nasa, politics, reinventing government

Space Policy Under an Obama Administration

(please post comments over at the new thread instead of posting them here) Many space constituents are publicly critical of the Obama campaign for campaign rhetoric that is less overtly supportive of the status quo of the US space program than that of the Clinton or McCain campaigns. However, to this constituent of space, Obama’s ambivalence makes him THE MOST ATTRACTIVE Presidential candidate in this campaign.Why?Because I believe that the WORST CASE scenario for the US space program under a new Administration is the status quo, and that we’re quite unlikely– even under an Obama administration– to experience major cutbacks in public space spending, due to the political capital that the status quo of space policy enjoys in key large States.Thus, I believe the real issue of concern for space constituents in this Presidential campaign is how much IMPROVEMENT there can be on current space policy under a new Administration. In that context, I believe that an Administration LESS beholden to the status quo– an Obama Administration– is MORE likely to conduct a thorough and objective analysis of opportunities for improvement. Thus, while paying less lip service to the current space program at this juncture of the campaign, I believe that Obama is more likely than any other candidate to institute the sorts of reforms that many of us progressives who work in the space community wish to see, such as:-Appointing dynamic and technically competent leaders to the top posts at NASA who have the charisma and gravitas required to reform the culture of the Agency and turn it into the vibrant “startup” organization that it was decades ago as NACA, thus enabling it to better:-Pursue an aggressive human exploration program beyond LEO that pushes the envelope of technological innovation without significant budget increases, and presents inspiring opportunities for multi-national collaboration in the peaceful uses of outer space, and-Accelerate of the handover of LEO activities to ‘NewSpace’ private commercial enterprises, with the US and other governments as a customer, and with an emphasis on competition, entrepreneurship and innovation rather than large guaranteed “cost plus” contracts, and-Fully leverage NASA’s potential as an ‘Earth Systems Engineering’ Agency as a key component of a comprehensive Federal climate change mitigation program.I believe that an Obama Administration is far more likely to call for and to have the courage to see through these sorts of policy reforms than that of any other candidate that is today more overtly laudatory of the status quo of the US space program.Does anyone really want the status quo of the US space program to endure? (please post comments over at the new instead of posting them here)

government, politics, reinventing government

Possibly the most important video you’ll see this year: Lessig08

Larry Lessig is considering running for Congress. The scale of change that Lessig in office could cause, I believe, is profound. His work to rid Congress of special interest influence within 8 years would leverage a “Crowdsourced Congressional Staff” of 10,000s. Unlike the Congressional staff I worked on during my year off after high school in 1989– a GOOD staff for a GOOD Congressperson– his Congressional staff of 10,000s wouldn’t be engaged in taking constituents out to lunch or getting a speedy passport issued upon request, or even dealing much with the minutia of a piece of legislation. Rather, his crowdsourced staff would bring the wisdom of crowds to Capitol Hill in a manner we’ve never seen before, and would be at once the force of displacement as well as the fill for the power vacuum created as the special interests depart.

Also, he gives great presentation. Enjoy.

colab, nasa, second life

Successful First Day of Mixed-Reality NASA “Next Generation Exploration Conference”

worden_in_sl2.jpgWe had the “Next Generation Exploration Conference II” streaming into NASA CoLab in Second Life all day today, creating a mixed reality conference. Below, NASA Ames Center Director Pete Worden (above) and NASA Headquarters’ Ken Davidian (below) address NGEC up to 50 avatars on NASA CoLab island in Second Life as well as 100 young space entrepreneurs and NASA employees at NASA Ames in Silicon Valley. The conference continues on Wednesday with a blended Second Life and Real-Life working group on Lunar in-situ resource utilization.


colab, reinventing government, RG09

RG09: Reinventing Government Under a New Administration in 2009

I’ve been thinking a lot about how a new wave of “reinventing government” can occur, and what it would substantively entail, under a new Presidential Administration in 2009. Most of my thinking draws on my hands-on experience in one little corner of the Federal Government with our NASA CoLab program, but I want to draw far beyond that. The ADI Leadership Forum I participated in on Saturday had a breakout session on this topic lead by Mitch Kapor and David Weekly. We didn’t get very far in that 1 hour session (the take-home, after a rather excruciating debate, was “more openness would be good”), but it WAS great to see that the topic was on the radar screen of this community enough to be put on the program.

I’m going to start a running laundry list of my thoughts here about RG09, in no particular order, and keep updating it between now and, well, Jan. 20, 2009 (at least):

  • RG09 is NOT just transparent elections or campaign finance reform or more transparent legislative process– all of which are themselves fundamental;
  • RG09 IS implementing changes in the way the Federal bureaucracy– approx. 1.8 Million civil servants if my brief online research is correct- does it’s work
  • Quick easy and impactful changes that an Executive Order might be able to launch:
    • Most Federal government data (other than that with national security, ITAR or citizen-privacy issues at stake)– pretty much anything you could get with a FOIA request– be required to be:
      • published in a consistent standardized format with appropriate metadata
      • licensed openly under a (new?) Creative Commons license
      • be accessible online through open an API
      • be accessible online through semantic search
    • All Civil Servants with no security clearance be encouraged to:
      • Keep and publish their work calendar online in iCal format
      • Twitter at least once a day about the most interesting or important thing they did or learned that day
      • Consider these activities in performance reviews of their direct reports
    • Etc…