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VIDEO: House Hearing on NASA FY 2011 Budget

House Science and Technology Committee Hearing on NASA’s Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Request.

Date: February 25, 2010
Time: 10:00 am – 12:00 pm EST
Witness: Charles Bolden


Video: Senate Commerce Hearing on NASA FY 2011 Budget

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation’s Science and Space Subcommittee held this hearing on the Challenges and Opportunities in the NASA FY 2011 Budget Proposal.

Witness Panel 1:

  1. Charles Bolden , NASA

Witness Panel 2:

  1. Robert “Hoot” Gibson, Astronaut (Retired)
  2. Michael J. Snyder, Aerospace Engineer
  3. Miles O’Brien, Journalist and host “This Week in Space”
  4. A. Thomas Young, Lockheed Martin Corporation (Retired)

Congressional Legislators Allege NASA, Obama In Violation Of Law

NASA

Read the “cease-and-desist” letter 27 Members of Congress sent to NASA Administrator Bolden.

DOWNLOAD THE LETTER

Congressman Bill Posey (R-Rockledge) released the following statement in response to the Obama Administration’s notice today that it is cancelling Kennedy Space Center’s Exploration Ground Launch Services (EGLS) contract:

“Administration’s unilateral decision to cancel contracts associated with the Constellation program, absent Congressional consent is a direct violation of the law and of Congressional intent,” said Congressman Posey.

“The President’s budget request represents a significant retreat from human space flight and a departure from his promise to close the gap and keep the United States first in space. The President’s budget has not been approved by the Congress. Congress has not directed the Administration to cancel the Constellation program in fact it has done just the opposite in recent legislation.

“Now we learn that the Administration is moving ahead with terminating Constellation without Congressional approval. I am informed that NASA has formed teams to wind down Constellation projects and that NASA is cancelling the EGLS procurement process for Constellation at Kennedy Space Center. This could be as many as 1,500 additional jobs that will be lost at KSC.

“The Consolidated Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2010 expressly prohibits the ‘termination or elimination of any program, project or activity of the architecture for the Constellation program.’ Moreover, indications that NASA is not properly allocating funds intended for Constellation is worrisome and in direct violation of the legislation that Congress passed and that has been signed into law. The unilateral decisions by the Administration are likely in direct violation of the Impoundment Control Act.

“Today I joined 26 of my colleagues from both parties in sending a strong message to NASA to halt any actions damaging to Constellation and reiterating the central role of elected legislators in authorizing and funding the future of human space flight.

“It is truly disappointing that our space program lacks leadership and vision. If current trends are allowed to continue, we risk reverting to pre-1961 status, having no human space flight program.”


SHELBY: AUGUSTINE COMMISSION TAINTED BY LOBBYISTS’ INVOLVEMENT

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U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), ranking member of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, today wrote a letter to NASA Inspector General Paul Martin calling for an investigation of the Augustine Commission’s staff. The Augustine Commission was tasked with reviewing U.S. human space flight activities and presenting objective options to the President on the optimal path going forward. In light of the fact that several members of the Commission’s staff are federally registered lobbyists for the commercial space industry, Shelby called on NASA to investigate how these staff members’ involvement affected the Commission’s findings:

“Lobbyists are paid to represent a certain viewpoint and advocate for their client or employer’s position,” Shelby wrote to Martin. “Clearly, these lobbyists, whom represent the commercial space industry in their full time profession, have an agenda which is biased. Thus their decision-making is inevitably skewed by their allegiance. It is unfortunate that the options presented by the Augustine Commission are now tainted by the efforts of these individuals who happen to gain the most from the imbalanced comparisons and lack of consistent treatment of flight options in the report.”

The full text of the letter is below

December 14, 2009

The Honorable Paul K. Martin
Inspector General
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
300 E Street, SW
Suite 8V39
Washington, DC 20546-0001

Dear Mr. Martin,

I am writing with serious concerns regarding the Augustine Commission staff, their vocation, and their conduct while serving as Commission staff. It has come to my attention that several members are, in fact, federally registered lobbyists and that some of these individuals have taken direct advantage of their temporary roles on the Commission to further their personal business. Further, there are lobbyists that worked as Commission staff that are not even acknowledged in the report. This is both disturbing and unconscionable.

The Augustine Commission was tasked to review U.S. human space flight activities – a noble goal to ensure that the nation is on a sustainable path to achieving its aspirations in space. I have a significant interest in the future of NASA’s human spaceflight program, the recent options presented by the Augustine Commission, and the pending decisions by the President on the future direction of NASA. However, I am concerned by the presence of lobbyists on this independent commission.

Lobbyists are paid to represent a certain viewpoint and advocate for their client or employer’s position. Clearly, these lobbyists, who represent the commercial space industry in their full time profession, have an agenda which is biased. Thus their decision-making is inevitably skewed by their allegiance. It is unfortunate that the options presented by the Augustine Commission are now tainted by the efforts of these individuals who happen to gain the most from the imbalanced comparisons and lack of consistent treatment of flight options in the report.

Therefore, I ask your office to conduct a thorough investigation regarding the role of federally registered lobbyists on the Augustine Commission. I request your office investigate and document any and all contacts these lobbyists made while serving on staff on the Commission. It is clearly possible that these individuals used their position to enhance their professional contacts benefiting their lobbying business and their client’s interests. Further, I would like a review of any and all input these individuals had into the report and its findings.

Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to reviewing your findings on this important matter.

Sincerely,

Richard Shelby


Kosmas and Posey Urge House Committee to Restore Human Spaceflight Funding

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Bipartisan Letter send to Appropriations Committee Expressing the Urgent Need to Adequately Fund Exploration

Dear Chairman Obey, Ranking Member Lewis, Chairman Mollohan, and Ranking Member Wolf,

As you prepare to consider the Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) Appropriations bill in a full committee mark-up this week, we urge you to increase topline funding for NASA to at least match the President’s request of $18.686 billion and to provide additional funding for the development of our next generation exploration capabilities.

NASA’s human space flight programs have enjoyed strong support from Congress recently, as evidenced by the FY2010 budget resolution, which matched the President’s request, and the NASA Authorization Act of 2008, which passed the House with overwhelming bi-partisan support. The authorization provided $4.8 billion for Exploration, including an additional $1 billion to accelerate the next generation human space flight program, and offered a reaffirmation of support for our nation’s exploration policy stating, “Developing United States human space flight capabilities to allow independent American access to the International Space Station, and to explore beyond low Earth orbit, is a strategically important national imperative, and all prudent steps should thus be taken…”

Tens of thousands of jobs are at stake in our state and across the nation. In 2008, the U.S. space industry contributed approximately $100 billion to the U.S. economy and directly employed more than 262,000 people in 41 states at skill levels and pay scales far above national averages according to the Department of Labor. In Florida, every direct NASA job translates into 2.82 jobs created statewide, with a total impact in FY2008 of $4.1 billion in output, $2.1 billion of household income and 40,802 jobs. With the second-highest job loss numbers in the nation in 2008, maintaining current jobs in Florida and ensuring future work at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) represents a road to economic recovery for Florida and our nation. A strong space program is crucial to our economy as a whole and is in the best interest of the nation; the next generation human space flight program will no doubt lead to innovations that will improve the lives of every American and help us address important issues facing our nation, including the development of new alternative energy, health care, and communications technologies.

While the funding levels in the bill for the Space Shuttle program provide an increase over FY2009 levels to ensure the safe completion of the manifest and the International Space Station (ISS), it is important to recognize that many workers at KSC and other NASA centers are already working on both Shuttle and next generation Exploration programs. Shuttle workers are also being trained for new work that is expected to be performed at KSC, including Orion manufacturing, ground operations work, and the Altair Lunar Lander. Continuing our nation’s leadership in and dedication to human space flight means workers at KSC and across the country can continue to put their valuable and unique skills to work now and in coming years.

We believe the current level of funding as passed by the CJS subcommittee is inadequate for the future of our human space flight program. The implications of this funding level will mean a greater and longer reliance on Russia for access to space and the ISS and a loss of our highly-skilled aerospace workforce, and could be detrimental to small businesses across the country that drive our economy by both supplying NASA and commercializing of spin-off technologies.

It is inconceivable that we would voluntarily give up our global leadership position in human space flight, particularly at a time when our economic competitiveness is threatened. Retirement of the Shuttle is inevitable, but minimizing the gap between the retirement of the Shuttle and the next generation Exploration capability would help maintain and strengthen our leadership position in human space flight.

While we appreciate the committee’s desire to await results of the Augustine Commission’s findings, we are concerned by Chairman Mollohan’s statement that “it is imperative that the Administration and Congress provide the necessary resources to meet that policy directive – in the annual President’s budget and the annual Congressional budget process.” The President’s budget request included a note stating, “Following the human spaceflight review, the Administration will provide an updated request for Exploration activities reflecting the review’s results.” In addition to restoring the NASA funding level in the bill to not less than $18.686 billion, we would seek assurances from you that following the release of the panel’s recommendations the Congress will also work to provide appropriate resources later this summer and not wait until next year’s budget cycle.

We must be willing to dedicate appropriate resources to ensure that our nation remains the leader in space. We appreciate your consideration and look forward to working together for a strong space program.

Sincerely,

Suzanne M. Kosmas
Member of Congress

Bill Posey
Member of Congress


House Panel Raises Conflict of Interest Concern at NASA

bart_gordon_chairmanNASA awarded a $1.2 billion award for the Space Communications Networks Services (SCNS), despite an ongoing investigation into organizational and personal conflicts of interest.

House Science and Technology Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN) made the following statement:

“I am disappointed that NASA chose to award this $1.2 billion contract while both the Committee and the NASA Inspector General’s Office are investigating serious allegations of conflicts of interest that may have affected the procurement. Chairman Miller and I had specifically asked NASA not to do this until our investigative work was finished.

I hope that a new Administrator would want to review the SCNS procurement process.”

View Story, House Science and Technology Committee


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