Agency QLF Meets at NASA Headquarters

Agency QLF Meets at NASA Headquarters

5-minute read
QLF 2022

Resulting Action Plans

The following actions resulted from the working sessions:

  • Provide preferences and priorities with respect to the OSMA QA task portfolio.
  • Participate in the review of a new NASA equivalent for the DD250 form that better serves the agency’s needs.
  • Leverage agency best practices to produce a standard RFP/contract clause requiring suppliers to provide problem report data for storage in NASA databases.
  • Examine how QA data management can be made more relevant to, and thus more strongly supported by, project management by making a connection between data analysis results to cost and schedule risk or reward.
  • Examine how other agencies who work in a very large supplier environment, such as the Food and Drug Administration, collect and organize supply chain data.
  • Research the possibility of a wide deployment of the Technical Data Management System, or TDMS, application agencywide for better workflow and cross-discipline data interoperability.
  • Research adoption of industry standard cause codes.
  • Research legal opportunities for NASA’s maintenance of approved or certified supplier lists based on successful history meeting engineering and SMA requirements.
  • Eliminate obstacles to programs and projects entering their supplier audit, assessment and survey data into OSMA’s Supply Chain Risk Management database, Supply Chain Insight Central.
  • Reconcile the recommended and required QA LCR deliverables across NPR 7120.5; APPG; and the QA policy NPR 8735.2, Quality Assurance Requirements for Programs and Projects.
  • Practice using the International Aerospace Quality Group’s Online Aerospace Supplier Information System, known as OASIS.

These actions and others will be followed up and worked with the QAWG during bimonthly tag-up meetings.

The agency’s Quality Leadership Forum (QLF) met Sept. 13-15, 2022, at NASA Headquarters to focus on issues of particular interest and significance that are faced by NASA Quality Engineering and Assurance practitioners assigned to aeronautics and space flight program and project teams. The focus was on processes executed internally by NASA.

“The meeting aimed to ensure NASA’s Quality Assurance leaders across the Office of Safety and Mission Assurance, centers, programs and projects realize benefit from, and have a healthy and persistent influence on, the formulation and execution of Headquarters-level Quality policies, initiatives and programs,” said QLF Chair and Deputy NASA Technical Fellow Dr. Donald Mendoza. “This meeting brought together members of the Quality Assurance Working Group with guest speakers and panelists representing stakeholders in the Quality Discipline.”

The three-day agenda covered a number of important Quality topics, with a bias toward early life cycle processes such as requirements definition, Life Cycle Review (LCR) planning, data management, procurement and Supply Chain Risk Management. The first presentations provided perspectives on the role the Office of Safety and Mission Assurance (OSMA) and the Mission Assurance and Standards Capabilities Division play in enabling mission success, both at strategic and tactical levels, and an overview of the OSMA portfolio of Quality Assurance (QA) initiatives

In a panel session, speakers and participants discussed opportunities and challenges with current regulations and NASA forms used in the procurement process. Both a representative of the NASA Headquarters Office of Procurement (OP) and the NASA senior QA experts in attendance provided expert opinions about the level of due diligence associated with “signing off” in the QA field of a DD250 form. In addition, the OP presenter described the process used by the OP to develop requirements for announcements of opportunity or Requests for Proposal (RFP). One presentation covered a new supplier Quality certification process used by the Orion program for risk-based QA oversight reduction and the group discussed opportunities and obstacles related to approved or preferred suppliers, particularly below the simplified acquisition threshold. Participants practiced accessing new standard contract clause language and standard Deliverable Requirements Definitions, known as DRDs, that can be used or adapted for producing RFPs and contracts.

A panel on Class D and Do-No-Harm missions addressed the impact that highly cost- and schedule-constrained programmatic conditions have on QA planning options. The discussion identified the difficulties navigating QA requirements tailoring when competing interests arise between Institutional and Technical Authorities with respect to acceptable risk posture. A presentation gave insight into how risk analysis was used as a basis for the James Webb Space Telescope’s decision to launch.

The system developer lead gave a demonstration of the Automated Program Plan Generator (APPG), and attendees practiced creating new project Safety and Mission Assurance (SMA) Plans, or SMAPs. The attendees were invited to use their draft plans to leave feedback about the tool and the default content for improvement or correction by the developer team and OSMA Subject Matter Experts.

A data management topic included an overview of QA data products now required by NPR 7120.5, NASA Space Flight Program and Project Management Requirements to support project LCRs. Presenters also shared the approach to QA data management and metrics reporting used by the Commercial Crew Program. A demonstration of the organization of the Exploration Systems Directorate’s Mission Assurance System, or ESD MAS, database environment further facilitated the data organization discussion. The participants discussed opportunities to standardize QA data structures for better integration of data sets and use of standard analysis and visualization approaches. There also was an overview of the Supply Chain Insight Central (SCIC) database that showed both existing features to be used for SCRM, as well as new and future features that automate processes that NASA depends on for assignment and cost planning for supplier insight and oversight (i.e., Government Contract QA, known as GCQA). Before wrapping up, attendees identified areas for new work, identified opportunities to improve current work and shared their preferences for next year’s QLF format.

“Overall, the 2022 QLF helped validate the utility and benefit of OSMA’s QA task portfolio and helped to continue to calibrate both OSMA and center QA leaders on what programs and projects most need now in terms of policies, tools and training and on how to best support these strategies in the future,” said Mendoza.

Questions can be directed to Mendoza or Quality Program Executive Jeannette Plante.

The Quality Assurance Working Group (QAWG) is chaired by the NASA technical fellow for Quality Engineering and provides a conduit for information sharing and policy recommendation between OSMA and NASA centers. It consists of representatives from each NASA center SMA Directorate; the NASA Safety Center (NSC) team lead for the Quality Audits, Assessments, and Reviews function; and the NSC Quality Engineering (QE) Technical Discipline Team Lead. The QAWG serves as a steering committee for agency Quality policy and OSMA investments in QE and QA initiatives. Additional information can be found on the OSMA Quality page.

The QLF is the agency’s annual forum for bringing leaders in the Quality discipline together to discuss and address topics of interest to the NASA Quality community and its stakeholders. On occasion, and depending on current issues, the QLF includes the agency’s commercial partners and suppliers. The 2022 QLF focused on internal topics and issues. 

QLF 2022 

QLF 2022 Attendees: Back row L-R: Dickson Yeung, Valle Kauniste, Bhanu Sood, Charles Kinney, JAC Campbell, Dale Schreck, Cristine Andes, Joe Gaines, Bob Makovec, Alen Wallace, Kelly Daniluk, Robert Lang, Roosevelt Jones, Stavros Katsas; Front row L-R: Aaron Decker, Don Mendoza, Regina Senegal, Scott Numbers, Jeannette Plante; not shown: Gene Monroe