Earlier entries

15 June 2004: NASA Comptroller email: Executive Council decision on Supercomputer, NASA HQ

"Executive Council approved the Ames supercomputer proposal today as follows (note: the proposal is dropped if we do not get appropriate OMB and Congressional concurrence by Tuesday, June 15): Purchase computer with $26m in Enterprise contributions in FY04 and pursue lease for remaining amount."

4 June 2004: DeLay: No risk, no reward in space, Washington Times

"In his 2004 State of the Union address, the president set out goals for the U.S. space program that included renewed space shuttle flights, completion of the International Space Station, a return to the moon and a manned mission to Mars."

Editor's note: Uh, no he did not - and a lot of people criticized him for omitting mention of the policy in that speech.

Editor's note: 11:45 am EDT: The Washington Times has now corrected their online version of this article to say "In a speech last January ..."

4 June 2004: Advancing the Frontiers of Science - Comments on America's leadership role in the exploration of outer space, House of Representatives, June 03, 2004

"Mr. CULBERSON. Madam Speaker, reclaiming my time, if we could have a little colloquy, it is important to point out to the American people and to the fellow Members of Congress that the President's vision which he laid out so eloquently and so clearly for the future of space exploration in this Nation is simply moving money largely within NASA's budget, preprogramming $11 billion within NASA's existing, projected budget to achieve this vision. The vision itself only calls for an additional $1 billion over the next 5 years in spending above the fiscal year 2004 budget."

3 June 2004: CRS Report for Congress: NASA FY 2005 Budget in Brief, and Key Issues for Congress, CRS

"In late February 2004, however, NASA released charts providing some detail on the budget assumptions behind the chart, including a cost estimate for landing a crew on the Moon in 2020: $64 billion in FY2003 dollars. The $64 billion consists of $24 billion to build and operate the Crew Exploration Vehicle from FY2004-2020; plus $40 billion for the years 2011-2020 to build the lunar lander portion of that vehicle, a new launch vehicle, and operations. The $64 billion does not include the cost of robotic missions. A cost estimate for sending astronauts to Mars was not provided."

25 May 2004: NASA Administrator Statement About Budget Conference Agreement

"I look forward to the Senate taking up the Agreement following the current Congressional work period. The Conference Agreement on the Budget Resolution represents the critical first step in establishing an overall budget plan to guide subsequent action by the Committees on Appropriations, and now permits the setting of 302(b) allocations for Appropriations Subcommittees within which FY 2005 appropriations bills will be constructed."

25 May 2004: Summer showdown for space plan, UPI

"A political showdown is looming this summer and fall over NASA's fiscal year 2005 budget request, which contains $866 million in new funding. Some $136 million of the proposed boost is earmarked to start President George W. Bush's new space exploration proposals. Neither house of Congress has acted on the plan yet, and though work has started on a bill to authorize both multi-year funding and a rationale for space exploration, most Hill staffers involved in the issue expect the authorization legislation to be left behind in the congressional rush to adjourn for the fall campaign."

21 April 2004: Statement of Sean O'Keefe before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on VA-HUD-Independent Agencies

"To successfully execute the Nation's Vision for Space Exploration, NASA will re-focus its organization, create new offices, align ongoing programs, experiment with new ways of doing business, and tap the great innovative and creative talents of our Nation."

21 April 2004: Lawmakers demand details before giving OK to NASA plan, Orlando Sentinel

"U.S. Rep. James Walsh, the chairman of the subcommittee, said that approving a $16.2 billion budget for 2005 - an increase of more than $900 million - would be difficult in tight budget times when other priorities offer fierce competition. And there are still many things that are unclear about NASA's plan to send astronauts back to the moon and, perhaps, on to Mars and beyond, he said. "I cannot commit this Congress, and future Congresses, to a program that is undefined," said Walsh, a New York Republican."

21 April 2004: Lawmakers warn NASA fund boost may be modest, Houston Chronicle

"U.S. Rep. Alan Mollohan of West Virginia, the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee, complained that NASA has provided "woefully inadequate" budget details. He and others told O'Keefe that NASA should not expect Congress to get behind the moon-Mars plan without rigorous debate."

21 April 2004: House Science Committee Chairman Boehlert Addresses American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

"As part of the exploration initiative, the President has proposed increasing the NASA budget by 5.6 percent in the next fiscal year, to about $16.2 billion. I just can't imagine that that's going to happen, and I don't think it should. "Total federal non-security, domestic discretionary spending in fiscal 2005 is likely to increase by less than half a percent. Congress may even freeze spending, as the House voted to do in its Budget Resolution. In such a budget, should NASA receive almost a 6 percent increase? Is it the highest domestic spending priority? I don't think so, and I doubt my colleagues will either."

9 April 2004: NASA OIG: Integrated Financial Management Program Budget Formulation Module audit report

"Since the initial stages of our audit, which began in May 2003, full implementation dates for BFM have slipped twice. Originally scheduled for implementation in February 2004, the target date is now January 2005, meaning that NASA's planned use of the IFMP to implement cost-based budgeting - the final component necessary for full cost management - will be delayed until fiscal year 2006."

6 April 2004: NASA costs can't be verified, GAO report says, USA Today

"A NASA spokeswoman said the harsh GAO finding stems from an accounting dispute between the two agencies. "We believe we have given sufficient data to GAO that could be used to verify our compliance," said Sarah Keegan, a NASA budget specialist."

Editor's note: "accounting dispute"?, that's a nice PAO way to try and spin it Sarah. Alas, this situation is more like a "total disconnect", an "impasse", or a "breakdown in communications" - something which reflects the nature of what GAO concluded. GAO doesn't just issue reports to Congress without putting some serious thought into in them.

6 April 2004: GAO-04-648R - NASA Compliance With Cost Limits for ISS (House and Senate briefing charts)

"NASA did not report obligations to date against the space station and shuttle cost limits as part of its fiscal year 2005 budget request. Therefore, there was nothing for us to audit this year and we were unable to perform the audit called for by section 202 of the act. As a result, we have no basis for verifying NASA's charges against the limits. We have provided a copy of the slides to NASA officials and they agreed with our conclusion."

2 April 2004: Memo from NASA Program Executive Officer for IFM Patrick Ciganer regarding Budget Formulation decision

"This decision to delay the mandatory of use of our new Budget Formulation module for the '06 Center submit should not be seen as a retreat from the Agency's commitment to implementing the IFM Program in its totality. Instead, it reflects the acknowledgement of the unusual confluence of operational, institutional and policy issues affecting the current Budget process cycle . In the next few weeks, I will work with the Agency CFO and Comptroller to update our strategy for deploying an integrated, agency-wide budget planning tool capable of producing accurate, timely and transparent budgetary information."

11 March 2004: Audit of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Fiscal Year 2003 Financial Statements.

11 March 2004: Statement of Sean O'Keefe before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on VA-HUD-Independent Agencies

"Although we received a disclaimed opinion on our recent audit statement, we are determined to pursue the right path in Financial Management bringing on a new financial system that will standardize accounting across the Agency and provide the tools necessary for improved program management. NASA remains committed to management excellence and believes it is essential to implementing the new exploration vision."

1 June 2003: Business Modernization: Improvements Needed in Management of NASA's Integrated Financial Management Program, GAO-03-507

1 April 2004: Uncertain Future for hypersonics at NASA?

Editor's note: in a briefing delivered at a LaRC Town Hall meeting on 26 March 2004, Code R AA Victor Lebacqz made a presentation. On page 19, on a chart labled "Six Programmatic Priorities" for NASA's Aeronautics Enerprise, the last bullet reads "Determine if there is a requirement to continue hypersonics research."

15 March 2004: NASA's Initial FY 2004 Operating Plan

"The purpose of this letter is to submit to the Committee NASA's initial FY 2004 Operating
Plan, in accordance with the agreements between NASA and the Committee, and to provide an update
to the FY 2003 Operating Plan."

12 March 2004: US Senate passes $2.36 trillion budget, Reuters

"The Senate rushed through a long list of amendments to vote 51-to-45 to clear its 2005 tax and spending blueprint. Democrats claim the plan does little to reduce the deficit and takes money away from social spending programs like education and health care to pay for tax cuts. With some of Bush's own party concerned about the budget deficit, the Senate decided on Wednesday that tax cuts must either be paid for with other funds in the budget or they must get more votes than are usually needed on the Senate floor."

12 March 2004: Amendment passed providing full funding for NASA's FY2005 space exploration initiatives to Senate Budget Resolution S.Con.Res. 95.

Editor's note: this action on 11 March 2004 added $600M to General Science, Space, and Technology for the purpose of providing full funding for NASA's FY2005 space exploration initiatives to the Senate Budget Resolution S.Con.Res. 95. The full Senate delegations from Texas, Alabama, and Florida served as co-sponsors and marks a reversal of a trend that seemed apparent last week wherein some (Sen. Lott and Sen. Santorum) in the Senate considered cutting back the President's request. Of course, the House has yet to fully weigh in.

13 March 2004: Senators rescue $600M for NASA, Huntsville Times

"The Senate Budget Committee had only approved a $200 million increase for NASA, leaving it $600 million short of Bush's request. Adding that money back would ensure NASA's ability to proceed with plans to return the space shuttle to flight and eventually build a lunar base and launch humans toward Mars, Sessions said."

12 March 2004: Sen. Bill Nelson's comments on the Senate floor regarding the NASA FY 2005 Budget

"I call on the White House. I call on the leadership of NASA. We cannot take for granted just because the President has announced a major new initiative that it is going to get funded. Indeed, we are swimming upstream. The immediate reaction of the American people to the President's initiative was they didn't support it. There is only one person who can lead the space program. That is the President or the Vice President. A Senator can't lead it. The administrator of NASA can't lead it, particularly on bold new initiatives. It has to be the White House that leads it."

3 March 2004: Chairman's Mark, 2005 Budget, Senate Budget Committee (PDF)

"For NASA, $15.6 billion, a 1.4-percent increase over 2004. While the Mark supports the President's vision for exploration and discovery, the current budget situation necessitates slower implementation. The resolution assumes fully funding the President's request for NASA in 2006 and beyond."

12 March 2004: Will NASA Annihilate Station Antimatter Experiment?, Science (subscription)

"NASA is reconsidering its support for an innovative experiment designed to capture direct evidence of elusive antimatter. At stake is an unusual 16-nation effort, led by a Nobel Prize winner, that until recently was cited by agency managers as proof that the space station can host high-quality science."

11 March 2004: Statement of Sean O'Keefe before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on VA-HUD-Independent Agencies

"The Administration is also prepared to address issues associated with obtaining foreign transportation services to the Space Station, including provisions of the Iran Nonproliferation Act, but, until the ISS Partnership adopts a specific implementation strategy, it is premature to identify specific issues."

9 March 2004: House Science Committee Democrats Release Their Views and Estimates Report

"Recommendation #2: Until the Congress has better information on which to judge the long-term cost of the President's Moon/Mars initiative, we believe that NASA's FY 2005 funding request should be reallocated in a manner that strengthens NASA's existing programs, helps address the backlog of deferred maintenance at NASA's facilities, ensures that the Shuttle will continue to fly safely for as long as it is needed, ensures that the International Space Station will be a safe and productive facility, makes a start on a replacement means of getting U.S. astronauts into space, and enables the analyses that will be needed to develop a viable and sustainable exploration agenda."

9 March 2004: House Science Committee Hearing: Outside Experts to Give Their Views on the President's Space Exploration Plan

"The Committee will focus on the following overarching questions: Are the cost estimates and timetables of the initiative realistic? Is using the moon and the International Space Station as stepping-stones to a Mars mission the best approach? How difficult will it be to develop ways to minimize the impact on human health of long stays in space? Would NASA's budget have the proper balance among NASA's programs under the initiative?"

3 March 2004: Chairman's Mark, 2005 Budget, Senate Budget Committee (PDF)

"For NASA, $15.6 billion, a 1.4-percent increase over 2004. While the Mark supports the President's vision for exploration and discovery, the current budget situation necessitates slower implementation. The resolution assumes fully funding the President's request for NASA in 2006 and beyond."

11 March 2004: Senate Appropriations VA-HUD and Independent Agencies Subcommittee Hearing

6 March 2004: Congressional Preview

Editor's note: House and Senate Democrats are talking of putting the President's space Initiative on hold for at least a year. Some would like to wait for the election to be over. Other Democrats (and many Republicans) have problems with the lack of detail in the budget numbers and overall schedule milestones NASA has been presenting. Talk of holding NASA's budget in FY 2005 to FY 2004 levels with some $60-80 million in additional study money is being discussed among Democrats. Overall, Republicans are a bit more enthusiastic, but there are some deficit hawks who would like to pay off the deficit sooner than the President has suggested and proposed budget increases such as those sought for NASA are a tempting target.

8 March 2004: Bush's space plan stalls, Orlando Sentinel

"McCurdy thinks NASA had hoped a key legislator "would stand up and raise the flag and say 'Let's go! Follow me!' And that hasn't happened." In fact, one lawmaker who is well-positioned to lead such a charge, U.S. Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, chairman of the House Science Committee, says he needs more details about the initiative before he can decide whether to support it in its current form."

23 February 2004: Cuts may close world's only underwater lab, CTV

"NASA astronauts have trained at the lab for several years to help them prepare for the rigors of space travel, sometimes spending a week or longer at a time. "The beauty of Aquarius is not only is it isolated, but very isolated, and it's an extreme environment," said NASA project manager Bill Todd. "It also allows the crew to go on a real mission in a real environment and work with real scientists doing real work, just like they would in the space station." This summer NASA will send four astronauts to test new communication methods and exercise equipment for long-duration space travel."

17 February 2004: NASA Office of Biological and Physical Research (OBPR) Program Operating Plan (POP 04) Guidelines

"The Office of Biological and Physical Research (OBPR) is preparing a process and associated timeline to address NASA's exploration vision and implementation strategy. This timeline will extend forward some number of months, but to assist in the Program Operating Plan (POP 04) planning activities, and until further clarity of mission evolves, a series of guidance steps are provided below."

Editor's note: Many difficult choices lie ahead.

13 February 2004: Space Shuttle: Further Improvements Needed in NASA's Modernization Efforts. GAO-04-203 , January 15, 2004, GAO

"NASA cannot fully define shuttle upgrade requirements until it resolves questions over the shuttle's operational life and determines requirements for elements of its Integrated Space Transportation Plan such as the International Space Station. Prior efforts to upgrade the shuttle have been stymied because NASA could not develop a strategic investment plan or systematically define the spacecraft's requirements because of changes in its life expectancy and mission."

4 February 2004: Ad Astra Sans Pork: Earmarks as Roadblocks in Space, SpaceRef

"Mr. Wallace reminded the board that Senator McCain had asked Admiral Gehman to look into the effects on the program of non-shuttle related "pork" such as aquariums and petting zoos.

Dr. Logsdon indicated that the board has to differentiate between pork and politics. He said Senator McCain is talking about budget earmarks. He warned the board that the senator is considered by many on Capitol Hill to be a maverick on this issue and that an attack on pork in general risked alienating many important lawmakers. The board must show how allocating money for other programs has hurt the shuttle program.

Source: Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) Minutes of Meeting May 21, 2003 CMM008-0035 Page 10 of 18"

2 February 2004: NASA Offers Prize to Private Innovators, Fox

"The initiative in the new Office of Exploration budget is small--just two percent of its budget--and perhaps just the proverbial camel's nose under the tent, but that may be just as well. It could prove a useful pilot program to determine whether NASA is truly interested in true innovation, from previously-unknown talents, or instead in continuing to maintain the status quo."

2 February 2004: Overview of NASA's FY 2005 Budget, SpaceRef

"After weeks of hinting at what was in store, NASA finally released details of its FY 2005 budget. More importantly they provided insight into how the President's recently announced space policy will be implemented."

2 February 2004: NASA FY 2005 Budget, OMB (PDF)

2 February 2004: NASA budget Documents

22 December 2003: Business Modernization: Disciplined Processes Needed to Better Manage NASA's Integrated Financial Management Program. GAO-04-118, GAO

22 December 2003: Business Modernization: NASA's Challenges in Managing Its Integrated Financial Management Program. GAO-04-255, GAO

22 December 2003: Business Modernization: NASA's Integrated Financial Management Program Does Not Fully Address Agency's External Reporting Issues. GAO-04-151, GAO

22 December 2003: Information Technology: Architecture Needed to Guide NASA's Financial Management Modernization. GAO-04-43, GAO

5 December 2003: Congressional `pork' projects take funds away from NASA, Orlando Sentinel via SunHerald.com

"Alaska always does well in the bill - this year's version includes $600,000 for the Challenger School in Kenai, a fishing village of 7,000. The school has a center named for Stevens and his wife, Catherine."

2 December 2003: House Rpt.108-401 - NASA Excerpts

"The conferees agree that program delays often result in large cost increases that are increasingly difficult to justify and that NASA should have as a priority a desire to reduce these costs. Therefore, the conferees direct NASA to work to reduce the costs associated with program delays, and report to the Committees on Appropriations by January 15, 2004 on options for cost reductions."

Editor's note: What a hoot. Yes, NASA has a bad track record when it comes to cost. So what do the House and Senate do as they issue such admonitions out of one side of their mouths? They burden NASA with $375 million in pork (earmarks).

3 December 2003: Lott: Congress Won't Cut Spending On NASA Project, WDSU

"U.S. Sen. Trent Lott said Tuesday that Congressional negotiators have agreed to not cut funding for NASA's remote sensing program."

1 December 2003: NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 1 Dec 2003

"Last week (11/28), Russia's State Duma approved the fourth and final reading of the draft federal budget for 2004, which would increase funding for all space programs (including ISS) by 6.3 billion rubles over FY 2003 spending (i.e., by ~$207 million to ~$470 million). [Approval by the Federation Council (Upper House of Parliament) is now needed before it can be signed by Pres. Putin.] U.S. and Russian Segment Status (as of 1:30pm EST)."

19 November 2003: CRS Report: U.S. Space Programs: Civilian, Military, and Commercial, Congressional Research Service

"DOD is requesting $20.4 billion for space programs (classified and unclassified) for FY2004, compared with its FY2003 appropriation of $18.4 billion. The House and Senate passed their respective versions of the FY2004 DOD authorization bill on May 22 (H.R. 1588/S. 1050). The FY2004 DOD appropriations act was signed into law September 30 (P.L. 108-87)."

18 November 2003: Senate Passes FY 2004 VA/HUD and Independent Agencies Appropriations Bill (NASA Excerpt)

"NASA - The bill includes a requirement that the National Academy of Public Administration do a top-to-bottom management analysis of NASA, particularly in response to the CAIB report which cited NASA management and culture as factors in the Columbia accident."

18 November 2003: H.R.2861 Status

11/18/2003: Passed Senate with an amendment by Voice Vote. Senate insists on its amendment, asks for a conference, appoints conferees Bond; Burns; Shelby; Craig; Domenici; DeWine; Hutchison; Stevens; Mikulski; Leahy; Harkin; Byrd; Johnson; Reid; Inouye.

18 November 2003: Floor Statement by Sen. Bill Nelson regarding "VA-HUD NASA flat-line budget"

"The shuttle needs to be able to fly safely as long as this country needs it. To even consider using upgrade and infrastructure funds for return to flight is unconscionable and certainly not in the long-term best interest of our Nation's space program."

18 November 2003: CRS: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration's FY2004 Budget Request: Description, Analysis, and Issues for Congress, Congressional Research Service (full report)

"Congress is debating the $15.469 billion FY2004 budget request of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). This report discusses the major issues, particularly the potential ramifications of the February 2003 space shuttle Columbia accident."

23 October 2003: Open Letter to Science Community Landsat Data Users

"As representatives of the US land science community, we are increasingly concerned that our nation's commitment to space-based monitoring our home planet's land surface is weakening or may even be coming to an end."

23 October 2003: SaveThe Hubble.org

"Hubble has done more to capture society's imagination for space exploration than anything since we landed a man on the moon. We don't understand why we can afford to spend 87 billion dollars to rebuild Iraq, and yet we can't find less than 1% of that to keep one of the greatest scientific achievements of this generation flying in the sky."

23 October 2003: Pluto Mission In Peril -- Again. No One Notices.

Editor's note: From a NASA Watch reader: "Take a look at H. J. Res 73, Section 4 (6) - it effectively kills the Pluto flyby mission. And this is a continuing resolution, too; keeping the government running after 31 October (when the current one expires) through 7 November. Surely the Senate will feel forced to pass the exact same resolution?"

SEC. 4. The provisions of the following bills of the 108th Congress are hereby enacted into law:

(6) VETERANS AFFAIRS AND HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT, AND INDEPENDENT AGENCIES- H.R. 2861, as passed by the House of Representatives on July 25, 2003.

4 October 2003: Warner seeks $500 million for bases, Daily Press

"U.S. Sen. John Warner wants Congress to spend $500 million to repair and clean up military bases damaged by Hurricane Isabel."

4 October 2003: Sen. Warner tells NASA Langley that hell seek boost in budget, The Virginian-Pilot

"The meeting was closed to the public and the media was not allowed to attend or ask employees questions, per NASA Langley rules. However, Warner said afterward that he had announced plans to propose a 10 percent increase in funding for NASA programs, particularly the NASA Engineering and Safety Center that is slated to open at NASA Langley on Nov. 1."

12 September 2003: AIP FYI #118: Senate Appropriations Committee Language on NASA Space Flight, AIP

12 September 2003: AIP FYI #117: Senate Appropriators Pass FY 2004 Funding Bill for NASA, AIP

12 September 2003: S. 1584 [Report No. 108-143], FY 2004 NASA Excerpts, Senate Appropriations Committee

"The Committee remains very concerned over the inefficient use of funds by NASA. The Committee understands that most of the programs and activities funded by NASA are very difficult and technologically challenging and are what laypersons jokingly refer to as `rocket science.'"

12 September 2003: The Missing Item in NASA's New Flight Plan: Money, Science

"Given the work required, it is an ambitious schedule. "The way ahead is very daunting," admits NASA space flight chief William Readdy. But lawmakers suspect that the agency is more eager to launch than remake itself. "I'm concerned that NASA may already be rushing to meet unrealistic launch dates instead of examining this report closely and moving deliberately," said Boehlert. NASA will have to prove to a skeptical Congress that it can launch a safer shuttle--but not too quickly or too expensively."

4 September 2003: Senate Appropriations Committee Approves FY 2004 VA/HUD Bill, AIP

Scroll to bottom: "The bill has NASA funded at $15.3 billion. This is the same as the amount enacted in FY 2003."

7 September 2003: Acquisition of National Security Space Programs, DOD Under Secretary for Acquisition, Technology, & Logsitics

"1. Cost has replaced mission success as the primary driver in managing space development programs, from initial formulation through execution. Space is unforgiving; thousands of good decisions can be undone by a single engineering flaw or workmanship error, and these flaws and errors can result in catastrophe. Mission success in the space program has historically been based upon unrelenting emphasis on quality. The change of emphasis from mission success to cost has resulted in excessive technical and schedule risk as well as a failure to make responsible investments to enhance quality and ensure mission success. We clearly recognize the importance of cost, but we can achieve our cost performance goals only by managing quality and doing it right the first time."

6 September 2003: IFPTE Report on the Effectiveness of NASA's Workforce & Contractor Policies

"While the principle behind FBC was vague and open to interpretation for most of Goldin's tenure, FBC attempted to "shorten development times, reduce costs, and increase the scientific return by flying more missions in less time." Using FBC as a way to contract out services and move more of NASA's resources into the private sector, Goldin eliminated much of the civil service infrastructure that monitored and held technical knowledge of the service and products contractors provided and oversaw NASA's safe and successful operation."

27 August 2003: Impact LESA BULLETIN 2003-008, IFPTE

"Perhaps our Center-Director-to-Be, Dr. Earls, should start his quest to boost the impact of the John H. Glenn Research Center by a little re-education of Mr. Cowing, the esteemed (though possibly misinformed) editor of the independent NASAWatch.com web site. If this quote from Mr. Cowing is to be believed (which it isn't), we at Glenn just sit about irrelevantly for 364 days a year doing nothing for anybody and then cry at Mama Bear on that last day for more porridge."

Editor's note: Mr. Jones: perhaps if you'd stop obsessing about how much "porridge" GRC gets you'd be able to see what the powers that be have to say - and think - about GRC and why things are the way they are. The re-education you mention needs to start at GRC - at the individual level."

14 July 2003: More Thrust From NASA, Plain Dealer

"NASA Glenn's own survey data from 2001 show that customers - mostly businesses - struggled to assess what the lab does, perceived its technical edge to be slipping and found it tough to deal with and slow to respond. Fewer than one-third of respondents said NASA Glenn was very close to the ideal federal laboratory."

4 August 2003: NASA Portion of House Rpt.108-235; VA/HUD and Independent Agencies Appropriations Bill FY 2004

"The Committee has recommended a total program level of $15,540,300,000 in fiscal year 2004, which is an increase of $71,000,000 from the budget request and an increase of $201,393,000 when compared to the fiscal year 2003 enacted appropriation."

Editor's Note: Among the things members of Congress shamelessly shoved into this bill are the following items which, at first blush, seem to have nothing whatsoever to do with NASA.

  • 2. An increase of $1,000,000 for the Alabama Supercomputer Education Outreach program;
  • 10. An increase of $1,500,000 to the BizTech High Tech Business Incubator;

  • 14. An increase of $2,200,000 for the Education Advancement Alliance in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for education grants and scholarships;
  • 15. An increase of $250,000 for Rutgers for continued construction of a research and teaching facility on its Busch Campus in Piscataway, New Jersey;
  • 16. An increase of $250,000 for Middle Tennessee State University for K-12 Science Education Enhancements;
  • 17. An increase of $500,000 for the Northwestern University's Institute for Proteomics and Nanotechnology;
  • 19. An increase of $300,000 to develop a high temperature nanotechnology research program;
  • 20. An increase of $300,000 for a national Communications, Navigation, and Surveillance test bed;

  • 26. An increase of $500,000 for the Ohio View Consortium;
  • 28. An increase of $1,000,000 for the Garrett Morgan Commercialization Initiative in Ohio;

  • 31. An increase of $2,000,000 for the Michigan Technology Commercialization Corporation to identify and develop new medical materials and technologies which have the ability to provide low cost alternatives to current therapies;
  • 32. An increase of $300,000 for the Center for Science and Mathematics at the University of Redlands, California;
  • 54. An increase of $2,000,000 for Cryogenic Power Electronics Development at the State University of New York at Albany;
  • 56. An increase of $2,500,000 for the Regional Application Center for the Northeast;
  • 57. An increase of $2,550,000 for the Fractional Ownership Test Program;
  • 58. An increase of $3,000,000 in the Computing, Information and Communications Technology Program (CICT) for High Information Density Approaches to Mobile Broadband Internet Communications;

  • 59. An increase of $4,000,000 for new Adaptive Surveillance Techniques for Airport Surface Safety;
  • 60. An increase of $4,500,000 for the National Center of Excellence in Infotonics in Rochester, New York;
  • 61. An increase of $4,500,000 for the National Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics in Buffalo, New York;
  • 62. An increase of $4,500,000 for a new Science Center at St. Bonaventure University in New York State;
  • 70. An increase of $8,000,000 for the Florida State University System Hydrogen Research Initiative;
  • 71. An increase of $1,000,000 to the Little River Canyon field school;
  • 72. An increase of $1,000,000 to the Tulane Institue for Macromolecular Engineering and Science for research on polymers;

31 July 2003: AIP FYI #104: House Appropriations Report Language on NASA, AIP

"Under the House bill, funding for NASA would increase to $15.5 billion, an increase of 1.3% over FY 2003 funding, and an increase of 0.5% over the Administration's request."

28 July 2003: DPS Mailing #03-12: New Horizons Threatened, AAS

"One of the major components for implementing the Decadal Survey recommendations is in peril by Congressional budget cutters. Late last week, the House VA-HUD- Independent Agency Appropriations Subcommittee released budget language to cut $55M from the New Frontiers program. Such a cut will seriously delay the launch and science return of the first New Frontiers Mission: New Horizons Mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt."

23 July 2003: House Appropriations Committee Report on FY 2004 Budget: NASA Details

"... NASA is directed to provide to the Committee within ninety days of enactment of this act a report on the costs and benefits of both reusable and expendable architectures for the OSP crewed system, including the implications of each architecture type on the development timeline for a system that meets NASA 's OSP Levell requirements."

  • A decrease of $20,000,000 to the James Webb Space Telescope.
  • A decrease of $13,000,000 to the Earth Science Applications program.
  • A decrease of $55,000,000 to the New Frontiers program
  • A decrease of $6,150,000 to the Space Interferometer Mission.

25 June 2003: Accenture Helps NASA Develop and Launch New Core Financial System

25 June 2003: New Financial Management Tools Unite NASA, NASA

"NASA's business operations took a giant leap forward this week as all 10 NASA field centers began using the same system to pay bills and manage financial accounts. The new system, part of NASA's Integrated Financial Management Program (IFMP), is one component of a major overhaul of the way the agency does business. The program is replacing duplicative legacy systems with new ones for common use across the agency."

16 June 2003: Mars probes rise above feel-good international space programs, OpEd by Jim Oberg, USA Today

"Sure, having the Russians aboard now is the only thing that's keeping the station going. But at what cost? Money needed for shuttle upgrades and safety enhancements was largely siphoned off to accommodate Russian delays and shortfalls in their contributions to the space station. The shuttle program, and especially its maintenance measures, suffered as a result, although a direct causal link with the Feb. 1 catastrophe remains nebulous, at least so far."

Editor's note: Word has it that Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is looking to siphon $300 Million from SLI i.e. Shuttle upgrades, OSP, and NGLV in the FY 2005 budget to pay for Alternate Access ("Alt Access") to ISS. This is foolish - and counterproductive. If alternative access options for ISS logistics and resupply are indeed viable (they most certainly are!) then funds for these activities should be found IN ADDITION to what NASA has requested to A. fix the Shuttle; B. replace it in the short term; and C. replace it in the long term. To do otherwise is to undermine American human spaceflight by reducing its ability to make the Shuttle safer in the immediate future.

Editor's note: Clarification: NASA Watch sources say that these efforts by Rohrabacher are focused on NASA's FY 2003 operations plan and the FY 2004 budget and are meant to reverse NASA's decision to zero out Alt Access. On the other hand, sources on Capitol Hill deny that anything like this is going on. Stay tuned.

14 June 2003: NASA OIG: Integrated Financial Management Program Core Financial Module Conversion to Full Cost Accounting

"In conducting this audit, we found that the Core Financial Module software, which has been implemented at six NASA Centers, has the capability to implement full cost accounting. Before implementation can take place, NASA must resolve several extraordinarily complex accounting and costing issues. These involve how to allocate service and general and administrative (G&A) costs, civil service costs, and unassigned costs."

6 June 2003: Update on the Wind Tunnel Closures, George H. Kidwell, Director (Acting), Research and Development Services, NASA ARC

"On May 16, 2003, the Wind Tunnel Operations Division (Code FO) initiated the closure of the National Full-Scale Aerodynamic Complex (NFAC) and 12-Foot. Pressure Wind Tunnel facilities. I would like to provide some background on this event and to put it into the context of yesterday, today, and tomorrow."

2 June 2003: Houston, we have a problem at NASA center in Cleveland, Cleveland Plain Dealer

"The widespread federal survey, based on more than 100,000 responses, had 50 more questions about job satisfaction, benefits and compensation, among other issues. Citing privacy concerns, the Office of Personnel Management, which oversees the federal work force and conducted the survey, said it's up to the agencies to release results. The center's management has not done so publicly."

Editor's note: Here is the survey (Federal Human Capital Survey 2002) online at OPM. It is not readily apparent (at least to me) how to extract NASA data from this.

Update: NASA's survey results are located at this OPM URL: http://fhcs.opm.gov/gwsReports/SA-SUB-HL...nal-Aeronautics-and-Space-Administration. Alas, neither the the public or NASA empoyees are allowed to see the results - you need a username and password to gain access. Fortunately, someone has printed the hidden survey results out and put them in this PDF file.

31 May 2003: NASA financial program in danger, Federal Computer Week

"A General Accounting Office report issued May 30 criticizes NASA's financial management plan, saying the space agency is in danger of producing its third consecutive failed financial management system."

1 June 2003: Business Modernization: Improvements Needed in Management of NASA's Integrated Financial Management Program, GAO-03-507, GAO

"NASA has established the right goal for IFMP, and its ongoing
implementation of several already-acquired system components,
particularly the core financial module, may provide some improvements to
NASA's accounting data. However, implementation of these components
will only partially address NASA's information needs related to its complex
space programs and contracts because NASA has deferred implementation
of the system capabilities needed to provide this information and has not
reengineered key business processes such as acquisition management.
NASA's long-standing weaknesses in this area have been central to our
designation of NASA contract management as high risk. Moreover, NASA's
approach to acquiring and implementing IFMP components has and will
continue to introduce risk and increase the chances that the agency will fall
short of meeting its IFMP goal."

17 May 2003: Wind tunnels closed, SJ Mercury News

"The world's largest and second-largest wind tunnels -- built and operated by NASA/Ames Research Center in Mountain View -- were closed Friday and could be mothballed forever, officials at the space agency told the Mercury News."

15 May 2003: NASA Langley Consolidates Wind Tunnel Operations, NASA LaRC

"The civil service personnel directly involved with the new organization had the opportunity to meet and present their concerns and ask questions at a special private session today with organization leadership."

9 April 2003: Congressional Babbling

The following semi-coherent questions were among those asked by Rep. Kaptur (D-OH) at yesterday's NASA budget hearings before the VA-HUD subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee:

"The second question I have, and I'll just wait for answers on both, has to do with what measures we have as a world of perhaps ozone damage and any pollution resulting from our space probes that cut through the thin veil of light that surrounds the globe. And to what extent do we have information on that? I've been asked questions about it in my own region and I don't have any answers. And some of the space garbage that we're leaving up there. So in terms of the applications and possible future funding that could help to apply what you know about Earth-sun and fuel cell research to ongoing energy needs here on Earth. And then the issue of the basin and our environment and how we protect that very thin ozone layer around Earth."...

... "Mr. Chairman, could I just ask the director if he could arrange to have someone come up and see me privately on the Earth-sun effort

REP. WALSH: Absolutely.

-- so I can get a better understanding of what you're doing and then also he asked the question for the record relating to the impact of NASA's space shots through the atmosphere and how you're measuring the impact of that on the oxygen layer?"

Editor's note: "space garbage"? "the thin veil of light that surrounds the globe"? "the oxygen layer"? This meandering babble is what happens when staff don't adequately prepare their boss for a hearing. Note to Rep. Kaptur: if you are going to engage in a serious discussion on the things that NASA does, the least you could do is know something about the topics and not waste everyone's time demonstrating your lack of knowledge. Otherwise, the prudent response would be "I have no questions Mr. Chairman."

Editor's update: Rep. Kaptur's office called to take issue with what I have posted on NASA Watch. Specifically that she said "thin layer of "life" (not "light") even though my notes show "light". I added in Rep. Walsh's comment "absolutely" at Kaptur's staffer's request. Otherwise, my comments still stand: she sounded utterly ill-prepared for the hearing. Oh yes, Sean O'Keefe is the "Administrator" of NASA - not its "Director." You'd think that a 10 term member of Congress who represents regions near NASA Glenn Research Center would know this by now.

7 April 2003: Letter from Rep. Rohrabacher to NASA OET AA Creedon regarding Alternate Access to Station funding (14 March 2003)

"Sir, no one cheered louder than I when you came to D.C. last summer to replace Mr. Venneri, but I am concerned that NASA may repeat errors made under his watch. Please be confident that I stand ready to work with you to successfully implement a focused and expedited AAS program and a focused and expedited OSP initiative."

7 April 2003: Letter from Rep. Rohrabacher to NASA Administrator O'Keefe Regarding FY 2003 Budget Amendment Concerns (15 November 2002)

"Secondly, I also believe NASA should continue its efforts in the Space Launch Initiative that enables procurement of commercial services for Space Station cargo and logistics missions. Further, the OSP should be commercially owned and operated not unlike the EELV. This contracting method has proven to be a logical and prudent approach, and it could further the goals of the second generation of human launch."

5 March 2003: House Science Committee Views and Estimates Fiscal Year 2004 - Part 1

5 March 2003: House Science Committee Views and Estimates Fiscal Year 2004 - Part 2: Recommendations for Agencies

"The Administration has proposed $15.469 billion for NASA in FY04, an increase of less than 1 percent above NASA's FY03 appropriation of $15.335 billion. Unfortunately, as a result of the tragic loss of the Space Shuttle, it is impossible at this time to credibly assess the proposed funding levels contained in significant portions of NASA's FY04 budget request."

5 March 2003: House Science Committee Democrats Release Their Views and Estimates

"Representative Ralph M. Hall (D-TX), ranking Democrat on the Science Committee, today released the Democrats' Views and Estimates report. This report, required annually by the Budget Act, is designed to provide guidance to the Budget Committee for funding of science and technology programs in the annual budget process. The report, which is in part a response to the Committee Republican Views and Estimates Report and in part to the Bush Administration's budget request, makes four points."

5 March 2003: House Science Committee Democrats Select Subcommittee Ranking Members

"Congressman Ralph Hall (D-TX), ranking Democrat on the Science Committee, today released the Democratic Subcommittee leadership slate for the 108th Congress."

3 March 2003: NASA's pork feeds hometown projects, Orlando Sentinel

"In 1992, Rep. Jamie Whitten, the powerful chair of the House committee that oversees the federal budget, took $360 million from, among other places, the space-shuttle program. Whitten redirected the money to a booster-rocket facility in his rural Mississippi district that NASA no longer wanted."

27 February 2003: Science Committee Democrats Express Concerns about NASA's Budget and Programs

"Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) commented on the recent release of e-mails between NASA and contractor personnel, "Once more in the wake of a national tragedy we are left to ask who knew what when, and what should they have done about it. The issue is not whether the memos were right, it's whether they were read."

27 February 2003: Opening Statement by Rep. Ralph Hall

"NASA has said that the Orbital Space Plane will supplementnot replacethe Space Shuttle. Doesn't that mean that we will be flying both the Shuttle and the Orbital Space Station to and from the Space Station? If so, aren't we and our International Partners locking ourselves into higher Space Station operating costs? This doesn't sound like a good idea to me. "

27 February 2003: Opening Statement by Rep. Boehlert at NASA Budget Hearing

"I should say, though, that having met with Admiral Gehman at length yesterday, I am more convinced than ever that the Columbia Accident Investigation Board has the independence and resources it needs to conduct a broad, thorough and useful investigation. The Board does still need some additional members, and I expect that more will be appointed within the next few weeks. I look forward to cooperating with Admiral Gehman as the Committee conducts its own bipartisan investigation."

26 February 2003: Hearing Charter: NASA's Fiscal Year 2004 Budget Request, House Science Committee

26 February 2003: Hearing to review implications of Columbia accident on NASA programs and budget, House Science Committee

16 February 2003: Dollars From Heaven: NASA spending hits wide area including Pa., W.Va. and Ohio, Post Gazette.com

"NASA pumps lots of money into the national economy, and virtually every state in the union reaps some benefit from space program spending or from spinoff companies that are based on space program research."

16 February 2003: NASA brought economic boost to West Virginia, Post Gazette.com

"When Reese got to Byrd's office, the senator had good news. He asked Reese what incentives Fairmont could offer to help Byrd land a small office of the national space agency with the unwieldy name of the Independent Verification and Validation Facility."

13 February 2003: 2003 bill fully funds Marshall's top efforts, Huntsville Times

"The bill includes $839 million for the Marshall-managed Space Launch Initiative and $36.5 million for Marshall's Nuclear Systems Initiative, a program aimed at developing nuclear-powered spacecraft. It also includes $3.2 billion for space shuttle operations, including $317 million for a program to improve NASA's fleet of space shuttles."

3 February 2003: NASA Fiscal Year 2004 Budget Documents

 From NASA

Budget Briefing Presentation (PDF)

Budget Summary (PDF)

Strategic Plan (PDF)

Detailed Budget Estimate (PDF 32 MB)

 From the White House

NASA Budget Fiscal Year 2004 (PDF)

NASA Budget Fiscal Year 2004 Apendix (PDF)

29 January 2003: NASA Set to Unveil 'Jupiter Tour' Mission, SpaceRef

"When NASA rolls out its FY 2004 budget on Monday a large new planetary exploration mission will be revealed.

The Bush Adminstration has signed off on a multi-billion-dollar-class mission dubbed "Jupiter Tour' - a mission which embodies a radical departure from the past four decades of planetary exploration."

27 January 2003: NASA Previews Fiscal Year 2004 Budget

"NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe will preview the agency's fiscal year (FY) 2004 budget proposal in a press conference at 3 p.m. EST, Monday, Feb. 3."

28 January 2003: NASA FY 2004 Budget Sneak Preview

Editor's note: Well, there was no mention of space, nuclear rockets, or Mars in the President's State of the Union address. None the less, this does not mean that interesting news for NASA is not in the offing. Exciting stuff will be announced next Monday. Yes, per earlier rumors, it involves spacecraft using advanced nuclear power sources - and the overall development program for these systems is dubbed "Prometheus". It's just that multiple destinations - other than Mars - are involved.

The announcements made next Monday will show that NASA, at least under this Administration, is no longer incapable of big thinking when it comes to space. Moreover, NASA's other reseach priorities are no longer politically beholdent to the shadow cast by the ISS program. Finally, NASA is now seen as being worthy of big things beyond the ISS - and the ISS itself is finally going to be seen as a stepping stone for things to come.

Would any of this have been forseen a scant 14 months ago? Stay tuned.

24 January 2003: Special Report: Senate Omnibus Appropriations Package and California Implications , The California Institute For Federal Policy Research

"For NASA, the Senate bill would provide total funding of $15.1 billion, a $300 million boost over the FY 2002 level. Within NASA, the account for Human Space Flight would receive provide $6.1 billion..."

23 January 2003: Senate Approves $390 Billion Package, Washington Post

"The Senate last night approved a $390 billion-plus spending package that sticks closely to a White House-imposed ceiling, after Republicans defeated Democratic moves to add billions of dollars for health care providers and job-training programs."

21 January 2003: Senate resumes long debate to finish fiscal 2003 budget, Government Executive

"Senate appropriators are poised to finish work this week on the $390 billion fiscal 2003 omnibus appropriations package, but they will still have to overcome a series of Democratic amendments designed to boost funds in the proposal."

21 January 2003: Senate Adds $300M to Spending Bill, AP

"The overdue spending package is for the government budget year that started last Oct. 1. Majority Republicans had hoped to ship the bill to President Bush in time for him to cite its completion during his State of the Union address next Tuesday. Instead, Democrats have used the bill for amendments that, although mostly defeated, have let them attempt to draw political distinctions between themselves and the GOP. Last week, Republicans voted overwhelmingly against Democratic amendments to raise the measure's price tag with extra money for schools, domestic security programs and other areas."

17 January 2003: AIP FYI #6: NASA Plan Would Focus Resources on Station Research, Launch Technologies

"As Congress has not yet completed the FY 2003 appropriations bills, there is still time for the Administration's amendment to be incorporated."

16 January 2003: Work begins on omnibus spending bill with across-the-board cut, Government Executive

"To mitigate a growing list of politically charged amendments by Democrats, appropriators decided late Wednesday afternoon to include within the $385 billion package of 11 appropriations bills a 1.6 percent, across-the-board cut totaling about $6 billion. That money would be redirected so $3.1 billion would go to drought aid, $1.5 billion to election reform and another $1.6 billion to a Medicare fee fix."

9 January 2003: AIP FYI #4 Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist: A Friend of Science

"In the spring of 2000, FYI reported on a Senate subcommittee hearing chaired by Frist on NASA. While he described his support of NASA and the challenges it faces, he also told the NASA administrator that "for $14 billion a year, the American taxpayers deserve better." Frist also spoke of the difficulties in getting good cost projections from the agency."

22 December 2002: AIP FYI #139: Still No Clear End to Budget Stalemate

"There is still little solid information about how Congress and the Administration will enact eleven "must pass" appropriations bills for Fiscal Year 2003. Congress will not be coming back into town until January, and while there are various plans being floated about how to resolve this impasse, no one can predict how this will all turn out."

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on June 15, 2004 12:00 AM.

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