Author Topic: James Morhard Nominated as NASA Deputy Administrator  (Read 9180 times)

Offline TomH

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Edit: Thread has been retitled: Original title was:
WaPo: Trump-Bridenstine Disagree re. Deputy Director


Bridenstine wants a deputy with extensive inside knowledge. Trump is nominating someone with no science background at all.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2018/07/12/nasa-administrator-has-been-lobbying-space-professional-be-his-deputy-thats-not-who-white-house-nominated/?utm_term=.d354ecce0239
« Last Edit: 07/23/2018 02:09 PM by gongora »

Offline zubenelgenubi

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Re: WaPo: Trump-Bridenstine Disagree re. Deputy Director
« Reply #1 on: 07/13/2018 04:20 AM »
To look at the issue from a different perspective:
Is it possible that Janet Kavandi would be most useful in her current position as the director of NASA Glenn Research Center?

Or promoted to a non-political position, such as one of the Associate Administrators?
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Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: WaPo: Trump-Bridenstine Disagree re. Deputy Director
« Reply #2 on: 07/13/2018 04:34 AM »
tl;dr: The deputy administrator really only does what the administrator tells them to do. If the administrator tells them to go sit in a corner and hum to themselves, that's what they do.

Or, in this case the administrator wanted “somebody who has a lot of space experience, a space professional. It needs to be somebody who has run large organizations, who understands the technology.

Clearly Jim Bridenstine had assessed the needs of NASA, and determined what he needed to make NASA work the way he thought it needed to work. Unfortunately Donald Trump doesn't care what Jim Bridenstine thinks.

What's worse, because Bridenstine went public with what he thought NASA needed, and Trump nominated someone that has none of the capabilities, NASA personnel are going to see this for what it is - a political move.

From the WaPo article:
Quote
Morhard’s backers, however, said he is just the sort of person who can get NASA moving on the right track. For years, the agency has been criticized of being adrift and overly bureaucratic with plans to go to the moon, then to Mars and an asteroid.

As I recall, supporters of Bridenstine were saying the same about his congressional experience. Does this mean that Bridenstine's experience and connections are not enough?

Then there was this part:
Quote
The Trump administration has made space a priority and reconstituted the National Space Council, which is headed by Vice President Pence. It soon hopes to restore human spaceflight from United States soil — a capability that was lost when the space shuttle retired in 2011. And it now has plans to return to the moon.

Compare what Trump has done at his point in his administration compared to what Obama had done after the same amount of time. And it's interesting that the specific capability that is mentioned above, Commercial Crew, was created (and fought for) specifically by Obama. So other than some regulatory stuff, which is normal for any government to implement, Trump hasn't really started anything new for NASA.

Maybe this is an indication that Trump is finally going to propose something new for NASA to do? To use some of his "political capital" to fight for the money to fund a new long-term program?

Lastly, there was this from the article:
Quote
“The administration has decided they want somebody who is clearly in tune with what the president wants to get done in the space program,” he said.

Not sure what this says about the current NASA Administrator, Jim Bridenstine...
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline hektor

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Re: WaPo: Trump-Bridenstine Disagree re. Deputy Director
« Reply #3 on: 07/13/2018 08:55 AM »
Interesting that he was with Sean O'Keefe in that plane.

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: WaPo: Trump-Bridenstine Disagree re. Deputy Director
« Reply #4 on: 07/13/2018 03:24 PM »
The NASA charter gives the deputy no responsibilities and barely mentions them. It was clearly written at a different time, when communications were not as good and, for instance, if the administrator was overseas they would not be able to communicate easily with the organization and would leave duties to their deputy.

Not unlike the Vice President of the USA, which doesn't have any enumerated tasks beyond presiding over the Senate.

But if you're in management, and you're allowed by "the company" to hire someone who could act in your stead when needed, why wouldn't you hire someone that makes you more effective? I think that's what Bridenstine wanted, was someone that could help him run NASA so that he could shift to the politics part - instead of his deputy being the politics person.

Of course in this case it's the President that makes the final decisions, and it's the President that is deciding what skills they want in NASA. And that's just the way it works for NASA.

It's just that there was such a disconnect between what Jim Bridenstine wanted - and he was someone that Trump fought for - and what Trump ultimately ended up choosing. That tells me that the lines of communication between the White House and NASA are not very good, because such high levels of disagreement should never show up in public.

And with Pence the head of the National Space Council, where was he in all of this? Why wasn't Pence smoothing things out so that Trump and Bridenstine didn't look like they were fighting in public? Seems like Pence deserves some blame in this staffing situation too...
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline spacetraveler

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Re: WaPo: Trump-Bridenstine Disagree re. Deputy Director
« Reply #5 on: 07/13/2018 05:51 PM »
And with Pence the head of the National Space Council, where was he in all of this? Why wasn't Pence smoothing things out so that Trump and Bridenstine didn't look like they were fighting in public? Seems like Pence deserves some blame in this staffing situation too...
Negative, Trump deserves all of the blame, as this situation is hardly unique to NASA.

He has already appeared to have been fighting and disagreeing in public with the heads of many of the other agencies (that he put in place) as well as the military.
« Last Edit: 07/13/2018 05:51 PM by spacetraveler »

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: WaPo: Trump-Bridenstine Disagree re. Deputy Director
« Reply #6 on: 07/13/2018 08:09 PM »
Unless there are designated duties for the #2 office, they do what the #1 tells them to do--unless in the rare case they have their own political connections that give them power.

Of course. Although the situation here seems to be even more different, since Bridenstine would be the #1, but Trump is asserting that he (or his staff that is lobbying for Morhard) have plans for what the Deputy Administrator would be doing.

And if they want him to be doing budget related stuff on with Congress, that begs the question of what part the NSC and the OMB are playing, since both of those are supposed to be driving the budgetary issues related to NASA.

It will be interesting to see what, if anything, is driving this decision. And the timing is odd too, since Morhard might not be confirmed in time to help with this current FY 2019 budget process, meaning his job really won't pay off results until Trump's last clean budget before the 2020 elections - 2019 budget work for the FY2020 fiscal year.

Quote
Often the deputy position has been primarily a sinecure appointment.

Nice! I learned a new word!  :D
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline FinalFrontier

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Re: WaPo: Trump-Bridenstine Disagree re. Deputy Director
« Reply #7 on: 07/13/2018 10:04 PM »
 First of all I don't take a single thing that the washington post says as even remotely true. They have outright lied about such a wide variety of stories and topics that calling them fake blog news would be giving them too much credit. WaPo publishes fictional news not reality.

Second of all Trump routinely says and does totally random things, only to totally reverse his position and actions very shortly there after. I don't think we can reasonably conclude what is going to happen with this until it does happen. The same goes for what his space policy, if any, will be.

With all that said I really don't expect the Trump Administration to do anything positive for NASA or for spaceflight. They have bigger problems and other interests, and fixing NASA would involve de-porking things and creating a proper POR, something that requires alot of effort and fighting with very angry senators. Not something I see him doing.
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Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: WaPo: Trump-Bridenstine Disagree re. Deputy Director
« Reply #8 on: 07/13/2018 11:05 PM »
First of all I don't take a single thing that the washington post says as even remotely true. They have outright lied about such a wide variety of stories and topics that calling them fake blog news would be giving them too much credit. WaPo publishes fictional news not reality.

With an attitude like that I can only imagine you don't believe ANY large media, since WaPo as a news organization does have journalism standards that they use to decide what to print. However entertainment media sites, who have no professional news personnel and NO adherence to journalist standards, can sometimes seem like news, and may even get some information right - but in no way are they "news organizations". Challenging times...

Quote
Second of all Trump routinely says and does totally random things, only to totally reverse his position and actions very shortly there after. I don't think we can reasonably conclude what is going to happen with this until it does happen.

Not defending Trump, but though he is EXTREMELY slow to nominate people to positions in government, he rarely has backed down on a nomination unless news organizations like WaPo (and many others) find things in the nominee backgrounds that the Trump organization either missed or hoped would not be found out.

But once Trump makes a decision he hates to be proven wrong, so I have no doubt they will proceed with this nomination.

Quote
The same goes for what his space policy, if any, will be.

Signing "Policy Directives" is not a space policy?   ;)

Quote
With all that said I really don't expect the Trump Administration to do anything positive for NASA or for spaceflight. They have bigger problems and other interests, and fixing NASA would involve de-porking things and creating a proper POR, something that requires alot of effort and fighting with very angry senators. Not something I see him doing.

My concern with this nomination is the same I had for Jim Bridenstine - regardless of any new programs Trump may want to propose, there are $Billions in EXISTING programs that need to be properly managed. Bridenstine has ZERO background in managing large, complex government programs, but at least he was publicly advocating for such a person for his #2. So as a taxpayer I'm not getting the feeling that NASA will be a good steward of my tax money in the Trump years...
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline TomH

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Re: WaPo: Trump-Bridenstine Disagree re. Deputy Director
« Reply #9 on: 07/14/2018 05:41 AM »
I don't take a single thing that the washington post says as even remotely true.

That's about the most unscientific thing I have ever read on this site. The statement ignores any and all sense of historicity and epistemology.

Bridenstine's comments are a matter of public record, as is Trump's nomination. Other sources below verify those same facts.

https://perlmutter.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=2140

http://thehill.com/opinion/white-house/394783-nasa-needs-janet-kavandi-if-were-going-to-make-it-back-to-the-moon-then

http://www.joplinglobe.com/news/local_news/carthage-s-janet-kavandi-gets-endorsement-from-nasa-chief-to/article_4f92b960-832a-585d-b9a7-92b1bf2f6929.html

Offline yg1968

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Re: WaPo: Trump-Bridenstine Disagree re. Deputy Director
« Reply #10 on: 07/15/2018 03:22 AM »
Politics isn't scientific and the NASA Administrator doesn't pick the deputy administrator.

Here is a much better article (without the fake drama/made up feud between Bridenstine and Trump):

https://spacenews.com/white-house-nominates-morhard-to-be-nasa-deputy-administrator/

Quote
The White House announcement came as Bridenstine was out of the country on his first foreign trip as the head of NASA, meeting officials in Israel. “This administration is committed to American leadership in space, and I look forward to working with Mr. Morhard upon his confirmation,” Bridenstine said in an agency statement issued late July 12.
« Last Edit: 07/15/2018 03:32 AM by yg1968 »

Offline TomH

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Re: WaPo: Trump-Bridenstine Disagree re. Deputy Director
« Reply #11 on: 07/15/2018 09:59 PM »
Nobody said politics was scientific. The word science comes from the Latin word scientia, which means provable knowledge. Modern science rejects most of the classical methodologies of epistemology (the branch of philosophy dealing with knowledge, i.e. how you know that what you claim to be true really is true) in favor of those which are scientific (provable). Modern forensics (that which is permissibly arguable in courts based on Roman/British systems of law) requires evidence to be scientifically based, but this is not limited to Aristotelean deductive inquiry. Methods of historicity and mathematics are also considered both forensic and scientific.

The facts that Bridenstine wanted a knowledgable insider while Trump nominated someone without those qualifications are a matter of public record. They are not in question. The claim that nothing written in the Washington Post can be believed is in every way unscientific.

Offline yg1968

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Re: WaPo: Trump-Bridenstine Disagree re. Deputy Director
« Reply #12 on: 07/16/2018 01:39 AM »
The article is slanted and gives the impression that Trump is nominating one of his buddies. There is much better articles on the topic without this bias.
« Last Edit: 07/16/2018 01:52 AM by yg1968 »

Offline TomH

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Re: WaPo: Trump-Bridenstine Disagree re. Deputy Director
« Reply #13 on: 07/16/2018 04:42 AM »
The article is slanted and gives the impression that Trump is nominating one of his buddies. There is much better articles on the topic without this bias.

That is acceptably stated as an opinion regarding one single piece of writing. FinalFrontier's statement was:

I don't take a single thing that the washington post says as even remotely true.

That is the statement which I find unscientific.

I tried to avoid controversy and to be apolitical by wording the thread title simply to indicate Trump and Bridenstine disagree. I would like for the thread to get back to early posts which were examining having one of the director/deputy director being a skilled politician and the other being highly knowledgable about the mission of the agency. Personally, I believe it best to have one of each. Which one gets which role depends upon the agency itself. But this is just my opinion.
« Last Edit: 07/16/2018 04:48 AM by TomH »

Offline yg1968

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Re: WaPo: Trump-Bridenstine Disagree re. Deputy Director
« Reply #14 on: 07/16/2018 06:14 PM »
Fair enough. But in terms of political appointees, you can argue that Lori Garver was selected because of her ties with the Democratic party and, in my opinion, she turned out to be a very good selection. She even endorsed Bridenstine prior to his confirmation by the Senate (which made me respect her even more).

At the time of Bridenstine's confirmation, I wondered if Trump didn't promise a candidate for deputy administrator that some Senators wanted in exchange for them voting for Bridenstine. That is pure speculation on my part. But I can't help but wonder about it.
« Last Edit: 07/16/2018 06:16 PM by yg1968 »

Offline spacetraveler

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Re: WaPo: Trump-Bridenstine Disagree re. Deputy Director
« Reply #15 on: 07/16/2018 07:52 PM »
Politics isn't scientific and the NASA Administrator doesn't pick the deputy administrator.

NASA leadership (including the administrator) has not historically been run by politicians but those with science or space backgrounds, that was one of the principal opposition points members of both parties voiced against Bridenstine. While I suppose it shouldn't be surprising the administration is also going the political route for the deputy spot (considering they chose Bridenstine), that continues to be a departure from historic norms.

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: WaPo: Trump-Bridenstine Disagree re. Deputy Director
« Reply #16 on: 07/16/2018 08:44 PM »
Fair enough. But in terms of political appointees, you can argue that Lori Garver was selected because of her ties with the Democratic party...

She certainly did have a history with prior Democrat's running for President (Kerry, Clinton & Obama), but if you only looked at that you'd be ignoring the bigger picture.

Garver (see Wikipedia) had a lot of experience in the field of space (Ex. Dir. of the National Space Society), NASA (Assoc. Administrator reporting to the Administrator), commercial spaceflight (tried to get funding as a tourist astronaut), and space industry (President of Capital Space).

So to say that Garver was a "political appointee" grossly ignores her industry experience leading up to the nomination. She was eminently qualified to be a Deputy Administrator at NASA, and far more qualified to be a NASA Administrator than Jim Bridenstine.

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...and, in my opinion, she turned out to be a very good selection.

No doubt because of her deep experience in the field of space, both within the government and within industry. America has a lot of people that have deep experience in the field of space, which is why Trump choosing people without such experience is worthy of debate.

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At the time of Bridenstine's confirmation, I wondered if Trump didn't promise a candidate for deputy administrator that some Senators wanted in exchange for them voting for Bridenstine. That is pure speculation on my part. But I can't help but wonder about it.

Not that Trump would be above such machinations, but because of the amount of time it took Trump to nominate Bridenstine, and now the amount of time it's taken to nominate Morhard, if Trump had already committed to installing those people to fulfill some political promises then he sure wasted a lot of time in getting them installed into NASA.

The simple explanation is that NASA is not a priority for Trump, which means he is allowing political maneuverings to bring possible nominees to him, but reserving the right to say no when they don't meet his unknown requirements - i.e. Trump is bad at delegating...  ;)
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

Offline yg1968

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Re: WaPo: Trump-Bridenstine Disagree re. Deputy Director
« Reply #17 on: 07/16/2018 11:08 PM »
I didn't mean political appointee as a negative term. Both the NASA Administrator and the Deputy Administrator are political appointees because they are named by the President and confirmed by the Senate.

Incidentally, both Bridenstine and Morhard have space policy experience.

President Trump keeps mentioning space in several of his speeches and has re-established the National Space Council. Space is a priority to him; much more than President Obama who only discussed NASA a couple of times in 8 years. VP Pence is also very involved in space unlike VP Biden.
« Last Edit: 07/16/2018 11:17 PM by yg1968 »

Offline spacenut

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Re: WaPo: Trump-Bridenstine Disagree re. Deputy Director
« Reply #18 on: 07/16/2018 11:26 PM »
To me it is not a matter of what is important, but the vetting process with Trump is longer, having a tougher senate confirmation process.  Everyone Obama nominated was a shoe in with no real questioning by the senate or senators.  Also to me, Space is a higher priority under Trump as mentioned by YG1968.

Offline Coastal Ron

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Re: WaPo: Trump-Bridenstine Disagree re. Deputy Director
« Reply #19 on: 07/17/2018 12:18 AM »
Incidentally, both Bridenstine and Morhard have space policy experience.

Yes, but if you read the job description for the position of NASA Administrator, having space policy experience is not one of the primary requirements. The NASA Administrator runs NASA, which includes managing many large, complex programs. Jim Bridenstine did not have such experience when nominated by Trump, so it was good to see that Bridenstine wanted a Deputy Administrator that had such experience. Unfortunately Bridenstine's boss did not agree with him.

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President Trump keeps mentioning space in several of his speeches and has re-established the National Space Council.

The old axiom is that you can't believe what a politician says, you have to wait and see what they do. So far Trump has been pretty slow in doing anything about "space". Sure, some regulatory stuff, but that is expected.

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Space is a priority to him;

Can anyone list the new budgets he has pushed through Congress for NASA? New programs?

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...much more than President Obama who only discussed NASA a couple of times in 8 years.

My how the memory fades with time...  ;)

At this point in Obama's first term he had already had a NASA Administrator and Deputy Administrator in place, assembled the Augustine Commission, they completed their studies and released their report, and Obama had already proposed changes to what NASA was doing to Congress. At this point in Obama's first term Congress was debating and discussing the changes Obama proposed, and as we remember they agreed with quite a bit of what he wanted:

- Extend the life of the ISS
- Create the Commercial Crew program
- Cancel the Constellation Program due to budget and schedule problems

Trump has convened the National Space Council, but other than signing some directives, Trump has not proposed, through the budgetary process, any significantly new space initiatives.

I'd say Obama had a far larger, and far more lasting effect on NASA at this point in his administration than Trump has. Wouldn't you agree?

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VP Pence is also very involved in space unlike VP Biden.

Vice President's are used where Presidents want the most help, and clearly Trump needed help with space since he has no background in it.

But don't confuse the National Space Council with just NASA, because NASA is only one of 10 major departments and agencies on the council, and arguably one of the least important to Trump. So in a way the NSC has diminished the importance of NASA in the administration in relation to how Obama ran things. Maybe that will change now that Bridenstine is onboard, but so far it's clear NASA hasn't change much under Trump.
If we don't continuously lower the cost to access space, how are we ever going to afford to expand humanity out into space?

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