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National Aeronautics and Space Administration

NASA is more than astronauts. They are scientists, engineers, IT specialists, human resources specialists, accountants, writers, technicians and many, many other kinds of professionals. Their vision is to "reach for new heights and reveal the unknown so that what we do and learn will benefit all humankind.".

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LSA  
#1 Posted : Thursday, May 21, 2015 7:53:43 PM(UTC)

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NASA has the best reputation as a Federal Agency employer.

So what makes NASA such a good place to work?

There are so many other agencies in the Federal Government under Uncle Sam. So what is so unique about NASA that the other agencies don't have to make NASA a great place to work?? e.g. All the Federal Agencies are supposed to have the same human personnel rules and regulations.

e.g. DOD, FAA, DHS, ICC, NIH, NIST, NRL, DOT, Post Office, Library of Congress, OPM, Air Force, DOL, FTC, DOA, FCC, DOC, FDA ................
frankgonzalez  
#2 Posted : Friday, May 22, 2015 11:47:58 AM(UTC)
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Simply put....the culture at NASA is different than at most agencies. And everyone appears to be focused on their mission, from the custodial staff to the rocket scientists. They still have issues like any group of people will, but their organizational culture allows for de-escalation of those issues easily.
You should have voted Cthulu...the greatest of all Evils
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Draconian on 6/13/2015(UTC)
LSA  
#3 Posted : Friday, May 22, 2015 12:29:17 PM(UTC)

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Originally Posted by: frankgonzalez Go to Quoted Post
Simply put....the culture at NASA is different than at most agencies. And everyone appears to be focused on their mission, from the custodial staff to the rocket scientists. They still have issues like any group of people will, but their organizational culture allows for de-escalation of those issues easily.


Is everyone inside NASA focused on the NASA missions that nobody on the outside really cares about? e.g. the Moon, MARS, etc. So most everyone on the outside of the agency leaves NASA alone to do what they want to do? It seems like most of the other federal agencies are enmeshed with outside groups that make trouble for them i.e. operational agencies like DHS,DOD,FAA or FDA ... e.g. Missions related to real people and important problems here on the Earth?

bmj2  
#4 Posted : Saturday, May 23, 2015 2:43:22 PM(UTC)

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OH, they get plenty of outside "help." Probably more than most agencies because everything they touch has political over and under tones. I've worked with a lot of NASA guys and I don't think they are individually that different from most other civil servants. But they do have a culture that gives them a better feeling about the agency. They do have a cool mission, but then so do a lot of other agencies that have poor culture. I don't know, maybe their leaders have to actually have a clue in order to be selected for senior positions. I worked AF space back years ago and we had a pretty good culture too because back then you had to work your way up within the space field, unlike today where senior leaders are put into positions with no background. So perhaps something similar happens in other agencies where generic managers are running things they do not understand??
mudpie  
#5 Posted : Thursday, May 28, 2015 10:24:13 AM(UTC)

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NASA doesn't micromanage and gives their employees ownership of their projects. NASA has the same budget woes as most agencies, but the culture definitely is relaxed. When over half the workforce has graduate degrees and several Nobel Prize winners an organization has to provide a supportive and relaxed work environment or those skills will just leave.
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nightchop on 6/3/2015(UTC), Draconian on 6/13/2015(UTC)
yakers  
#6 Posted : Monday, August 03, 2015 4:23:58 PM(UTC)

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After working at 4 DOD locations I got a job at NAS and mostly loved it. Two thngs stand out, one is that management is less 'top down', in DOD we would all pile into the CO's office and pitch our position and he would choose one or a combination and out we would go with our marching orders. At first I thought NASA had no management as we would all sit arround and discuss things until a consensus occurred but I came to understand that the energy expended there was paid back in an acutal alignment of the team, nno policing necessary and no sabatoging the project. Second is that a lot of events ar based on planetary alignment, not some officers desire, everyone knows you can only go to Mars every two years so you all work for that goal which was not set based on personal manager issues.
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Draconian on 9/29/2015(UTC)
JustFedUp  
#7 Posted : Tuesday, August 04, 2015 4:45:46 AM(UTC)
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I spent over 25 years working in the DoD when I combine my military and civil service time. I recently moved over to NASA and very happy I did. The difference in the cultures are profound. There are many times at end of the day I'll just pause and give thanks for the privilege to work at NASA.
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Draconian on 9/29/2015(UTC)
0018 Hopeful  
#8 Posted : Tuesday, August 04, 2015 7:25:51 PM(UTC)
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A friend of mine is an EX-Navy parachute rigger, he enjoys it there. He worked as a contractor in Kuwait after leaving the military but is very fond of NASA.
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Draconian on 9/29/2015(UTC)
MadRad  
#9 Posted : Friday, August 07, 2015 8:15:05 PM(UTC)
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You will find there is a wide spread in organizational culture. There isn't a single NASA, so be weary with blanket statements. I actually found that the management was very top-down at some centers, but not so much at others.
It is laid back but you will also find that some of that has to do with management not having a plan or purpose. In that sense, it's not very different from many other agencies.
This is the same agency that has allowed congress to design their rocket (SLS aka Senate Launch System) with minimal outrage. It will also only fly on a handful of flights before depleting its budget, if not cancelled before then. Yup, it's relaxed all right.

The huge exception is the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, but they are essentially a contractor managed by Cal Tech. Those people do brilliant work and have a fantastic organizational culture that seems to bring out the best in people. The main downside for most is living in California.



LSA  
#10 Posted : Saturday, August 08, 2015 6:04:55 AM(UTC)

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To MadRad:

JPL is a contractor, as you say, so they probably suck NASA dry for $$$s. If all that money were given to NASA internally they could do the same work, just as brilliantly, for less money. Look what the internal NASA centers have done throughout the years without JPL: Hubble, International Space Station, Apollo, Space Shuttle, spacecraft, satellites etc, etc. JPLs fame to glory has been mostly only the Mars missions (hundreds of billions of dollars). NASA can't afford the Mars missions anymore so there have been hefty cutbacks.

Edited by user Saturday, August 08, 2015 6:13:16 AM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

MadRad  
#11 Posted : Saturday, August 08, 2015 8:07:06 AM(UTC)
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to LSA:

You will find JPL a victim of cuts just as much as any other NASA field center. Planetary science, which is a large part of what they do isn't exactly being funded at full levels. I've known several who have been laid off recently. Since they are a contractor, that happens much easier than other centers.
LSA  
#12 Posted : Monday, August 10, 2015 3:49:30 AM(UTC)

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Originally Posted by: MadRad Go to Quoted Post
to LSA:

You will find JPL a victim of cuts just as much as any other NASA field center. Planetary science, which is a large part of what they do isn't exactly being funded at full levels. I've known several who have been laid off recently. Since they are a contractor, that happens much easier than other centers.


The NASA centers can do whatever JPL can do/is doing and since they over charge NASA (Salaries etc) for the work that NASA gives them why are they needed at all? Scientific and/or Engineering talent is not unique to JPL. I suspect that JPL being given all the billions of dollars is pure politics. In this respect NASA is no different than the other agencies of the Federal Government e.g. Army, Navy, Air Force etc. The only thing NASA has going for it is that the mission of NASA is outer space so there are no fly's in the ointment (politically speaking) that the other agencies have to deal with.

Edited by user Monday, August 10, 2015 1:21:57 PM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

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Lovie on 9/29/2015(UTC)
Lovie  
#13 Posted : Tuesday, September 29, 2015 6:15:39 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: frankgonzalez Go to Quoted Post
Simply put....the culture at NASA is different than at most agencies. And everyone appears to be focused on their mission, from the custodial staff to the rocket scientists. They still have issues like any group of people will, but their organizational culture allows for de-escalation of those issues easily.


I know. This is an old thread, but I had to chuckle a little about "And everyone appears to be focused on their mission, from the custodial staff to the rocket scientists."

Mainly the part about the custodians. NASA operates on a shoe-string budget and the housekeeping staff are contractors, not civil servants. If you're a germaphobe by any stretch of the imagination, or if you can't tolerate filth of any find, you might not be able to handle working on site at NASA. Especially if you're coming from the private sector where you worked in a class-A office building. At my site, we're lucky if the restrooms get spot-cleaned once a week. And I'm using the word "cleaned" very loosely. When you've got 100+ people on a floor sharing 1 set of restrooms, it can get pretty gross in a weeks time. And you're likely to see the same dead cockroach in the hallway for months. On the rare occasion that the floors are swept and mopped, it's done DURING OFFICE HOURS. So you have to leave your office when they come to do your floors. But like I said, that will happened MAYBE every 2 months.

I'm not trying to bash NASA. It's a great place to work and I'm grateful to be making a livable income, but it's no paradise. I'm somewhat of a germaphobe, so things like this might bother me more than others. A few years ago, they were making us take out our own trash. That ended after about a month, probably when the roaches started outnumbering the people in the offices. Maybe other centers allocate more of their budget toward housekeeping, so I don't want to imply that all locations have these problems. I've only worked at one.

I'm hoping to return to the private sector in the near future. (I've almost given up on getting past USAJobs.) The filth is the only thing that I won't miss about working on site at NASA. It sure will be nice to come to work every morning and walk into a CLEAN ladiesroom that smells like PineSol, glossy floors and empty trash cans; all done while I slept.... the way God intended. :)

Edited by user Tuesday, September 29, 2015 9:36:23 AM(UTC)  | Reason: Not specified

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Draconian on 9/29/2015(UTC), klara on 11/10/2016(UTC), PanchoBarnes on 4/11/2017(UTC)
frankgonzalez  
#14 Posted : Wednesday, March 08, 2017 5:09:18 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: Lovie Go to Quoted Post
Originally Posted by: frankgonzalez Go to Quoted Post
Simply put....the culture at NASA is different than at most agencies. And everyone appears to be focused on their mission, from the custodial staff to the rocket scientists. They still have issues like any group of people will, but their organizational culture allows for de-escalation of those issues easily.


I know. This is an old thread, but I had to chuckle a little about "And everyone appears to be focused on their mission, from the custodial staff to the rocket scientists."

Mainly the part about the custodians. NASA operates on a shoe-string budget and the housekeeping staff are contractors, not civil servants. If you're a germaphobe by any stretch of the imagination, or if you can't tolerate filth of any find, you might not be able to handle working on site at NASA. Especially if you're coming from the private sector where you worked in a class-A office building. At my site, we're lucky if the restrooms get spot-cleaned once a week. And I'm using the word "cleaned" very loosely. When you've got 100+ people on a floor sharing 1 set of restrooms, it can get pretty gross in a weeks time. And you're likely to see the same dead cockroach in the hallway for months. On the rare occasion that the floors are swept and mopped, it's done DURING OFFICE HOURS. So you have to leave your office when they come to do your floors. But like I said, that will happened MAYBE every 2 months.

I'm not trying to bash NASA. It's a great place to work and I'm grateful to be making a livable income, but it's no paradise. I'm somewhat of a germaphobe, so things like this might bother me more than others. A few years ago, they were making us take out our own trash. That ended after about a month, probably when the roaches started outnumbering the people in the offices. Maybe other centers allocate more of their budget toward housekeeping, so I don't want to imply that all locations have these problems. I've only worked at one.

I'm hoping to return to the private sector in the near future. (I've almost given up on getting past USAJobs.) The filth is the only thing that I won't miss about working on site at NASA. It sure will be nice to come to work every morning and walk into a CLEAN ladiesroom that smells like PineSol, glossy floors and empty trash cans; all done while I slept.... the way God intended. :)
When I posted that, my experience with NASA was from my time with the AF at AFSPACE and SMC. I am now with NASA, and from the inside...have a bit more perspective.

They are WAY too laid back about some things. And over time that leads to issues. Part of why I was hired was to get things back to where they need to be in my office. Beyond that though, our building is kept pretty clean (I'm not a germaphobe and have lived all over the world and spent time in Army facilities...so have seen some nasty stuff in my time! Retired AF....so no disrespect to my Army brethren...but seriously, some of those barracks need to be nuked from space just to be certain you have killed what is growing in them!), and it is rare to see someone not smiling when you pass them in the hallways. In DHS/USCG and DoD, I could not say that with a straight face!

Do they have issues? Of course...NASA is made up of people, and whenever you put more than one in a room, the potential for issues occurs. Their FEVS scores are very good, and even the worst center's scores would be the envy of some agencies (DHS...I'm looking at you!). I just hope I can help make it a little better in my time here.



You should have voted Cthulu...the greatest of all Evils
LSA  
#15 Posted : Wednesday, March 08, 2017 6:15:13 AM(UTC)

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So they don't walk on water!! But they are close. LOL
frankgonzalez  
#16 Posted : Wednesday, March 08, 2017 6:25:27 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: LSA Go to Quoted Post
So they don't walk on water!! But they are close. LOL
Well....your shoes and socks get a little damp!

Seriously though...I work in EEO, and when I look at the annual 462 report for NASA (every fed agency has to provide one to the EEOC annually), NASA has few complaints (69 people came in last year to file a total of 79 complaints, with 55 of those becoming formal across the whole of NASA). I thought the Coast Guard had few enough after my time in DoD (and having worked several cases for other DHS components), but NASA has so few I almost wonder what our office does most of the time! That said, they spend a lot of time in early intervention of conflict, and ways to address issues before it reaches the level of a complaint (and why I was hired as a mediator/conflict resolution manager!). And in the less than two months I've been here, I see they have a lot of programs to help their employees grow...personally and professionally! And while I am here, I will learn all I can, and eventually find a way to package it for a consultant career once I retire from federal service!

You should have voted Cthulu...the greatest of all Evils
nightchop  
#17 Posted : Sunday, March 12, 2017 10:27:03 AM(UTC)

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I work for an agency that ranks well in FEVS and also has a relatively low number of EEO complaints. Now that I'm on the inside...I laugh at their FEVS ranking and EEO numbers. Smoke and mirrors.
frankgonzalez  
#18 Posted : Tuesday, March 14, 2017 5:31:50 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: nightchop Go to Quoted Post
I work for an agency that ranks well in FEVS and also has a relatively low number of EEO complaints. Now that I'm on the inside...I laugh at their FEVS ranking and EEO numbers. Smoke and mirrors.
That can happen. I think at NASA part of the issue here is everyone seems to work in collaborative environments, and so far, everyone has been friendly. (can't say the same at other agencies I have been in or visited!). That said, I think one of the biggest issue is people here are conflict adverse. There are times when conflict will occur and dealing with it in an appropriate manner is healthy, but avoiding all conflict ends up creating an unhealthy environment. Teaching folks they can disagree and do so openly, and ways to address that disagreement to find a way to be heard, even if your position is not included in the final decision is a large part of what my job is going to be.

The future looks like fun for me!

You should have voted Cthulu...the greatest of all Evils
nightchop  
#19 Posted : Tuesday, March 14, 2017 5:18:06 PM(UTC)

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Originally Posted by: frankgonzalez Go to Quoted Post
That said, I think one of the biggest issue is people here are conflict adverse. There are times when conflict will occur and dealing with it in an appropriate manner is healthy, but avoiding all conflict ends up creating an unhealthy environment.


Do you work in my office? LOL

I enjoy reading your responses on this forum. You sound like the type of employee an agency should be grateful to have. I'm sure you'll do well anywhere you land.

frankgonzalez  
#20 Posted : Wednesday, March 15, 2017 2:47:52 AM(UTC)
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Originally Posted by: nightchop Go to Quoted Post
Originally Posted by: frankgonzalez Go to Quoted Post
That said, I think one of the biggest issue is people here are conflict adverse. There are times when conflict will occur and dealing with it in an appropriate manner is healthy, but avoiding all conflict ends up creating an unhealthy environment.


Do you work in my office? LOL

I enjoy reading your responses on this forum. You sound like the type of employee an agency should be grateful to have. I'm sure you'll do well anywhere you land.


Thanks...and my job is to address the issue I identified. I am the Manager for Conflict Management and Resolution for my center. So...if you are at HQ, look me up and we'll see what we can do for you and your office!
You should have voted Cthulu...the greatest of all Evils
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