NASA has a long history of making the impossible possible. Our agency vision is “to reach for new heights and reveal the unknown so that what we do and learn will benefit all humankind.” The keys words in this vision are “to reveal the unknown” in order to make lives better here on Earth, our home planet. Transparency and openness were written into our DNA more than 50 years ago with the original Space Act that established the agency in 1958. This Open Government Plan is one of many ways in which we can shine a light on the good work that we do, and help trace our progress as we continue to infuse transparency, participation, and collaboration in all our missions, programs, and processes.
Our three new Flagship Initiatives continue to build upon the work accomplished by the first two plans. The Climate Data Initiative seeks to provide data gathered and curated by government assets through methods that are increasingly easy to find, share, and understand. The Information Architecture & Management project will modernize the manner in which the agency stores the immense volumes of data received daily, and categorize it for easier dissemination. The Asteroid Grand Challenge is a daunting effort to map the asteroids in our solar system, so that threats to our survival can be identified and dealt with before it’s too late. NASA’s Open Government Plan brings the opportunities of interaction with space to the public in a much more tangible fashion.
I invite you to dive into NASA’s Open Government Plan 3.0, connect with our missions, and collaborate with us as we continue to explore, bringing the benefits of our work to all mankind.
Let’s Innovate Together!
Chief Technology Officer for Information Technology
NASA Information Architecture Management (NIAM)
NIAM aims to leverage the agency’s ever-growing data and information as enterprise assets and to establish agency wide information architecture, standards and policies to enable information sharing for better science and exploration. The main goal of this initiative is to define the overarching Information Architecture, which will encompass all the agency data.
Leveraging the full power of agency data is becoming increasingly difficult to achieve. The exponential growth in data and information, new mandates and reduction in budget have combined to make agency wide information management a strategic issue. Like other agency assets, such as physical facilities, vehicles, or other commodities, we seek to maximize the usefulness of information assets, for our own mission success and that of the public. As a key enabler to accomplish agency missions, and provide direct benefit to the public, NIAM will work to make our data and information an effective and useful asset.
The initiative will undertake the task of finding solutions for NASA’s data and information challenges using an architecture driven and state of the art technology enabled approach. This project will focus on five key areas: architecture and standards, management and governance, policy and legal, user and data services, and sustainment and stakeholder engagement to address a complete information environment. The initiative will:
- Maximize the usefulness and value of all agency data: structured data, unstructured data, big data, metadata, dark data, and emergent data.
- Provide a path for transition from a document-centric to a data-centric IT environment to enable new research, development, and operational advances.
- Define a modern information lifecycle to position NASA to take advantage of new technologies and new opportunities, and be positioned for inevitable change and evolution.
- Make it easier and more effective to maintain and secure data throughout its lifecycle, by development of innovative governance and data management approaches, which address the broad and fast-growing spectrum of data environments.
- Ensure timely, consistent, and trustworthy information at every level through fundamental improvements in provenance, data quality, and data stewardship.
- Define policies and guidelines that guide the acquisition and development of software systems to ensure consistent data definitions, uniform data access, and elimination of vendor lock-in.
- Promote the use of data standards and data architectures, which will facilitate consistent usage, implementation, and form the basis of efficient and robust data exchange.
- Maintain an active sustainment activity to assist internal users in applying data architecture and data management tools and techniques to their daily work, participate in development, deployment, and system integration efforts to ensure compliance, and undertake continuous improvement through understanding project and user needs.
- Enable seamless, regular, and robust data sharing between people and systems through the application of NIAM products, capabilities, and services.
- Continuously evolve IT capabilities that provide advanced data processing, management, and utilization, which enables NASA, and the public, to benefit from and efficiently support increasingly diverse types of data, volumes of data, analysis of data, and storage of data.
- Multiple meetings with stakeholders and potential partners to define the problem and design solutions for solving the problem (year 1)
- Release a Reference Architecture description document that defines agency Information Architecture. (year 1)
- Demonstrate a science or engineering integration that has been enabled by application of the agency Information Architecture. (year 1)
- Develop pilot projects to demonstrate the use of the Agency Information Architecture, including Big Data, Semantic Search, and Mobility. (1 year)
- Develop a core set of uniform contract language to guide the acquisition of data products across the agency. (year 2)
- Define foundational data management principles, which serve as the directive for development of revamped agency policy. (year 2)
- Publish a first set of core data standards that serve as the base for a normalized set of data standards for uniform cross-agency use. (year 2)
- Coordinate with OCIO IT Security to develop and publish guidelines for data security architecture. (year 2)
- Develop Big Data strategy for the agency working with science and mission directorates. (year 2)
In June 2013, the President announced a new Climate Action Plan, which features a series of actions to address the impacts of climate change, cut carbon emissions, and foster international efforts to address climate issues. The Climate Data Initiative builds on the success of the Administration’s ongoing efforts to unleash the power of open government data. The White House tapped NASA to lead the effort to work closely with other federal agencies to identify, collect, and curate federal data relating to climate. Working with the White House, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) the General Services Agency (GSA), and other federal agencies, NASA led the effort to design and develop a public-facing website, part of the existing Data.gov site, where users can find data related to climate change that can help inform and prepare America’s communities, businesses, and citizens. In the first phase, users will be able to find data and resources related to coastal flooding, sea level rise, and their impacts. In follow on iterations of the website, content will be provided so that users are able to find additional data and tools relevant to other important climate-related impacts, including risks to human health, the food supply, and energy infrastructure. NASA curated 80+ datasets for the initial phase and release of this portal.
- Multiple meetings with stakeholders and potential partners to define the problem and design solutions for solving the problem (year 1)
- Develop and launch a NASA and NOAA Innovation Challenge on Coastal Vulnerabilities and Preparedness as one of four climate-related challenges in the 2014 International Space Apps Challenge. (year 1)
- Develop and launch open innovation challenges and public workshops using climate data in the NASA Earth Exchange (openNEX). (year 1)
- Design and implement a climate-focused website on the GSA data.gov site, called climate.data.gov. (year 1)
- Gather and curate data, models, and tools to support the Climate Action Plan.
- Foster insights gathered from data to help communities and businesses better understand and manage the risks associated with climate change. (year 2)
- Transform data about climate collected by satellites and scientific equipment into easy-to-use information and tools for the public, academia, and industry.
- Release New Infrastructure and Geographic Map Data Relevant to Climate-Preparedness. (year 2)
- Continuously locate and publish new climate data sets. (year 2)
- Provide additional climate community themes for data collection within the climate.data.gov website. (year 2)
For more information about the White House Climate Action Plan, visit http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/03/19/fact-sheet-president-s-climate-data-initiative-empowering-america-s-comm
The Asteroid Grand Challenge is to “find all asteroid threats to human populations and know what to do about them.” Grand Challenges are ambitious, but achievable, goals that harness science, technology, and innovation to solve important national or global problems and that have the potential to capture the public’s imagination. They serve as a “North Star” for high-impact, multi-disciplinary collaborations and public-private partnerships in areas where the Government cannot likely achieve the outcome alone. A Grand Challenge is not a single, “big” prize competition; it is broader in scope than a single challenge conducted as a crowdsourcing activity or prize competition. Grand Challenges will consist of both NASA organized and non-NASA organized activities, potentially including a number of challenges, to make progress toward the goal.
NASA is committed to leading the Asteroid Grand Challenge by coordinating discussions among the many possible contributors to co-create a collective implementation plan. Within the United States, a number of organizations have been hard at work on this problem for years, including universities and space institutions, amateur astronomers, the Planetary Society, and other Government Agencies. Dialogue among members of the Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space with specific international space agencies representatives, including NASA, has resulted in the adoption of recommendations to create an International Asteroid Warning Network (IAWN) and the Space Mission Planning Advisory Group (SMPAG). However, NASA intends to significantly expand the involvement of many more organizations and individuals helping with search for potentially hazardous asteroids through the Asteroid Grand Challenge.
The Asteroid Grand Challenge provides NASA an opportunity to pull together many tools from our open innovation toolkit and apply them in a coordinated and coherent way to a single problem. We will be using Public-Private Partnerships, Incentive Prizes, Crowdsourcing, and Citizen Science as stand alone methods, as well as in combination, to expand the level of participation in planetary defense. Rather than relying solely upon a small group of dedicated experts, we seek to empower a broad cross-section of the general public to aid in addressing this threat. The challenge of planetary defense is technically difficult and requires that we deconstruct the problem in such a way that we can engage the public without alarming them, while enabling pieces of the problem to be addressed by individuals and organizations not specifically trained for asteroid tracking and characterization. We also recognize that because this problem is technically difficult, assistance could come in the form of developing better communication tools or story telling about hazardous asteroids.
Given the grand nature of this problem and the public attention it has already garnered, we have an added responsibility to ensure that all our engagement activities are delivering meaningful impact to the scientific and technical mission or planetary defense. We see this coordinated approach of applying our open innovation tools to a real mission problem as a way to not only engage new partners in the work, but show the traditional scientific establishment that these methods can help them accomplish their mission more quickly and potentially more effectively.
- Multiple meetings with stakeholders and potential partners to define the problem and design solutions for solving the problem (year 1)
- Partnership development and at least two partnership agreements signed (year 1)
- Co-create an implementation plan (year 1)
- Develop a flexible organizational structure to support this type of global engagement (year 2)
- Third party assessment of the effectiveness of the AGC development process (year 2)
Complete at least two successful projects utilizing a single or combined open innovation method addressing the AGC goals (year 2)
Collaborative Code Repository
To continue, encourage, and highlight NASA open source activities, NASA continues to maintain a public repository on a popular web-based social code and revision control application. Integrated into our team’s core mission, we are actively reaching out to software projects within NASA and encouraging them to make use of this and similar resources for publishing open source. We hope that highly visible and coordinated hosting of activities will stimulate development and awareness and make the platform the default repository for new open source software releases.
To move this platform forward, the agency is in the process of setting up a pilot to test an agency-wide enterprise collaborative software repository. This system interfaces with its hosted repositories to provide developers and activity managers with tools for team management and collaboration, activity wikis, integrated issue tracking, milestone definitions, advanced searching, code review, and branch analysis. The tool also extends social interaction for the developers through activity streams, developer profiles and following, code exploration, network graphs, and a fork queue to merge changes on the web. This tool will promote developer collaboration, code reuse, knowledge capture, and transparency. Importantly, due to the nature of this source control system, users will be able to seamlessly move private efforts to public repositories if and when they clear the software release process, including all development history.
Open Source can bring numerous benefits to NASA software efforts, including increased software quality, reduced development costs, faster development cycles, and reduced barriers to public-private collaboration through new opportunities to commercialize NASA technology. This inherently transparent, participatory, and collaborative approach is revolutionizing the way software is created, improved, and used. Although open source release has already provided numerous benefits to NASA, the full benefits of open source can only be realized if NASA is able to establish the processes, policies, and culture needed to encourage and support open source development. This will require expanding open source activities beyond releasing software only after completion and finding new ways to support two-way collaboration with an open development community throughout the entire software lifecycle. NASA Open Source initiatives give the public direct and ongoing access to NASA technology. NASA’s adoption of open source helps lower the barrier to entry into space by enabling private industry to better make use of NASA investments.
NASA will continue to make new software available through the portal for NASA open source software, code.nasa.gov. It will also work to establish the processes, policies, and corporate culture to favor open source development. NASA launched its code directory code.nasa.gov in January 2012 as continues to publish open source projects through this portal. The website will continue to unify and expand NASA’s open source activities, serving to surface existing activities, provide a forum for discussing efforts and processes, and guide internal and external groups in open development, release, and contribution.
With the initial release of code.nasa.gov, the agency focused on providing a home for the current state of open source, including guidance on how to engage the open source process, points of contact, and a directory of existing activities. In this way, NASA hopes to lower the barriers to building open technology in partnership with the public. Even though this was a good first step, the next version of code.nasa.gov will be even more dynamic and collaborative and will concentrate on providing a robust forum for ongoing discussion of open source concepts, policies, and activities at the agency. The ultimate goals include creating an awareness of open source development efforts at the agency, creating a highly visible community hub that will infuse open concepts into the formulation stages of new hardware and software efforts, and help existing activities transition to open modes of development and operation – a “default open” agency.
The open data movement at NASA is multifaceted, including further release of data sets, publishing data sets to Data.gov, and developing strategies to process large data sets. Integral to the open data effort and to meet the OMB M-13-13, the agency will be building a platform on data.nasa.gov, which enables data set publication to the federal government in an automated fashion whereby the agency meets this mandate by exposing a public hook at http://www.nasa.gov/data. NASA will continue to develop its authoritative data portal for NASA data with data.nasa.gov and leverage data.gov to enable users to locate relevant high quality data and easy to use tools and applications. The agency will also continue to encourage users to utilize raw datasets to perform analysis, experiments, and learning as well as to utilize the efforts of external developer communities who create applications relevant to NASA’s mission; and promote transparency, collaboration, and citizen engagement. NASA encourages use of our data through our open challenge programs (e.g.: Climate Data Flagship Initiative and International SpaceApps Challenge). NASA is currently developing a standard process to identify additional data assets through the NIAM Flagship Initiative.
NASA’s commitment to open data expands the audience for the vast body of knowledge captured in nearly 100 years of U.S. aeronautics and space data. Developers, technologists, entrepreneurs, citizen scientists and many others can contribute directly to the exploration of space and Earth by helping to create new ways of looking at this data. Additionally, the release of administrative and procedural information from within NASA enables researchers and analysts to understand more about the inner workings of NASA as well as allow our own employees to better understand other functions of our agency.
NASA is adding capabilities to the site in the future to build a rich mechanism for data-customer engagement. NASA is establishing an agency-wide Data Management team to ensure that new data sets adhere to information architecture standards, including open format, metadata, and APIs. The agency continues to encourage, and will soon require, missions to publish non-sensitive data as well as to report publication progress by updating the data set inventory periodically hence complying with requirements of the Open Data Policy.
NASA’s web environment is well known for providing an unparalleled wealth of information to the public and is critical in fulfilling the agency’s statutory requirement to disseminate information about its programs to the widest extent practicable. To external audiences, NASA’s Web capabilities provide direct access to agency programs and information, allowing them to participate in the excitement of research and exploration. Internally, NASA personnel use web sites and services to support NASA’s core business, scientific, research, and computational activities.
The first NASA web sites appeared in the early 1990s, and the agency’s primary site, NASA.gov, has evolved since then through four major iterations. The most recent version of the public website represented a big step for the agency in becoming more collaborative, participatory and transparent through the adoption of a variety of social features. Today, the main portal, NASA.gov, is the initial touch point for millions of people around the world regarding the agency’s space exploration and aeronautics mission and attracts over 180,000 visits per day. The NASA portal alone generated more than 66,000,000 visits in 2013. NASA.gov also currently serves as a hub for NASA’s social media presence, which includes 480 accounts across social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Foursquare, Google+, Instagram, YouTube, UStream, and Slideshare.
NASA has taken the view that social media is a medium where the message is what matters. Instead of a formal policy, NASA applies existing agency rules, guidelines, and policies employees are already familiar with (and are all public):
NASA.gov is only one part of NASA’s entire website infrastructure. The current infrastructure provides development and hosting of approximately 140 internal and external web applications and websites, which are developed using various technology stacks. Our external audience includes the interested public, media, students, and educators, researchers, industry and government partners. As NASA continues to adapt to today’s complex, interlinked and fast-changing environment, NASA recognizes that effectively and efficiently creating, researching, managing, preserving, protecting, and disseminating the information required to achieve the objectives of research and space exploration, as well as other NASA missions, is vital to its continued mission success.
NASA recently submitted its registration to the Office of Special Counsel’s 2302(c) Certification Program. NASA has targeted December 1, 2014 for completion of requirements for the 2302(c) certification. NASA already provides posted and e-mailed notices to employees regarding their rights and available remedies under relevant whistleblower laws. NASA also maintains a Whistleblower Protection Ombudsman site. NASA is assessing what, if any, changes to current employee and supervisor training should be made in order to complete its certification requirements.
NASA’s Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs (OLIA) manages all Congressional requests for information for NASA. Based on the request, staff within the office use a collaborative approach in drafting responses. A cross-cutting team involving multiple levels and organizations spread across the entire agency reviews these responses, as appropriate. Further information can be found and/or requested on the OLIA website.
Freedom of Information Act Requests
NASA’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) program is designed to provide access to agency documents through a citizen-centered service using a results-oriented FOIA program. This program provides a cohesive and effective knowledge-sharing environment while safeguarding sensitive information in accordance with federal laws and regulations. The NASA FOIA program is committed to providing the public with excellent customer service as well as access to disclosable agency documents in accordance with all appropriate laws and regulations. NASA has completely revised its FOIA regulations and is anticipating final publication by mid-June 2014. Further information can be found at the NASA FOIA homepage or within the Electronic FOIA Library.
NASA places a high priority on protecting all sensitive unclassified information (SBU) created, collected, maintained and managed by or on behalf of NASA. Among the various categories of SBU, privacy information, under the various labels of information in identifiable form (IIF), personally identifiable information (PII) and information subject to the Privacy Act of 1974 (Privacy Act Record), are among the most sensitive, requiring multiple levels of protection and compliance with federal standards and laws.
NASA has adopted classification policies and issued regulations that comply with the requirements of federal security classification reform. Specifically, NASA Procedural Requirements (NPR) 1600.2, “NASA Classified National Security Information,” establishes Agency procedures for the proper implementation and management of a uniform system for classifying, accounting, safeguarding, and declassifying national security information generated by or in the possession of NASA.
In an audit report released by the NASA Office of the Inspector General in September 2013, the Agency reported declassifying 938 pages of information as a result of mandatory declassification reviews, 40,872 pages by automatic declassification, and 200 pages as a result of systematic declassification reviews. Mandatory declassification review means the review for declassification of classified information in response to a request for declassification that meets the requirements under section 3.5 of the Order. Automatic declassification means the declassification of information based solely upon the occurrence of a specific date or event as determined by the OCA or the expiration of a maximum timeframe for duration of classification established under the Order. Systematic declassification review means the review for declassification of classified information contained in records that have been determined by the Archivist (National Archives and Records Administration) to have permanent historical value in accordance with Title 44, U.S. Code.
NASA’s homepage serves as the primary point of public interaction. Everything from live webcasts, Google+ hangouts, conference reports, Astronomy Picture of the Day, activity calendars, data curated from NASA missions, and more can be found through this public-facing site. NASA Connect, found on the homepage, serves as a one-stop shop for connecting with the agency through social media. More information can also be found in the NASA Web Environment section of this plan.
Information, in the form of records, is a critical resource necessary to ensure the success of the Space program and preserve its history. NASA manages these records as information resources to document the agency’s business – the organizations, policies, decisions, achievements, and operations. Records can take the form of paper, audio/visual, micrographics, and electronic media.
The objectives of NASA Records Management are to:
- Make current and inactive records available for employee use,
- Preserve significant records for future engineers and our Nation’s history, and
- Legally dispose of all others.
NASA has always and will continue to proactively release its non-sensitive scientific data for the benefit of general public. This not only increases the level of transparency and accountability, but also improves the timely sharing of the data for the better science and technology. One of the examples of NASA’s commitment to proactively disclose information is the agency’s Scientific and Technical Information (STI) Program. The STI Program is a critical component in the worldwide activity of scientific and technical aerospace research and development. Collected from U.S. and international sources, STI is organized according to content before being added to the NTRS Registered, which is a world-class collection of STI that includes over 4 million bibliographic records and a growing number of full-text documents.
This program is essential to avoid duplication of research by sharing information and to ensure that the U.S. maintains its preeminence in aerospace-related industries and education. Under this Program, NASA acquires, processes and disseminates non-sensitive information including technical reports, journal articles, preprints, technical presentations, books, historical special publications, and publishes this information online, in paper, multimedia, and electronic form. For more information about STI publications, visit: http://www.sti.nasa.gov.
On May 23, 2012, the White House announced a Digital Government Strategy aimed at delivering improved digital services to the American people. This strategy calls for all federal agencies to identify ways to leverage innovative technologies lower cost while delivering quality services, enable secured access to agency information and improve customer experience. Since the NASA digital strategy website’s initial implementation in 2012, the current version of the site is easier to navigate, provides an increasingly higher level of relevant information and documents the digital services governance framework and the digital strategy plan in great detail. Additionally, this site provides links to other websites including the Open Data website and other major initiatives websites. Since the most sought after information is science and exploration data, the NASA OCIO is diligently working with Programs and Projects on releasing their non-sensitive datasets to the public as a high priority.
NASA’s digital strategy website is http://www.nasa.gov/digitalstrategy.
For over fifty years, NASA has been a front-runner in reaching the public with its missions. From the first steps taken on extraterrestrial soil, to building an orbiting laboratory that supports six humans off the planet, to the landing of the Mars Science Laboratory, and most recently Kepler’s Planet Bonanza, NASA has given the humanity a new celestial point of view. This plan sets in place a strategy that not only maintains current efforts, but also pushes the boundaries into what has yet to be accomplished. NASA continues to reveal data about the worlds around us, and each discovery is an achievement directly attributable to the perseverance and ingenuity of the collaborative framework interwoven in the fibers of NASA culture.
In last four years, NASA has taken many actions and has made significant progress in support of the Open Government initiative. Version 2.0 of the agency’s Open Government plan released back in April 2012, provided a strong multi-dimensional framework consisting of technology, policy and culture, and opened several doors to creating platforms for transparency, participation and collaboration to better support the agency’s mission in pioneering the future. Given that NASA sets high goals, we recognize that we have much work to do to achieve excellence in all the endeavors we undertake.
The Open Government team, led by the OCIO, will work together with teams across NASA to ensure that this plan is a living document that is regularly updated and revised. The Open Government team will ensure the progress of all Open Government initiatives are monitored and published periodically.
NASA is committed to the Open Government Initiative. As we move forward, the revised Plan is an opportunity to close out some ongoing initiatives, continue the success of remaining ongoing initiatives and introduce three new flagship initiatives which will take NASA’s work in this area to the next level. As in the case of our last plan, the initiatives and activities in this plan meet and, in many cases, exceed the requirements of the Open Government Directive. To learn more about the Open Government program, please visit and interact with us at http://open.nasa.gov.