Possible NSSDC "privatization" has been addressed in recent issues of the NSSDC News. NSSDC was one of 11 groups NASA-wide studied by a NASA committee headed by Dr. Al Diaz as candidates for new university-affiliated institutes. The Diaz committee concluded that NSSDC did not fit its institute model and suggested an NSSDC-specific group address NSSDC's future.
As a separate NASA development consistent with general federal and NASA downsizing, NASA/Headquarters' Office of Space Science (OSS) is being reorganized. OSS's Information Systems Office is NSSDC's sponsor. The previously existing discipline-specific Astrophysics Division, Space Physics Division, and Solar System Exploration Division, all of which sponsored discipline data systems of varying natures and levels of maturity and which had differing relations to NSSDC, are being largely merged into a single science division.
Reporting to the NASA associate administrator for OSS will be a "Board of Directors" (senior OSS officials) representing four themes: The Galaxy and the Universe, Astronomical Search for Origins and Planetary Systems, Solar System Exploration, and The Sun-Earth Connection. OSS will also have three division-level organizations for Advanced Technology and Mission Studies, Mission and Payload Development, and Research Program Management. Most of the OSS program scientists will be in this latter division as will be the responsibility for coordinating the OSS Data Management and Archiving Program.
To help define optimal approaches to the management of NASA science data in the face of this OSS reorganization and downscaling and to define the future of NSSDC as an important element of that data management, OSS has created an ad hoc group of scientists across the OSS discipline domain and other potential data users to make recommendations to OSS on the future of its data enterprise. This group will be headed by Dr. Jeff Linsky of the University of Colorado and is expected to deliver a report by about June 1996 based on a charter to do the following:
It is expected that after the near-term activities of this ad hoc group, a more permanent community-based group will be formed to advise OSS concerning its information systems and data operations activities and to monitor the implementation of recommendations of the initial ad hoc group.