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"To make good use of what JPL knows"


The Office of the Chief Knowledge Officer (OCKO) at JPL

The Office of the Chief Knowledge Officer (OCKO) is responsible for ensuring that critical JPL knowledge is retained and shared. This will be accomplished through a JPL knowledge management (KM) program that will identify, capture, and distribute key JPL knowledge/know-how/expertise/intellectual capital for leverage, reuse, and transfer across the Lab and NASA.

The KM program will:

  • Attain JPL-wide understanding of our KM challenges and potential benefits, and employee buy-in for investing labor and other resources in managing critical knowledge.
  • Provide a clear plan that defines the JPL KM needs and the steps necessary to meet objectives.
  • Coordinate with the Agency-wide KM initiative led by the NASA Chief Knowledge Officer (CKO).
  • Obtain the support of JPL senior management, including resources needed for KM program implementation.
  • Baseline KM best practices, improve them, and communicate them across the Lab.
  • Furnish metrics or key performance indicators against which progress can be measured.

Key knowledge is defined as that expertise critical to JPL engineering excellence, JPL competence retention, and to meeting JPL and NASA objectives such as mission “affordability” that collectively may effect the viability of the JPL mission.

A KM program will be planned and implemented to address critical issues of JPL competence and organizational survival stemming from environmental change (e.g., turnover of projects and key personnel, NASA budget reductions). The program will seek to make the most of the knowledge that is available to JPL, generating understanding and incrementing awareness. Specifically, JPL will (1) identify and prioritize JPL-critical knowledge, (2) identify gaps in retention and sharing, (3) implement remedial measures and practices, (4) coordinate with the NASA KM program, and (5) establish a process for continuous improvement. This program has been documented in a JPL KM Strategic Plan.

KM Responsibilities

Responsibility for implementing the JPL KM program resides within the JPL engineering organization to ensure that the program is engineering knowledge-driven, rather than focused on the development of tools. Overall responsibility for implementing the KM program is placed on a JPL CKO within the JPL Office of the Chief Engineer. However, primary responsibility for retaining and sharing critical knowledge within their purview is retained by individuals and managers within the JPL project and line organizations.

NASA Context

Early in 2012 the Agency directed each NASA Center to assign a Chief Knowledge Officer (CKO), or a KM point of contact with the NASA CKO, and to plan and implement a KM program.

The OCKO is led by David Oberhettinger, Chief Knowledge Officer (Institutional)


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JPL Number: CL 13-1755

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