Congress: February 2013 Archives

Rethinking NASA

Review of the Space Leadership Preservation Act (Video and statements), SpaceRef Business

"On February 27, 2013, the House Subcommittee on Space held a hearing to review a bill proposed by six Republican members of the House that would take away governance of NASA from the President and give it to a board appointed by the President and members of Congress."

Subcommittee Discusses Need for Stability of Vision for NASA Human Spaceflight

"Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas): "Today, a question exists about NASA's vision, namely, whether there is one. But we must also recognize that even a vision, without a means to achieve it, can be fruitless and frustrating. NASA too often is hampered by short term decisions that have a long term negative impact. We must step back, look at the Agency as a whole, and work to put it on the long term path to achieve worthy and inspirational goals on behalf of our nation."

Subcommittee Democrats Discuss Ways to Restore Stability and Direction to NASA

"Ranking Member Donna F. Edwards (D-MD) said of the proposals, "While today we consider legislation that seeks to stabilize NASA's direction, the sad truth is, we in the Congress have and are continuing to contribute to the agency's funding instability and a mismatch of resources with expectations. Year after year, NASA has had to redirect scarce resources and time to replan programs and projects, not because of instability at the top of the agency, but because of the uncertainties caused by flat or decreased funding for the agency, continuing resolutions, and, now the threat of sequestration."

Letter from NASA Inspector General: Audit of NASA's Management of Space Act Agreements

"The Office of Inspector General is initiating an audit evaluating NASA's management of its Space Act Agreements. Among the issues we intend to examine are: Whether NASA is accurately identifying its full costs for work performed under reimbursable agreements and properly billing partners; Whether NASA is receiving fair and reasonable benefits from partners when it chooses to waive costs under partially reimbursable Agreements; NASA's process for monitoring export control laws when entering into Agreements with foreign entities. We will also review internal controls as they relate to the overall objective. The primary audit location will be NASA Headquarters. Additional locations may be identified as our work progresses."

Keith's note: The NASA OIG apparently does not know the name of the current Director is at Glenn Research Center. As for the audit itself, Space Act Agreements are one unique tool that NASA has at its disposal that other agencies do not. Some amazing things - with real public benefits - can be done via this type of agreement. Lets hope that the NASA OIG sees the value to these agreements and does not knuckle under to Congressional pressure - pressure driven by ill-informed partisan agendas.

Message From The Administrator: NASA and Sequestration

"NASA's situation is somewhat unique from many other agencies. We have safely and efficiently phased out the Space Shuttle Program and managed existing programs to conservative spending levels. This has postured us so that we do not plan to resort to furloughs at this time for NASA employees to meet our spending reductions under sequestration. Nevertheless, this still will be a difficult situation for our team and industry partners, and will have problematic consequences for our mission."

How Sequestration Could Hit NASA Projects, Information Week

"Unlike the Department of Defense, which has said that it will furlough federal contractors in a move that could hit many IT workers, NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver has said that NASA does not currently have plans to furlough civilians in the event of sequestration."

NASA administrator addresses sequestration, WAFF

"[Bolden] said when you are talking a loss of funds, that means loss of jobs, and that is why he is so concerned. He said the big impact will be a lot of those businesses that NASA partners with. Some of them are on or around Redstone Arsenal."

More NASA Sequester Impacts

Letter From NASA to Senate Appropriators Regarding Impact of Sequestration

"Overall, for purposes of this assessment, the Agency assumed that the FY 2013 Continuing Resolution, with all of its terms and conditions, would be extended from March 27 to September 30, 2013, and that the sequester would cancel 5.0 percent of the fullyear amount, which would be the equivalent of roughly a 9 percent reduction over the remaining seven months of the fiscal year. NASA's assessment of the impacts of a March 1 sequester is presented in the enclosure."

TexMessage: Stockman blames Obama and Senate for NASA sequestration, Houston Chronicle

"Steve Stockman, R-Friendswood, slammed President Obama and the Senate for sequestration's possible cuts to NASA. "NASA funding fulfills one of the few legitimate functions of government. Friday's destructive explosion over Russia of a meteor we never saw, and the near-hit by an asteroid, should be a warning to Obama against further cuts to NASA," Stockman said in a statement. "Cuts to NASA jeopardize our safety and security."

Federal cuts will affect Northeast Ohio if budget stalemate continues, Cleveland Plain Dealer

"A letter that NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden, Jr., delivered to the U.S. Senate said the sequester would cut $7.3 million from the agency's $551.5 million aeronautics budget, and would result in cancellation of construction projects to repair or replace infrastructure at NASA Glenn."

Hard Budget Realities as Agencies Prepare to Detail Reductions, NY Times

"NASA plans to cancel six technology development projects, including deep-space communications."

'Blunt' NASA boss says sequestration will widen the gap with Russian space program, Huntsville Times

The gap between America and Russia, which can still launch astronauts, will not close, Bolden said. "The gap is going to get bigger," he said. "I'm just being very blunt about. Anybody who thinks this is no big deal - it's a big deal."

No furloughs seen in NASA's Huntsville programs because of sequestration, Huntsville Times

"NASA isn't expecting budget sequestration to lead to contractor furloughs in Huntsville, where work on a new heavy-lift rocket remains one of the agency's top priorities. However, 26 research contracts to small companies and universities have been put on hold to keep funding for the big rocket secure. That was the word this morning from NASA officials attending a Small Business Alliance meeting at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center today. More than 450 contractors, and subcontractors attended to learn more about getting NASA contracts."

White House: State-by-State Sequester Impact Reports,

"Today, the White House is releasing new state-by-state reports on the devastating impact the sequester will have on jobs and middle class families across the country if Congressional Republicans fail to compromise to avert the sequester by March 1st."

Keith's note: I did not see NASA mentioned anywhere - but I might have missed something.

Marshall Space Flight Center may feel minimal hit from sequestration, Rep. Mo Brooks said, Huntsville Times

"During a speech today at the Washington Update Luncheon at the Von Braun Center, Brooks spoke in encouraging terms when asked what impact the budget cuts, known as sequestration, would have on Marshall Space Flight Center. Brooks began his answer by saying he had breakfast today with Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, who talked recently with Robert Lightfoot - the former director of Marshall who last year was promoted to associate administrator at NASA. "I think Marshall, based on the information I'm getting from Mayor Battle and elsewhere, is going to survive sequestration a little bit better than most of the centers around the country," Brooks said. "Time will tell if that's the way it plays out." It puts NASA in a somewhat unique position, given that the space agency has been a target in recent years of budget cuts and canceled programs."

Letter From NASA to Senate Appropriators Regarding Impact of Sequestration

"Overall, for purposes of this assessment, the Agency assumed that the FY 2013 Continuing Resolution, with all of its terms and conditions, would be extended from March 27 to September 30, 2013, and that the sequester would cancel 5.0 percent of the fullyear amount, which would be the equivalent of roughly a 9 percent reduction over the remaining seven months of the fiscal year. NASA's assessment of the impacts of a March 1 sequester is presented in the enclosure."

Space Launch System, Orion wouldn't be affected by sequestration, Huntsville Times

"NASA has decided to spare its Space Launch System and Orion crew capsule from any direct consequences of budget sequestration this year, according to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden Jr. Taking the cuts instead in the "exploration" part of NASA's budget would be commercial space companies trying to build spaceships to get American astronauts to the International Space Station. The Space Launch System (SLS) is NASA's name for a new booster being developed at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville for deep space missions and the Orion capsule that will ride on top of it."

Charlie Bolden Intends To Press President Obama on Mars Mission Mandate for NASA, earlier post

"At one point, Bolden teared up and said that "Mars is the Goal". Bolden claimed that he was intent upon going to the White House, "pounding his shoe on the table", and demanding a commitment from President Obama to direct NASA to send humans to Mars. Bolden said that he needs that commitment to allow him to decide what to do (not do) with regard to extending the ISS."

Keith's note: It has been more than 3 months since Bolden proclaimed his intent to go to the White House and bang his shoe if he did not get his way. In addition to not approving the L2 station, there is nothing in the FY 2014 budget passback regarding any additional, strong Mars commitment that Charlie Bolden declared must be in the budget (other than what the President has already said, that is). No word yet as to whether Bolden has requested a meeting at the White House for his shoe pounding event - although he was there last week and was told that he could not do some of the other things that he wanted to do. Stay tuned.

- Bolden Seeks To Force Mars Goal Commitment From Obama, earlier post
- Is It Time For Charlie Bolden To Pound His Shoe?, earlier post

Space Abhors a Policy Vacuum; The NRC Report and The Need for a Broad National Space Policy, Dennis Wingo

"...The above sentence in its implication says that a scientifically justifiable space program is the only means to continue its international leadership in space. This has been the underpinning of all NASA related strategic thinking for the past thirty years but is it still tenable, is it still complete to say so? It is my opinion that the answer is no and indeed it has never truly been the case and to think of space through this narrow lens is actually the reason that we have been unable to come to any kind of national consensus on space. The key word in their mandate is national consensus, not just a presidential fiat or even a consensus between the congress and the president. If we are to move forward toward a national consensus we must look beyond the scientific justifications for a space program and look at the broader aspects of national interest to underpin our reasoning."

Sequestration and Planetary Exploration, Future Planetary Exploration (Van Kane)

"I'd hoped that I'd never need to write this post. The latest news in the United States is that a poison pill known as the Sequester is looking increasingly likely. If it happens, it will be a body blow to NASA's planetary science program."

Sequestration: A Primer for the Perplexed, Science

"On 1 March, an $85-billion across-the-board cut in federal spending--the first step in a mandatory $1.2 trillion reduction over 10 years--will go into effect unless all sides agree to delay it or substitute something else. Indeed, when the Budget Control Act that created sequestration was enacted in August 2011, both sides expected to have an alternative in place by now. That didn't happen."



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This page is an archive of entries in the Congress category from February 2013.

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