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NASA Internal Memo: Expenditure of NASA Education and Public Outreach Funds

Status Report From: NASA HQ
Posted: Friday, October 24, 2008

National Aeronautics and
Space Administration
Office of the Administrator
Washington, DC 20546-0001

October 17, 2008

TO: Officials-in-Charge of Headquarters Offices
Directors, NASA Centers

FROM: Deputy Administrator

SUBJECT: Expenditure of NASA Education and Public Outreach Funds

As stewards of American taxpayer funds, we must be vigilant to ensure the appropriate use of NASA resources. Some NASA stakeholders have questioned certain Education and Public Outreach activities as marketing the Agency to the public and the Congress, which is not an appropriate use of public funds. Many Education and Public Outreach activities are neither funded nor managed by the Office of Strategic Communications, "which includes the Offices of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs, Public Affairs, and Education. Instead, many such activities are managed within program and project offices in Mission Directorates, Centers, and Cross-Agency Support offices.

We need to ensure a fully coordinated approach for Education and Public Outreach activities so that Agency efforts which have broad reach and benefit to the public are at the top of the list to receive funding. Examples of activities which were not prioritized due to a lack of coordination include: the production and distribution of public service announcements, the creation of public outreach Web sites outside the nasa.gov portal, the commissioning of music or artwork, documentary video production (beyond normal B roll video), and the hiring of marketing agencies to conduct public surveys. These and other Education and Public Outreach activities must be coordinated and vetted through the Office of Strategic Communications to ensure that the highest priorities, with the greatest benefit to the Agency's mission, are being funded and that we are not engaged in activities which could be considered marketing.

NASA cannot afford a fragmented approach to public communications. In order to establish priorities for Education and Public Outreach activities, it is incumbent upon Mission Directorate and Center management as well as the Cross-Agency Support offices to coordinate their plans for such public outreach, communications and informal education with the appropriate office in the Headquarters' Office of Strategic Communications prior to the award of a contract or expenditure of funds.

If you have any questions, please contact Chris Shank, Chief of Strategic Communications, at (202) 358-2420.

Shana Dale

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