Instead of a triangle tilting toward NASA, then, the 1990s suggested a quadrilateral with JPL and Caltech on one end and NASA and industry at the other, with more influence accruing to the NASA and industry side. In a different light, the trend of the 1990s increased the connections between JPL and NASA and JPL and industry, with the same effect of reducing the lab's autonomy. As Stone announced in 1997, JPL was "changing from an era of independence to one of interdependence."83

The combination of downsizing and regulatory pressure in the early to mid 1990s produced a climate of uncertainty and mistrust of senior management and exacerbated the grumbling about reengineering and the doubts about faster-better-cheaper.84 The results from its technical program, especially in deep-space exploration, promised either to push the lab further into gloom or to restore its optimism and vitality.

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