engineering. Some would call it federal law. It never happened. Had it happened then I wouldn't have had any arguments to make and would have been shut down a long time ago. Had it happened and there were real reasons for MSFC and Constellation making the decisions they did, then I could have supported them even if I was less then thrilled. You go to the IG to report waste, fraud and abuse. I was duty bound to report what I saw as both a taxpayer and a government employee. If there wasn't any meat to what I was saying, then the IG would have sent me away. They didn't. Those who want to do the search may also want to look up a letter from Senator Grassley to NASA. It was a very powerful letter and appears to have been soundly ignored. It takes a lot of chutzpah to blow off the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, but NASA got away with it.

Those who argue with me will trot out an "evaluation" that was done in 2002, except that that evaluation was based on a CM tool ONLY (not CAD management), and it was fatally flawed in how it was performed. And yes, all you're getting here is an opinion, and again my information has been documented and given to the appropriate authorities.

Was I asked to "stop working against management"? I guess that's one way to put it, if I was willing to ignore reality, give up on the vision of what NASA needs to succeed, and toe the party line.

It was wrenching deciding 3 years ago that my job wasn't worth the mess that I was seeing. I had basically decided that a NASA that could make a decision so badly (which is not quite the same thing as a bad decision, though in this case I believe it is the same), and not be able to correct itself was not a good place to work. So I committed to supporting good engineering practice and federal law, knowing that I might be forced out. 3 years later, I have given up, which was again wrenching for me. The politics are too overwhelming, and it is indeed not a good place for me to work.

Go read the whole thing.

All of the comments have to be very disquieting to fans of business as usual at NASA. It's not about CAD. It's about whether this is an institution that, despite the many talented people working for it, is capable of getting us into space in any serious way.


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Robin Goodfellow wrote:

The answer to that question is: no.

NASA as it exists today cannot advance the cause of manned spaceflight in any meaningful way. The last 3 decades has seen 5 presidential administrations, numerous major manned spaceflight initiatives, and multi-billion dollar budgets year after year. And after all of this what has been accomplished in manned spaceflight? What new capabilities or new knowledge does NASA have now after all of that effort?

In truth, the only thing that has advanced has been the entrenched bureaucracy, the sentiment within NASA management that failure means nothing more than that the problem was too challenging, and the believe that the way to solve any problem is to throw more money and more bureaucracy at it. If anything NASA has been growing less and less capable in manned spaceflight and has become, finally, a mockery of its former glory.

Josh Reiter wrote:

The 'Jeff Finckenor' hyperlink goes back to your comments section of the original post. I don't see a response from Jeff F. in there, though.

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This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on August 26, 2008 5:22 PM.

And So It Begins was the previous entry in this blog.

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