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Transition Watch: NASA

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Retired Air Force Maj. Gen.  J. Scott Gration, one of President-elect Barack Obama’s top military advisers, is said to be the pick to lead NASA. Our colleagues at Space News were the first to report the story yesterday.

Gration is a decorated fighter pilot and held senior policy positions in the military, but does not have a space background, according to Space News.

No word on whether current NASA administrator Mike Griffin’s wife has ended her campaign to convince Obama her husband should stay.

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Transition Watch: Petitioning at NASA

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The Associated Press reported last week that the wife of Michael Griffin, the current NASA administrator, has been sending e-mails to friends and family asking them to sign an online petition urging President-elect Barack Obama to keep her husband on as administrator.

Save Mike Griffin?

Save Mike Griffin?

Rebecca Griffin apparently sent the appeal entitled “Campaign for Mike” on Christmas Eve. According to AP, she told the recipients:

Yes, once again I am embarrassing my husband by reaching out to our friends and ‘imposing’ on them…. And if this is inappropriate, I’m sorry.”

It’s not clear why she’d start such a petition, particularly given the reportedly strained relationship between her husband and the head of Obama’s NASA policy team, Lori Garver. I blogged last month about an Orlando Sentinel report that Griffin was not sharing information with Garver and her team.

In addition to that, NASA spokesman David Mould told AP Michael Griffin wasn’t campaigning to keep his job and would likely be replaced.

But despite these obvious roadblocks, this reporter wonders if Rebecca Griffin won’t be successful in the end. After all, in recent years there have been a few successful online campaigns.

For example, in 2007, the fans for the now-cancelled show “Jericho” used an online appeal to convince CBS to keep the program on the air for another season. And a couple of New York Mets fans started an online petition to save the team’s giant homerun apple from the scrapheap or auction block after the team moves from Shea Stadium to the new Citi Field this spring. The Star-Ledger reports that the apple will be on display at Citi Field.

If television and sports fans can meet with such success, surely fans of the NASA administrator can mount a successful campaign…right?

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Tracking the transition: NASA not cooperating?

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When the transition to the new administration kicked off on Nov. 5, President Bush pledged his administration will fully cooperate with President-elect Obama’s transition team to ensure things go smoothly. But it appears not every Bush administration official has received that message if this article in the Orlando Sentinel is correct:

NASA administrator Mike Griffin is not cooperating with President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team, is obstructing its efforts to get information and has told its leader that she is “not qualified” to judge his rocket program.

The piece goes on to say that Griffin also telling federal employees and contractors what they can tell the Obama team.

A NASA spokesman denied the allegations and said that although there are concerns that Obama’s six-person transition team, led by former NASA associate administrator Lori Garver, lacks the engineering skills needed to judge some of the technical programs, the administration is working well with the transition team.

Garver wouldn’t comment to the Sentinel, but sources close to her confirmed there were heated exchanges. Griffin is said to want to protect his signature program, the multi-billion dollar Constellation program, which is aimed at sending Americans back to the moon. (Incidentally, today is the 36th anniversary of the last time NASA landed on the moon.)

If cooperation is truly a problem at NASA — or any another agency for that matter — perhaps it’s time for the White House and Obama’s transition office to sit those folks down and make them watch the Sesame Street clip below. Because as any preschooler can tell you: cooperation makes it happen.

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