Wednesday, December 31, 2008

NASA Chief's Wife Petitions for Husband's Job

NASA chief Mike Griffin and Lori Garver, who heads heads Obama's space policy transition team, have butted heads. Garver has been analyzing the effectiveness of the agency. Griffin, by the way, doesn't believe in global warming. You can read about all of that here.
Now, Griffin's wife Rebecca Griffin is petitioning for his job (here's the petition). How odd.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Late on Christmas Eve, one last wish was sent, by e-mail: Please let NASA Administrator Michael Griffin keep his job. It was from his wife.

Rebecca Griffin, who works in marketing, sent her message with the subject line "Campaign for Mike" to friends and family. It asked them to sign an online petition to President-elect Barack Obama "to consider keeping Mike Griffin on as NASA Administrator."

She wrote, "Yes, once again I am embarrassing my husband by reaching out to our friends and 'imposing' on them.... And if this is inappropriate, I'm sorry."
The petition drive, which said the President George W. Bush appointee "has brought a sense of order and purpose to the U.S. space agency," was organized by Scott "Doc" Horowitz of Park City, Utah, an ex-astronaut and former NASA associate administrator.
A cash-strapped NASA last week also sent — by priority mail costing $6.75 a package — copies of a new NASA book called "Leadership in Space: Selected Speeches of NASA Administrator Michael Griffin, May 2005-October 2008."

And just before the presidential election, Griffin sent a letter to Obama saying, "I am deeply grateful to you, personally, for your leadership" on the vote to allow NASA to use Russian spaceships.

Efforts by those close to Griffin lobbying on his behalf are unusually bold, even for ego-heavy Washington. Past efforts on behalf of job hopefuls have been more behind-the-scenes so plausible deniability can be maintained.
Here's part of what the online petition says:
Petition in Support of keeping Mike Griffin as the NASA Administrator

Dr. Michael Griffin is one of the most technically and managerially competent administrators in NASA’s history. He has brought a sense of order and purpose to the U.S. space agency, guiding decisions in all programs with the firm belief that our strength as a world power is determined in a large part by our preeminence in space, particularly in human spaceflight. Dr. Griffin has guided the Constellation Program--the goal of which is to return the United States to the moon, and then explore Mars and beyond--out of the conceptual phase and into the factory, with contracts for all of the major elements, despite severe budgetary limitations. In the process he has helped NASA regain the respect of the Congress. Mike Griffin--a true rocket scientist and systems engineer and gifted administrator--is uniquely qualified to take NASA into the next era of space exploration. The undersigned hereby petition the new administration in the White House to retain the services of Dr. Griffin, holding the firm conviction that he is the best hope for the NASA’s future and for the future of U.S. leadership in space.


On April 14, 2005 Dr. Michael Griffin became the 11th administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Mike Griffin is widely considered to be the most capable Administrator since the Apollo era. He has instituted substantial changes at NASA and is rebuilding capabilities that have atrophied and eroded since the days of Apollo and Space Shuttle development (it has been over 30 years since NASA or industry has developed a human rated spacecraft). It has been argued that the NASA administrator need not have the skills of a chief engineer or rocket scientist, but during this critical phase of developing the future of U.S. space flight, there is no more essential skill set this leader should possess. Mike Griffin is a leader of the highest integrity, with the knowledge and intellect to understand the most complex technical, programmatic, and organizational issues and to train and guide a new generation of technical leaders to make the right decisions. Under his direction NASA has made more progress in restoring America’s spaceflight design and development capabilities in the last 3 years than was accomplished in the prior three decades. 
One congressman, Bart Gordon, wants Griffin to stay on:
Michael Griffin should continue as NASA administrator, at least until President-elect Barack Obama sorts out his space policy agenda, the chairman of a key House authorizing committee said Dec. 18.

"I have recommended that, at a minimum, he be kept during the transition period," House Science and Technology Chairman Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.) said, adding that he was also recommending that Griffin "be considered" to be kept on beyond that.

Gordon, whose committee oversees NASA, said the final verdict on Griffin is "something for the next administration. It's their decision."

Gordon praised Griffin during a Capitol Hill press briefing on the panel's agenda for the 111th Congress, which convenes next month.

"I've been pleased with the working relationship with Dr. Griffin," Gordon said, adding that the often blunt Griffin "understands what he's doing, in contrast to previous administrations."