Ed. Note: This is the first in a series of in-depth profiles of open government plans from across the Executive Branch.
For over 50 years, NASA has nurtured and developed a rich culture of openness, fostering collaboration among scientists and sharing with the public at large the excitement surrounding scientific discoveries, aeronautics, and space. Open government is an integral part of our culture, and NASA is excited to be a leader in these efforts for the U.S. government.
Our commitment to experimenting with and embracing new ways of collaboration begins with our efforts to infuse innovation into the U.S. space program. The process for the Human Spaceflight Review in 2009 led to policies that incorporated citizen involvement and feedback, and the development of NASA’s Open Government Plan relied upon tools to ensure citizen engagement.
We continue to embrace collaboration for all of our communities – from citizen scientists and inventors to the public at large, from NASA’s workforce of scientists and engineers to NASA’s community of partners. We’re excited about all of these initiatives and invite your participation. Each of the efforts described below offer a link to their fact sheet in the Open Government plan which includes ways to get involved.
For citizen scientists and innovators, we have created a prize program and avenues for talented and interested members of the public to contribute to NASA programs in a meaningful way. We believe that making space exploration exciting and manageable will create advocates, ambassadors, and a volunteer technical community to assist in space exploration. These efforts include:
For the public at large, we have communicated our programs through our website, blogs, or the NASA Television channel. We have a rich Education and Outreach portfolio with resources for museums and teachers. More recently, we have experimented with microblogging, social photo sharing and ideation tool to allow the public to communicate and share information with NASA. These efforts include:
NASA is primarily a workforce of scientists and engineers, and as such we have created communities of practice to stimulate internal and external collaboration. We listened to our software engineers and created the NASA Open Source Agreement (NOSA) so that we could share our technology with those outside of government and, in turn, have them share their tools with us for the common benefit of the space program. As a result, we also learn from the commercial sector and infuse new innovations into NASA quickly and if appropriate, integrate them into our contracts. These efforts include:
For NASA partners, NASA has been open for business and partnerships for decades and allows us to transfer our technologies to other sectors while also infusing innovations into NASA’s program. We share our technical reports, patents, and open technology with universities, start-ups, and corporations with the intent to stimulate the economy. These efforts include:
All of these efforts are detailed in NASA’s Open Government Plan, representing a new chapter in NASA’s culture of openness and an exciting collaborative effort between citizens, advocacy groups, NASA employees, and of course, between agencies. This is the beginning of a movement in government and in space collaboration, where we are creating a learning community as we transform how we do business. We invite your continued thoughts and participation in these efforts, as we work collaboratively to enhance NASA’s transition to a twenty-first century space program.
Linda Cureton is the Chief Information Officer at NASA. Beth Robinson is the Chief Financial Officer at NASA.