Budget: May 2017 Archives

Keith's note: This is kind of strange. If the intent for the NASA Education Office was to do something "NASA-wide" then you'd think that an agency-wide organization/approach would be needed for that. This is what the NASA Education Office has done for decades. But instead of thinking agency-wide and fixing the NASA Education Office they have decided to close the agency-wide Education Office and shove the remnants inside of the Science Mission Directorate. When I asked Acting NASA CFO Andrew Hunter about this he said that NASA does not have a response to this issue and that Acting Education Office AA Mike Kincaid is working on that. So, in other words, they are shutting down the Education Office - without any plan to do all of what the Education Office has been doing for several generations. Hunter and (earlier today) Robert Lightfoot both went off on the whole "inspring the next generation" thing and rambled on about websites and social media - most of which is not paid for by NASA Education office but rather by NASA PAO or the mission directorates. Yet somehow we are supposed to think that doing less education stuff can actually result in more inspiring of the next generation. But wait: Hunter thinks Congress will add things back. So why delete things in the first place if you expect them to be put back?

Sequsetration Order For FY 2018, White House

"By the authority vested in me as President by the laws of the United States of America, and in accordance with section 251A of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act (the "Act"), as amended, 2 U.S.C. 901a, I hereby order that, on October 1, 2017, direct spending budgetary resources for fiscal year 2018 in each non-exempt budget account be reduced by the amount calculated by the Office of Management and Budget in its report to the Congress of May 23, 2017. All sequestrations shall be made in strict accordance with the requirements of section 251A of the Act and the specifications of the Office of Management and Budget's report of May 23, 2017, prepared pursuant to section 251A(9) of the Act."

Keith's note: What does this mean? My first guess is that NASA will find itself with a budget somewhere between the FY 2017 budget enacted by Congress and what Trump has proposed for FY 2018. It is almost a certainty that this will undermine the budget levels achieved for FY 2017. Two steps forward, one step back.

Acting NASA Administrator Lightfoot's Message on Fiscal Year 2018 Budget

"While this budget no longer supports the formal Office of Education, NASA will continue to inspire the next generation through its missions and the many ways that our work excites and encourages discovery by learners and educators. Let me tell you, we are as committed to inspiring the next generation as ever. We're going to engage the public in the compelling story of exploration by the successful and safe execution of our missions, which is where our focus has to be. At the same time, we're going to take this opportunity for NASA to revisit the public engagement and outreach activities that take place on the ground at centers every day to ensure that we are leveraging the synergies between education and outreach to facilitate meaningful connections."

Keith's note: In other words the White House thinks that NASA no longer needs an education office - after half a century of having one -- and that reducing funding for education and outreach will somehow cause more education and public outreach to be accomplished.

"While we are not proposing to move forward with Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3 (OCO-3), Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem (PACE), Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory Pathfinder (CLARREO PF), and the Radiation Budget Instrument (RBI), this budget still includes significant Earth Science efforts, including 18 Earth observing missions in space as well as airborne missions."

Saying that you are still doing some earth science while multiple cutting climate science missions is akin to saying "be thankful that we did not cut all of it."

"We have a budget that also provides the necessary resources in the coming year to support our plans to send humans to Mars orbit in the 2030s. The European service module will be delivered to the Kennedy Space Center for integration with Orion in 2018. Prototype ground testing of habitat modules under our broad area announcement activity will happen in 2018."

NASA still has nowhere near the funding or anything close to the required strategic planning needed to send human to Mars in the 2030's and the Trump Administration is willing to continue the charade initiated by the Obama Administration while further undercutting the agency's ability to actually attempt to do these tasks.

And of course, Congress will reverse all of the things proposed in this budget - again.

NASA to Discuss FY2018 Budget Proposal, Provide Virtual Tours of Centers

"Lightfoot will give a presentation at 12:30 p.m. EDT to NASA employees at the agency's Headquarters in Washington on FY2018 budget highlights, setting the stage for the coming year at NASA and spotlighting the past work that led to current achievements. This presentation will air live on NASA Television and the agency's website."

Budget Documents, Strategic Plans and Performance Reports

- NASA FY 2018 Budget Estimates
- Agency Fact Sheet
- Mission Fact Sheets

NASA Excerpt: America First A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again

"The President's 2018 Budget requests $19.1 billion for NASA, a 0.8 percent decrease from the 2017 annualized CR level, with targeted increases consistent with the President's priorities. ... Supports and expands public-private partnerships as the foundation of future U.S. civilian space efforts. The Budget creates new opportunities for collaboration with industry on space station operations, supports public-private partnerships for deep-space habitation and exploration systems, funds data buys from companies operating small satellite constellations, and supports work with industry to develop and commercialize new space technologies."

Keith's note: The White House is not interested in a robust, meaningful education program at NASA:

"Eliminates the $115 million Office of Education, resulting in a more focused education effort through NASA's Science Mission Directorate. The Office of Education has experienced significant challenges in implementing a NASA-wide education strategy and is performing functions that are duplicative of other parts of the agency."

Contrary to the clear intent of Congress to (once again) oppose that action:

Senators to Trump Administration; Do Not Hurt Workforce By Cutting NASA Education Funding

"Today, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), co-chairs of the Senate Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus, are leading a group of 32 Senators in a letter urging the Senate Appropriations Committee to support NASA's Office of Education in the coming fiscal year."

The White House is also putting its climate change denial rhetoric into effect:

"Provides $1.8 billion for a focused, balanced Earth science portfolio that supports the priorities of the science and applications communities, a savings of $102 million from the 2017 annualized CR level. The Budget terminates four Earth science missions (PACE, OCO-3, DSCOVR Earth-viewing instruments, and CLARREO Pathfinder) and reduces funding for Earth science research grants."

Yet they do not even know who does what in this regard:

Trump's OMB Does Not Know Who Operates DSCOVR, earlier post

"So NASA does not actually operate instruments on DSCOVR - NOAA does - but OMB wants NASA to "terminate" them anyway. And the money saved annually for NASA data analysis? $1.7 million. The cost for a single trip to Mar-a-Lago? $3 million. Priceless."

NASA to Discuss FY2018 Budget Proposal, Provide Virtual Tours of Centers

"NASA will hold a series of events Tuesday, May 23, highlighting the agency's Fiscal Year 2018 budget proposal, including a televised State of NASA address by acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot."

Keith's note: Earlier this year the White House put forth a budget that cut many things at NASA - thus allowing it to barely tread water. Then Congress responded and NASA's budget picture dramatically improved - but only until 30 September 2017. Now the White House is issuing another budget proposal - this time for FY 2018. Once again the NASA budget is lacking in many ways. It also seeks to pick a fight with appropriators by eliminating the Europa missions that Rep. Culberson included - missions that NASA is required to conduct by law. We've seen this movie before.

NASA will be required to act in lock step with the White House and promote this latest budget request - even if it does damage to NASA programs. Right now NASA is hobbled by the lack of a confirmed Administrator with the top slots at the agency run by people in acting positions and some transition team holdovers. It is expected that Rep. Bridenstine will be nominated to head NASA within the coming days. Once he is confirmed (which may take a while due to ongoing White House distractions) Bridenstine is going to have to get a deputy with actual experience running a large, technically-oriented government R&D agency. He is also going to have to staff the 9th floor at NASA HQ with people who are similarly skilled - and not just rely upon 2016 campaign staffers who got a job simply as a reward for their loyalty.

The two budgets that the White House has submitted to Congress do little - if anything - to help NASA fund all of the things on its to-do list. To be certain, not cutting NASA earlier this year when other agencies were targeted for draconian cuts was an indication of some minimal support for NASA. However, the potential for NASA budget growth was all but non-existent. That said, the large programs NASA still wants to do i.e. SLS/Orion to Mars, the Lunar Gateway, etc. are increasingly underfunded and behind schedule.

Despite promises of a new breath of commercial space thinking in the way NASA does things, the presence of Newt Gingrich and Bob Walker in the wings has not made any noticeable change in NASA priorities - at least not yet. That may come when Scott Pace shows up for work at the National Space Council. But any coordinated policy formulation at the Space Council is going to take a long time to be translated into guidance for Administration budget requests.

In the mean time NASA is going to have to send its envoys to Congress to say that the President's budget cuts are good while simultaneously explaining why it does not have the money for the things Congress has told NASA to do. This is going to happen across the Federal government. Congress already spurned the earlier FY 2017 budget request from the White House. Congress will almost certainly do the same thing with the request for FY 2018. When all is said and done NASA's portfolio under the Trump Administration is going to look exactly like the Obama Administration's portfolio: Strategically scattered, chronically inefficient, and woefully underfunded.

- Trump's FY 2018 NASA Budget Is Not Huge, earlier post
- Bridenstine at NASA - and Pace at NSC - Expected Soon, earlier post
- Senators Reject Trump Push To Cut NASA Education, earlier post
- NASA's Good Budget News Is Not Actually All That Good, earlier post
- Congress Pushes Back Against Trump Science Cuts, earlier post
- Trump's NASA Budget Guts Earth Science and Totally Eliminates Education, earlier post

Third Way Statement on the Leaked May 8 Trump Budget, Third Way

2018 budget proposal to spread cuts across NASA programs, Space News

"The spreadsheet suggests that most major NASA accounts will see cuts compared to what Congress provided in the fiscal year 2017 omnibus spending bill enacted earlier this month, which gave NASA $19.653 billion overall. Science would receive a little more than $5.71 billion, $53 million less than what it received in 2017."

Science wins reprieve in US budget deal, Nature

" ... $1.9 billion for NASA's Earth-science research programme, roughly equal to the 2016 level. The bill includes support for the Pre-Aerosol, Clouds, and Ocean Ecosystem satellite mission that Trump wants to eliminate. $1.9 billion for planetary science at NASA, an increase of roughly $300 million from the 2016 level. That includes $275 million for a mission to Jupiter's moon Europa, including a lander. The bill would set aside $408 million for the Mars 2020 mission - and give NASA the green-light to investigate the possibility of sending a helicopter to the red planet."

Comprehensive Government Funding Bill Released, House Appropriations Committee

"The bill includes full Appropriations legislation and funding for the remaining 11 annual Appropriations bills through the end of the fiscal year, September 30, 2017. This level meets the base discretionary spending caps provided by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, and provides additional funding for national defense, border security, and other emergency needs."

FY 2017 Omnibus Summary - Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations

"NASA is funded at $19.7 billion in the bill, $368 million above the fiscal year 2016 enacted level."

Keith's note: This is the FY 2017 omnibus spending bill that covers current fiscal year spending and replaces the Continuing Resolution that governed spending at FY 2016 levels - until now. But FY 2018 starts in 5 months. What form NASA's budget will take in Trump's proposed FY 2018 budget is not clear at this point since this bill reverses (in a major way) nearly everything cut in Trump's budget proposal ("skinny budget") issued earlier this year. When you consider that Rep. Culberson has reiterated his support for two Europa missions each (presumably) launched on a SLS, that SLS continues to slip to the right and has inadequate reserves, and that Gingrich/Walker comments today about SLS speak to doubts within the Trump Administration about its survival, there is certain to be a SLS food fight at some point in the not too distant future. No doubt the future of SLS will be linked to what direction the White House wants to go in space - and how NASA will be directed to participate - or told to let others do some of the heavy lifting.


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This page is an archive of entries in the Budget category from May 2017.

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