Congress: September 2021 Archives

Letter From Congress To USAF Secretary Over Moving U.S. Space Command (USSPACECOM) From Colorado To Alabama

"We write to request that you conduct an urgent and thorough review of the Trump Administration's decision to move U.S. Space Command (USSPACECOM) from Colorado Springs, Colorado, to Huntsville, Alabama. This move undermines our ability to respond to the threats in space and is disruptive to the current mission. Additionally, significant evidence exists that the former president's political considerations influenced the final decision to relocate USSPACECOM to Redstone Arsenal. As such, we urge you to formally suspend any actions to relocate the USSPACECOM headquarters until the Department of Defense Inspector General (DoD IG) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) have completed their respective investigations into the basing decision and you complete your review."

Keith's note: When the Trump Administration summarily announced the move of USSPACECOM from Colorado to Alabama the political motives were blatantly obvious. Trump was trying to appease Sen. Shelby and pump up the 2020 vote in Alabama. There is no mystery here. USSPACECOM is perfectly placed in Colorado for some rather fundamental reasons - reasons that do not require a military background to understand. Moving it to Alabama is pointless and counterproductive - especially if it is done as the result of a prior Administration's flawed decision making process. Oh yes, there's at least one diehard Trump supporter on this letter. Since this effort to move USSPACECOM to Alabama has not gone very far there should be little to reverse.

Sherwood Boehlert

Former Congressman Sherwood Boehlert, longtime CNY advocate and Utica native, dies at 84, Observer Dispatch

"Former Republican U.S. Rep. Sherwood Boehlert died Monday at age 84, according to a statement from his former staff. Boehlert served in the House of Representatives for 24 years between 1983 and 2007 in three congressional districts in Central New York. The Utica native and New Hartford resident served as chair of the House Committee on Science at the end of his term."

Chairwoman Johnson Statement on the Passing of Former Chairman Sherwood Boehlert

"He also led our Committee admirably through the years following 9-11 and through investigations of the tragic Space Shuttle Columbia accident. Congressman Boehlert represented the best of what the American people should expect from their legislators: integrity, fairness, openness to diverse perspectives, and a determination to do what is right, even when it put his own political career at risk."

NASA OIG: NASA's Construction Of Facilities

"... The process also does not effectively utilize business cases for Agency-level prioritization, despite their value towards providing the required business need and justification for initiating projects in terms of a cost-benefit analysis. Moreover, assumptions such as the scope of the projects used in the Agency's business cases did not consistently match the actual scope of the approved projects. For energy savings projects costing less than $10 million, Centers do not submit a business case to request funds. Instead NASA only considers a projected total cost savings per year with not all expenses, such as operations and maintenance, factored in as part of the life-cycle cost analysis.

... In addition, NASA policy does not distinguish between the use of institutional and programmatic CoF funds. As a result, Centers often use funds that traditionally support institutional capabilities such as office buildings and utility systems to fund highly technical projects that Mission Directorates were unwilling to fund for various reasons including the difficulty in determining cost sharing arrangements for facilities with multiple users. Using institutional CoF funds to build specialized facilities for testing and development dilutes the funds available for making critical repairs and supporting other more traditional institutional requirements.

... Of the 20 CoF projects we reviewed, 6 incurred significant cost overruns ranging from $2.2 million to $36.6 million and 16 of the projects are 3 months to more than 3 years behind their initial schedules. Costs increased primarily because requirements were not fully developed by the Agency before construction began, requirements were not fully understood by contractors, and contract prices were higher than originally estimated. Delays occurred because projects faced postponed start times and changing requirements, among other reasons. Finally, NASA did not provide effective oversight to determine whether the Agency's portfolio of CoF projects met cost, schedule, and performance goals."

Keith's note: And so on. Its a mess. NASA has no cohesive, consistent plan to identify what facilities need to be demolished, repaired, upgraded, or replaced. They have never had such a plan - nor will they. Just imagine the spending spree that is about to unfold as every NASA center director grabs their bucket of infrastructure money - with their congressional delegation shoveling the money in without looking.

Keith's note: This is the report "NASA's Construction Of Facilities" [posted by the NASA OIG this morning. PDF. Interesting topic given all of the Infrastructure money NASA is going to get. Too bad it is an empty document. I don't think @NASAOIG really follows Twitter - indeed, they only follow one account: @COVID_Oversight. You'd think that they;d follow at least one or two @NASA accounts.

Update: It took @NASAOIG several hours to notice that they had posted a blank report - but they fixed it.

Draft House Infrastructure Bill Funds NASA and NOAA Space Programs But Not HLS, Space Policy Online

"NASA will get an extra $4.4 billion if Congress agrees with draft legislation proposed by the House committee that oversees the agency. While generous, it is far short of what NASA Administrator Bill Nelson is seeking and does not include any money for a second lunar lander for the Artemis program. The committee is also proposing over $4 billion for NOAA, including additional money for the space weather satellite program. Nelson is hoping Congress will add $15.7 billion to NASA's coffers on top of the agency's regular appropriations through President Biden's effort to secure $4.5 trillion for the nation's infrastructure."

Bill Nelson Says He's Discovered A New Pile Of Money For NASA, earlier post May 2021

"Nelson decided that the way for NASA to get out of the fiscal mess it is in is to do a Hail Mary pass and dive into the new TBD Jobs Bill that the Administration is formulating and grab some dollars. He said "You can put $5.4 Billion into the jobs bill for the HLS that would be at the end of the day producing jobs. Another $200 million could go into that bill for spacesuits." He went on to say "We can also put $585 million on nuclear thermal propulsion." Nelson then turned to another pot of forthcoming money - the multi-trillion dollar Infrastructure bill and said "Part of the jobs bill is infrastructure - there's another $5.4 Billion. Look at NASA facilities in your state (congressman) - there is aging infrastructure." Do the math. All told, it looks like he wants to raid the cookie jar for something like $10 - 11 billion. One would assume that OMB is on board with this plan."

Keith's note: I thought Senator Administrator Bill Nelson had this all figured out. Seriously, he would not have freelanced on his plan to get a NASA windfall without OMB approval, right? Meanwhile SLS is not going to launch until the middle of next year; there's only money for one HLS contract (despite all of the lawsuit activity); and the money needed just to keep the status quo in place is simply not there. Does Bill Nelson have a Plan B? We'd all like to see it. Stay tuned.

- Earlier SLS postings

Keith's update: Based on some people inside the NASA firewall this link on the NASA OIIR useful links page to the International Space Station Crew Code of Conduct works. http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=2000_register&docid=00-32381-filed. However, this what you get as a taxpayer, journalist, researcher, member of Congress etc. if you are outside the firewall and you click on this link.

Same result whether it is Safari, Chrome, or Firefox. Apparently NASA PAO and the NASA CIO do not understand that firewalls limit access. Why put links to a website that only work inside the NASA firewall on a public facing site so that the public cannot use them? Doesn't NASA have a contractor whose job it is to check out NASA's websites? Meanwhile the people running the OIIR "helpful links" page still cannot seem to find any links at all for "Executive Order for the National Space Council", "White House Fact Sheet on the National Space Strategy", or "International Space Station Bilateral Agreements",

Draft House FY2022 NDAA Calls for International Norms of Behavior in Space, Space Policy Online

"The House Armed Services Committee will mark up its version of the FY2022 National Defense Authorization Act tomorrow in what is expected to be a marathon session that may extend beyond midnight. Among the bill's provisions is direction to the National Space Council to coordinate U.S. government efforts to prioritize objectives for developing norms of behavior for space and to the Secretary of State to use them in international negotiations."

Keith's note: Alas, if you are a policy maker wanting to learn more about this topic, or a reporter trying to write an article, or just a citizen wanting to learn more and see what the current ISS rules of behavior are, the natural place to go is the NASA Office of International and Interagency Relations (OIIR). Their "helpful inks" page (which is still full of broken and missing links) is the place where the information is supposed to be, But if you click on International Space Station Crew Code of Conduct. If you do then you get "This site can't be reached". But if you happen to know that there is a thing called Google, and look for that document under that same name, you can go to 14 CFR ยง 1214.403 - Code of Conduct for the International Space Station Crew at Cornel Law School.

It is just plain baffling that NASA OIIR and PAO allow a page that is supposed to be the place where international relationships are explained sit in a public facing location - broken. I laid out these errors and offered corrections 2 months ago but NASA doesn't seem to take public input - so things stay broke.

- NASA Tries To Fix A Webpage By Breaking It
- NASA's Websites Need Some Attention, earlier post
- NASA Is Still Sleepwalking When It Comes to Policy Transparency, earlier post
- NASA's International and Interagency Relations Team Doesn't Bother To Update, earlier post


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This page is an archive of entries in the Congress category from September 2021.

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