Congress: April 2013 Archives

Letter from Rep. Lamar Smith, Chairmain, House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology to NSF Director Cora Marrett

"During the course of the hearing, I asked Dr. Holdren about taxpayer funding for social, behavioral and political science studies at the National Science Foundation (NSF), and how we can better prioritize research spending. During that discussion, Dr. Holdren said that there is "room for improvement" in how NSF prioritizes research initiatives based on the potential value to the national interest. Based on my review of NSF-funded studies, I have concerns regarding some grants approved by the Foundation and how closely they adhere to NSF's "intellectual merit" guideline. To better understand how NSF makes decisions to approve and fund grants, it would be helpful to obtain detailed information on specific research projects awarded NSF grants."

Letter from Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, Ranking Member, House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology to. Rep. Lamar Smith

"Your letter of April 25 to the Acting Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF), Dr. Cora Marrett, has provoked me to write to you. At our hearing on April 17, both Dr. Marrett and the Chairman of the National Science Board (NSB), Dr. Dan Arvizu, offered to engage with the Committee in a meaningful discussion of the mission of NSF and how the agency's merit review process can best be constructed to support that mission. Rather than entering into that dialogue, your letter marks the beginning of an investigative effort, the implications of which are profound. This is the first step on a path that would destroy the merit-based review process at NSF and intrudes political pressure into what is widely viewed as the most effective and creative process for awarding research funds in the world. ... I cannot stand by silently as you continue this political intrusion into one of our Nation's and indeed, one of the world's most important scientific organizations. I ask that you withdraw your letter to Dr. Marrett. I stand ready to work with you to identify a less destructive, but more effective, effort to hold NSF accountable to the requirements laid out in law."

Congress tries to reset science grants, wants every one to be "groundbreaking", Ars Technica

"The other two requirements, however, completely misunderstand both basic research and the role of the National Science Foundation. Basic research is largely about exploring the unknown; by definition, it's almost impossible to tell which areas of research will end up being groundbreaking or have commercial applications. And the NSF is specifically tasked with funding basic research and science education."

U.S. Lawmaker Proposes New Criteria for Choosing NSF Grants, Science Insider

"The new chair of the House of Representatives science committee has drafted a bill that, in effect, would replace peer review at the National Science Foundation (NSF) with a set of funding criteria chosen by Congress. For good measure, it would also set in motion a process to determine whether the same criteria should be adopted by every other federal science agency."

Discussion Draft (via ScienceInsider)

Keith's note: Rest assured, Rep. Smith and his staff will soon start to poke around NASA funding decisions as well looking for things that they have ideological objections to.

Charles Bolden: Launching American Astronauts from U.S. Soil

"Three years ago, the Administration put forward a public-private partnership plan, the Commercial Crew Program (CCP), to ensure that American companies would be launching our astronauts from U.S. soil by 2015. It's a plan that supports the U.S. human spaceflight program, boosts our economy, and helps create good-paying American jobs. If NASA had received the President's requested funding for this plan, we would not have been forced to recently sign a new contract with Roscosmos for Soyuz transportation flights. Because the funding for the President's plan has been significantly reduced, we now won't be able to support American launches until 2017."

NASA Extends Crew Flight Contract With Russian Space Agency

Message From The NASA Administrator: New Policies in Response to Sequestration

"In addition, as I have previously stated, at this time, we do not plan to resort to furloughs for NASA employees to meet our spending reductions under sequestration, and there is currently no change to the Agency's existing hiring policy. Centers may continue to transact hires in all categories as planned in their submitted phased hiring plans up to their FY 2013 FTE ceilings. However, the Congress is currently considering NASA's full-year appropriations levels; and, as the legislative process concludes, we will assess the impact of the new funding levels and whether revisions to our current posture are warranted."

Keith's 22 April note: Furloughs loom across the Federal government. While other agencies openly talk about their furlough plans, NASA is not saying anything. Why is that? It has been a month since Charlie Bolden issued this memo and its mention of how NASA viewed furloughs. Nothing has been issued since then.

Keith's 25 April update: Bolden in a hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee today: "If we do not come out of sequester for the 2014 budget then we will start to furlough people."

Keith's note: When he was asked by Lamar Smith at House Science Committee hearing on NASA's FY 2014 budget why two James Webb Space Telescope instruments were late, Charlie Bolden then tried to push that off as bad news reports. Bolden went on to say that he has been adamant that he takes full responsibility for the progress of Webb. Smith then read from the recent GAO report "NASA: Assessments of Selected Large-Scale Projects" citing this passage:

"... In addition, only two instruments have been delivered for integration with ISIM and the other two instruments will be delivered at least 11 months late."

When Smith asked Bolden again about the two late Webb instrments, Bolden's reponse was: "That's news to me"

GAO Report on Large-Scale NASA Projects, earlier post

House Space Subcommittee Reviews NASA's FY 2014 Budget Request

"Rep. Edwards: We need to take a careful look at how the resources requested match the program content included in the FY 2014 budget request. At the Full Committee hearing last week on the Fiscal Year 2014 budget request for Science Agencies, the President's Science Adviser, Dr. Holdren, testified that 'NASA has long had the problem of 20 lbs. of missions in a 10 Ib. budget, and they continue to.' I share that concern."

House Space Subcommittee Reviews NASA's FY 2014 Budget Request

Chairman Palazzo: "I am committed to ensuring that our nation has a robust space program that will continue to lead the world for generations. I am concerned however that NASA has neglected Congressional funding priorities and been distracted by new and questionable missions that detract from our ultimate deep space exploration goals. These distractions also take up precious lines in the budget at a time when NASA can least afford it."

Prepared Statements:

Rep. Lamar Smith

"The committee has seen little evidence that a current stated goal for NASA's human spaceflight program--namely, to visit an asteroid by 2025--has been widely accepted as a compelling destination by NASA's own workforce, by the nation as a whole, or by the international community. On the international front there appears to be continued enthusiasm for a mission to the Moon but not for an asteroid mission."

Rep. Steven Palazzo
Rep. Donna Edwards
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson
Charles Bolden

House Subcommittee on Space Hearing: Overview of the NASA Budget forFY 2014

- 2:00 PM Webcast
- Hearing charter

NASA Advisory Council Meeting (Webex/Dial-in)

1:00 pm EDT: NASA FY 2014 budget (Robinson)
2:00 pm EDT: NASA Plans for Future Human Spaceflight (Gerstenmeier)
3:00 pm EDT: Human Exploration and Operations Committee Report (Kohrs)
4:00 pm EDT: Science Committee Report (Huntress)

JPL Open House Suspended

"Due to budget restrictions, plans for a JPL Open House in spring 2013 have been suspended. If budget considerations improve, JPL hopes to host an Open House at a future date, perhaps as early as fall 2013. Please check back here for updates."

2013 Sagan Exoplanet Summer Workshop Imaging Planets and Disks Cancelled

"It is with regret that the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute (NExScI) announces the cancellation of this year's Sagan Summer Workshop (July 29-Aug 2, 2013) on the topic of "Imaging Planets and Disks". Like numerous other scientific conferences this year, the Sagan Workshop is a victim of the Federal budget sequestration."

Rep. Schiff and Senator Feinstein Call on NASA to Not Gut Planetary Science

"Today, Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) sent a letter to National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Administrator Charles Bolden calling on him to keep any operating plan for the fiscal year consistent with the funding levels and allocations directed to it by Congress earlier this year. There have been reports that the FY 2013 NASA Operating Plan will slash funding from the Planetary Science programs. Schiff and Feinstein were joined by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Representative John Culberson (R-TX) in sending the letter today."

2013 STScI Spring Symposium and Habitable Worlds across Time and Space Cancelled, Space Telescope Science Institute

"We regret to announce that the 2013 STScI Spring Symposium, Habitable Worlds across Time and Space, has been cancelled. Space Telescope Science Institute operates as a NASA contractor. Our contractual obligations include support of workshops and seminars. In response to fiscal impacts resulting from the United States Government sequestration, NASA has temporarily suspended the contract authority and all funding that enables us to host conferences and seminars."

Editorial: Who Is Minding Planetary Research?, Planetary Exploration Newsletter

"The Administration and both houses of Congress openly support the planetary research programs, as demonstrated by proposed and appropriated budgets. It is PSD management that undermines their intent. Stop treating planetary research as a slush fund."

Tell Congress To Support Planetary Exploration at NASA, Planetary Society

"The White House has doubled down on its efforts to cut Planetary Science at NASA. It's proposing a cut of over $200 million, despite the fact that Congress rejected a similar cut for last year. This will prevent any mission to Europa. It delays for years efforts to send small spacecraft throughout the solar system, and will have long-lasting repercussions on the scientific and engineering community. We know Congress supports planetary exploration, but they need to hear from you."

Bipartisan Legislation Sets NASA's Focus on the Moon

"U.S. Representatives Bill Posey (R-FL), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Chairman Frank Wolf (R-VA), Robert Aderholt (R-AL), John Culberson (R-TX), Steve Stockman (R-TX), Pete Olson (R-TX), Rob Bishop (R-UT) and Ted Poe (R-TX) have once again reintroduced bipartisan legislation directing NASA to develop a plan for returning to the Moon and establishing a human presence there. The RE-asserting American Leadership in Space Act, or REAL Space Act, sets a clear course for NASA toward human space flight while keeping within current budgetary constraints."

Back to the Moon? Not any time soon, says Bolden, Space Politics

"However, [Bolden] made it clear NASA has no plans to lead its own human return to the Moon under his watch. "NASA will not take the lead on a human lunar mission," he said. "NASA is not going to the Moon with a human as a primary project probably in my lifetime. And the reason is, we can only do so many things." Instead, he said the focus would remain on human missions to asteroids and to Mars. "We intend to do that, and we think it can be done."

Private Companies can Play Key Role in Tracking Asteroids

"Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas): "Most troubling to me is the fact that of the up to 20,000 asteroids that could be labeled as 'city destroyers,' we have identified only 10 percent. And we are unlikely to have the means to detect 90 percent until 2030."

Committee Democrats Discuss Need to Detect and Prepare for Near-Earth Objects Smaller Than Currently Mandated

"Witnesses and Democratic Members discussed international dialogue, emergency preparedness, communication with the public, and the need for examining potential mitigation approaches. They also expressed concern about the role private entities play in the detection and mitigation of asteroids."

- Prepared Statement by Michael A'Hearn
- Prepared Statement by Donald Yeomans
- Prepared Statement by Ed Lu

2014 Federal Research & Development Budget Briefing (webcast)

"Officials from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and other Federal departments and agencies with core science missions will discuss President Obama's FY 2014 R&D Budget."

NASA Administrator Discusses 2014 Fiscal Year Budget Proposal (webcast)

"NASA Administrator Charles Bolden will brief reporters about the agency's fiscal year 2014 budget proposal at 3 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, April 10, during a media teleconference. NASA Chief Financial Officer Elizabeth Robinson will join the administrator."

NASA Administrator Bolden's Statement on the NASA FY 2014 Budget Request

"Today, we unveil President Obama's Fiscal Year 2014 budget request for NASA -- a $17.7 billion investment in our nation's future. Our budget ensures the United States will remain the world's leader in space exploration and scientific discovery for years to come, while making critical advances in aerospace and aeronautics to benefit the American people."

Keith's note: The White House loves to talk about education. So ... what do they do at NASA? They cut NASA education from $136.9 million in FY 2013 to $94.2 million in FY 2014. This is how they explain it: "In support of the Administration's FY 2014 Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education plan, the Agency's education efforts will be fundamentally restructured into a consolidated education program funded through the Office of Education." This is not at all surprising given that OMB actually wants to move all of NASA's education activities to the Department of Education (they did not get their way on that this year). No explanation is offered as to what "restructured" means other than providing less money.

NASA FY 2014 Budget information



Monthly Archives

About this Archive

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

Congress: March 2013 is the previous archive.

Congress: May 2013 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.