Lightfoot expects few NASA changes despite leadership uncertainty

GREENBELT, Md. — Regardless of uncertainty about who will lead the company after the top of April, NASA’s present performing administrator says he expects little change within the company’s actions within the close to future.

Robert Lightfoot, NASA affiliate administrator who has been serving as performing administrator since January 2017, introduced March 12 his plans to retire from the company on the finish of April. His retirement comes because the nomination of a brand new administrator, Jim Bridenstine, stays stalled within the Senate.

Talking on the American Astronautical Society’s Goddard Memorial Symposium right here March 14, Lightfoot stated he’s had a number of discussions with Bridenstine through the nomination course of to organize for a transition ought to he be confirmed by the Senate. Lightfoot stated he was hopeful that Bridenstine would win affirmation by the top of April.

“If Jim’s not confirmed, which we hope he’s by the point I go away, there’ll be an performing administrator,” Lightfoot stated. That performing administrator could be a authorities worker chosen by the president utilizing his authority underneath the Vacancies Act, though the administration has not said who may succeed Lightfoot on an interim foundation.

Ought to Lightfoot get replaced by one other performing administrator, he expects no vital modifications in company actions. “There shall be a couple of [decisions] that shall be placed on maintain. I don’t count on hardly any, although,” he stated. “I’ve obtained a funds permitted by Congress and signed by the president that tells me what to go do,” he stated, giving a future performing administrator “the total authority to do what they should do.”

“I could get instructed there are particular issues I can’t do, however proper now no one’s instructed me something I can’t do at this level,” added Lightfoot, who has been performing administrator for almost 14 months, the longest tenure of an interim NASA chief within the company’s almost 60-year historical past. “We’ve obtained to maintain going. We’ve obtained an excessive amount of to do.”

A part of that confidence, he stated, comes from the coverage certainty he believes the company enjoys, citing an authorization act handed a yr in the past, the actions of the Nationwide House Council, and House Coverage Directive 1, the White Home directive instructing NASA to return people to the moon. These have additionally formed company plans and funds proposals, together with the fiscal yr 2019 proposal rolled out final month.

“When you step into the coverage aspect of this, we’re in a reasonably great place proper now,” he stated, even with the occasional disagreement about packages. “I believe we’re in nice form there.”

Lightfoot, in his feedback, didn’t focus on his causes for retiring, a call that took many each inside and out of doors the company without warning. He additionally didn’t focus on what his post-NASA plans are.

“As I take into consideration transferring on to the subsequent stage for me, this isn’t a few single individual,” he stated, emphasizing the “group of groups” nature of the company’s work. However, he added, “it’s going to tear me aside to not be part of this group with that NASA badge.”

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