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Mr. WEBB. By no means; we are saving, on the contrary, that the history of our whole relationship with JPL has been to try to work out a pattern where they are just as responsive in terms of the job they have to do as any private contractor would be; and, further, where there are adequate controls which we and they both understand and that is all we have with any private contractor.
Mr. KARTH. Yes, sir; I think the difficulty is trying to get the two groups to understand one another and finalize an agreement.
When you were talking about JPL earlier, you stated that JPL had offered rather strong resistance to some of the changes recommended by NASA, and I think the point that is most illustrative of that was the suggested project-type system that was offered by Dr. Newell's office some 2 years or more before it actually became a practice at JPL. This, in my opinion, is because certain weaknesses in the program can't be overcome regardless of what kind of interface you have between the creative minds and the project engineers, and could cause a program to be unsuccessful or certainly could cause it to be extended considerably into the future. I think I would ask at this point whether or not the new agreement, in the event that NASA feels a project is not being performed as adequately as it should be, is not traveling the proper route, is not being as successful as it could be, whether or not under the new agreement you would actually have the authority to change the management of the project.
Mr. WEBB. Under the new agreement, Mr. Chairman, we will have sufficient authority to see that the work is carried forward in a manner agreeable to us, or to terminate it.
Now, as to whether we will have authority to reach down and say, "Remove this particular man from this particular job," we will not have that and do not desire it; but more important than the question of what authority we have will be the situation where they will have an adequate reporting system and an adequate system of bringing forward information so that both we and they will be discussing the situation on the basis of much more adequate information than we have had in the past, and most of the time this leads to a meeting of the minds.
I would like to point out that the overall aspects of this new contract are extremely important; but even so, we have had very frank discussions with California Institute of Technology to say that we would like to see them begin to implement some of the concepts in this contract prior to the signing of it. We have a contract with them now, and many of these things can be done under the present contract, although we may not be able to require them, so we are in a sense saying, "Show us how you expect to proceed under the new contract by doing it sooner.'
If that does provide what we expect to get from the new contract, then we will proceed. I think this is a pretty healthy, experimental way to go at it.
I would, if you will permit me, like to add one comment with respect to your previous statement, Mr. Chairman. JPL, and you must give them credit for being one of the most competent organizations in the world, felt that under their form of organization they could preserve the values that were important to them and to the university, California Institute of Technology, and still get the job done. It
wasn't any desire not to get the job done, or to resist for resistance's sake. It was the feeling that they had the capacity to do it the way they were doing it.
We had seen from our own experience, and you must recognize that our experience runs broadly over many contractors and over many centers, that it would be almost impossible, or certainly extremely difficult, for them to accomplish what they were setting out to do, but there was no way for us to be absolutely sure they couldn't do it.
Mr. KARTH. But under the organizational structure that exists between Cal Tech, JPL, and NASA, you see, it took us 2 years or longer to encourage or convince the JPL people that they should in fact make this kind of a management change, and this is the thing, I think, that disturbs the committee more than anything else. These roadblocks should not, in fact, exist. NASA, first of all, is the contracting agency of the Government; should be, in fact, the boss of the program. NASA provides the money, and should therefore have more to say about how the work is done, and by whom it should be done, than they do at this time.
This I think, Mr. Webb, is the main thrust of our questioning this morning, and we are trying to find out whether or not you, as Administrator, really are in agreement with the thoughts that have been expressed by the committee.
Mr. WEBB. I think, Mr. Chairman, your line of inquiry and the desire to get into this is certainly a healthy thing. This is the process by which we operate within this Government.
Now, it may well be that NASA could have produced a better situation by being absolutely insistent on having things operated its way. I do not believe myself from all that I have seen that this would necessarily have insured greater success, and it might have lost us the people who produced some of the successes we have had, and might have meant that we would have had a less firm foundation today to go forward to where we hope to be 1 year from now.
I think you must, in this process of examining how well we do our business, which I agree fully is a proper thing to do in this kind of a country-I think you must bear in mind that we are not only concerned with each of these flights but are concerned under the law with strengthening the resources of the nation which are able to do these things. If we wind up over a period of years with that kind of real strength, it may be more important than any rocket that we develop or any specific flight on which we succeed or fail. It is the capacity to have a team capable of not losing essential values which makes ours different than the Russian system, where they have a dictatorial system.
We in NASA have been very chary of adopting radical new approaches in engineering. We have a very conservative engineering organization, although we are undertaking some of the most advanced or, you might say, spectacular missions the human race has ever undertaken. We have the same conservative approach to management. We want to build a solid structure rather than to have a machine that cannot operate except with hardboiled orders, because our business is quite different than many others.
Mr. KARTH. Well, certainly, Mr. Webb, I appreciate the thought you just expressed. NASA, or any other agency of this Govern
ment, should not be so dictatorial in its policy as to approach the dictatorial practices of a monolithic government like the Soviet Union; but I am also aware of the fact that NASA doesn't have that kind of policy toward any other one of our prime contractors, either, and we don't expect any of them to offer resistance just for resistance's
Mr. WEBB. I didn't say that about JPL. I said they resisted because they had certain values they felt it was important to preserve. Mr. KARTH. I appreciate the fact that some of the other major prime contractors have values, too, and that you don't impose your will upon them unilaterally, without discussion and serious investigation in great depth. I'm sure NASA takes a look at the objections that they might have to any management control functions or technological control functions.
I know that NASA sits down and listens to the contractors when the contractors have an objection and, on occasion, I suppose NASA agrees with the contractor after second thoughts; but on the other hand when NASA feels very strongly about it, and feels by virtue of the great experience they have had with other contractors, that the change must be implemented, they go ahead and implement the change; so I guess we are really exploring whether or not NASA shouldn't in fact have the same authority with respect to JPL, when your experience dictates that certain practices are for the benefit of the NASA program, and to the benefit of the taxpayers to change policies and practices at JPL and make them conform to what NASA believes is required.
Mr. WEBB. Mr. Chairman, I think the new contract gives us all the authority that we need, and I think the procedures we are following and the clearly announced policies which we have stated to themthat is, of not signing the new contract until we are quite sure by their actions they fully understand what we have in mind-will get us what you have just specified.
But your comment does bring to my mind another quite important thing that may be worth careful consideration by the committee. We have lived with it ourselves. We in NASA decided, as you well know and this committee has supported, that we would by and large not take the easy course of going to universities and establishing additional laboratories like Jet Propulsion Laboratory or the Lincoln Laboratory; that we would endeavor to have civil service centers take on major project responsibility, and that we would further endeavor to increase the competence of our centers in their relationship with industry, where we spend 93 percent of our dollars.
At Houston we have had, I think, very great success in doing this. We have had businessmen like Mr. Elms come in and become Deputy Director under Dr. Gilruth, and you have there a team composed of a man that understood the total of management and had been out in industry along with an outstanding man who had been in space, like Dr. Gilruth.
We had Mr. Young at Huntsville come in and do the same thing under Von Braun, managing the industrial operations side.
Now, we are constantly working in this direction and pressing for contracts that will be self-policing.
On the other hand, we have been rather well criticized by some of the people who felt that the type of activity which would be most suitable to get this job done would be to go to universities and get them to set up off-campus activities. We have gone to extreme lengths to try to create Government competence so that we could contract out over 90 percent of our work, and yet we have felt that in the case of JPL we didn't have to have uniformity, that we could develop through JPL a further large measure of contribution, and I say "further" because they made I think as outstanding a contribution as any group in the world.
Mr. KARTH. I think the committee recognizes this.
Mr. WEBB. We are not talking about people who are not effective, or people who haven't shown their capacity; we are talking about moving away from the type of thing we had to do in the missile program, when we had to strain relationships with universities to manage these large laboratories, and also where we had to in one sense provide crutches for private companies that were not competent.
Now NASA has determined not to provide crutches for the contractors, and to take full responsibility with Government people for the things the Government should do, and to still get over 90 percent of its work done under contract. This is hard.
Had we insisted that JPL become a civil service laboratory, for instance, under this policy, and insisted on uniformity throughout the organization, we may well have been proven wrong. I think we are going to wind up with a comparison between the two that will be extremely interesting and important for the future.
I don't think the relations with private industry in any part of the U.S. Government are ideal. I think we have a hard job to learn how to get 90 percent of our work done by private industry and still do it fully, effectively, and in a proper relationship with science.
Mr. KARTH. I don't think that there is anyone on the committee who feels that the technical or professional people at JPL are not very able, outstanding people. I don't know of any criticism to that effect.
What we are concerned about is whether or not the management liaison that exists, or should exist between NASA and the two organizations, JPL and Cal Tech, is sufficient so that NASA really in fact does have control over the direction a program should go when JPL is acting as a prime contractor.
In Dr. Pickering's presentation, for example, JPL's organizational chart indicated to me that there was a serious lack of NASA liaison, or NASA management. I am not an expert on management, and I am willing to admit that at the outset, but I did think that this chart probably should show just to the right of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is immediately under the California Institute of Technology, a strong NASA liaison team in the management structure. I am not sure what I should call it, but I am confident you understand what I mean.
This, I think, is primarily the question that is before the subcommittee, having arrived at the conclusion, Mr. Webb, that the professional, technical people at Cal Tech are extremely able people, and we would hesitate to criticize them in any way for technical incompetence.
Mr. WEBB. I feel the committee has a right to feel critical of both NASA and JPL for not solving its management problem. On the other hand, I say we are dealing with a very large program, and these problems are not unique, as Dr. Newell pointed out in his testimony; these are problems of how we put together largescale organized efforts in science and technology in a day when the rocket engine that is, the hardware that flies-is what brings back the scientific data. You have to have high-level technical competence in order to do the science.
I think the relationship here will be quite different 5 years from now. We are in an evolutionary process and haven't done a perfect job, none of us, but I am very sure that the country is better off to have us proceed to develop this relationship with California Institute of Technology and JPL, and very much better off to have them willing to try to work it out with us, than to take some arbitrary action such as to say we will not have them engage in subcontracting-which is one of the issues that has been involved in all of these negotiations. Mr. GURNEY. Mr. Chairman.
Mr. KARTH. Mr. Gurney.
Mr. GURNEY. Before I ask the question, I certainly want to echo the sentiments of the chairman. No one on the committee is pointing a finger at either JPL or NASA. We admire the achievements and tremendous accomplishments of JPL. We are just trying to probe why the difference between the two approaches.
Now, then, to the question. Let me ask, Mr. Webb, in this new agreement which has been pretty well worked out and probably will be signed later in the year, what are the provisions of it so far as the relationship between NASA and JPL on a project like the Ranger? Is your supervisory authority under this contract any different than it would be say with McDonnell on the Gemini spacecraft, or North American on the Apollo, or Grumman on LEM?
Mr. WEBB. Not substantially, Mr. Gurney, although it does provide certain protections for California Institute of Technology and JPL in these areas of advancing the state of the art, which are quite important to them and to us and to the Government.
Mr. GURNEY. Is this in the research part of it?
Mr. WEBB. Yes. I think I could best illustrate the difference by saying that we are separating the management of the facility, from the main contract, and will have a separate contract for the management of the physical property. This again simplifies administration of the contract with respect to these other things that are far more important than the property in terms of our national interest. You must have proper accounting of your property and must do that well, but that doesn't make or break a flight like Ranger VI.
Now, the second thing I think is quite important is that the previous contract provided for negotiation of a mutually acceptable set of task orders with the understanding that the accounting and reporting structure would then bring together all of the information relating to each of these task orders. In order to get started in a hurry, we gave them one task order that said: "Carry out the full contract." We have never been able to get complete agreement on the individual task orders that should have followed that, and this has denied both JPL and us the full accounting and recordkeeping for each task order.