ZIFFPAGE TITLEPostscriptBy David F. Carr | Posted 2005-10-01 Email Print
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NASA has 80,000 employees, and works with more than twice as many scientists and other outsiders. The problem: Those log-ins could be used to access the agency's computer systems after the users have left, retiredor died.
When I follow up with Ing in September, she assures me that NASA took the review panel's recommendations seriously. Some of the results:
Following an operational readiness review, the account management system was on track to go live by Oct. 1, Ing says: "But it's tight. There's a possibility it could slip a couple of weeks."
Looking back on our recommendations, I have the guilty suspicion that we bogged down the project with more review meetings and paperwork. But when I bounce this off Greenwood in a phone call, he reassures me that "oh, no, they needed it." The project governance was "too loosey-goosey," he says, and we nudged them toward tightening it up.
Should we judge them harshly for not having a better identification system already in place, for having to admit to us that there are dead people with live accounts on NASA's network?
"I would have judged them more harshly if they denied having dead people," Greenwood says. Instead of denying reality, NASA was taking an honest look at the weaknesses of its systems and methodically working to eliminate them, we agree.
And that, after all, is the best way to improve anything from an information system to a space program.