Restore NASA's Purpose
New leadership, more authority, and a bold new direction
Give NASA a plan and a budget and get our of its way
NASA suffers from three main problems - a lack of direction and funding, a lack of accountability, and waste. The first part in turning that culture around is to ensure that it has a purpose that its employees can believe in and will work to fulfill.
Although vague phrases like "Missions to Mars" are often used, the simple fact is that there is no legitimate plan to go to Mars or even to return to the moon. The space program is fractured, with multiple capsules being constructured by multiple companies and no real long term plan.
NASA's purpose should be simple - a return to the moon and a manned mission to Mars. The technical steps for this goal must be up to the NASA leadership and not Congress. However, Congress must commit to reasonable funding goals, adhere to those goals, and then demand reasonable progress.
To accomplish this, a NASA leader must be appointed that understands the subject of space flight and is willing to take on the responsibility of shepharding the program. He must then be given the authority to change the space program to meet the challenges ahead. This includes hiring based upon talent and not gender or race, and ending bad contracts and programs.
Once the President has appointed the NASA leader, Congress must ensure a minimum amount of funds per year and then get out of the way. NASA leadership must be able to take those funds and save portions for years if necessary in preparation of certain phases of design, testing, and deployment, and it must be able to conduct its business where and how it sees fit.
In short, Congress and NASA come to an agreement on how much is allocated per year and what they expect in terms of progress. NASA then goes away and does the work without Congress being involved in the specifics of the programs.