Despite NASA reporting the James Webb Space Telescope, or JWST, will launch as planned in October 2018, the Government Accountability Office says one of the agency's most complex and expensive projects in NASA history faces increased schedule and cost risks.
Still basking in the success of last week's Orion space launch, NASA officials were brought back to Earth with Government Accountability Office testimony that says NASA still faces incredible technical and financial challenges in its mission to put a person on Mars. In Dec. 10 testimony, GAO space expert Cristina Chaplain says the mission to put a person on Mars has been hampered by unrealistic and inconsistent goals as well as significant funding issues.
The White House, Interior Department and several other agencies this week released large government datasets on water and ecosystems as well as new geospatial tools to help communities prepare and cope with impacts from climate change.
Federal worker job satisfaction dropped for the fourth year in a row in the Partnership for Public Service annual Best Places to Work report based on the Office of Personnel Management Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey results. Federal employee job satisfaction and commitment fell 0.9 points to a score of 56.9 percent. That represents the lowest score since PPS started the report in 2003.
Climate change poses a threat to NASA because many of its launch facilities sit on coastlines, an Oct. 31 NASA report says. Rising sea levels and heavier rain due to climate change could affect the window NASA has to launch at its coastline facilities like Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Climate change could also put infrastructure at those sites in danger due to flooding, the report (pdf) says.
Only 59 percent of federal employees surveyed by the Office of Personnel Management said they were satisfied with their jobs, says OPM's Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. The global satisfaction index captured four aspects of employee contentment: their job, their pay, their organization and if they would recommend their organization as a good place to work.
NASA employees are the most engaged with their work among larger agencies and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency topped the category among small agencies, says the Office of Personnel Management's Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. OPM measured employee engagement as "the employees' sense of purpose that is evident in their display of dedication, persistence and effort in their work or overall attachment to their organization and its mission."
Performance information's effect on federal managers' decision-making has remained largely unchanged in six years, according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Between 2007 and 2013, the government's overall score for using such information went from 3.46 to 3.41, the Sept. 26 report (pdf) says. It's based on the latest performance information index, which GAO uses to monitor implementation of the Government Performance and Results Modernization Act of 2010 at.
While there are no major obstacles to NASA extending its International Space Station program to 2024, several smaller areas need to be addressed to make sure operations continue safely, a Sept. 18 NASA inspector general report says. NASA projects its annual budget for the ISS Program to grow from $3 billion in fiscal 2014 to nearly $4 billion by fiscal 2020, the report (pdf) says.
The Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation, or GEDI, lidar-- a remote, laser-based sensing system used to examine Earth's surface-- will be the first instrument to systematically examine the depths of the planet's forests from space. One goal of the tool is to get a better handle on forests' role in the carbon cycle.