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James Morhard Nominated as NASA Deputy Administrator

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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.

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?

Coastal Ron:

--- Quote from: Blackstar on 07/13/2018 03:30 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.

--- End quote ---

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.

--- End quote ---

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.

--- End quote ---

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.

--- End quote ---

Not sure what this says about the current NASA Administrator, Jim Bridenstine...

Interesting that he was with Sean O'Keefe in that plane.

Coastal Ron:

--- Quote from: Blackstar on 07/13/2018 12:24 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.

--- End quote ---

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...


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