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This version of SWEHB is associated with NPR 7150.2B. Click for the latest version of the SWEHB based on NPR7150.2C

SWE-122 - Technical Authority Appointment

1. Requirements

2.1.3.5 The designated Center Engineering Technical Authority(s) for requirements in this NPR that can be waived or deviated at the Center level shall be NASA civil servants (or JPL/CalTech employees) approved by the Center Director.

1.1 Notes

The Center Director delegates the Center Engineering Technical Authority implementation responsibility to an individual in the Center’s engineering leadership. Typically, Center Directors designate an Engineering Technical Authority for software from their engineering organization for software classes A through E, from the NASA Office of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) for Class F, and from their Center CIO organization for Classes G and H. The designation of Engineering Technical Authority(ies) is documented in the Technical Authority Implementation Plan. Refer to Appendix C (column titled “Technical Authority”) for requirements and their associated Technical Authority.

2. Rationale

Waiving or tailoring NASA Procedure requirements for Software Engineering is an inherently Government function.

3. Guidance

The NASA governance model prescribes a management structure that employs checks and balances between key organizations to ensure that decisions have the benefit of different points of view and are not made in isolation. The TA process (see NPR 7120.5, NASA Space Flight Program and Project Management Requirements, Chapter 3.3) 082 provides for the selection of individuals at different levels of responsibility who contribute an independent view of matters within their respective areas of expertise. These individuals are responsible for assuring that changes to and waivers of technical requirements are submitted to and acted on by the appropriate level in the TA process. The involvement of the TA in program/project activities as a member of the program's/project's control, change, and internal review boards will ensure that any views from the TA will be available to the program/project in a timely manner. 082

The Center Director is delegated Technical Authority (TA) from the NASA Chief Engineer. With this delegation, the Center Director selects and approves software TA(s) who are knowledgeable of the software development policies, requirements, and practices that are applicable to a given project. This is important because the Center Director, who is ultimately responsible for all projects at the Center, is appointing TA(s) who are responsible for approval of deviations and/or waivers.

It is essential that the project TA(s) thoroughly understands the Agency-level, Center-level, Project-level software development requirements, including NPR 7150.2, NASA STD 8739.8, NASA Software Assurance Standard 278, and NASA STD 8719.13, Software Safety Standard 271.

The Center Director (or designee) is empowered by NPR 7150.2 to select civil servant individual(s) from the Office of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) at Headquarters for class F software or from the Center's CIO office, if that makes the most sense, for classes G and H software. This ability to choose will assure the software TA is familiar with the software development policies, requirements, and practices associated with a particular class of software.

Because of the extent and variety of projects at a Center, it may be beneficial to assign multiple software TAs, each having responsibility for a unique portion of the software being developed or acquired in support of the Center's mission. The appointment of software TAs may be documented in appointment letters from the Engineering Technical Authority (or designee), in the Center implementation plans, in project plans, and in organization and project-specific documentation repositories.

4. Small Projects

No additional guidance is available for small projects. 

5. Resources

5.1 Tools

Tools relative to this SWE may be found in the table below. You may wish to reference the Tools Table in this handbook for an evolving list of these and other tools in use at NASA. Note that this table should not be considered all-inclusive, nor is it an endorsement of any particular tool. Check with your Center to see what tools are available to facilitate compliance with this requirement.

No tools have been currently identified for this SWE. If you wish to suggest a tool, please leave a comment below.

6. Lessons Learned

A documented lesson from the NASA Lessons Learned database notes the following:

  • Orbital Space Plane Centralized Technical Management. Lesson Number 1499: The Orbital Space Plane project cited the need to make early appointments so that project implementation is strengthened early in phase A of a project's life cycle.  Many examples from project histories indicate that Phase A decisions strongly impact the future cost of projects. The recommendation (in "Lesson(s) Learned") is "to quickly/clearly charter and mobilize a strong centralized technical authority with responsibility to make binding technical decisions across all elements...and across program boundaries" to avoid weakening "the program's Phase A technical implementation." 558
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