6 July 2021

NASA Announces Public Meeting on Mission Equity, Request for Information

This post is adapted from a NASA press release:

NASA Meatball LogoNASA’s public meeting to discuss its recently issued request for information (RFI), "Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities in NASA Programs, Contracts, and Grants," will take place at 1 pm ET on Tuesday, 13 July.

The RFI is part of NASA’s Mission Equity, a comprehensive effort to assess agency programs, procurements, grants, and policies, and examine what potential barriers and challenges may exist for communities that are historically underrepresented and underserved.

The public meeting will begin with opening remarks from NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and other agency officials and guests who will discuss the many ways the public can participate in NASA’s mission. This portion of the event will air live on NASA Television, the agency’s website, and the NASA app.

Following this, at 2 pm ET, NASA will host five breakout sessions that address specific avenues of participation and partnership with the agency. Registration is required for participation in a breakout session:

  • NASA’s Internship Program (register)
  • Science Competition Process (register)
  • Grants & Cooperative Agreements (register)
  • Procurement/Contracting Strategies (register)
  • Early-Stage Innovations & Partnerships (register)

NASA is seeking public feedback as it conducts a thorough review of its programs, practices, and policies to assess the following:

  • Potential barriers that underserved and underrepresented communities and individuals may face in agency procurement, contract, and grant opportunities.
  • Whether new policies, regulations, or guidance may be necessary to advance equity and opportunities in agency actions and programs.
  • How agency resources and tools can assist in enhancing equity, to include increasing access to critical environmental data that help increase quality of life for all.

Areas in which the agency would like to receive comments include these:

  • Diversity and Equal Opportunity at NASA and in the STEM Community.
  • Opportunities for NASA to Leverage Its Data, Expertise, and Missions to Help Underserved Communities.
  • Barriers/Gaps to Accessing Current NASA Grants, Programs, and Procurements.
  • Engagement and Outreach with Organizations and Individuals from Underserved and Underrepresented Communities.

On 20 January 2021, the White House issued Executive Order 13985, "Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government," asking federal agencies to assess whether, and to what extent, its programs and policies perpetuate barriers to opportunities and benefits for underserved groups.

In response, NASA’s Mission Equity and the public comments submitted in response to this RFI will help foster NASA's vision to benefit the quality of life for all on Earth; NASA's mission to explore, use, and enable the development of space for human enterprise through research, development, and transfer of advanced aeronautics, space, and related technologies, economic growth and security, and educational excellence; and NASA's goal to enrich our nation's society and economy with a fair and equitable approach.

Underserved and underrepresented communities include Black, Latino, and Indigenous and Native American persons, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and other persons of color; members of religious minorities; LGBTQ+ persons; persons with disabilities; persons who live in rural areas; and persons otherwise adversely affected by persistent poverty or inequality.