Science and Technology:

NASA Designation of Their Ames Facility to Be Lead Center for Helicopter Research and Development

LCD-77-301: Published: Nov 30, 1976. Publicly Released: Dec 30, 1983.

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The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) decision to designate the Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, as the lead center for helicopter research and development was examined. The basis for the NASA decision was a report by a group headed by the Director of the NASA Lewis Research Center which recommended that a single management focus for all helicopter research and technology be established. Three options were considered: (1) making Ames the lead center; (2) making the Langley Research Center in Virginia the lead center; or (3) centralizing the headquarters role.

Review of the Lewis report indicated several major flaws. The study group did not examine possible cost effects on the Army. Under all three alternatives, a reduction of five staff-years ($200,000) was improperly included as a saving. Under the Ames alternative, estimates do not include one-time termination costs for the reduction in force, termination costs for those unwilling to transfer from Langley to Ames, or one-time recruiting costs for new positions. The study group did not recognize the residual value of certain aircraft now at Langley under the Ames option. Projections were made for other cost elements with little or no supporting documentation.

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