"To the president and his supporters who see a bloated bureaucracy with lots of duplication and rules that choke jobs, the budget cuts are a necessary first step to make government run more efficiently. Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said this week that non-military spending will take the "largest-proposed reduction since the early years of the Reagan administration." To prepare for that possibility, agencies are preparing to shave 10 percent off their budgets, on average. And words like buyouts, furloughs and RIFs (or reduction in force) - government-speak for layoffs - are now being tossed around at the water cooler as civil servants face the possibility of massive downsizing. Some of these strategies were used when Ronald Reagan was president and others more recently to meet the goals of budget caps known as sequestration."
Keith's note: As you all know it is much harder to lay off government employees than contractor employes. Yet that now seems to be what is in the plans. But if NASA is faced with making substantial cuts in its expenses then you can be assured that contractor personnel will bear a large part of the pain. Contractor employees have far fewer protections than civil servants. Also, in the past when budgets have gotten tight NASA has delayed solicitations, delayed and decreased the number of awards, and the cut the value of awards. With huge cuts in its budget looming on the horizon, you can expect that NASA procurement practices will respond to these cuts with surprising speed.
At the NASA Planetary Science Vision 2050 Workshop this week I asked a panel a question noting that there were "some very depressed people up on the 9th floor working on the budget passback to OMB". I asked the panel "what sort of box outside of which they needed to be thinking they had yet to think outside of" when it came to dealing with these looming budget cuts. The panel dodged the question and paradoxically started to talk about doing more things rather than less. I reiterated the harsh reality that goes with a President who "thinks potholes are more important than planets". Alas, the panel continued along their merry way in denial with some throw away lines such as "clearly we need to be doing things cheaper".
A storm is coming folks. You cannot hide under your desks and try and to ride it out. Not this time. You need to be preparing contingency plans and be ready to try things that you have never tried before to accomplish the tasks you have been given to do. Otherwise those things will not get done.