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Policy

NASA told that its culture can be improved

April 19, 2004 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 82, ISSUE 16

Following the recommendation of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, NASA has begun a process to transform its organizational and safety culture (C&EN, Sept. 1, 2003, page 6). The first part of the review has been done, and NASA has released an assessment finding that the agency needs to embrace change. The assessment, done by an outside consulting firm, found many positive attributes to NASA's culture, including a long legacy of technical excellence and of fostering teamwork and pride. However, the assessment noted that some cultural problems persist. It found that, although NASA is strongly committed to safety in concept, some people do not feel fully comfortable raising safety concerns to management and that sometimes management has sent signals that the raising of issues is not welcome. Also, there is a feeling that people are not appreciated by the organization. The assessment recommends that NASA integrate its core values--safety, people, excellence, and integrity--into its culture and identifies a three-year plan through which NASA leaders can work toward this goal. The assessment can be found at
http://www.nasa.gov/about/highlights/culture_survey.html.

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