Last April, representatives of the next generation workforce community attended the NASA Strategic Management Council (SMC) at Stennis Space Center to discuss strategic workforce issues. The SMC is a top-level meeting with the NASA Administrator and top senior leadership across the agency. Their attendance was the result of the Administrator’s strategy discussion at the March SMC at which the Assistant Administrator of the Office of Human Capital Management was asked to bring together a group of next generation civil servants to foster a discussion of issues concerning NASA’s younger workforce. The April SMC discussion focused on long-term strategic effects of current hiring practices and the upcoming gap in US human space flight on the NASA mission. An action was given to hold “cross-generational discussions” at the NASA centers, involving people from all generations, backgrounds, and experiences (both contractor and Civil Servant) to discuss four issues:
- Provide the NASA workforce with an infusion of fresh ideas, methodologies and technologies
- Provide the NASA workforce the programs and experience it needs to be the leaders in the future
- Enable enhanced communication and collaboration between NASA centers
- Attract, hire and retain young people
A lot of activity has taken place since the April SMC meeting and on December 16th the NASA Strategic Management Council received an update regarding the status of those discussions by the Office of Human Capital Management and representatives from the next generation workforce community. It was a lively discussion of the grass roots developments across the centers, of ways to structure innovation at NASA, and of hiring approaches being used at various centers. The report consisted of:
- A status of the issue and an 8-month scorecard of NASA activities, and
- A specific summary of themes from the “cross-generational discussions” that occurred at the NASA centers as per the April SMC actions.
The briefing and associated report represent input and recommendations from people who participated in the discussions from individuals across all generations working at the NASA centers, from both the contractor and civil servant communities. This input was grouped into six “themes.”
- Formal Development Program
- NASA Rotation Program
- Communication Technology
- Business Resource Management
- Launch Tickets
There are potentially actions that could come out of the SMC discussion, pending the final review and approval of the meeting minutes. The actions would be due to the February SMC. These could include:
- Provide six implementation plans for the six “theme areas” identified from the cross-generational discussions.
- Provide hiring strategy concepts that could rebalance the average age of NASA.