Last month NASA Administrator Bolden spent 6 days on a trip to Hawaii. He was guest of honor at a fancy Marine Corps party. NASA PAO has declined to explain what he did during the rest of his trip. Given that political employees of Bolden's rank do not actually get vacation time (they are considered on duty at all times) Bolden's salary during this trip was charged to NASA - even if the Marine Corps paid his travel expenses.
Now Bolden is preparing for a 10 day trip to Asia - to Japan and Vietnam. NASA has not explained where he is going or how this trip is related to NASA. Given that NASA is going to get its budget passback from OMB soon (Bolden is not going to like a lot of what he sees), the lingering problems with the looming fiscal cliff (and how it could impact NASA), and other headaches such as the stolen laptop with NASA employee personal information on it, you'd think that Bolden would hang out a little closer to home.
In this week's telecon with NASA center directors, Bolden ended the telecon by asking if any of the participants had anything to add. When no one did, Bolden volunteered the comment that people should not believe everything that they read in the news and that he is still interested in being NASA Administrator so long as the President desires that he serve in this capacity.
Bolden's future as NASA chief uncertain, Orlando Sentinel
"The senior White House staff is aware of the [NASA] administrator's inability to advance their agenda and will have to decide whether they make an adjustment in a second term," said a senior administration official not authorized to speak on the record. ... "No one can deny, though, there has been an accumulation of distractions, and in order to maximize NASA's opportunities, the U.S. civil space program would benefit from a leader fully committed to implementing the bold policy put forth by the president and his administration".
Keith's update: Multiple sources (some close to Charlie Bolden) report that the possibility of Bolden becoming the next ambassador to Japan have been floated around. That would explain the purpose of this trip. Stay tuned.