NASA Workforce:

Briefing on National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Use of Term Appointments

GAO-08-920R: Published: Sep 10, 2008. Publicly Released: Sep 10, 2008.

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Cristina T. Chaplain
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Congress expanded the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) ability to use term appointments to fill civil service positions in 2004. NASA sought this flexibility to ensure that it could hire and retain the workforce it desired. In a joint explanatory statement accompanying the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008 (Pub. L. No. 110-161), Congress asked us to review NASA's use of term appointments for civil servant positions. We briefed the committees on the results of our review. This report summarizes that briefing. As agreed to by the committees, this concludes our work performed under this mandate.

Since receiving its expanded human capital flexibilities, NASA has steadily increased its use of term appointments when hiring new employees. Subsequently, NASA has increased the number of conversions from term to career or career-conditional appointments. From 2003 through 2007, the majority of employees who separated from NASA voluntarily retired. Less than 1 percent separated because the employee's appointment expired. NASA's goal is to evolve to a science and engineering workforce that at a minimum is comprised of 15 percent term/temporary appointments by 2013. However, NASA centers are given the option to use term appointments for other positions.

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