Thursday, December 11, 2008

NASA's Griffin and Obama's Lori Garver's Unpleasant Exchanges

Update July 16: Senate confirms both Bolden and Garver
See the update on this: Mike Griffin's wife Rebecca petitions for his job.

Lori Garver was a former Associate Administrator of the Office of Policy and Plans for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Garver heads Obama's space policy transition team. Mike Griffin is the NASA administrator. Griffin is not sure that global warming is something we should be wrestling with. Ha! This is a science guy? Now we pretty much know who he is. Guess who's going to be looking for work soon.
This comes by way of Science Friday.
Orlando Sentinel: CAPE CANAVERAL – NASA administrator Mike Griffin is not cooperating with President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team, is obstructing its efforts to get information and has told its leader that she is “not qualified” to judge his rocket program, the Orlando Sentinel has learned.

In a heated 40-minute conversation last week with Lori Garver, a former NASA associate administrator who heads the space transition team, a red-faced Griffin demanded to speak directly to Obama, according to witnesses.

In addition, Griffin is scripting NASA employees and civilian contractors on what they can tell the transition team and has warned aerospace executives not to criticize the agency’s moon program, sources said.

Griffin’s resistance is part of a no-holds-barred effort to preserve the Constellation program, the delayed and over-budget moon rocket that is his signature project.

Chris Shank, NASA’s Chief of Strategic Communications, denied that Griffin is trying to keep information from the team, or that he is seeking a meeting with Obama. He also insisted that Griffin never argued with Garver.

“We are working extremely well with the transition team,” he said.

However, Shank acknowledged Griffin was concerned that the six-member team – all with space policy backgrounds – lack the engineering expertise to properly assess some of the information they have been given.
This could be a case of the good ol' boys being challenged. Read a memo to Garver outlining recommendations on a "revitalized NASA" (read: more money please).
Garver refused comment about her conversation with Griffin -- and his remark that she is “not qualified” -- during a book-publication party at NASA headquarters last week. Obama’s Chicago office – which has sent similar transition teams to every federal agency – also had no comment.

People close to Garver, however, say that she has confirmed “unpleasant” exchanges with Griffin and other NASA officials. “Don’t worry, they have not beaten me down yet,” she e-mailed a colleague.

And this week, Garver told a meeting of aerospace representatives in Washington that “there will be change” to NASA policy and hinted that Obama would name a new administrator soon, according to participants.
NASA could be worried about their bloated budget being popped:
Garver’s team is one of dozens of review panels that over the last few weeks have descended on every government agency. Armed with tough questions, they are scrutinizing programs, scouring budgets and hunting for problems that may confront a new president.