Meet the CIOs: NASA

NASA: Ronald West

Ronald West

National Aeronautics and Space Administration
300 E St. S.W. #9F44
Washington, D.C. 20546
Phone: 202-358-1824
Fax: 202-358-2810

Career Highlights:

1980-96: Variety of NASA positions, including manager of the Technical and Management Systems Office for the Space Shuttle Program, manager of the Data Integration Office within Johnson Space Center's National Space Transportation System Engineering Integration Office, and senior systems engineer for shuttle mission reconfiguration and mass property analysis

IT Budget (fiscal years):
1996: $1.52 billion
1997: $1.52 billion
1998: $1.40 billion (est.)

Priority Projects:

  • Architecture Changes - delivering technologies that contribute to an open, standard, scaleable, interoperable and secure IT environment.
  • IT Spending Cuts - reducing costs via reengineering, outsourcing and consolidation.
  • Capital Investment Management Process - implementing investment planning, performance measurements and IT investment reviews.

Biggest Challenges:

"Ensuring that the CIO and CIO representatives throughout NASA are effective players in the agency's strategic management and operational processes. This means convincing those responsible for formulating and implementing our programs that CIOs are value-added players. We have to work within existing culture and processes, but be prepared to tailor them to meet objectives of law, prudent business practice and NASA mission. This challenge will keep us busy."

Management Approach:

"NASA's program-management process reviews new and existing projects to evaluate costs, schedules and technical content. In addition, we have a Capital Investment Council that addresses significant capital investments. To complement these, we are implementing a new IT investment planning and performance management process that will provide even more focused management attention on our IT investments and the degree to which they meet performance and return-on-investment expectations."

On CIOs:

"For CIOs to be most effective, they must understand the business of the agency they support and communicate a vision of information technology that enables the agency to meet its mission better, faster and cheaper. CIOs must make smart investments in IT to achieve the vision. In the end, people are only taken seriously if they make credible commitments that they deliver on."

Hottest Technologies:

"NASA is very interested in evolving standards for multimedia communications over the Internet. The ability to provide real-time voice, data and videoconferencing to geographically distributed project teams will result in increased efficiencies. Also, standards-based collaborative tools will increase productivity."

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