Interviewee: Robert Seamans

Interviewer: Martin Collins

Location: Dr. Seamans' office, Cambridge, Mass, MIT

Date: March 23, 1988


MR. COLLINS: Last time, we went into some detail regarding the events that led up to the decision to go to the moon. It was certainly a dramatic decision for NASA, requiring massive expansion of the capabilities of the organization, and I wonder, before we get into the substance of our discussion, if you can just give me a quick overview of the initial planning and conception of how the organization was going to have to change to meet this goal.

DR. SEAMANS: Okay. It's hard to remember the specific time sequence of these things. In my mind they're somewhat merged together. I don't quite remember how soon after President Kennedy went to the Congress we did certain of the things I'll mention, but one of the items that had to be addressed right off the bat was what might be called the hierarchical organizational structure of NASA.

    How were the centers going to be tied in with Headquarters? What kind of an office would be set up specifically to manage Apollo? Where would it be located? Would it be in Washington or should it be at the center of gravity of where the action would be, which presumably, since it's such a big program, would be in Kansas City? What the lines of authority would be, to what extent would we go with a Polaris type of management or a ballistic missile type management, where Admiral Red Rayburn of the Navy or Bennie Schriever, General Schriever, had taken on programs that were of the same dimension as Apollo, to what extent would we follow those models?

    In order to develop our thinking, and we in this case were primarily Webb and myself, although we didn't purposely exclude Hugh Dryden from anything--he was still very active on the scientific side of NASA. I think at that time he was negotiating with the Russians, and I know he was intimately tied in with the Academy of Sciences.

    So it tended to be Webb and myself, we brought in--I can remember specifically Art Malcarney, who had been in charge, senior executive vice president RCA for all Defense products, and Rube Mettler from TRW, I guess it was then Ramo-Wooldridge, who had a great deal to do with the ballistic missile development. I think there were one or two others, but my mind doesn't quite zero in on them. Where we tried to present for discussion purposes, in an informal, very informal atmosphere, in Webb's conference room, our thinking about the alternatives, and got their thoughts on how we might go, and their thoughts on the kinds of people we would need at the senior levels and where we might find such people.

    We had a free-wheeling discussion, really letting our hair down, and opening things up to get their views. And I thought that was very helpful. We reviewed--now, we in this case would include Hugh, Jim and myself--our overall manpower situation, and I don't remember the exact numbers, but I think with the addition of the Marshall Center we were of the order of magnitude of eighteen to twenty thousand people in NASA, and here we were going to go to a level of effort that would be not quite an order of magnitude greater but certainly six or seven times greater than what we had at that time. Were we going to increase the government operation by that amount, or we were going to limit the growth within the government, and go outside to the private sector for the growth, or were there some other government entities that we could call on to help us out?

    Our overall policy turned out to be, and I think it was pretty much agreed almost from the start, that we would not have NASA increase in size by anything like the overall growth that was going to be required in manpower, but--and this is very important--that we were going to have skills and capability within NASA so that we could make the key decisions without going to organizations like an Aerospace or similar kinds of organizations that had been set up to manage the Air Force ballistic missile program.

    One of the troublesome areas that we could foresee was a very large construction program in which we, NASA, had very limited skill. We'd been responsible, we, NASA, or the NACA for building wind tunnels, but never for building what we could visualize to be some very large buildings for assembling the rockets at the Cape or for testing very large rocket motors somewhere else, the location still to be determined.

    I can well remember the day that Jim and I went over to call on the--it might have been General Cassidy, I'm not quite sure, but whatever the name the head of the Corps of Engineers to discuss this problem, because not only did we not have the, call it the technical and administrative skill, we didn't have the political skill. Because we knew we were going to have to acquire a considerable amount of land, and we knew that when you get into these kinds of major endeavors, you can get into all kinds of political problems. We had almost zero expertise within NASA as I've said, and the Corps of Engineers had tremendous capability, building dams and all the big stuff that they construct.

    I would say that the decision, to go to the Corps of Engineers, was very key, and I think the idea, I know it didn't come from me and I doubt it came from Hugh Dryden, where Jim got the idea, whether out of his own mind or in conversation with other people I don't know. Jim was our outside person during this whole process. He was talking to all kinds of people up on the Hill and elsewhere. He had, you know, continuing conversations with Bob Kerr for example and others. But at any rate, that was a very important decision, if we were ever to achieve the goal of going to the moon within the decade. These are the things that immediately come to mind. I'm sure there are a lot of other areas that we were getting into. Perhaps you can think of a few that I've forgotten that I could discuss if you'd jog my mind.

COLLINS: Yes. I'm just wondering, by or around the time of the moon decision, did you and Mr. Webb feel that you at that point had a pretty good fix on the organizational and personnel strengths and weaknesses of the organization? Or is that an area that you felt needed some study, to determine what your true capabilities were?

SEAMANS: I think we did feel the need for that, and that was the reason that Jim brought in some consultants. Let's see, there was (Arthur) Raymond from Douglas, he'd been vice president for engineering for many years. There was (Mervyn) Kelly, who ran the Bell Laboratories. Undoubtedly there were others. Jim brought these experienced retired people, recently retired people, in as his personal eyes and ears, to go around and meet with individuals at JPL or in the aeronautics area, to get a better understanding of really what we had.

    Of course, since I started the lst of September and this is now in May, my own personal experience was important, because I had spent a lot of time, you know, with our "troops" at all our centers, and Jim did rely heavily on my own view of things. And Hugh was very objective, in discussions we had, and he never took umbrage at say the limitations that we might have by virtue of the fact that the NACA was limited in certain areas. So we had good open discussions of our strengths and weaknesses. This sort of jogs my mind because it's a timely issue today.

    You might ask the question, how was the NACA able to have such highly respected and competent professional people within the government ranks? Now I'm referring to Langley, Ames, Lewis kind of effort, which, we all recognized, was extremely important to the Apollo program. We wanted to be sure that we used the capabilities that were in these centers, and to understand why the people were so damned good, and what we had to be careful about as we went ahead so that we didn't destroy this capability. We felt the reason was, in part, that the people who were working in these centers had very good research tools to work with, better than you could find anywhere else in the country, private or otherwise, and they had a great deal of freedom in selecting the research projects that they worked on.

    To sort of jump ahead, we obviously had to work with the Department of Defense, not just the Corps of Engineers. But even on the more research oriented program, we found that McNamara was trying to tighten down on the management controls, he was trying to put things on a cost basis, and was trying to task NASA for work in our research centers on the basis that his people in the DOD would decide whether or not they wanted to go to NASA, and if they went, that they would bring the dollars along and pay for the work.

    We said, absolutely not, that would destroy this capability that had been built up over the years in these centers, if they had to negotiate with the DOD to work on certain projects because the DOD had a rocket or an airplane or a satellite problem. If the only way they could work in these areas was on a cost-reimbursable basis, it wouldn't be worth it. The negotiating, all the accounting that would go with it wouldn't be worth it. So we felt that we had to keep the, call it the freedom of the research centers, along the NACA lines, at the same time that we had to tighten down on the management and the discipline of the mission-oriented centers.

COLLINS: Just to follow up on your comment about the DOD relationship with the old NACA centers, is this primarily an interest on the part of the DOD and the services to maintain the connection that they previously had with NACA and the services that NACA previously performed for them, before NASA came into being?

SEAMANS: Before NASA came in to being, if the project person at Wright Field on what might have been then a B-29 was having a flutter problem or something of that nature, he always knew that he or somebody who worked for him could go to one of the NACA centers, where there would be relevant research going on, and discuss the problem, and in the discussion undoubtedly he'd find out some things that would be helpful in running the project, and in turn the NACA people, if they didn't feel they had a complete handle on what was happening, would say, "How about loaning me the model of the airplane or some piece of the airplane, and this could be a wonderful addition to the dynamic structural research that we have going on." And there would be no interchange of dollars.

COLLINS: Right. That's what I thought the arrangement was. You discussed the sense of what the new organizational requirements would be. What changes were pursued in the programs that were already going? Ranger, Surveyor, Mercury to a certain extent certainly were not originated and developed with the moon mission necessarily in mind. They had ends of their own. Was there a sense in which these programs had to be re-oriented, or did they just kind of naturally fold into the effort to get to the moon?

SEAMANS: I think you have to look at them almost on a case by case basis. For example, just take the manned flight first. The Mercury program at that time still hadn't achieved orbital flight. We had had the Alan Shepard suborbital flight, and so we had to be sure that Mercury moved ahead, but it was also recognized that possibility of doing very much with Mercury, other than getting the experience of an astronaut in orbit for a day a day was zero. There was just no room in that small Mercury capsule to include really anything that would permit the capsule to maneuver in space or something of that sort.

    So very early on, the Mercury people came in with a concept that they thought of as a minor extensions of Mercury. Of course they were aided and abetted by McDonnell-Douglas who definitely wanted to have a piece of the action, above and beyond Mercury. You could think of it as a two manned Mercury that would make use of a new ballistic missile for booster that wasn't available when Mercury was started, namely the Titan II.

    There was a guy named Chamberlain who was a Canadian who had lost his job in Canada when Prime Minister Diefenbaker canceled the CF-105, and he and a bunch of these Canadians came down to work with Abe Silverstein in the Manned Spaceflight Office, and they were really beating the drum for this particular project, which they even conceived of as a way to go to the moon, by hook or by crook. It never seemed as though it was at all possible, in any discussion that I had with them, but it did seem as though a much more immediate series of flights than we thought could be achieved with a brand new big booster like Saturn. So there was one program area that fell out of the lunar decision, fairly immediately, that probably would not have happened if we hadn't had this new goal.

    In the unmanned area, at that time I can't quite remember how many Ranger failures we'd had, but I think we'd had a couple. Then we had the Surveyor project that, you know, if we were having trouble with Ranger, goodness knows when we're going to achieve success with the Surveyor, which was obviously much more difficult, making a soft landing on the moon rather than just bombing right into it. But it was clearly very important to know something about the lunar surface. There were many worry warts, Tom Gold of Cornell being the most outspoken, who said that the surface of the moon was covered with dust, and he talked as though the astronauts when they stepped on the moon were going to disappear from sight.

    But clearly the priority for Surveyor went up, and then some time after that, and I can't quite remember the timing on it, it was clear that if we're going to land on the moon, the people who are flying the Lunar Lander had to have some signposts, some maps that were much more detailed than anything that we had on the surface of the moon that we could see, and of course we had no information on the back side of the moon, and so we had to get busy with a lunar program that would tell us in detail about the total surface of the moon, including the possibility that there might be some aberrations that would give rather strange orbits around the moon--lunar gravity idiosyncracies that might give us a problem. Because by then we were beginning to learn quite a bit about satellites going around the earth, and realizing that their orbits were not perfectly elliptical or perfectly spherical. There were some aberrations caused by second order effects from the gravity anomalies. So, that area definitely received more attention.

COLLINS: So what you're suggesting is that the basic thrust of these programs did not change, it was really just a question of increasing their priority or in the case of Mercury, kind of restraining the tendencies of some of the program people.

SEAMANS: I'd say, in the case of Mercury, as it turned out, we had a very difficult time turning it off, because by the time of the Gordon Cooper flight we'd achieved missions lasting over a day. Let's see, how long was he up there? I forget exactly, but maybe a little over a day, maybe more than that. The project people on Mercury said, "Just give us another X million dollars and we can extend the flight to a week." The astronauts all wanted to do that, because they could see there would be at least a couple of years of delay before they got to the Gemini, which was then approved, and I was public enemy number 1 for suggesting that it was time to get off Mercury and forget about Mercury and get on with the next job.

COLLINS: Right. What was Bob Gilruth's position on that?

SEAMANS: That's a good question. I really can't be sure of the answer to that. I think he probably sided with the desirability of getting more information out of Mercury, but I'm not positive.

COLLINS: Well, one of the key areas that you alluded to as you were describing the requirements for effecting the moon program was defining of what could be done in-house versus of what you could do out of house, externally, and you put the emphasis on the service aspects of it relating to manpower, where you needed personnel capability in terms of technical management. I thought we might turn to the question relating to getting the hardware built, and what the relationship between NASA and industry was there, in procuring that material?

SEAMANS: I wonder if, before we do that, it might not be a good idea to discuss this matter of the non-profit that we did not want to use, and the build-up of internal capability. We felt there was at least a reasonable chance that we could hire enough, for want of a better name, systems engineers within NASA that could take responsibility for the overall management. We also did reach the decision that it would be a mistake to have the program office in Kansas City. There would be too many decisions on a program of that dimension that would require close communication with the senior management of NASA.

    The Office of the Administrator for example, as well as many discussions between that program office and the Congress and what is now OMB, that to have it a thousand miles or 1500 miles away just didn't make sense. So it meant then that we needed to set up a program office with highly skilled system engineers in the Washington area, and we went about the business of trying to use our accepted positions for that purpose.

    We inherited a certain number of accepted positions that had been provided by the Eisenhower Administration. I think we were able to get a few more, when the Apollo was initiated, but not very many, because at the very same time, there was a major thrust by the OMB to eliminate accepted positions generally from the government, and to make better use of the civil service structure, the GS-18s, 17s, 16s.

    So we had very limited openings, and also, the type of person we were looking for was in great demand for a lot of DOD projects and other projects. So the long and short of it was, we suddenly realized we were not going to be able to get the competence that we needed. We'd hired people like Joe Shea who came in and worked with Brainerd Holmes, but we needed more engineering and project types and so, what was there to do about it? Again, I can't quite remember all the steps, all the mental anguish we went through, but we decided that if we could have something like Sandia, which is run by the Bell Labs, for the Energy Department we'd be better off than to have a free floating non-profit setup like an Aerospace working for the Air Force.

    So we got in touch with Jim Fisk, who ran the Bell Labs. I know he was very reluctant to proceed, and so I was sent by Webb to New Jersey and meet with Jim Fisk and explain what we had in mind, what we needed and so on. Finally he reluctantly agreed, and he said he would only proceed on the basis that the people that were hired into what became known as Bellcom would be hired to match the standards of the Bell Labs system, that these would not be people who were hired uniquely for Apollo, who would either become a permanent element or would all be fired when the Apollo work was over. Actually we thought that that was a great idea. We made it clear that we did not look at this as a long term arm of NASA. We felt that we needed this help temporarily but desperately. But as soon as we could, we'd like to put them out of business. So that satisfied Jim Fisk. It satisfied us.

    Webb also felt that, and this may have been somewhat political, I don't know, but that they should not do this at cost, that they should get a profit for doing it. I guess inpart we could then say that we didn't have any non-profits, but if they were going through the exercise of putting this together, they ought to get something that would come to their bottom line in terms of a profit. I don't think Jim Fisk was too keen about the idea, but he finally agreed.

COLLINS: Did the financial arrangement work in the following way: NASA would give a certain amount of money to Bell and Bell would then take care of the salaries of people at Bellcom?

SEAMANS: Oh yes.

COLLINS: Collect a profit?

SEAMANS: Yes. This was definitely a cost plus arrangement, single source. There was no competition. We just went right to the Bell Labs of AT&T and asked for this service, and we negotiated a contract and it was on that basis. We did not in any way get into the hiring of the people. We didn't recommend people for them. It was entirely their responsibility.

COLLINS: I'm a little unclear on what your and Mr. Webb's thinking was, on why you didn't want this to be an organization analogous to say Aerospace, and why you thought Sandia was a better model?

SEAMANS: Well, I think it really goes back to what I've just said, that we didn't want to end up with a kept organization, an organization that would have a life of its own, that would be-- it's a terrible word to use, but you're going to have a parasite there that's going to want to keep going--that you're "stuck with" for all time. We looked at this as a temporary expedient.

    Now, I think I should quickly interject right here that for about four or five years I was the chairman of the board of Aerospace, and I personally am not against all non-profits that are used for systems engineering. But I think it's an understandable weakness that the Air Force has, the way the Air Force came into being after World War II as a separate service. They did not have the various ordnance laboratories that the Army has or the Navy has. They did not have anywhere near as extensive in-house skills, and they suddenly ended up with more highly technical developments than the other services. The Air Force was developing and deploying many types of satellites and ballistic missiles.

    But as I say, Jim Webb felt this very strongly. I certainly thought it was better to do it in-house if we could. Hugh was very partial to in-house operations, and had done a wonderful job over the years with the NACA, with in-house capability.

COLLINS: How did Brainerd Holmes and Bob Gilruth view the establishment of Bellcom? Did they see it as a potential intrusion on their ability to operate?

SEAMANS: I'd say that Brainerd was pushing very hard for it. He desperately needed people to manage the program, and it was very definitely in his interest and I'm sure he had a lot to do with pushing it hard and getting it done. As far as the centers went, I guess they looked at it as threatening, but I don't remember any discussion with any of them along that line.

COLLINS: How did Bellcom and the centers interact? How were responsibilities divided?

SEAMANS: Well, Bellcom was very definitely looking at how would you say it, at some of the issues you get into when you're looking at an integrated whole, as compared with the centers that were responsible for more specific developments. I can't think of any very good examples. That was the sort of line of demarcation, that if you're just thinking of the possibility of some particular addition to the program or change in the program, the people at Bellcom were right there. Brainerd or George Mueller could throw the idea at them and let them look at the pros and cons of the various alternatives, while still leaving the centers in command of and moving ahead on the specific projects that had already been assigned to them. The Bell Labs, of course, does have a great reputation. They have a great reputation because they have very competent people, and Bellcom was no exception. The people they brought in were of sufficient stature that, there was never any real friction that came up between Bellcom and the centers. Maybe you'll find some people go who'll disagree with me, but I think they were highly respected.

COLLINS: But there was a sense, I assume, in which Bellcom, in order to do its work and develop this broad systems perspective, needed the input of the centers for specific things.

SEAMANS: Yes, and again, you'll have to get this from Sam Phillips or someone closer, but my impression is that individuals from Bellcom could go and talk to individuals in the various centers, without any problem, and that very often, Bellcom would come up with a specific task that needed to be studied in more detail than they could possibly study it within their rather small organization. Those tasks would either be laid on the centers, or might end up as a small contract to an industrial firm.

COLLINS: There is I think an important relationship between one role of the centers, technical direction of projects, and this notion of systems engineering. Did Bellcom play any role in that sense?

SEAMANS: No, I used the term systems engineering, I think I sort of misspoke. I think Bellcom was more system analysis, and oftentimes preliminary analysis, and when you get into systems engineering, you get into the kind of thing where you have to worry about the detailed interfaces between two major elements, and how things tie together mechanically, electrically, hydraulically and so on. That was definitely not Bellcom's role, and that is a major role of say Aerospace. That gets into another story, that wasn't finally resolved, I would say, properly, until after the Apollo fire, when Boeing came in and took on that responsibility. One of the things that Jim Webb had in mind was the possibility of going to a contractor to operate what we conceived of as a test facility. You could think of it perhaps intellectually as what finally turned out to be the Mississippi Test Facility. But instead of just being a test facility, of having an integrating responsibility as well, and where we would have a contractor there who would get into all the detailed engineering that would be required to put together the Apollo and the Saturn and so on.

COLLINS: You mean the systems engineering.

SEAMANS: The systems engineering tied in with the testing. Now, I had a lot of trouble understanding what Jim had in mind on the one hand, and with the program office on the other. The program office didn't like the idea of bringing in a contractor who would have tremendous authority, you know, over how all the pieces went together and everything, and the centers certainly didn't. It was very threatening, that idea, at that time.


SEAMANS: What finally happened was that, yes, we did build up this Mississippi Test Facility. There were contractors there that helped run it. But the responsibility for the tests that were run on the big boosters was still Marshall's. I guess it was primarily the Saturn, various Saturn stages, and various engines that were tested there. I don't think any work was done testing the spacecraft there. But there was another element to it, and that was this whole area of what kind of instrumentation and what kinds of modules and consoles and things were going to be needed for the static testing as well as for checkout as well as for launch operation.

    Jim jumped the gun a little bit on all of this, way in the beginning, by having discussions with GE. He thought of GE as a company that should be brought in because they had tremendous technical resources, and yet they were not in the rocket business. They were not competitive with the Boeings and the North Americans and so on. There were some discussions, I can't quite remember who at GE came in and talked but they were quite senior people, and Webb would ask them questions such as: if they were responsible for managing the overall testings how would they go about it and would they be interested in doing it. I had a lot of concern about this whole area myself. How was it going to fit in with our internal management, both in actuality as well as from, a psychological standpoint. But we finally did give GE a contract, and they set up an operation, I guess it was at Daytona Beach, for a lot of the instrumentation. It was instrumentation because you get into the communication and the data reduction and that side of the testing and evaluation.

COLLINS: These are a couple of interesting examples.

SEAMANS: You asked about, let's get going on procurement. Most of the procurement that we did was a lot more straightforward than that, in the sense that we were buying pieces of hardware, you know, that had to perform. In a way, there were a lot of elements to it which we can now discuss, but it was a lot easier to define what we wanted, than in the areas like the Bellcom and the testing and the integration and that side of it--it's harder to define the scope of the effort.

COLLINS: It also raises issues of what responsibility NASA should hold to itself.

SEAMANS: Exactly. Exactly.

COLLINS: And what it should entrust to a contractor.

SEAMANS: You're right.

COLLINS: I think one interesting point is this, in the development of the NASA mission, it was essentially decided that the centers would serve as the focal point of technical direction and definition of what would be required for the various procurements. When you get into a contract in which some of the suppliers play the role of systems integrators, there's clearly some conflict there.

SEAMANS: Yes. It is in a sense not a completely consistent set of policies. To say, on the one hand, we're going to run this thing with government people and we're going to build up the skills internally to manage, and then at the same time say, we're going to go out and get a contractor who's going to take on all the system integration. Those two assignments are potentially in conflict.

COLLINS: Okay, in the case, for example at the test facility in Mississippi, I believe Boeing served as the systems integrator for several stages of the Saturn.

SEAMANS: After the Apollo fire.

COLLINS: Oh, it was only after? I thought it was before.

SEAMANS: No. Well, maybe just to mention Michoud, because that was another very important element in all of this, and again was somewhat extraneous to the whole matter of procurement per se. The first stages--the first testing that was done on big rocket stages for the Saturn--was done at Huntsville. Huntsville, you know, built up some pretty massive test facilities and in turn had procured barges, so that the Tennessee, Ohio and Mississippi Rivers could be used to transport the Saturn stages to the test facility in Mississippi and over to the Cape in Florida.

    This is, of course, one of the things that, as I said earlier, we were pushing against, Marshall doing so much of the work themselves. So when Marshall came in and said, "Do you realize that there's this great big plant that's sitting right there at the mouth of the Mississippi that could be used for assembling large rocket motors, large stages, booster stages?" it fell on welcome ears. We could see that if you went that route, it wouldn't be Marshall down there doing it, we'd bring in contractors to do it. That would achieve one of the objectives that we had in mind, namely to get Marshall out of the arsenal business.

    Now, I guess the reason, this is just guess, that Marshall came in with this idea was that they already had Chrysler working and responsible for the first stage of the Saturn-I. During the Korean War, Chrysler was building a lot of tank engines and stuff in that very plant, so the Chrysler people knew about the plant. They probably said, "Hey, why don't we use the plant for that purpose?" Then when the Marshall people took a look at it, there were 45 acres all under one roof, they could see that a lot of other things could be done there beyond the Saturn-I first stage.

    So once that was brought to our attention at Headquarters, with the Webb mind rapidly at work, we said, how might we manage it, if we have Chrysler in there on the first stage of the Saturn, aren't we suddenly going to find we have to have Chrysler doing a lot of other things in there as well? We said, "We don't want to be committed to Chrysler for all these things." We still, if I'm not mistaken, hadn't made all the source selections. Why couldn't we have a bunch of contractors working in one building?

    Now, I remember that came up when Henry Ford came to one of our meetings. I told you that Webb had a bunch of consultants and advisors, and he finally built up a group that just came in from time to time, not like Arthur Raymond, but people who were too busy to come in very often. But at one session, dinner session, we had Henry Ford there and Webb posed it, he said, "Do you think it would be possible for several contractors to work, to be responsible for work in one building?" Henry Ford said, "Absolutely not. It would never work."

    Of course that galvanized Webb I guess partly into proving he could make it work. Anyway, the idea finally came down to having, when we picked Boeing for the first stage, they got a chunk of the building, and Chrysler had a chunk of the building, and then you say, who's responsible for all the janitorial and other kinds of services that you need in a big building like that? We brought in a third company to do that. Everybody said it would never work. Was it Rush? I believe so. I'd say it worked like a charm. It worked very well. You had a big partition down the middle, and if you had to go from Chrysler over to Boeing, it was thought of as the Berlin Wall. You had to go through Check Point Charlie to go from one to the other. But at the time, people looked on it with great skepticism, but it satisfied a need, and it did get the fabrication of those two big stages, the two biggest we had to deal with, out from under Marshall. But they still had, I would say, a great say as to what went on in those plants.

COLLINS: Resuming after a brief pause, to return to this notion of using some contractors as systems integrators, I wonder whether that, in your mind, is an example of what you call Webb's approach, of controlled redundancy, in the sense that the people who are building the components essentially have two different people looking over their shoulder, the centers and the contractor who's doing the systems integration?

SEAMANS: I think that's a very astute question, and I think he definitely had that in mind. He recognized from his government experience that when you have problems in a governmental endeavor, it's a lot more serious, it's a lot tougher to straighten them out, since you are in a sense in a big goldfish bowl--you know, the media like to hop on you for everything--much more than in the private sector. For that reason, you want to have, a variety of checks and balances. You cannot just rely on the line organization. And he was absolutely right. It's just today what's being, you know, attempted through the Inspector General's office, the IG circuit, another way of getting at that. Various other administrative functions that provide checks and balances, and certainly you can set up your system of contractors in such a way that you also get some checks and balances. I know that's what he had in mind. I remember discussing controlled redundancy as controlled tension with him.

COLLINS: So you balanced that out with the potential problems it might create for internal management and perhaps even questions of--

SEAMANS: Well, I personally think there's a limit to how far you can go by that rule. I think Bellcom is to some extent a check and balance, because you had good competent people observing what's going on, and the information tends to filter back. If you went as far as Jim was thinking we might go, with a sort of major test facility run by a contractor who would also have the responsibility for the system integration, I think the system would balk, would not countenance going quite that far. Now, by the time we had the Apollo fire, I think everybody recognized something more had to be added, and what Boeing ended up doing, as a result of the fire, was satisfying a need that was generally recognized. They were at the same time not responsible for the Mississippi Test Facility and that kind of testing. Also, I think it's safe to say, that they were the most skilled company in the world at handling technical integration issues.

COLLINS: But, this is digressing a little bit, what they were doing in the case of North American went beyond systems integration. They were essentially overseeing the production process, in a sense, weren't they?

SEAMANS: No, I don't think they were. No, they were basically, call them the interface managers, interface engineers. Boeing did not end up responsible for the North American-Rockwell contract. They weren't overseeing to that extent.

COLLINS: Just an aside there about Boeing's role, in talking recently with some of the Boeing staff who participated in the technical integration and evaluation contract, it was their strong feeling that, even though they did a tremendous service, it set them back as a corporation in terms of being able to compete for space contracts in the years after that, because they put some of their best people in that area, as opposed to research and development areas.

SEAMANS: I'm sure that's true. We were drawing on a rather rare commodity, and as long as it was being used on the NASA program, it wasn't available for other things.

COLLINS: Let's move on. Let's try to start off on a general note and see if we can get into more specific areas.

SEAMANS: All right.

COLLINS: As the Apollo program is approved, and you begin to prepare to build up for it, what was your general thinking about how the procurement activity was going to proceed? In terms of Bellcom and GE, you went out in a sense and negotiated in a sole source manner, with a couple of entities, corporations, that you thought could do the work for you. What were your evolving thoughts about the in-house capabilities and those things that you needed to contract out for, in terms of hardware? You wanted to turn the organization away from an arsenal mentality towards one in which the centers would primarily direct and monitor contracts executed by industry. How did you begin to conceive of what the role of the centers would be under those circumstances? What were the elements of their responsibility?

SEAMANS: We had in one of our centers a pretty good model on how to proceed, and that was Goddard. Goddard was a center that had grown up under NASA. It didn't exist before NASA was formed. It did have within it some elements that had come from the Navy, the Naval Research Lab, but it had gone way beyond the Vanguard team in its competence. It had been built up really under the direct aegis of Abe Silverstein. Goddard was handling a large number of projects by '61, '62, none of them very large, but Goddard had the communication and meteorological satellites programs, as well as the satellite and Mercury networks.

    In addition to the Space Task Group and Marshall, we had another cluster of projects, the Ranger, the Surveyor, and the Mariner at JPL. We could compare the two, Goddard on the one hand and JPL on the other, and when we compared the two, it was pretty obvious that the mode we liked best, for management and procurement was the Goddard mold. Except for the anomaly of the Space Task Group, there were no major projects at that time going on within the research centers, and it was right at that time we realized that the Space Task Group, which was a special entity housed at Langley, couldn't stay at Langley much longer. It was getting to be too big. There wasn't sufficient flexibility in that community to permit us to grow by 5000 people. We had to go somewhere else, and at that time when we were making these plans, we were selecting Houston. We were working with Brown and Root plan to construct the facility there.

    We liked what we saw under Harry Goett at Goddard, from the standpoint of how he was working with industry. I'd say that's the management route we wanted to follow.

COLLINS: What were some of the characteristics of that model?

SEAMANS: Well, the characteristics were that there were government project teams at the center, and they were directly responsible on a contract by contract basis for what was going on at TRW or Hughes Aircraft or wherever that work was actually being done on a contract basis. We went with prime contracts, directly from one of our government centers, right out to front line top drawer companies, to design and build the prototypes, develop the prototypes, construct and test the hardware, to take full responsibility. When the satellite was moved to the Cape, the prime had to ensure that it was tested properly on the pad. That was all part of a single contract, with contract administration handled by people you could identify right at Goddard.

COLLINS: So this would have been an example, before phased program planning came into practice.

SEAMANS: Yes, and before we'd really established exactly how Marshall was going to operate. Two things gave us the horrors at JPL. One was that we were working on a long daisy chain. We had a contract with Caltech, to be responsible for a large laboratory--this is one single prime contract--and they in turn would go out to the Hugheses and the TRWs which would, as seen at Headquarters, be a second tier contract, for which the government would not have direct responsibility. There were some pretty hard ball negotiations with Lee DuBridge as head of Caltech and with Bill Pickering, who was the director of JPL, and not only did we not like the daisy chain but we didn't like the way they were managing. They had very loose controls within JPL, and so, after they'd gone through a test, let's say, in a vacuum chamber of a Ranger, we found that individuals responsible for a given piece of electronics could actually change it on their own, without going through the project manager to get permission to change an element that was in the spacecraft. They didn't have that discipline.

COLLINS: Did formal systems exist in which, you know, changes like this were--

SEAMANS: That's what Earl Hillburn got into when we had these studies of the Ranger failures and so on. You know, we ultimately insisted that they bring in a general manager. Al Ludicke was finally brought in to be the general manager of JPL, and was supposed to introduce some formal procedures. It turned out he wasn't the greatest appointment. He had been the manager of the AEC. That's another story. But the reaction really, to put it baldly, of Caltech and JPL was, if you don't like it, go somewhere else. And we did.

    That's the reason that we gave the Lunar Orbiter responsibility to Langley. We recognized that it was a risky thing to do, because Langley was a research center, we didn't really like the idea of having them make use of all their talents on the management of a specific project like that, because it was bound to cut into some of their research work. But we finally got the attention of JPL and Caltech.

    An exact analogy of that, when the Centaur project that was being managed by Marshall, on a contract with General Dynamics, not as part of their in-house arsenal, and they didn't like it. They didn't like that way of managing. They had not yet converted to project management. They finally came and said, "We want to cancel the contract. It just cannot be handled this way." Literally in a 24 hour period, we made Abe Silverstein, who had then gone back to Lewis, responsible for Centaur, and he loved it. Nothing pleased him more than having the Germans not be able to handle something that he could handle. You can see some of the implications of that situation, without my describing it in any more detail. We got Marshall's attention on that one.

COLLINS: So in the case of JPL, one of the concerns there was essentially what were really prime contracts from, as you say, the view of Headquarters were secondary or subcontracts. And Headquarters did not have the full capability to monitor and control the work that was done. In the case of a contract, say, handled by Goddard, what was Goddard's ability to oversees the work of subcontractors through the prime contractor?

SEAMANS: Well, it was more limited. It doesn't have to be the government, but if you let a prime contract to somebody and say, "You're responsible, you Company X are responsible for this major endeavor," you can't at the same time go to one of their subs and tell the sub what to do. Quite obviously, if you do that, the prime will say, if anything goes wrong "It's all your fault, you meddled in my business." But there are things that are quite legitimate that you can do.

    For example, you get into the "make or buy." If TRW has a contract to build a big satellite, they may think it's in their interest to develop a new camera, to go in that satellite. They like to build up their own capability. So they say, "okay, we're going to build a camera," and make all kinds of arguments, "necessary for us, TRW, to do it because the requirements are going to be changing with time, and that's the only way we can really stay on top of it."

    But the government can say to TRW, when they come in to make this request on making it rather than buying it, say, "Hey, Eastman Kodak has been making cameras just like that for years. We don't want to pay you to re-invent the wheel. For gosh sake, run a competition, there's not only Eastman Kodak, there are others in the business." Those are the legitimate kinds of decisions that the project office has to get into. How much is done within TRW, how much is done outside.

COLLINS: So the project office works with the prime contractor, on how the work package is broken down.

SEAMANS: Right. Then they work with the prime on issues that are bound to come up in any development program once you get all the contractors going. We had periodic reviews and so on, then if something goes sour or if Eastman Kodak doesn't get the camera or something goes sour with the lens or something, at some point, if TRW does not come around and say, "Hey, we're really concerned about Eastman Kodak on this lens," if the government sees that this thing is leading to disaster, for whatever reason, they can insist that another contractor be brought in as a second source or whatever. Or it could be the other way around.

    It could be that TRW is troubled and they come to the government and say, "Look, we're not hacking it there at Eastman Kodak, we've got to bring in a second source," which would then cost some more money and involve a change in the contract. Although you have negotiated a contract, to get the job done, there are bound to be many amendments made to the contract over time, as a result of changing circumstance, and every amendment has to be negotiated, and to the maximum extent possible, the amendment should be negotiated and definitized before the contractor goes ahead, so it's known whether there's going to be an additional cost and you its agreed before anything is started.

    But in some of these programs where time is of the essence, you give an approval for the contractor to go ahead even before you've definitized the amendment in detail, and you can see that all kinds of problems can develop from that. Then when you have the "cost overruns," the question is, how much of that overrun results from actual program-approved changes and how much of it comes from miscalculations or mismanagement on the part of the prime? There's nothing static about contract administration. It's a dynamic. Lot of balls in the air all the time, and you're catching them and trying to get them back up there again.

COLLINS: At what points would you be involved in this dynamic process? What was your role, when you get down to this question, what we're talking about here is not so much the selection process, but what a center does once it has the contract.

SEAMANS: Right. This is now personal. I believe that on major developments, you need to have a formal monthly review. A lot of people disagree. Since I was the general manager, I felt that I had to review major projects. I obviously couldn't review everything, but I should review the important programs on a monthly basis. We designated what the review process was in these approval documents. In those that I was reviewing, I couldn't personally detect all the incipient problems by myself, but I had a staff that came underneath D. Wyatt that had been studying a lot of the information that's coming in--let's see, expenditure information, you knew how rapidly the money was being used up.

    They briefed me before I met with a particular program office. They had some indication of schedules. By whatever means, the people would advise me on what they saw as the problem areas that should be discussed at the upcoming monthly meeting. Okay. Then, I'd have that in the back of my head, and then the people would come in and present what they were doing, and if they didn't bring up things that appeared to be serious as a result of my earlier briefing, I'd bring them up. I'd say, "Hey, how are you doing on this? Is that lens of Eastman Kodak going to work or not? What data do you have? How far along are you in either the design or testing or whatever phase it was in?"

    Now, it's a two way street. I mean, often times it wasn't just a question of the general manager there with a whip, or the general manager there as a smart ass trying to tell everybody what to do. It would be a question of sharing information, and oftentimes recognizing that things had come up that were serious where more resources would be required, and there would be approval to either make facilities available, people available, more dollars or whatever was required to get around the problem. There could be jobs that had been delegated and made available through the project approval document where there was not sufficient funding for the project people to proceed. They needed more effort than had been anticipated.

COLLINS: Maybe it would be useful to go to kind of the beginning of the process where procurement initiates.

SEAMANS: All right. Maybe we can just reach in and get one slide here.

COLLINS: Okay, for reference purposes let me identify this for the tape. This is Figure 4, used by Dr. Seamans in his Minta Martin Lecture, which was presented in 1968.

SEAMANS: Yes. All right, this is a process that made use of a central functional office in Headquarters, for procurement, where there was government expertise there that went back into DOD experiences and other experience, where there was a group of people who understand what the rules and the regulations were and all of that. That's one element. Another element is the project team in a center, that had defined some set of work statements that they want accomplished by contracting with industry. Then there is, call it central management, the office of the administrator. The process starting, first of all, with the preparations of a procurement plan. This initiated plan by the project, at the center. It's reviewed by the center director and the center director's staff. It was then reviewed by the Headquarters program office, not from the standpoint of the details of the contract that was going to be requested, what kind of a contract and so on, but more whether it appeared there was the right program content in there, that is, the overall objective, and then as the slide shows, by the Headquarters staff, which means the procurement office at Headquarters, something like a procurement plan for a major endeavor is a big thick document. Then it would come to me as the general manager, and then it would go with a summary memorandum from me to Mr. Webb for his final approval.


SEAMANS: Now, the procurement plan, would among other things spell out what industries were going to be solicited. You know, would it be wide open, or would it be somewhat restricted, say restricted to the major aircraft companies? It would spell out the information that was going to be in the Request for Proposal. It would spell out when the Request was going out to industry and how it would go out. Would it go out with a big conference, where industry would be invited in? It would spell out what would happen at this meeting as far as questions go, questions that might come up from contractors after the initiation of this Request.

    We would usually insist that if a contractor asked a question with regard to the procurement, that the answer would not just go to them but would go to everybody in the competition. It would spell out how the proposals would be reviewed, and what kind of recommendations the Source Evaluation Board would make. Would they just come up with a score, or would they recommend a specific contract to be selected, or would they rank order the companies?

    So after approval by the administrator the various elements of the Request for Proposal [RFP], or Request for Quotes, be the would the responsibility of the center project office. They would go through reviews, but the RFQ would not come to the administrator for final approval. This process only involved the center, the Headquarters program office and the procurement office.

COLLINS: You mean RFP?

SEAMANS: Yes, the Procurement Plan was an internal document but the RFP was going to go out to industry. The document that was going to go out to industry would not actually go all the way to the administrator. But the elements of what was going to be in it would be in the original procurement plan.

COLLINS: Right. What was the tie-in between forwarding of a procurement plan and some kind of program planning document that would indicate that the conception and definition of a program was at a state where it was appropriate to proceed with procurement?

SEAMANS: Well, you wouldn't go through this exercise unless the program office and in turn the center director had a project approval document that said they had the responsibility for the first stage of Saturn or the Ranger or what have you.

COLLINS: Right, but as we were looking at earlier, the project approval documents themselves are fairly general statements of program goals. It seems to proceed with the procurement, to know when to proceed with it, there has to be a fairly well-defined sense of what it is you want to procure.


COLLINS: Not just a general statement of objectives.

SEAMANS: Well, the overall umbrella was still the project approval documents. Maybe, to begin with, when they were signed, they would be somewhat general and fuzzy, and then as the exercise proceeds we become more and more specific. We had to address such issues as whether we're going to have one contractor do it all or several contractors. It's an interim process we're going through at this stage. But if there wasn't a project approval document that said that we were planning on doing certain things on a certain time scale, and it was going to go to a given part of the organization, there's nothing to procure. We had got to get started with the overall approval of the project before we know what we're going to go out and procure.

COLLINS: Right. I guess I'll ask the question a slightly different way. Take the example of the contract for the Apollo spacecraft. To what degree did the Space Task Group need to define or specify the technical characteristics of that craft before you could proceed with the procurement? Were there any criteria or was it just their professional judgment that they were ready to go out and procure this thing?

SEAMANS: Well, we wouldn't sign a project approval document to give them the responsibility for its development until there had been discussion of what kind of spacecraft we're talking about. Is it a spacecraft that has wings on it, or is it a blunt body that's going to come into the atmosphere the way Mercury did? It's for three people, not two. It's going to have a navigation system that's going to be based on the work of the Instrumentation Lab at MIT, the Draper Lab. That required communication between the general manager and the program office and the Space Task Group, and that would be understood prior to allocating, allotting the resources in a project approval document for that purpose, which in turn would have to precede going out on the procurement.

COLLINS: In terms of presenting arguments for or documentation that would support the project approval document, was that a specific series of documents that had to come in advance of that?


COLLINS: In other words, this program development plan, is that an example of what we're talking about here, in terms of the procedure?

SEAMANS: Yes. But before you go out on this procurement, during the first phase, there had been some study contracts. There may have been three companies, each one of which had a study contract to see how they'd develop, through preliminary design, a three man capsule that among other things would re-enter the earth at 33,000 feet per second. There would be heat studies, thermal studies. There would be studies on what the tolerances were, how much error could we tolerate as we entered the atmosphere, in the angle we approached the atmosphere, to avoid on the one hand just going right in and burning up, or on the other hand ricocheting off the atmosphere and bouncing way off into the wild blue yonder. Then when we come to the final procurement plan to go ahead, were we going to limit the people that bid to only those who had these original studies, or are you going to open it up for everybody to bid on, or is there maybe just one other company that on their own without government resources for the preliminary phase, carried out studies of possibilities of doing this?

COLLINS: In practice, how did this conduct of studies work in terms of the follow-on contracts? Did you find yourself in part kind of locked into choosing from that group, or was it easy to open up to competition? I'd have to look into specific examples to make sense of such a question--

SEAMANS: No, it's a good question. I'm trying to remember cases where we did open it up, and where in turn the company that finally got it was one of those that we let in. The tendency is to let a company with proper credentials and so on propose, if they're very anxious to do so. But we have to recognize, every time we did that we increase the amount of work that the Source Evaluation Board will have to take on, because this evaluation process is not a simple process, for a big contract. In the long run it costs the government money, because these companies that bid are able to charge the work they do preparing their bid and proposal to funds that indirectly comes from the government. So there should be, you know, reasonable constraints on letting people come in, and certainly there was no point in having somebody come in if we felt they were absolutely unqualified for the job. That's just a waste of everybody's time. But there can be a lot of political pressure to let some company come in, even then.

COLLINS: Do you have any examples of that?

SEAMANS: Oh, sure. I can't quite single out examples off hand, but when Congressional delegations from a given state came in and wanted to know why a certain company wasn't qualified to bid, and groups that came in just before we made the decision and said they trusted that company X would be given due consideration, and you'd say, "Yes, sir, they'll be given due consideration." But when I was in NASA, I never had pressure to the point where I was in effect told that I had to do something, which I would not have had to do anyway because Webb was the administrator. But I will say that when I finally ended up as Administrator of ERDA, where in effect I had Webb's job, I was called up to the Hill by a Senator who happened to be the chairman of our Appropriations Committee and told what he expected me to do, which let me just say for the record, I didn't do. But it's a story in itself.

COLLINS: In the opening to the Source Evaluation Board Manual, they list several characteristics of NASA procurement that are different say than the DOD, so it might be useful just to read those in and give us something to discuss.

SEAMANS: All right.

COLLINS: "Technological complexity, tight time schedules, unusual reliability requirements, low quantity, little follow-on production, and technical specifications of product often cannot be set in advance." In other words, they're talking about very, very basic research and development products. I wonder whether we might look at, using that as a focus, at some of the difficulties that NASA confronted in terms of doing its procurement, at least for some of the major systems.

SEAMANS: Well, I think that, to me, the really key one in there of the items you've read, which corresponds to my own view of the thing, from having worked on both sides of that street, is the limited production. An F-15 aircraft, when it was first going into development was pretty complicated, and so was the B-1 bomber. I wouldn't say that the technologies involved were much more difficult for Apollo than for the B-1 and the F-15.

    The difference is, in the case of the Department of Defense, the contractor expects to make hundreds of these aircraft when they're through, and they have to recognize that when they finally get through and go into operation, that the maintenance is going to have to be run by quite junior people who have only been in the service a relatively short time, and have rather limited training.

    It's quite a different proposition than the checkout of an Apollo spacecraft on the pad, where there are literally hundreds of highly qualified people sitting at consoles and so on, making the decision whether to go ahead, and available for maintenance if that's required. If there is a hold and something has to be fixed, highly qualified people are required. There were contractor people right there, at the Cape, with jump suits or white jackets on with McDonnell Aircraft or some other contractors name on their back who are considerably more senior than the maintenance personnel we had at Air Force bases in Southeast Asia. It was a different ball game. I'm not sure that answers your question.

    The incentive from a contractor's standpoint, when they're working on development for the DOD, is obviously to get their production contract. That's where the money's going to be. There isn't that same kind of incentive for the NASA projects. They're well paid for what they do. But as the Boeing people pointed out, they could use up an awful lot of their very talented people in a hurry for work that didn't have long term consequences, but there was the prestige of doing the work. There is the excitement of doing it. There is, it's hoped, the experience from the work, that hopefully can be applied to follow-on work.

COLLINS: Given as the characteristics of the NASA procurement process suggests, and what we were talking about before, this problem in terms of the procurement plan of being able to define at the beginning what the eventual product is really going to be like, in your experience as the associate administrator, what kinds of issues did this raise for you in the eventual ability to have the centers work well in arranging to get the product and working with industry?

SEAMANS: I'm not quite sure I get the question. I guess it had to be recognized that as we went through this elaborate exercise, that what we finally ended up with could end up quite different from the bid request that the people were actually proposing on. So it could be said, well, the whole thing is a farce. I mean, we were getting people to go through this elaborate exercise to build something, and then we didn't actually build it, we built something else.

    Intellectually we could say, "why are we going through the process?" And we could say, "well, we're going through the process in part because it's the only way we know how to go through it and get something started without doing the unacceptable, namely, to just reach out and appoint by fiat the contractors that we think might be best able to handle it." We're expected to go through a competition. If we don't run it in an acceptable way, a contractor by law can go to the GAO and the GAO in turn can hold up the procurement, for as long as it takes them to investigate it. So we have to satisfy that side of it.

    But also, I always felt that the exercise we went through did sharpen up in many ways the project itself, that a lot of things would come up, ideas, procedures, processes, as a result of going through this exercise that would be beneficial to the program. It wasn't just an exercise in futility, if you will, from that standpoint. We really did have, by going through this, a good way of evaluating not just the company that was going to handle the project, but the specific people that were going to be responsible for it, because there can be some tremendous capability in any company, but in other parts of the company there may be some rather dismal prospects, if you will, for handling the job.

    We were forcing the company to commit itself to the group that were actually going to be responsible, and we had a lot of ways of measuring the competence of the particular group that was going to be responsible, and later on we had recourse, if the company tried to take the job that we were told was going to go to Division A and put it in Division C which we knew was not as competent, by saying, "Hey, you can't do that. That's not the way you said you were going to do it." It's a way of getting, you might say, a firmer commitment on what's going to happen than we would have had if we didn't go through this process.

COLLINS: You've got the process of articulating the procurement plan, and beginning to work with the industry to define what the final contract will look like. One of the key elements in giving refinement to the procurement process is the selection of the type of contract you'll use.


COLLINS: It seems that the cost plus fixed fee indicates that the arrangements are a little looser, the definition perhaps of the product that will eventuate is a little less defined.


COLLINS: So there was this movement through the course of the sixties--as your graph suggested--to move away from cost plus fixed fee contracts towards incentive contracts, with the idea that these things would be instrumental in helping to better define the whole procurement process, what was expected of everybody.

SEAMANS: Yes, that's right. Webb felt very strongly about this, and I really agreed with him, that if we were going to get a good job done by a contractor, we've got to be sure--and now I'm talking about a big job--that we had the involvement of the top management in that company. Once we contracted on an incentive basis, where there could be losses, or near to zero profit, on the one hand; or there could be a healthy return, you tend to get more attention from the senior management in the company. A company doesn't like to take on a liability, and they were taking on a potential liability when they signed an incentive contract. To evaluate that risk and keep track of the risk as they went along is just bound to involve more of the senior management than without it. If they know they're going to get a 6 percent fee, why worry about it, if you're chief executive officer with a million other things to worry about?

COLLINS: To what extent were the requirements of the Apollo program amenable to incentive-type contracting? In other words, were you able to reach a point where you could define enough what you were asking the contractor to do, that an incentive contract made sense?

SEAMANS: That's a good question, and a lot of times, you cannot define well enough all of the things that you want, to incentivize them, and I think the classic example of what not to do is the C-5 contract, I'm not going to take you through it, but they tried to incentivize everything--you know, performance, the length of runway required, the payload that could be carried, and so many things that were supposed to be achieved of automatically, by virtue of the contract. The idea was, the contract administration would take care of itself. The government would not have to be involved on a continuing basis.

    There was a school of thought which included McNamara that felt that that would be a good thing. Get the government off the contractors' backs, let us make the decision, they're running the project. That's fine if you're working in a static situation, but you're not. Things change with time. So you can get in a big box, if you incentivize too many of the variables. They say, well, can you logically incentivize anything? Sometimes you can't.

    That's when the award fee comes in, which even if you don't have a formula kind of incentive, can still be valuable, because with an award system, you don't try to arithmetically set it up, but you have areas where the government can in discussion with the contractor say, "These are the areas that I'm going to use in judging how well you do, and on an annual basis we'll put together a team of people, and we'll add it all up and we'll tell you what your award is going to be."

    Even that is a very valuable thing to do. It forces, at the start of the process, the government to think through what it wants. It forces the contractor to think what they're providing. On a periodic basis, it forces the government again to evaluate what's important, and to score the contractor. It forces the contractor to either accept or to fight back on what they get, and if properly used can be a very valuable tool.

COLLINS: How easy is it to set standards in this? It might be best to use some examples. How easy is it to set standards of performance against which the eventual award?

SEAMANS: On an award fee or an incentive?

COLLINS: Incentive.

SEAMANS: Incentive, you have to go with the things that are measurable, schedule is one possibility. Cost is another possibility. Are there any others? I think that's about it, I mean, really, when you come down to it. When you get into the performance side of it, that's where you can get into serious trouble.

COLLINS: Right. Was that one of the cases with the C-5?

SEAMANS: Yes, the length of the runway, the payload, you know, all that kind of thing, those were performance numbers. Incidentally, if you get yourself in that box, you're in terrible shape, because let's say that the length of the runway which seemed very important when you let the contract, is no longer, you realize, important; that you're only going to use the C-5 for strategic purposes with long runways. But you find you can't change it, because you're then giving the contractor what's called a "golden handshake." You're letting him off the hook. Why let him off the hook? I know that one very well because I had to appear before Senator Proxmire, you know, on just those kinds of issues.

    But there's one, I think, to me, excellent example of where an incentive contract really worked, was the Lunar Orbiter, and this is a contract that was let by Langley. We brought them in, and Boeing was the contractor, and even the procurement was a very interesting exercise, because it was one of those cases where all five proposals were very different, from a technical standpoint. This was, I can't remember exactly how much it was for, but it was 60, 70 million dollars, and time was important, dollars were important. I also think there was a penalty in there. There were five orbiters. For each orbiter that didn't work there was some kind of a penalty, but on a very simple minded definition of whether they worked or not.

    When we were about halfway through with the contract, we were into about our third year, Boeing came to us and they said, "If we're going to meet the schedule, we need let's say 5 million dollars more this particular year," which we didn't have in the budget, and if we hadn't provided them the 5 million dollars, then we would have had to renegotiate the contract, which could have been advantageous to them. If for example we'd had to change some of the incentive arrangements. I remember that very well, because I was bound and determined we were not going to upset the contract, so we could keep all the incentive features in place, and so we did find five million dollars. We reprogrammed from some other part of our budget, to in effect keep their feet to the fire.

COLLINS: To what extent were their feet kept to the fire, if you were providing them with five million more dollars?

SEAMANS: It wasn't more dollars total.

COLLINS: Okay, in terms of the phasing of how the financial arrangement was done.

SEAMANS: Yes. The overall dollars were not changed.

COLLINS: I see. Going back to that graph that you had of the increase in the number of incentive contracts that NASA let as the decade of the sixties progressed, what allowed that to happen? Was it just a determination on NASA's part to better define the contracts it was letting?

SEAMANS: Yes, I'd say it was--

COLLINS: --or was it that the type of contracts that were being let were more amenable to incentives?

SEAMANS: No, I would say it was very real pressure from the office of the administrator to proceed that way, from Webb, myself. We'd get into these kind of issues in the very beginning when the procurement plan would come in for approval. We'd have an opportunity to service the specific incentives possible when the Source Evaluation Board presented its findings which would include what arrangements each contractor was prepared to commit from this standpoint. From the orders, directives, that the project people would have, in the definitization of the project, which would come after the source selection. Throughout that whole process, there was pressure on the organization to incentivize contracts.

COLLINS: I guess what I'm getting at is, how well did this marry with the inherent difficulty of defining some of the things that you needed done, where there was not previous examples of industry experience in a particular product?

SEAMANS: Well, I won't claim that we achieved the millennium, but I think, my own evaluation is that we were not putting square pegs in round holes, that these things did match up pretty well, and that it did have a positive impact on getting on with the job.

COLLINS: To turn the question a slightly different way, were there any instances during this period where there was an increased emphasis on incentive contracts, where you felt that a particular product or activity needed to be done on a cost plus fixed fee basis? Under what circumstances during this period would you use that type of contract? Are there any examples that you can think of?

SEAMANS: Well, I'm sure there must have been. But I think, before we were through, we had all the major elements, say, in the Apollo program on an incentive basis. Bellcom stayed on a 5% cost plus. But even the support contracts for management of the Michaud plant or operation of tracking stations around the world, things of that sort, that can't be placed on a cost incentive basis, were either on or were rapidly approaching the time we'd have them on an award fee basis. I really can't think of a case where we couldn't put a contractor at least on an award basis.

COLLINS: But it was the feeling during this period that you could, for almost any research and development project, you could define it to such a degree that an incentive contract was appropriate.

SEAMANS: No, I'm talking about major development. I'm not talking about a fundamental study of a new method, investigating new materials for turbine blades or something of that sort.

COLLINS: Yes, for the major developments.

SEAMANS: Yes. Because if they weren't well enough, if they weren't far enough along to put them on this basis, we probably weren't ready to proceed.

COLLINS: One of the advantages of incentive contracts supposedly was that it would require less oversight on the part of the government. You were encouraging the corporation to take greater responsibility for determining how the job got done.

SEAMANS: That's true. The second part of what you said is true. As far as some proponents of incentives go, the first part of what you said is believed to be so. To me, that's not necessarily so. I mean, put it another way, incentive arrangements do not eliminate the need for government participation in a program.

COLLINS: I'm just wondering, in NASA's experience during this period, did anything really change in the agency relationship with industry in these major development contracts, as you moved from cost plus fixed fee to incentive contracts?

SEAMANS: I guess I'd have to say I'm not quite sure, to give you an honest answer. Obviously there was some change. I mean, the fact that we had to define what we wanted more precisely and negotiate it more carefully means that, sure, there was change from that standpoint. But the extent to which you could have, we were able, by use of the incentive contract, to minimize the number of governmental people involved is what I'm not quite sure of. I think it changed the role of the government people, but I like to think that what we were able to do was to do the job better and more effectively and get the job done faster, rather than to pare down the number of government people involved. There is an overall saving, if the job is done sooner, but I'm not sure that, by doing this, we were able to do the job with say 35,000 people in NASA, which was I think what we had, and if we hadn't incertified we'd have required 40,000 people. I'm not sure that's true.

COLLINS: The centers had primary responsibility for technical oversight and monitoring.


COLLINS: Do you have any sense that their involvement in that area changed at all? That they were somehow freed up to do other activities?

SEAMANS: I'd like to think that the particular project office wasn't all the time, you know, fighting brush fires and so on, that they were freed up to do more substantive things, longer term things. But again, I guess we don't have the data to really answer that question.

COLLINS: I was just wondering whether you had an impressionistic sense of whether there was any kind of substantial change, as you moved from one type of contract to another?

SEAMANS: One of the cleanest cut examples of this; I keep going back to it, was the Lunar Orbiter, and my impression is that we were able to execute that rather complicated project, which gave the picture that you can see on my wall, by the way, with a smaller project group at Langley than would have been required, (I'm now a little bit reversing what I said earlier) than if the project people in Langley had been, much more running things day to day, cost plus, changing things around more. I guess this intellectual exercise here the last ten minutes--could make a pretty good case for saying that, yes, it did take fewer people, but maybe at the same time, to do it right, it may have taken a higher caliber group to handle it.


COLLINS: I wanted to follow up a couple of points from our discussion relating to incentive contracts. You indicated that Mr. Webb strongly pushed the use of this type of contract. I wonder how the people in the centers responded to this shift, since this was a change that was important to them? Did they have any particular feelings about whether they should be executing their work under cost-plus-fixed-fee contracts or incentive type contracts?

SEAMANS: My recollection is that we didn't have any major stalling tactics or things of that sort pulled on us, which we would have had if we'd tried to go into say fixed price, advertised, you know, sealed bid and all that. In those centers that were doing most of the contracting, they had enough sophistication in dealing with contractors, they realized that it was important to get the attention of the contractors top management. They realized that they needed some handles to get the job done, and I think they admired Webb and felt he was on the right track.

COLLINS: Did this require any special training efforts? I mean, were there elements of preparing contracts in this way that either required special training for the procurement staff or the technical staff.

SEAMANS: Yes. I think I mentioned earlier that a guy named Bob Charles came in from McDonnell-Douglas. He'd been a fairly senior person there. I guess Jim had been a director of McDonnell-Douglas, knew the company well, knew Bob Charles. When Bob joined NASA he explored and studied the procurement process NASA, and came with recommendations to Jim as to how he might change our procedures. If I'm not mistaken, that's what kicked it off. It wasn't too long after Bob Charles had made his recommendations when I got a call from the Air Force, I think it was Gene Zuckert, who asked me, what sort of a person Bob Charles was and all the rest, and Bob went over and became the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations and Logistics which included procurement. So I think that was where the new ideas germinated. Then with continuing pressure it was broadened and after a while I think people realized, if they wanted to get things done on the procurement side, they understand it was going to be incentive contracting. Now, Bob Charles in turn, in making the study, was working with the procurement office, George Vecchetti and some of the others, and I think they were helpful in pulling off this change. They were working with procurement people in all the centers, and it isn't really a very difficult concept, really.

COLLINS: Was Bob Charles brought in because of his expertise, or was Bob Charles brought in in part because of his expertise and the fact that he was familiar with industry?

SEAMANS: Well, he was not a technical person. He was in the administrative side of things at McDonnell-Douglas. And he understood industry.

COLLINS: In other words, what was the special value in bringing in an industry person, as opposed to somebody who was familiar with incentive contracts in the Defense Department?

SEAMANS: I think it was a target of opportunity. For whatever reason, Jim found that Bob Charles might be available, and you know, a lot of people came into NASA at that time. I would say, Jim found out about them, thought they could help, brought them in. I guess I ought to also say that I don't think Jim felt that the Department of Defense had a very good handle on it, either. I mean, I don't think Jim felt that we wanted to do what the Department of Defense did. Jim was looking for some innovation.

COLLINS: Right. I think one of the important areas of the whole procurement thing is how NASA perceived the market or array of firms that it had to deal with, in terms of acquiring what it needed, and the aircraft or aerospace industry is a unique kind of entity in our economy. I wonder in terms of NASA attempting to do competitive bidding and attempting to build capabilities within the industry, how it approached this particular aspect of circumstances?

SEAMANS: Well, you and I have discussed this previously, and it's true that the aerospace industry per se, the Boeings, the McDonnell-Douglases and so on, are limited in number, and so we had one category of procurement. We didn't label them this way, but we were going out to that particular group, which is limited. But at other times, we were not going out to that group. We were going out to the IBMs and a whole bunch of companies that were very definitely in commercial and consumer products, where there was true market competition.

    It was interesting, at that time, and this came up when we worked with DOD on the document that went to the President, on recommending Apollo, that the DOD recognized this, and they felt that there were too many companies in this specialized aerospace category, and that it was a mistake to be carrying along so many of them. They were all for making arbitrary decisions, even winnowing the group down. That thought gave us the horrors at NASA, to think we'd sit there and play god as to which companies continue and which should not continue.

    It was obvious that the future of these aerospace companies was very much dependent on decisions that were being made on a sort of day by day basis by DOD and ourselves, and we had not only a concern about whether there was enough work to keep them all occupied, we also had to worry about whether, through a series of procurements, it might happen that one company was too busy and they couldn't handle the load. So, the question of how to spread this work around, if you want to call it that, was something that we were well aware of. There were some issues there that were important. But we hoped that it could be handled by letting the best team win, rather than by the Government masterminding the result by making what the DOD appeared to be willing to do, making some arbitrary decisions.

COLLINS: Was there any sense, in terms of this concern for the overall welfare of the industry, was their any coordination between NASA and DOD, in terms of contract awards?

SEAMANS: Certainly on the very large procurements, before going ahead, there would be conversation with the DOD, because for all we knew they might be about to let a big contract, say, with North American, at the same time we did, and it was important that there be some coordination along that line. When I ended up as Secretary of the Air Force, that continued. I had a call from Jim Fletcher, when I was in the Air Force, just prior to their letting a contract with Rockwell for the Shuttle, then North American, whether this was going to impinge on any programs that we had with them at that time, in particular how it might affect the B-1 bomber work.

COLLINS: That's an instance of giving a firm more business than it could handle.


COLLINS: Was there ever an instance of where you considered that somebody needed business?

SEAMANS: Where you say, okay, Company X, they only came out third in this, but they're very short of work and they're going to have to lay off unless they get the job? I can't remember a case of that actually happening. The closest I ever came to that, and it didn't really come up in an open discussion, but when we went to Fairchild, when I was in the DOD, to develop and build what's Republic called the A-10 attack aircraft, their Republic division was essentially out of work. Grass was growing up outside the hangar and right through the pavement. But we didn't select Fairchild because I was told that they should get the business. They did come up with a better looking aircraft that tested better than their competitor, which was Northrup.

COLLINS: Yes. From Congressional sources, say, or Presidential sources, was there pressure to insure the overall health of the industry? I know you had a very difficult and technical program to execute. You had to go after the best people. But were there these outside pressures that pushed you in other directions?

SEAMANS: No. Jim Webb may have had some. I don't know. The only pressure that I ever felt, and the only time I really would have felt it was when I was administrator of ERDA, because when I was Secretary of the Air Force, I had a great big umbrella over me in form of the Secretary of Defense, that eliminated some of the phone calls. But the interesting thing was that the pressure when it came was to let contracts in certain geographic areas, it wasn't expressed in terms of a company. For example, might be mentioned that it would help a certain Senator in an election if that contract was to go there--that kind of a pressure.

COLLINS: So back to this question of the geographical distribution of contracts and so forth.

SEAMANS: Yes. Right. I did have one in the DOD, now that I think about it. It was not that it ought to go to the state of California, but rather that we should speed up the announcement because it would help the election of Senator, was it Murphy? I think he'd been a movie star. I remember going to Dave Packard and saying, "I'll be danged if I want to let that contract for that reason. I just think it makes the Air Force look lousy." I pleaded with him to remove the pressure from the Air Force by making the announcement after the election, he backed me up.

COLLINS: Let's talk about the source selection process.

SEAMANS: All right.

COLLINS: I guess perhaps leading up to that, it would be best to kind of look at some of the criteria, as you were planning procurement, the decision process, of whether procurement would be sole source or competitive, either in a negotiated fashion or open--

SEAMANS: Well, it was pretty easy. Put it this way, you had to have an extremely strong reason for going sole source. You know, we discussed Bellcom this morning. That was a sole source. But from a hardware standpoint, the case I remember the clearest was when Houston Manned Spacecraft Center came in, through their program office, and said that they were going to need a whole new computer complex for space operations, that the only way they were going to be able to handle the complexities of Apollo would be to have much faster computers with much more capability, and in turn, the only company that could possibly handle it was IBM.

    The timing was such that we could not pretend that we're going out on a competition, so we were asked to authorize a sole source right off the bat. IBM had anticipated our needs. They had a whole new line of computers that would do the job, and had on their own spent on the order of 10 million dollars to do at least the preliminary programming for the Manned Spacecraft Center. I heard their story and it didn't take any great intelligence to know that that wouldn't sell, just on my say-so, and I'm trying to remember whether it was Brainerd Holmes or George Mueller, I can't quite remember which it was. But I went in with one of them to discuss this situation with Jim Webb.

    He asked the kinds of questions that you'd expect. Why can't CDC, Control Data Corp or somebody else do it? So the question was, how to handle it, and he came up with what I thought was a very ingenious process that we went through. It was in effect to carry out a mini-negotiation. We did it by inviting the chief executive officers of five companies, there were only five companies that could possibly compete--Sperry, I guess Minneapolis Honeywell and NCR--five companies, but the two contenders were really IBM and CDC. They were the two in the really big computer business, and as far as IBM went, it was to discuss the proposition with their senior management.

    We told each group before they came in why we wanted to talk to them what was at stake, and then when they came we told them that what we were looking for a fixed price proposal. And that they would have to deliver on a certain time scale. They would have to deliver the computers that already existed and for which there was already a price. In effect what they called a catalogued item, and they had to guarantee that it would do the job. Other than IBM, we told them, that we would give them a reasonable period of time to go to Houston with any members of their organization they wanted to find out what the job entailed, and in turn to determine whether their equipment would satisfy the need.

    The only company that wouldn't sign off right away and say, no, we're not in a position to do it, must be IBM, was CDC. What the devil was his name, the guy that ran it? Anyway he went down to Houston, and he took along his top gun, who now has his own computer company, I can't think of his name either, and in the course of I think ten days, they finally admitted, not finally, they admitted or they agreed that only IBM could handle it. And we got this in writing from each one of them. Then we were in a position to go for this very large sole source procurement.

COLLINS: Let me just read a brief page out of this document here.


COLLINS: A briefing presented to Mr.Webb by the procurement office I believe in February of 1962, and it just kind of gives a view of what the procurement office thinks are the issues and the problems. One statistic that they mention here, they say, "In the last fiscal year," which I assume is fiscal year 1961 here, "NASA has spent 9 percent of the dollars of its budget through formal advertising, 35 percent by non-competitive negotiations," which I assume is sole source bidding, or is that something different?

SEAMANS: That's sole source.

COLLINS: Right. And 56 percent by competitive negotiations. Then the judgment is made, this is too high a percentage for non-competitive negotiations.


COLLINS: We must increase our competitive procurements.

SEAMANS: Is this what they said to Webb or what he said to them?

COLLINS: This is what they said to him.

SEAMANS: Yes. That makes sense.

COLLINS: So at least in that early period, there was a reasonably large fraction of procurements that were done on a sole source basis.

SEAMANS: Yes. We were never able to get the advertised, sealed bid contracting up much over 10 percent. All of the--I think this is true, that 95 to 100 percent of the facilities were on sealed bid basis, however. Of course, at that time, I don't know how far along we were with things like the Vertical Assembly Building at the Cape. I'm not really sure whether that would have shown up in these figures anyway because as I say, the Corps of Engineers was handling it, so I don't know whether their procurements would show up in our procurement discussions.

COLLINS: Well, the IBM case is interesting, because what I'm wondering is, how frequently you were presented with that limitation?

SEAMANS: Very seldom. That's why it stands out. Very seldom, of that magnitude. So it was almost invariably going to be, once we got rolling, one of these competitive negotiations, where we picked a company to negotiate with. But at least in theory, if we couldn't work something out, we went to number 2. In practice, though, we got so deeply involved with the first one, because the definitization took so long, and we proceeded without a definitized contract for a long enough time that it would be very difficult to then drop that contractor and go to another one.

COLLINS: You mean, in the sense that they're already beginning to do work as part of the definition process.

SEAMANS: Oh yes. Sure. Another whole side of this process was to put pressure on to definitize the contract as rapidly as possible. The longer we waited, the more we were in bed with the contractor, the more difficult it was, if we had a sticky wicket, to work our way out of it in acceptable fashion.

COLLINS: So in most instances, work for a particular product would begin before a contract was fully finalized?

SEAMANS: Well, we would have a non-definitized contract, possibly in some cases a letter of understanding or something of that sort. We'd have something in writing. But you wouldn't have had all the i's dotted which one must have in a definitized contract. We could go on for a year that way if we were not careful. So we could be really deeply into the program.

COLLINS: This kind of approach was followed with both cost plus fixed fee contracts, and incentive contracts?

SEAMANS: Sure. Yes. In both cases, at the time we made a selection, we didn't have a contract that everybody had agreed to, that only required a signature and off to the races. It's not that we wouldn't like to, it's that the contractor's been working, with the procurement documentation that we put out for the competition, but they were not really deeply enough into the work to be prepared to sign a definitized contract. Usually, in something like the Apollo program or a DOD program, the time pressure was such that we couldn't just sit there and negotiate and then proceed. As a matter of fact, part of the information that we needed to definitize came from actually initiating the work.

COLLINS: Okay. Was there a rough time frame in which you wanted this to process to be completed?

SEAMANS: Yes sir, but I don't actually have a set of curves that show dollars undefinitized or something like that, or numbers of contracts undefinitized. But it was clearly an objective to work that number down.

COLLINS: I mean, you say, like three months after you did the preliminary, six months, a year--was there some rough time period that you--?

SEAMANS: Oh. Six months. If we definitized in six months we were doing pretty well. You know, it's the kind of thing lawyers have to spend time on. You know how lawyers are.

COLLINS: But for negotiated competitive contracts, these things typically went through a Request for Proposal Stage--


COLLINS: Proposals back, and then you would go through the source evaluation process for the larger contracts.

SEAMANS: Yes, this was maybe a three months process in itself, and involved visits to the plants. We would usually split up, the Evaluation Board would be split up maybe into three different groups, one to look at the technical issues, one to look at financial issues, one to look at management issues. In turn, the technical areas, could be sufficiently complex that we would establish a number of committees to report in such fields as aerodynamics or guidance and the control. I guess we're talking about, I don't know, a 150 man effort or something like that, going over these areas.

    Then it would reach the point where we would need data that wasn't in the material we had, and we would arrange plant visits. We had to be pretty careful to do this on a fair basis, to all the contractors, go around to Seattle, go to Downey, California, and various places, get more information. All of that material would then be pulled together in such a way that there would be a report with backup documentation, and finally the board would prepare a presentation with slides and charts and so on, for the office of the administrator.

COLLINS: Who would be making that presentation?

SEAMANS: The head of the Source Evaluation Board. The chairman of the board.

COLLINS: Okay, and how was that person identified or appointed?

SEAMANS: That person would be appointed as part of the plan that was approved in the first place.

COLLINS: The procurement plan.

SEAMANS: The procurement plan. Or if not, it would at least require my approval, if not Mr. Webb's. It would not be somebody, in the project office. For these Source Boards, we would not just draw on procurement for Houston, from people in Houston. We would draw right across NASA, and we might even get the support of somebody from the Corps of Engineers or somebody from the Department of Defense, or--and we often made people available from NASA to help DOD on their evaluations.

COLLINS: As a matter of impartial evaluation, you would often have the chairman of this board not be a member of the project office affected.

SEAMANS: Yes. Right. We would usually have some people from Headquarters on these boards, as well as--we could include them any number of different ways, and purposely so. One of the issues you always get into is whether or not, as a senior member of the organization, you wanted to know how it was coming. I also got into this when I moved into the Department of Defense. I made it a rule that I didn't want to know anything about the evaluation.

    I had the group sequestered, in the sense that they were all be in one place. They were not to talk to other people in the organization about what they were doing or what they were finding. I certainly didn't want to know how it was going, so if I got a call from a Senator or you name it, I just said, "The Evaluation Board is at work, and sure, I'll take into account what you've told me, but I can't give you any information as to how it's going and I'm certainly not going to pass along any information to the group."

COLLINS: How did you assure that the board would carry out its evaluation in a timely way?

SEAMANS: Well, they had a very rigid schedule which was in the procurement plan. To the best of my recollection, they stuck to those schedules pretty closely.

COLLINS: One of the concerns, as I was going through some of the documentation, was that, at least for some of the major contracts to be let, the evaluation process was taking longer than they thought it should.

SEAMANS: Well, I guess, if we had a case where we got word that the Evaluation Board was not satisfied, that they felt they needed to take longer to get into something, we'd always give them the time. The last thing in the world we wanted to do was to have it come in without proper documentation and if the group didn't want to do it, we didn't want to have them. We'd lacerate them if they did.

    This group, when they came in, and Hugh and Jim and I were there with the senior people in that part of the organization, and I'm telling you, these people got a real wire-brush treatment when they came in. We insisted on knowing their basic assumptions when they started. We insisted that they have a formal method for numerically scoring what information they received, before they started looking at any proposals.

    So even before the proposals came in--I mean, during this period when the RFQs had gone out, maybe a three month period that the contractors were putting their proposals together, the Evaluation Board would be meeting to develop a plan for how they were going to evaluate and on what basis and how they were going to score and so on. Once in a while, we'd have a situation where they felt that they'd used the wrong criteria, let's say, to evaluate. There were things they hadn't anticipated. But we'd still insist that they give us the scores on the method that they'd agreed to before they saw the proposals, as well as the way the scoring came out on the new basis.

COLLINS: How were you able to codify something like management capability? That seems rather difficult to put a figure on.

SEAMANS: Well, evaluation of people and their experience is certainly one. Another, and a big one, we always had the issue of how--oftentimes one company couldn't do the whole job. Let's say they had to have an associate contractor, and how were they going to do that? Was there going to be an office with people from both companies in it? Or was one company going to be clearly the lead, and the associate company absolutely subservient to the first one?

    Any kind of inter-contractor relationship would come under management. How they saw dividing up the work that they weren't going to do, for their procurements, how were they going to--if a company didn't have, let's say an aircraft company didn't have very great skills in the electronics part of it, how were they going to go out and buy that capability? Let's see, on the Lunar Lander, which was Grumman, they had teamed up, as it's called, with, among other companies, RCA, and RCA was going to come in with their rendezvous and docking system, and what were the relationships there going to be? That's one side of it.

    They also had to be able to talk to the numbers of people that they were going to require to do the job, and where these people were coming from. That was looked on as a management issue to review. They had to talk about other work that they had under way, and whether there might be some conflicts with people or with facilities.

COLLINS: Okay, but the Evaluation Board was able to work out a system where they could assign numbers to these things?

SEAMANS: They did. How meaningful they were was always a question. But we did have, on the management side they'd break it down into maybe five categories, and put a number on each. The same with the financial side. The same with the technical side. Then, to get a number, they would say, "We felt ahead of time--first of all, there were thresholds for everything, we would not recommend going ahead, even though a score might be reasonably high, if the company had no management skill, let's say, or couldn't do the job." But assuming that we got over the thresholds, we felt that it ought to be 30 percent on management, and 15 percent on the financial, because it's a question more of how they're doing it, rather than coming in with a number that's going to be exactly it. But I guess in that category, we also get into what they're willing to do with incentive arrangements.

COLLINS: So the financial thing is simply their estimate of the cost of the project.

SEAMANS: Yes. Then 55 percent maybe on the technical. On that assumption, we might have, Company A getting 72 percent and Company B 69 percent. If they were that close, you realize that, unless there was some big variation in one of these categories, it was a toss-up. The scoring wasn't that precise, that there's any indication there. But usually, in a group of four or five, there'll be a couple that weren't even close on a numerical basis.


COLLINS: Let's just follow through on the example you were talking about; when you did have a couple of firms who were closely balanced in terms of their capabilities, how did you make a selection?

SEAMANS: Well, in the Evaluation Board--first of all, we were very careful not to call them Source Selection Boards. We felt that the Department of Defense got itself in real hot water with something like the TFX that became the F-111, when the board came in and recommended, I think it was Boeing, but the Air Force then picked General Dynamics. This caused Senate hearings and that kind of thing, and Gene Zuckert, who was then Secretary of the Air Force, you know, had had the presentation, where the selection was Boeing, and then he went and reviewed this with McNamara, and he decided that the Air Force should go to General Dynamics. You can see how that's fraught with peril. There are other examples even before the TFX.

    So what we asked was, an evaluation of each contractor, and part of the evaluation was acceptability: were all our contractors acceptable? Could any one of the five, say, do the job? Not the best, but could they do it? Then we'd ask for the view of the Board as to the most suitable and the next most suitable, from their vantage point. Maybe it's a fine line whether you call that selection or not, but we thought of it as an evaluation, in their eyes.

    They'd oftentimes come in and say that from their standpoint, of the five there were two that were highly qualified to do the job, and of those two, it was very close, but when we pressed them they'd say, "okay, we think for the following reasons that Boeing would be the best, but on the other hand General Dynamics has some special capabilities, and we're not in a position to really tell you it ought to be one of the other." Otherwise we would be putting the administrator in a hell of a box, you see. So that's the way it would be, as far as the board went, and we'd leave the board room filled with people all panting to know what's going to happen, get on with it, and so on, and this is what I described as going to Webb's office and asking the senior people who would be involved if there's anything else that the administrator should know before making the decision.

COLLINS: You would proceed to make the decision while this group was there?

SEAMANS: No. No, no. Then having received that information, then they would be excused, and we would then have in the room Jim, Hugh and myself and the colonel, whoever he might be, who was the recorder.

COLLINS: Who took the notes.

SEAMANS: Yep. I must say, there were some mighty competent Marine colonels who ended up in that position. But we would then have, I would call it, a somewhat freewheeling conversation for maybe half an hour, and we'd ask ourselves, did we go about this thing in the right way? How did we view the whole process? Was it fair to all parties? Things of that sort. Let's see. It might be at that time, I'm trying to think whether this is true or not, if we were sort of zeroing in on a particular company, Jim might, while we're there, call maybe Gene Zuckert if it was Air Force or McNamara and say, "Now, we're thinking of a possibility of a certain company getting a job. Anything you know that we ought to know about?"

    Now, previously as part of the evaluation, we'd get inputs as to how--part of the evaluation would be taking into account how the company had done, not only on NASA work but DOD work. And then we sort of hashed it around, and some of the companies were nowhere near as complicated as the manned spacecraft for Apollo.

    It would be reasonably obvious where we're headed, and I think, being the junior person, the others not tipping their hands first, they'd say, "okay, Bob, how do you look at it, and why?" I'd say, "I'd certainly go along with what the Evaluation Board's done. I think it's a good job, and for the reasons they indicated, plus maybe a couple of others, I think we ought to go that way." Then Hugh would give his view, and then Jim would either argue with us as we went along, or maybe he'd have some ideas, and then, "okay, that's the way it's going to be, Company X." Okay, then, what are the instructions for the negotiation?

    It was partly a negotiation--let's say, the company that got it didn't have a completely satisfactory incentive arrangement. We'd say, as part of the negotiation we think that the incentive feature ought to, we'd like to see more emphasis on, I don't know, something or other, maybe the cost or in some of the contracts, particularly the service type, we'd want to be sure we'd nailed down, before definitizing, you know, who the people were. Maybe that was a little bit vague. Some vagueness in the particular proposal that we're now going to try to definitize. We'd ask for that clarification. That would all be in the document you have here, which the three of us signed it.

COLLINS: We're still talking about--

SEAMANS: It's all one day still.

COLLINS: Part of your discussion with Dryden and Webb, extended to this question of how to define the contract.

SEAMANS: Yes, if that was the case. Then the next step would be for Larry Vogel or whoever the marine colonel happened to be to prepare the document, and at the same time a press release--which would be, you know, an overnight task so at the time we would sign it, there would be a press release that would say that NASA was initiating final negotiations with North American for, the Apollo spacecraft, for example.

COLLINS: If you don't mind, I think an interesting exercise might be to have you kind of walk through this press release document, and relate it to your discussions in making the decision.

SEAMANS: All right. Okay.

COLLINS: Just for the record here, we're looking at the press release laying out the rationale for this election of North American for the Apollo spacecraft contract.

SEAMANS: Okay. "November 27, '61, Dr. Dryden, Dr. Seamans met with me to discuss the proposals made for development and production of the Apollo spacecraft, as well as the report of the Source Evaluation Board. We discussed the proposals. Twelve concerns had originally been invited to submit proposals. That's in the procurement plan. And four others were subsequently provided with Requests for Proposal pursuant to their request."

    In other words, four other companies came in and wanted to get the material. "Proposals were received from the following five concerns," and it lists them. "Since all concerns proposing were competent to handle the business aspects of the program, it was apparent that the success of the contract performance would depend almost entirely on the technical capability of the selected proposer. Accordingly it was decided the award should be based on the technical evaluation."

COLLINS: Okay, so what we were talking about before the terms of cost and management were not at issue?

SEAMANS: Not at issue. We thought that all five could do it. "Careful review of the Source Evaluation Board resulted in agreement that the Martin Company and North American Aviation were the two most qualified concerns from the technical standpoint. Moreover, the partnership type of management proposed by the three other concerns was undesirable from the standpoint of cost, coordination and decision making."

    The other three had partnership arrangements. I don't remember the details of any one of them, but we felt we'd be better off on this one to be dealing with one company and not an arrangement a little bit muddied up by associate contractors.

    "While the Board had rated Martin slightly higher than North American in technical approach, the Martin Company had been one of three companies to which feasibility study contracts for the Apollo spacecraft had been awarded, while North American had not had the advantage of this extensive preliminary work in preparing its proposal."

    We discussed that this morning, the fact that we usually had studies that would help in formulating the bid proposal, and that sometimes companies would come in, and I tried to think of a case where somebody had come in and hadn't done that and actually won, and I sort of forgot that here's a case where that happened.

    "Moreover, the company chosen would have available the three studies prepared under these contracts." This means that we would make the contract studies available to North American, so they'd be on an even footing with everybody else.

COLLINS: In terms of preparing their proposal.

SEAMANS: Yes. "Because of the foregoing, it was determined that the Board's ratings did not reflect the true competitive evaluation of the two companies, and that the technical approach rating should not be given as much weight in final selection as had been assigned by the Board."

    This gets into another issue that we discussed this morning, namely, that we were concerned that Martin hadn't really been in, call it the advanced aircraft design business, for a long time. "Even though from a technical approach standpoint, based on the proposal"--that didn't show up in those proposals as clearly as we had felt it should, that lack of experience.

COLLINS: And North American's clear experience in that area.

SEAMANS: Even though that was not really taken into account in the Evaluation Board's effort, yes. "Consideration was next directed to technical qualification, in which the board had rated North American slightly higher than Martin. This rating was based on equal weight for each of the following areas: experience, facilities, personnel and technical management."

    I'm not quite sure how that--"The results of this consideration were as follows: experience," see, now they're going to talk about them, "the Board had rated North American slightly higher than Martin. However, an examination of the basis of this rating revealed that it was based upon an evaluation of all projects the companies had accomplished in several divisions, rather than on the division in which each company proposed to do the Apollo spacecraft work.

    Since the project would profit primarily from experience in the latter division, the board's rating was re-computed excluding experience gained by each company in divisions which would not perform on the Apollo spacecraft. This resulted in widening the gap between the two company ratings, with North American receiving a far higher rating than Martin. This was considered more representative of the experience which would be directly applied to the contract work.

    Facilities, both companies were considered adequate with no clear basis for discriminating between them. Personnel, key personnel at North American was found to be better than those at Martin to a significant degree. This element of evaluation weighted heavily in the final decision. Technical management, it was found that although Martin had proposed a strong and well-supported organization for the project, North American was even stronger.

    Consideration was given to existing work loads and possible conflicts of projects within the companies. As reported by the Board, either company could undertake the work without jeopardizing the project. As an added precaution, in the case of North American, I, Webb, checked with Deputy Secretary of Defense Gilpatric and was assured that no increase in the scope of the B-75 jet (or B-70 project?) was planned. That would be their hot project at the time.

    "In summary, Dr. Dryden, Dr. Seamans and I unanimously agreed that both Martin and North American have good business capability, and either company would be well qualified to carry out the business management responsibilities on Apollo. Martin had the better technical approach, but the advantage the company enjoyed through having had an Apollo study contract diluted this apparent superiority, even though we'd given North American the results, North American had by far the greatest technical competence, and because of the tremendous engineering complexities involved in the Apollo project, this competence had to be considered as an overriding consideration in selecting a contractor."

    It doesn't say anywhere in here about manned aircraft, but that was clearly in our minds, although it doesn't seem to be stated as specifically as it should be, as I'd have expected it to be. "North American has submitted the lowest cost proposal and has an excellent reputation for low cost operation, as well as the best cost history of any of the companies involved. North American Aviation S&I division should be selected as the company to develop and produce the Apollo spacecraft. I have therefore approved the initiation of negotiations with North American for the Apollo spacecraft contract." Signed by Webb, concurred in by Dryden and myself.

COLLINS: So this seems to be one example of Mr.Webb's management approach, and that is, you set up either strict guidelines, or procedures for carrying out a decision, but if you want a change from that decision, you set down very carefully what all the reasons are.

SEAMANS: He had this view of not only the administrator's role, but he often enunciated in connect with the President's role that even though you set down guidelines, and you have a plan for doing something, you always have to reserve the privilege, if you will, or the right, on the basis of additional information coming in, of shifting the ground rules to some extent when you make the final determination.

COLLINS: So does that official statement of the rationale for selecting North American fit with your recollections of the meeting?

SEAMANS: Well, the one thing that's not in here that, as I said, rather surprises me is that there's no specific mention of aircraft experience, in high performance aircraft. I think that's what's meant by, "North American had by far the greatest technical competence. Because of the tremendous engineering complexities involved in the Apollo project, this competence had to be considered as an overriding consideration in selecting a contractor." I guess perhaps it didn't specifically say "aircraft" because that really wasn't part of the RFQ, really.

COLLINS: So to introduce that as a criterion at this point--

SEAMANS: Yes. Now, although these were originally kept, close hold, these findings were not passed around, they were kept in Webb's safe, but they were subject to audit by the GAO at any time. If Martin had decided that there were some shenanigans here, and they didn't like the decision because they felt that it was political, all they had to do was, they could trigger an investigation by the GAO.

COLLINS: Were the contractors aware of their rankings by the Source Evaluation Board?

SEAMANS: No. Any contractor who wanted, after the fact, could come in and you could indicate to them, and they're welcome to do so, encouraged to do so, where NASA felt that they had shortcomings. The idea being, we wanted to upgrade everybody as much as possible over time. But in that process we would not say, "You were number 1 in this and number 3 in this and number 5 in this, overall you're number 2." Those ratings only were acknowledged--I think over time, they tend to be known, but they're only acknowledged by the senior management of NASA at the time of the Apollo fire, when we were specifically asked by the Congress.

COLLINS: I think probably we'll save that for later.

SEAMANS: Sure. I understand.

COLLINS: One question, we've kind of run through in skeletal fashion the process of starting with a procurement plan and ending up with a selection, but one area I want to quickly follow up on is, to what degree, in making selections, did you want to build up a capability in a particular technological area, so that in the future you would have more choice, if you went to let a contract in a similar area, for example in launch vehicle development?

SEAMANS: One area was clearly in cryogenic fuels. That's a technology that we're clearly getting into, and it's one thing to have a capability to use liquid oxygen--it's another thing to use liquid hydrogen, as a fuel, because it has to be stored at a much colder temperature. This can lead into all kinds of materials problems.

    Let's see, we had General Dynamics first, with the Centaur stage, that used liquid hydrogen, and then McDonnell-Douglas on the third stage of Saturn, and North American on the second stage of Saturn, and one of the considerations in making those final two choices--the Centaur one was made under Keith Glennan, actually--was that we wanted to build up competence in handling cryogenic fuels for launch vehicles. We would have been loath to give both upper stages of Saturn to one contractor for that reason.

COLLINS: In setting out the criteria for source evaluation, would that have been a listed criterion?

SEAMANS: No. It's pretty hard to do that, because certain things are going in parallel. It had to be done--it might have happened that North American or McDonnell-Douglas might have done so well on both that it wouldn't have been fair to bring in a second contractor just to spread the base. So we had to have that in mind, if it seemed like a rational, fair thing to do. It's not really quite in this area, but I can remember when Air Products came along.

    There were two companies that actually produced liquid hydrogen, Lindy of Union Carbide and Air Products, and I remember Air Products won quite a string of contracts to produce liquid hydrogen, and I remember their coming around to see me. A fellow named Leonard Poole was the president of the company, and he came around and he said, "Is there any point in our proposing this next time around?" He said, "One," "two or three of the last runs," I don't know, I forget which it was, went to Air Products, aren't you going to be forced to go to Lindy on the next one?"

    That was sort of a tough question, because you know, I could see the merit in his question. I didn't want to say, you're right, don't bid," and then not have the pressure of his bidding, for one thing, just have a single bidder. But I also thought, who knows what Air Products might come in? Even though we were going to tend to think in terms of Lindy, to keep the competition going, if Air Products comes in with a sufficiently good one, we'll go with them. So that's what I said.

    I said, "No, you're never out. I'll guarantee you'll have a fair shake on it. We won't just arbitrarily pick Lindy to keep the competition going." After he left, I went tearing up to Webb on that one and said, "Here's what I told him. Is that the right answer?" He said, "Absolutely."

COLLINS: Well, I guess I'm a little bit confused. Say in the case of the Saturn II contract with Douglas, I believe it was--

SEAMANS: The S-II stage went to North American. The third stage went to McDonnell-Douglas.

COLLINS: Yes, I think the S-II--

SEAMANS: I forget which came first.

COLLINS: I think the North American one was first.


COLLINS: So I assume in the handling of the procurement process for what came to be the Douglas contract, North American I believe also submitted a bid.

SEAMANS: Yes, I guess that's right.

COLLINS: I'm wondering how this was sorted out, as you thought about getting the best launch vehicle that you could, and giving yourself a competitive base in the industry. How was that weighted out?

SEAMANS: Well, clearly it's in the government's interest, short term and long term, both, to have competition. I think that has to be a basic premise. These can sometimes, I suppose, be in conflict with one another. Short term, we wanted to be sure that we had bids from General Dynamics, North American and McDonnell-Douglas. We didn't want to have just, as in the liquid hydrogen procurement, we didn't want to have North American bow out just because they already had one, you know, had a contract.

    But in the long term if, all things being equal, we wanted to have McDonnell-Douglas involved, so then you'd have three contractors with those skills, and it's not always neat and tidy, and things can satisfy one requirement sometimes but not both. But you have to use your judgment as you go along and keep in the back of your mind the question, how can I best insure competition over the long haul as well as the short term? Because we believe that's in the government's interest.

COLLINS: Yes. But that was not something you could include as part of the Request for Proposals.

SEAMANS: Well, how would you include it?

COLLINS: That's my point, so in other words, the criteria that are presented for evaluating the contracts in that situation--

SEAMANS: That's a good example of where a policy issue has to be at the administrator's level and cannot be included as part of the source selection process.

COLLINS: Yes, so again, as with the North American spacecraft contract, this is a judgment issue at the administrator's level.

SEAMANS: Yes. I believe that's the only way you can handle it.

COLLINS: You know, you described a fairly elaborate apparatus for making these decisions in a way that's best for the program, equitable for the public good, and creates some stability in the industry. I wonder whether there was any other possible way to do this that wasn't quite as elaborate, that would have brought the same results?

SEAMANS: Well, if you can come up with a day to do it, you can save the government an awful lot of money, I'll tell you that! Obviously there's a lot of expense involved. You see these proposals, it's not just one little report, it's a stack of documents that the contractor has to come in with. On a big procurement for about billions of dollars. I don't know how many millions of dollars a contractor expends, but you're talking about tens of millions of dollars. You're talking about an equivalent large government effort. It's big stuff.

    It seems to me the alternative is to find somebody who's so darned smart that you want to have him or her playing god and just trust their judgement. There is one permutation on this, that's possible in the DOD, that's not really possible in NASA, and that's the concept of the fly-off, where you can have a fairly simple procurement process to pick usually two, obviously it could be more than two, contractors, to actually build something. Say it's an airplane. Something that can be tested and its evaluation can be based not on the paper studies but on the actual hardware and how it works, evaluated by those who are going to use it.

    This was done when I was in the Air Force, not only with the aircraft but with some of the electronics. We had Hughes and Westinghouse competing on the Doppler Radar, and so there, instead of having it an exercise in paper studies, we had an exercise in building and testing hardware, which will save a great deal on the paper side, and where even the loser who's developed the hardware may very well end up with some value that can be used later on some other project. But you've got to go through a process that will stand audit, not only by the GAO, who are professionals, but also that will stand audit in the public arena, if for example there is a Congressional inquiry.

COLLINS: That why I was interested in pursuing this one question of building competitive capability, because clearly that in a sense stands outside of that whole superstructure of the evaluating process.

SEAMANS: Yes. True. It's tough in an area like liquid hydrogen, because even today there's no commercial value in that technology. Maybe as time goes on there'll be more and more. Maybe superconductivity and a few other developments are going to lead to a big market for it, but you're really talking about something that is a specialized requirement of the government, yes, specialized requirement for technology by the government.

COLLINS: You can look at much of the aerospace industry in pretty much the same light, certainly during the sixties.

SEAMANS: Yes. Right.

COLLINS: An intensive broad scale look at some of these questions was done as part of something known as the Bell Report, which was conducted over the period of 1962-63. I believe Mr. Webb served as a member of the Bell Commission. Did you have any direct connection with this effort at all?

SEAMANS: No, I didn't. They were getting at some of the issues that we were just talking about. You know, the role of government, as well as the role of non-profits, I believe.

COLLINS: They were, I think, in particular looking at this question of competitive bidding and incentive contracts. I think perhaps this would be best saved for a future discussion, of relating this question of base project planning to some of the things we've been talking about today. I think that's probably a good place to leave this.

SEAMANS: Okay, let's see if I've got anything here. Oh, this morning when I woke up, and I was of jotting down some things that came to mind, as Jim Webb came in, and some of the things that we got into, a lot of which we've been discussing here today, a subject that has really come to plague NASA, and that's the role of the individual centers. This is something that Sam Phillips got into in his study.

COLLINS: His recent study.

SEAMANS: Yes, because here we talked today about using the research centers for projects, like Abe Silverstein on the Centaur, and Langley, and we also used Ames for a biosatellite to test animals. And that may have started the trend that's now got NASA into some difficulty, namely that each center tends to compete for the business that remains within NASA, and to do that each center tends to be very much like each other center. They have quite common skills and so on. If you're going to have these centers, you know, it makes more sense to think of them as specializing in different areas, rather than each one the same as every other one. But that's a subject that we did spend a fair amount of time on, Webb, Dryden and myself, and a subject that was clearly of great interest particularly to Hugh Dryden.

COLLINS: What was his view on the proper role?

SEAMANS: He was very protective of the research centers, and was very concerned when we went to the research centers to do some of the project work, he felt we were starting a trend that we're going to regret.

COLLINS: Well, how does that work when you, at least during this period, when you've got a project, you want to allow one of the research centers to take on responsibility for the project?

SEAMANS: You wouldn't believe how badly it can work. In connection with the Space Station, there are some parts of the Space Station where a given module is initiated at Houston, and they deliver the piece to Marshall to do something on, and then when it's almost time to go operational, the module goes back to Houston again. When it's recognized that this doesn't make any sense, the question arises why don't we, if we start the module at Houston, keep it there? Why does Marshall have to be involved? This is before the Challenger. They were trying to straighten the procedure. These were relatively minor dollar items, really. Jim Beggs all of a sudden had a great big delegation from Alabama on his doorstep, who were threatening him, if he cut that work out of Huntsville, and he found it was politically impossible to streamline the development flow, because of the entrenched, entrenchment that had grown up over time, that had tremendous political clout.

COLLINS: Has the management of projects from the so-called research centers affected their ability to do their usual research activities?

SEAMANS: Yes. I think that the answer is yes. Not just for this reason. Joe Shea who is now at Raytheon, was very much involved in NRC study that, has just completed. It's very good. I got into it for a very strange reason. I was very concerned, I am very concerned about, I think I mentioned this to you, about a document of the Interplanetary Society. They're trying to get all kinds of people to sign it, and what it says is that we ought to decide now we're going to have a manned mission to Mars, and it says, the technology today for a planetary program is further along than the technology was in '61 for Apollo, which I think is dead wrong.

    I called Joe Shea and he promptly blew his stack, when I told him what's in the document. He said he just could not understand how responsible people could say this. He said he'd send me a copy of the study. The study shows that in constant dollars, that the research program, what they call the SRT, the Supporting Research Technology and the Advanced Research Program, two different things, and I'll explain that in a minute, are today a quarter of what they were in the sixties. You can see, if you look at a plot of the investment we're making in the future, for that kind of thing, it has dropped dramatically. Of course the places that feel it the most are the Langleys, the Ames and the Lewises, where so much of that work was done. This is another reason that they tend to fight for the project dollars.

COLLINS: Simply because the research dollars are--

SEAMANS: They're not there. Just one last thought on this.


SEAMANS: If you looked at the detailed budgets in the sixties, you'd find that there are a whole bunch of budget items in there which were what I think we called "advanced research and technology" which is understood to be the work that the research centers would carry out, and it would be divided up by disciplinary areas--high speed re-entry physics, you know, categories like that. But you'd also find that every single project, and I'm talking about mission projects, Apollo being one, or a Mariner to go to the planets or Voyager or Surveyor, they all had SRT within the project funding, Supporting Research and Technology.

    I remember very clearly a discussion that Jim and Hugh and I had, as to whether we shouldn't clean it up--you know, wouldn't it be better to show all of the technological developmental kind of work together, just to clean up the management. Hugh said, "Never consider that. It's the worst thing you can do." He said, "You do that, and you'll lose 50 percent of it." He said, "It's so easy to draw a line right through it, for the Congress to do that or the Bureau of the Budget. You want to have that kind of effort, just put it everywhere you possibly can in the budget. It makes it very difficult for anybody to eliminate it at a single stroke." He was absolutely right.

    So here, today, you can see what's happened historically, it's fallen off, and you see that one of the principal recommendations in the Sally Ride Report is that NASA should increase its R&D, Advanced Technology Program and it should be dramatically increased, and I believe that's exactly what is in the present budget request.

COLLINS: Were funds directed for scientific and basic research included in the development contracts to industry?


COLLINS: There was never any fragment of that, say--

SEAMANS: Well, it could be. It could be. But not automatically.

COLLINS: Under what circumstances would you try to include that?

SEAMANS: It wouldn't be included because you felt that it was needed on, say Apollo, that if you're going to do Apollo, that North American had to have that added. It was the other way around, that North American in carrying out the project could show that they had a team not directly connected with Apollo but close enough to it, that they could carry out that advanced work very efficiently, and at the same time that they could do it efficiently and they were prepared to do it, that it would benefit Apollo, as far as the future role of Apollo goes, or something like that, a rationale of that sort.

COLLINS: This is another way of building up the long term capability of industry.

SEAMANS: Yes. But it was never automatic that that would be so. As a matter of fact, the Manned Spaceflight Office, in carrying out their work along this line, you know, didn't just go to the centers that would normally work with them on the development. They could go to Langley to get some of that done, and they did, or they could go to Ames, or--it was a slight bone of contention, on the part of the Advanced Research and Technology associate administrator. He said, "Why don't you give me all that stuff? That's my business." That's where this concept of the consolidation partly came in, that Hugh Dryden fought.

COLLINS: Why don't we call it a day?

SEAMANS: Absolutely.

COLLINS: Thank you.

Seamans 6 || Seamans 8

Rev. 09/06/96

© 1996 National Air and Space Musuem