Congress: December 2012 Archives

Implications of Ongoing Fiscal Cliff Negotiations for NASA

"As you are all likely aware, the Administration and Congress are continuing to work to resolve a series of economic or fiscal events, collectively referred to as the "fiscal cliff," that are scheduled to occur around the end of the year. One of the key issues involves potential across-the-board reductions in Federal spending-- also known as "sequestration"-- that were put in place by the Budget Control Act of 2011. Under current law, these reductions are scheduled to take effect on January 2, 2013. Many of you have raised questions regarding the impact of a potential sequestration for NASA, and I would like to take a moment to clarify a few things."

Guidance for Administrative Furloughs, OPM, December 2012

"An administrative furlough is a planned event by an agency which is designed to absorb reductions necessitated by downsizing, reduced funding, lack of work, or any other budget situation other than a lapse in appropriations. This type of furlough is typically a non- emergency furlough in that the agency has sufficient time to reduce spending and give adequate notice to employees of its specific furlough plan and how many furlough days will be required. An example of when such a furlough may be necessary is when, as a result of Congressional budget decisions, an agency is required to absorb additional reductions over the course of a fiscal year."

U.S. defense bill lifts barrier on satellite exports, Reuters

"Tucked into the annual U.S. defense budget bill making its way through Congress this week is a long-fought and potentially lucrative reprieve for U.S. satellite manufactures and suppliers to export their products, officials said on Wednesday. Since 1999, spacecraft and their components have been grouped with ammunitions, fighter jets and other defense technologies and subject to the nation's most stringent export controls. The restriction followed a 1996 Chinese rocket launch accident that claimed a U.S.-manufactured satellite. In the course of the investigation, the company was accused of inadvertently transferring restricted technology to China. Before 1999, the State Department had the option of processing satellite and spacecraft component export requests under more lenient commerce control guidelines. "We are going to give the president back that power," space attorney Michael Gold, who headed a Federal Aviation Administration export control advisory group, told Reuters."

National Academy of Sciences Committee on Human Spaceflight Meeting

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Yet Another Slow Motion Advisory Committee on Human Space Flight

"The NASA Authorization Act of 2010 was signed into law on 11 October 2010. It has taken more than 2 years for everyone to get around to starting this study. The start date listed for this committee is November 2012 and its report is due for delivery in May 2014. That's 1 year, 7 months. This NRC is responding to authorizing legislation passed in 2010 by the 111th Congress, with a committee now being requested by the 112th Congress, and its report will be presented to yet another Congress (113th) during the second year of a new presidential administration in mid-2014 - one where policies are in place that will differ from those in place when the task was assigned, with budgets that differ from initial conditions under which the study was undertaken.

Net result: the committee's advice will be out of synch with reality and somewhat overtaken by events having taken a total of 3 years, 7 months to complete. Oh yes: the cost of this study? $3.6 million."

S.3661 - Space Exploration Sustainability Act

"SEC. 4. REPORT ON CIS-LUNAR SPACE.

Not later than 120 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration shall submit to Congress a strategy to achieve the long-term goal of sustainably expanding a human presence beyond low-Earth orbit under section 202(a) of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2010 (42 U.S.C. 18312(a)) through robust utilization of cis-lunar space."

IFPTE Letters Opposing S. 3661, the Space Exploration Sustainability Act

"S. 3661 in its current form is a flawed and unbalanced effort to improperly prioritize a few outsourced and offshored activities, while neglecting NASA's internal core capabilities and other critical needs. It is focused on catering to the demands of the Russian government and on preserving Russian aerospace jobs all the way through the end of this decade, while doing absolutely nothing to protect NASA's federal workforce."

Keith's note: IFPTE is obviously interested in protecting government jobs - simply for the sake of protecting government jobs. They are a union, so that is to be expected. Otherwise, the IFPTE seems to be uninterested in what this legislation is trying to do in terms of American space policy. Indeed, where the IFPTE folks get some of this arm waving and scary hyperbole is just baffling.

NASA Space Policy Hearing

Hearing: The Future of NASA: Perspectives on Strategic Vision for America's Space Program

Wednesday, December 12, 2012 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Live webcast

"Over-Arching Questions

- What steps could the government take over the next 3 to 5 years to help maintain America's capabilities and retain world leadership in space?
- What are the priorities that policy makers should consider when evaluating future NASA plans?
- How best can NASA and its stakeholder community reach consensus on identifying and preserving critical capabilities necessary for future space science, aeronautics, and exploration programs and missions?
- What steps can NASA, Congress, and the White House take to promote greater overall efficiency at the agency, as well as maintain programmatic and funding stability for projects and programs?"

Witness testimony: Robert Walker, Ronald Sega, Marion Blakey, Thomas Zurbuchen, Scott Pace


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