What I’m working on at NASA – Fall 2010 Edition

A couple happenings are inspiring the post you are about to read.  First, a couple recent posts I published have questioned NASA’s ability to be transparent. ((Time for me to practice what I preach.))  Second, I recently gave a presentation at the Social Media for Government Conference that shared a case study of a project I led back in 2007.  After that presentation someone asked me, “So what are you working on now?”  This post will shine some light on the three largest initiatives I am part of at NASA Ames.  This type of current activity sharing is something I’m going to try and share on a quarterly basis. 

NASA Ames’ Web strategy

Developing a comprehensive role for the Web at NASA Ames is what I was brought back to Ames to work on.  And slow moving progress is being made.  Goals have been defined and endorsed by the Ames CIO.  One of the key foundational building blocks of the strategy is that have opportunities for participation from interested parties around Ames as well as have a transparent process of execution.  So at this point, the effort surrounding the Ames Web Strategy is to build the community of Web stakeholders around Ames with the biggest initial challenge being properly identifying who those stakeholders are, getting them out of their foxholes, and getting them to be active participants in the community.  To get over the hurdle, a leadership team has been formed and we’re starting to plan events designed to bring people together, get them meeting each other, and talking to each other.

NASA Ames’ SharePoint instance

Whether I’m the product or project manager, ((I’d say I’m a bit of both)) one of my major daily activities is pushing Ames’ SharePoint environment forward.  There’s a lot of activity circulating around it and certainly this type of collaborative tool is something that might help bring the Web community together at Ames.  At this time, there’s a lot of planning going into preparing for an upgrade to SharePoint 2010. 

Making the case for dedicated mindshare on NASA’s web challenges

This is the most important item.  Quite frankly, NASA doesn’t have enough people focusing on how to make the agency’s utilization of the Web better.  How can we make the Web part of NASA’s cultural fabric?  What is the role of Web collaboration?  What is the set of governing policies that impact its usage of the Web?  What are the elements of NASA’s Web toolkit?  These are all critical questions.  And there’s a lack of dedicated resources to solve them.  We do have great people at NASA who know a lot about how the Web works, but they are not dedicated to solving the problems.  In fact, some of them are quite literally looking for signs of life on Mars.  So this effort has been about defining the structure of an oversight team to serve the agency and facilitate the role and usage of the Web within NASA.  It’s an effort full of ups and downs; political battles; and sometimes frustrating conversations with executive management.  But it’s a critical effort.  There is strong desire for a “mission-ready Web” which has turnkey features for NASA programs, projects, and missions.  But making progress at achieving that vision requires resources. 

NASA Ames before it was ever NASA Ames