According to a Space News article "NASA Delivers Heavy Lift Proposal to Congress"
"NASA told U.S. lawmakers Jan. 10 it intends to build a heavy-lift rocket that incorporates the space shuttle's main engines, giant external tank and taller versions of the solid-rocket boosters it jettisons on the way to orbit, according to a senior NASA official. However, neither the rocket nor the crew vehicle it would launch could be completed within the cost and schedule Congress outlined for the project late last year. Congress directed NASA last fall to get started this year on a multipurpose crew exploration vehicle and a heavy-lift rocket initially capable of hauling 70-100 metric tons of payload to orbit."
Hilarious - and typical. NASA is incapable of thinking outside of the box or letting go of old things. Nor can they stay within Congressional budget or schedule limitations. SpaceX has already outlined a way that they could do this for vastly less money - and most likely sooner.
But wait, there's more:
"Cooke said NASA expects to deliver a final report to Congress in the spring pending the results of a slew of heavy-lift launch vehicle study contracts awarded to 13 U.S. companies in November that are expected to yield a gamut of launch vehicle design proposals."
So NASA is telling Congress that it already has a HLV design that it wants to build - but that it cannot afford to build it or do so as Congress has asked. Yet NASA tells Congress anyway. Yet NASA is funding additional HLV studies? Why? It has already told Congress what its HLV is going to look like. Why waste money on these studies if you already have the answer? Shouldn't NASA do trade studies BEFORE picking a design - not after? This is starting to smell like Mike Griffin's ESAS all over again - and the same guy is running the show once again.