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entitled 'NASA Workforce: Responses to Follow-up Questions regarding 
the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Use of Term 
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GAO-356R: 

United States Government Accountability Office: 
Washington, DC 20548: 

February 25, 2009: 

The Honorable John D. Rockefeller IV:
Chairman:
Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation: 
United States Senate: 

The Honorable Barbara Boxer:
United States Senate: 

The Honorable Bill Nelson:
United States Senate: 

Subject: NASA Workforce: Responses to Follow-up Questions regarding the 
National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Use of Term 
Appointments: 

GAO recently completed an engagement regarding the use of term 
appointments by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration 
(NASA) for civil servant positions.[Footnote 1] Congress expanded 
NASA's ability to use term appointments to fill civil service positions 
in 2004 through the passage of the NASA Flexibility Act of 2004 (Pub. 
L. No. 108-201). NASA sought this flexibility to ensure that it could 
hire and retain the workforce it desired. In October 2008, we briefed 
your committee on the results of our review, and were asked to respond 
to additional questions several members on your committee had regarding 
NASA's use of term appointments. Based on our previous and recently 
completed work and knowledge of the subject areas, our responses 
follow: 

1. What policies and procedures are in place to protect the 
independence of scientists and engineers hired under term appointment 
authority? 

NASA does not have any policies designed specifically to protect the 
independence of term-appointed scientists and engineers; however, 
federal whistleblower laws and NASA policies that protect the 
independence of career/career-conditional appointees also apply to term 
appointees. NASA stated that it makes no distinction between term and 
career/career-conditional appointees in any policies regarding employee 
working conditions. Furthermore, term appointees are not 
distinguishable from career/career-conditional employees in any manner 
apparent to the workforce (for example, through different employee 
badges). Additionally, membership in unions working on behalf of NASA's 
workforce is open to NASA employees regardless of appointment status. 
NASA employees who believe they have been treated unfairly or who 
believe the independence of their research has been compromised have 
full access to the NASA Ombuds Program and the NASA Office of Inspector 
General to lodge complaints or air grievances, again, regardless of 
whether they are term or career/career-conditional appointees.[Footnote 
2] 

NASA Information Dissemination Policies: 

NASA has taken a number of steps to mitigate the risk that interference 
with the dissemination of information and research will be used by the 
agency to curtail the independence of term-appointed scientists and 
engineers. NASA has policies in place regarding the dissemination of 
"public information" which applies to all NASA employees regardless of 
appointment status.[Footnote 3] 

Title 14, Part 1213 of the Code of Federal Regulations-Release of 
Information to News and Information Media, lays out NASA's policies 
regarding the release of public information. 

Section 102 of 14 C.F.R. Part 1213 states: 

(a) NASA, a scientific and technical Agency, is committed to a culture 
of openness with the media and public that values the free exchange of 
ideas, data, and information as part of scientific and technical 
inquiry. Scientific and technical information from or about Agency 
programs and projects will be accurate and unfiltered. 

(b) Consistent with NASA statutory responsibility, NASA will "provide 
for the widest practicable and appropriate dissemination of information 
concerning its activities and the results thereof." Release of public 
information concerning NASA activities and the results of NASA 
activities will be made in a timely, equitable, accurate, and complete 
manner. 

(c) To ensure timely release of information, NASA will endeavor to 
ensure cooperation and coordination among the Agency's scientific, 
engineering, and public affairs communities. 

(d) In keeping with the desire for a culture of openness, NASA 
employees may, consistent with this policy, speak to the press and the 
public about their work. 

(e) This policy does not authorize or require disclosure of information 
that is exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act (5 
U.S.C. § 552) or otherwise restricted by statute, regulation, Executive 
Order, or other Executive Branch policy or NASA policy (e.g., Office of 
Management and Budget (OMB) Circulars, NASA Policy Directives). 
Examples of information not releasable under this policy include, 
without limitation, information that is, or is marked as, classified 
information, procurement sensitive information, information subject to 
the Privacy Act, other sensitive but unclassified information, and 
information subject to privilege, such as pre-decisional information or 
attorney-client communications.[Footnote 4] 

According to a frequently asked questions guide provided to agency 
employees, NASA policy "guarantees that NASA scientists may communicate 
their conclusions to the media, but requires that they draw a 
distinction between professional conclusions and personal views that 
may go beyond the scope of their specific technical work, or beyond the 
purview of the agency." 

These policies were distributed throughout the agency, posted on the 
agency's web site, and affirmed in an email message from NASA's 
Administrator on March 30, 2006. 

NASA also has policies in place regarding what it terms scientific and 
technical information (STI).[Footnote 5] These policies, NASA Policy 
Directive (NPD) 2200.1A and NASA Procedural Requirements (NPR) 2200.2B 
define the process by which this material should be managed and 
disseminated. NPD 2200.1A describes the management of STI and the role 
of the Chief Information Officer in managing this information. NPR 
2200.2B provides details on the requirements for documentation, 
approval, and dissemination of STI. 

These policies do not directly address the issue of interference in the 
work of scientists and engineers except in the broadest terms. Section 
P.1 (Purpose) of NPR 2200.2B states: 

In accordance with the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958, as 
amended, NASA shall "provide for the widest practicable and appropriate 
dissemination of information concerning its activities and the results 
thereof." Unless a determination is made that public dissemination of 
information must be prohibited or restricted, NASA information is made 
available to the public.[Footnote 6] 

Previous work by GAO found NASA's policies regarding the dissemination 
of research results to be generally clear.[Footnote 7] Furthermore, in 
response to recommendations made by GAO in the report, NASA has 
undertaken formal training for managers, researchers, and public 
affairs staff to further clarify procedures and update employees on 
NASA policies related to dissemination of research and NASA's 
communications policy. In addition, the agency also implemented a 
second GAO recommendation by reviewing its March 2006 communications 
policy to ensure that it clearly identifies a process for appealing 
decisions regarding dissemination of research. 

In response to a complaint regarding NASA's review, approval, and 
release of STI at Johnson Space Center, NASA's Office of Inspector 
General undertook an audit of the review processes at Johnson Space 
Center, Goddard Space Flight Center, Langley Research Center, and 
Marshall Space Flight Center. The Inspector General's report was 
released June 2, 2008, and concluded that there was, "no evidence… that 
the STI review process was used as a means to suppress scientific 
research at Goddard, Johnson, Langley, and Marshall."[Footnote 8] The 
audit report also noted specifically that "the roles and 
responsibilities for the review, approval, and release of NASA STI were 
adequately defined and documented in NASA's guidance." However, at the 
four Centers audited, the guidance was not always implemented 
effectively. The improper implementation of the guidance found by the 
NASA Inspector General related to NPR 2200.2B, Requirements for 
Documentation, Approval, and Dissemination of NASA Scientific and 
Technical Information. The Inspector General reported that out of the 
4,702 STI items it investigated, 413 (8.8 percent) were released 
without proper review, including 19 that were released after rejection 
and 31 that were released without ever being submitted for review. 
[Footnote 9] 

2. What are the rates of conversion from term to career or career- 
conditional appointments? 

In September 2008, GAO reported that since the passage of the NASA 
Flexibility Act of 2004, NASA has increased both the use of term 
appointments and the rate at which term appointments are converted to 
career/career-conditional appointments. To date, two-thirds (66 
percent) of all term appointments made across NASA in fiscal year 2005 
have been converted to career/career-conditional appointments. Fourteen 
percent of term appointees hired in fiscal year 2005 remain in their 
initial appointment, 15 percent have left NASA, and 5 percent were re-
hired under a new term appointment (fig. 1). Of the 539 term 
appointments made agencywide in 2006, 62 percent have been converted to 
career/career-conditional appointments to date; of those made in 2007 
and 2008, 14 percent and 2 percent have been converted respectively. 
Lower conversion rates in later years are likely due to the fact 
individuals hired in these years are at the beginning of their 
appointments. 

Figure 1: Outcomes of NASA Term Appointments 2005 Hires: 

[Refer to PDF for image] 

Outcomes of NASA Term Appointments 2005 Hires: 
Converted to permanent: 66%; 
Left agency: 15% (Voluntary loss: 8%; Removal or termination: 7%; 
Death: 0%); 
Still employed under original term appointment: 14%; 
Rehired as term: 5%. 

Total term hires in FY 2005: 503. 

Source: NASA. 

[End of figure] 

NASA's centers vary in size and the degree to which they use term 
appointments. There is also variety in the conversion rates across 
centers. The conversion rate to date of term appointees hired in fiscal 
year 2005 ranges from 27 percent (6 of 22) at Glenn Research Center to 
90 percent (162 of 180) at Johnson Space Center. Tables 1 through 4 
depict the number and percentage (rounded to the nearest whole percent) 
of term appointments converted to career/career-conditional 
appointments to date in each fiscal year from 2005 through 2009, at 
NASA as a whole and at each center. The tables follow those hired in 
fiscal years 2005 through 2008. 

The NASA Flexibility Act of 2004 gave NASA the authority to make term 
appointments with a maximum length of 6 years. However, due to the 
differing durations of term appointments and the fact that only 4 years 
have elapsed since the NASA Flexibility Act was enacted, it is 
difficult to get a complete outlook on the conversion trends. For many 
term appointees hired since 2005, decisions regarding conversion, re- 
appointment to a new term, or separation will only now be beginning to 
occur and some decisions will not occur for a number of years yet. 
Agencywide, 14 percent of term appointees hired in 2005 remain in their 
original appointment. For those hired after 2005, that percent 
increases dramatically. 

Table 1: Conversion of Fiscal Year 2005 NASA Term Appointees by Center. 

Center[A]: ARC; 
Total hired in fiscal year 2005: 10; 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2005: 0 (0%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2006: 1 (10%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2007: 3 (30%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2008: 1 (10%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, Year to date 
2009: 0 (0%); 
Converted to date: 5 (50%); 
Remaining in original appointment: 1 (10%); 

Center[A]: DFRC; 
Total hired in fiscal year 2005: 13; 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2005: 0 (0%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2006: 0 (0%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2007: 7 (54%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2008: 2 (15%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, Year to date 
2009: 0 (0%); 
Converted to date: 9 (69%); 
Remaining in original appointment: 1 (8%); 

Center[A]: GRC; 
Total hired in fiscal year 2005: 22; 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2005: 0 (0%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2006: 2 (9%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2007: 0 (0%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2008: 3 (14%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, Year to date 
2009: 1 (5%); 
Converted to date: 6 (27%); 
Remaining in original appointment: 14 (64%); 

Center[A]: GSFC; 
Total hired in fiscal year 2005: 66; 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2005: 0 (0%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2006: 7 (11%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2007: 15 (23%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2008: 17 (17%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, Year to date 
2009: 2 (3%); 
Converted to date: 35 (53%); 
Remaining in original appointment: 18 (27%); 

Center[A]: JSC; 
Total hired in fiscal year 2005: 180; 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2005: 0 (0%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2006: 28 (16%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2007: 121 (67%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2008: 12 (7%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, Year to date 
2009: 1 (1%); 
Converted to date: 162 (90%); 
Remaining in original appointment: 3 (2%); 

Center[A]: KSC; 
Total hired in fiscal year 2005: 130; 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2005: 0 (0%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2006: 31 (24%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2007: 46 (35%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2008: 9 (7%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, Year to date 
2009: 0 (0%); 
Converted to date: 86 (66%); 
Remaining in original appointment: 13 (10%); 

Center[A]: LaRC; 
Total hired in fiscal year 2005: 24; 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2005: 4 (17%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2006: 1 (4%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2007: 0 (0%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2008: 3 (13%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, Year to date 
2009: 0 (0%); 
Converted to date: 8 (33%); 
Remaining in original appointment: 4 (17%); 

Center[A]: MSFC; 
Total hired in fiscal year 2005: 27; 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2005: 0 (0%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2006: 1 (4%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2007: 1 (4%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2008: 6 (22%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, Year to date 
2009: 0 (0%); 
Converted to date: 8 (30%); 
Remaining in original appointment: 11 (41%); 

Center[A]: SSC; 
Total hired in fiscal year 2005: 6; 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2005: 0 (0%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2006: 3 (50%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2007: 0 (0%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2008: 0 (0%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, Year to date 
2009: 0 (0%); 
Converted to date: 3 (50%); 
Remaining in original appointment: 0 (0%); 

Center[A]: HQ; 
Total hired in fiscal year 2005: 24; 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2005: 2 (8%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2006: 2 (8%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2007: 4 (17%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2008: 1 (4%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, Year to date 
2009: 0 (0%); 
Converted to date: 9 (38%); 
Remaining in original appointment: 4 (17%); 

Center[A]: Totals; 
Total hired in fiscal year 2005: 502; 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2005: 6 (1%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2006: 76 (15%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2007: 197 (39%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2008: 48 (10%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, Year to date 
2009: 4 (1%); 
Converted to date: 331 (66%); 
Remaining in original appointment: 69 (14%). 

[A] Center abbreviations above include: Ames Research Center (ARC), 
Dryden Flight Research Center (DFRC), Glenn Research Center (GRC), 
Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), Johnson Space Center (JSC), Kennedy 
Space Center (KSC), Langley Research Center (LaRC), Marshall Space 
Flight Center (MSFC), Stennis Space Center (SSC), and Headquarters. 

[End of table] 

Table 2: Conversion of Fiscal Year 2006 NASA Term Appointees by Center. 

Center[A]: ARC; 
Total hired in fiscal year 2006: 36; 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2006: 0 (0%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2007: 3 (8%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2008: 1 (3%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, Year to date 
2009: 7 (19%); 
Converted to date: 11 (31%); 
Remaining in original appointment: 201 (56%); 

Center[A]: DFRC; 
Total hired in fiscal year 2006: 31; 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2006: 0 (0%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2007: 0 (0%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2008: 25 (81%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, Year to date 
2009: 0 (0%); 
Converted to date: 25 (81%); 
Remaining in original appointment: 3 (10%); 

Center[A]: GRC; 
Total hired in fiscal year 2006: 17; 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2006: 0 (0%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2007: 2 (12%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2008: 0 (0%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, Year to date 
2009: 0 (0%); 
Converted to date: 2 (12%); 
Remaining in original appointment: 15 (88%); 

Center[A]: GSFC; 
Total hired in fiscal year 2006: 19; 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2006: 0 (0%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2007: 1 (5%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2008: 8 (42%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, Year to date 
2009: 2 (11%); 
Converted to date: 11 (58%); 
Remaining in original appointment: 6 (32%); 

Center[A]: JSC; 
Total hired in fiscal year 2006: 205; 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2006: 18 (9%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2007: 6 (3%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2008: 144 (7%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, Year to date 
2009: 9 (4%); 
Converted to date: 177 (86%); 
Remaining in original appointment: 24 (12%); 

Center[A]: KSC; 
Total hired in fiscal year 2006: 116; 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2006: 3 (3%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2007: 6 (5%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2008: 42 (36%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, Year to date 
2009: 15 (13%); 
Converted to date: 66 (57%); 
Remaining in original appointment: 25 (22%); 

Center[A]: LaRC; 
Total hired in fiscal year 2006: 45; 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2006: 0 (0%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2007: 1 (2%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2008: 6 (13%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, Year to date 
2009: 4 (9%); 
Converted to date: 11 (24%); 
Remaining in original appointment: 29 (64%); 

Center[A]: MSFC; 
Total hired in fiscal year 2006: 54; 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2006: 0 (0%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2007: 5 (9%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2008: 17 (31%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, Year to date 
2009: 0 (0%); 
Converted to date: 22 (41%); 
Remaining in original appointment: 26 (48%); 

Center[A]: SSC; 
Total hired in fiscal year 2006: 7; 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2006: 1 (14%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2007: 1 (14%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2008: 2 (29%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, Year to date 
2009: 0 (0%); 
Converted to date: 4 (57%); 
Remaining in original appointment: 2 (29%); 

Center[A]: HQ; 
Total hired in fiscal year 2006: 9; 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2006: 0 (0%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2007: 1 (11%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2008: 4 (44%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, Year to date 
2009: 0 (0%); 
Converted to date: 5 (56%); 
Remaining in original appointment: 1 (11%); 

Center[A]: Totals; 
Total hired in fiscal year 2006: 539; 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2006: 22 (4%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2007: 26 (5%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2008: 249 (46%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, Year to date 
2009: 37 (7%); 
Converted to date: 334 (62%); 
Remaining in original appointment: 151 (28%). 

[A] Center abbreviations above include: Ames Research Center (ARC), 
Dryden Flight Research Center (DFRC), Glenn Research Center (GRC), 
Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), Johnson Space Center (JSC), Kennedy 
Space Center (KSC), Langley Research Center (LaRC), Marshall Space 
Flight Center (MSFC), Stennis Space Center (SSC), and Headquarters 
(HQ). 

[End of table] 

Table 3: Conversion of Fiscal Year 2007 NASA Term Appointees by Center. 

Center[A]: ARC; 
Total hired in fiscal year 2007: 77; 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2007: 1 (1%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2008: 2 (3%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, Year to date 
2009: 0 (0%); 
Converted to date: 3 (4%); 
Remaining in original appointment: 71 (92%); 

Center[A]: DFRC; 
Total hired in fiscal year 2007: 65; 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2007: 0 (0%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2008: 4 (6%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, Year to date 
2009: 2 (3%); 
Converted to date: 6 (9%); 
Remaining in original appointment: 52 (80%); 

Center[A]: GRC; 
Total hired in fiscal year 2007: 32; 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2007: 2 (6%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2008: 1 (3%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, Year to date 
2009: 2 (6%); 
Converted to date: 5 (16%); 
Remaining in original appointment: 23 (72%); 

Center[A]: GSFC; 
Total hired in fiscal year 2007: 23; 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2007: 1 (4%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2008: 1 (4%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, Year to date 
2009: 1 (4%); 
Converted to date: 3 (13%); 
Remaining in original appointment: 19 (83%); 

Center[A]: JSC; 
Total hired in fiscal year 2007: 113; 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2007: 5 (4%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2008: 2 (2%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, Year to date 
2009: 10 (9%); 
Converted to date: 17 (15%); 
Remaining in original appointment: 88 (78%); 

Center[A]: KSC; 
Total hired in fiscal year 2007: 149; 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2007: 2 (1%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2008: 9 (6%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, Year to date 
2009: 12 (8%); 
Converted to date: 23 (15%); 
Remaining in original appointment: 111 (74%); 

Center[A]: LaRC; 
Total hired in fiscal year 2007: 50; 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2007: 1 (2%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2008: 1 (2%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, Year to date 
2009: 1 (2%); 
Converted to date: 3 (6%); 
Remaining in original appointment: 47 (94%); 

Center[A]: MSFC; 
Total hired in fiscal year 2007: 90; 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2007: 3 (3%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2008: 20 (22%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, Year to date 
2009: 1 (1%); 
Converted to date: 24 (27%); 
Remaining in original appointment: 61 (68%); 

Center[A]: SSC; 
Total hired in fiscal year 2007: 3; 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2007: 0 (0%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2008: 0 (0%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, Year to date 
2009: 0 (0%); 
Converted to date: 0 (0%); 
Remaining in original appointment: 3 (100%); 

Center[A]: HQ; 
Total hired in fiscal year 2007: 5; 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2007: 1 (20%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2008: 2 (40%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, Year to date 
2009: 0 (0%); 
Converted to date: 3 (60%); 
Remaining in original appointment: 1 (20%); 

Center[A]: Totals; 
Total hired in fiscal year 2007: 607; 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2007: 16 (3%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2008: 42 (7%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, Year to date 
2009: 29 (5%); 
Converted to date: 87 (14%); 
Remaining in original appointment: 476 (78%). 

[A] Center abbreviations above include: Ames Research Center (ARC), 
Dryden Flight Research Center (DFRC), Glenn Research Center (GRC), 
Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), Johnson Space Center (JSC), Kennedy 
Space Center (KSC), Langley Research Center (LaRC), Marshall Space 
Flight Center (MSFC), Stennis Space Center (SSC), and Headquarters 
(HQ). 

[End of table] 

Table 4: Conversion of FY 2008 NASA Term Appointees by Center. 

Center[A]: ARC; 
Total hired in fiscal year 2008: 52; 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2008: 0 (0%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, Year to date 
2009: 0 (0%); 
Converted to date: 0 (0%); 
Remaining in original appointment: 50 (96%); 

Center[A]: DFRC; 
Total hired in fiscal year 2008: 26; 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2008: 0 (0%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, Year to date 
2009: 0 (0%); 
Converted to date: 0 (0%); 
Remaining in original appointment: 26 (100%); 

Center[A]: GRC; 
Total hired in fiscal year 2008: 13; 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2008: 0 (0%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, Year to date 
2009: 0 (0%); 
Converted to date: 0 (0%); 
Remaining in original appointment: 13 (100%); 

Center[A]: GSFC; 
Total hired in fiscal year 2008: 46; 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2008: 0 (0%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, Year to date 
2009: 1 (2%); 
Converted to date: 1 (2%); 
Remaining in original appointment: 44 (96%); 

Center[A]: JSC; 
Total hired in fiscal year 2008: 169; 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2008: 1 (1%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, Year to date 
2009: 0 (0%); 
Converted to date: 1 (1%); 
Remaining in original appointment: 166 (98%); 

Center[A]: KSC; 
Total hired in fiscal year 2008: 133; 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2008: 3 (2%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, Year to date 
2009: 1 (1%); 
Converted to date: 4 (3%); 
Remaining in original appointment: 126 (95%); 

Center[A]: LaRC; 
Total hired in fiscal year 2008: 48; 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2008: 0 (0%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, Year to date 
2009: 0 (0%); 
Converted to date: 0 (0%); 
Remaining in original appointment: 48 (100%); 

Center[A]: MSFC; 
Total hired in fiscal year 2008: 105; 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2008: 4 (4%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, Year to date 
2009: 2 (2%); 
Converted to date: 6 (6%); 
Remaining in original appointment: 95 (90%); 

Center[A]: SSC; 
Total hired in fiscal year 2008: 4; 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2008: 0 (0%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, Year to date 
2009: 0 (0%); 
Converted to date: 0 (0%); 
Remaining in original appointment: 4 (100%); 

Center[A]: HQ; 
Total hired in fiscal year 2008: 2; 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2008: 0 (0%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, Year to date 
2009: 0 (0%); 
Converted to date: 0 (0%); 
Remaining in original appointment: 12 (100%); 

Center[A]: Totals; 
Total hired in fiscal year 2008: 598; 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, 2008: 8 (1%); 
Converted to career/career-conditional by fiscal year, Year to date 
2009: 4 (1%); 
Converted to date: 12 (2%); 
Remaining in original appointment: 574 (96%). 

[A] Center abbreviations above include: Ames Research Center (ARC), 
Dryden Flight Research Center (DFRC), Glenn Research Center (GRC), 
Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), Johnson Space Center (JSC), Kennedy 
Space Center (KSC), Langley Research Center (LaRC), Marshall Space 
Flight Center (MSFC), Stennis Space Center (SSC), and Headquarters 
(HQ). 

[End of table] 

3. What policies and procedures are in place for term appointees to 
challenge NASA decisions regarding non conversion of their 
appointments? 

No grievance policies or procedures exist for term appointees to 
challenge NASA decisions regarding non conversion of their term 
appointment to a career or career-conditional appointment. Although 
many term appointments are eventually converted to career or career- 
conditional appointments, there is no stated or implied promise of such 
a conversion. An employee should be aware that a conversion to a 
permanent appointment is not guaranteed. According to a NASA official, 
each vacancy announcement discloses that conversion is not guaranteed. 

[" Under the NASA Flexibility Act of 2004, individuals appointed under 
this announcement may be converted to permanent appointment, either non-
competitively or through internal agency competitive placement 
procedures. Conversion is not guaranteed, and term conversion 
eligibility is contingent on the employee meeting all legal 
requirements." - Standardized text found in NASA vacancy announcements 
(provided by NASA Office of Human Capital Management.)] 

Therefore, if NASA does not convert such an appointment, the agency is 
not violating the terms and conditions of employment. An employee whose 
appointment is not converted has no grounds for a grievance. Term 
appointees are free to apply for a new position upon the expiration of 
their term. 

NASA's grievance policies are documented in the Human Resources and 
Personnel series of NASA's Procedural Requirement (NPR). The expiration 
of a temporary or term appointment falls under the section "Matters Not 
Covered" in NASA's grievance policy NPR, indicating that non conversion 
is not an action subject to grievance.[Footnote 10] 

Additionally, chapter four of NPR 3335.1G pertains to grievance options 
related to the internal placement of NASA employees. Section 4.2.3 
explains that nonselection from among a group of properly ranked and 
certified candidates is not a sufficient basis for a grievance. 
[Footnote 11] Because no distinction is made between NASA term 
appointees and career/career-conditional appointees under this policy, 
there is no grievance procedure for term appointees who apply for a 
vacancy within the agency and who are not selected. 

4. What is the declination rate to employment offers at the NASA 
centers? 

We are not providing the declination data furnished by NASA, because 
the data is not sufficiently reliable. NASA did provide data on 
declinations from their Staffing and Recruiting System (StaRS), which 
is the only readily available NASA-wide source for this type of data. 
However, according to NASA, this data does not portray a complete 
picture because users are not required to document declinations in the 
system. 

Agency Comments: 

We provided a statement of facts supporting this report to NASA 
officials in the Office of Human Capital Management for their review 
and comment. They generally agreed with the information presented. 

Scope and Methodology: 

To assess how the independence of scientists and engineers hired under 
term appointment authority is protected, we reviewed and analyzed 
applicable laws, regulations, and policies. The data on the conversion 
rates by center were obtained from NASA. The data was generated by 
running a series of queries to extract the data from the Federal 
Personnel and Payroll System Datamart.[Footnote 12] The information 
obtained from these queries was analyzed to determine what happened to 
each person who was hired (or converted) to term status from the 
beginning of fiscal year 2005 to the present. We assessed the 
reliability of the NASA workforce data provided by (1) reviewing 
existing information about the data and the system that produced them, 
(2) interviewing agency officials knowledgeable about the data, and (3) 
reviewing past data reliability assessments. We determined that the 
data were sufficiently reliable for the purposes of this engagement. To 
assess how NASA term appointment employees can challenge NASA decisions 
regarding the non-conversion of their appointments, we reviewed and 
analyzed applicable laws, regulations, and policies. The data on 
declination rate to employment offers at the NASA centers was obtained 
from StaRS. To assess the data we reviewed past declination rate data 
and compared them to the data provided by NASA. Also, we obtained 
information on the system used to generate the data. We determined that 
the declination data were not sufficiently reliable for the purposes of 
this engagement. 

We conducted this performance audit from October 2008 to February 2009 
in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. 
Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain 
sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our 
findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe that 
the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings and 
conclusions based on our audit objectives. 

We are sending copies of this report to the NASA Administrator and 
other interested congressional committees. In addition, the report will 
be available at no charge on GAO's Web site at [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov]. 

If you or your staffs have any questions regarding this letter, please 
contact me at (202) 512-4859 or chaplainc@gao.gov. Contact points for 
our Offices of Congressional Relations and Public Affairs may be found 
on the last page of this report. Key contributors to this report were 
James Morrison (Assistant Director), David Barish, Jose Ramos, Robert 
Swierczek, and Alyssa Weir. 

Signed by: 

Cristina T. Chaplain:
Director:
Acquisition and Sourcing Management: 

[End of section] 

Footnotes: 

[1] The joint explanatory statement accompanying the Consolidated 
Appropriations Act, 2008 (Pub. L. No. 110-161) directed GAO to review 
NASA's use of term appointments for civil servant positions. 

[2] In 2005, NASA established the NASA Ombuds Program to provide NASA 
employees, on-site contractors, summer students, nonappropriated funded 
employees, and other NASA Center residents an "informal, independent, 
confidential and neutral means of communicating and facilitating the 
resolution of safety, organizational performance, and mission related 
issues without fear of retaliation. All NASA Centers and the Jet 
Propulsion Laboratory have Ombuds who will listen to an employee's 
issues, explore options, and weigh the pros and cons of various options 
for resolution" See also, NASA Policy Directive 2025.1, NASA Ombuds 
Program. 

[3] Public information includes "information in any form provided to 
news and information media, especially information that has the 
potential to generate significant media or public interest or inquiry." 
Public information includes, for example, press releases, media 
advisories, news features, and web postings. 14 C.F.R. §1213.100 
(2008). 

[4] 4 C.F.R. § 1213.102 (2008). 

[5] According NASA Procedural Requirements, NPR 2200.2B-Requirements 
for Documentation, Approval, and Dissemination of NASA Scientific and 
Technical Information, scientific and technical information is defined 
as "the results (facts, analyses, and conclusions) of basic and applied 
scientific, technical, and related engineering research and 
development. STI also includes management, industrial, and economic 
information relevant to this research." 

[6] NPR 2200.2B at P.1. 

[7] GAO, Federal Research: Policies Guiding the Dissemination of 
Scientific Research from Selected Agencies Should Be Clarified and 
Better Communicated, [hyperlink, 
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-07-653] (Washington, D.C.: May 17, 
2007). 

[8] NASA Office of Inspector General, Actions Needed to Ensure 
Scientific and Technical Information Is Adequately Reviewed at Goddard 
Space Flight Center, Johnson Space Center, Langley Research Center, and 
Marshall Space Flight Center, Report No. IG-08-017 (Washington, D.C., 
2008). 

[9] Ibid. 

[10] NASA Procedural Requirements 3771.1, Grievance System includes 
under Matters Not Covered, 2.3.2.11, "The expiration of temporary or 
term appointment ... on the date specified as a condition of employment 
at the time the appointment ... was made ... provided the employee was 
informed in advance of the temporary nature of the promotion ...." 

[11] NASA Procedural Requirement 3335.1G, Chapter 4, Internal Placement 
of NASA Employees. See also 5 C.F.R. § 335.103(d). 

[12] The Department of the Interior National Business Center's Federal 
Personnel and Payroll System Datamart is a Web-based data warehouse 
environment supporting reporting capabilities, system interfaces, and 
automation of related business processes through auxiliary systems. 

[End of section] 

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