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NASA Authorization Bill Passes Subcommittee - Full Committee to Consider the Bill in July

Press Release From: House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
Posted: Wednesday, June 29, 2005

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics today passed H.R. 3070, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Authorization Act of 2005, clearing the measure for the full Science Committee, which will consider the bill after the Independence Day recess.  The bill passed with ten Members voting "yes," and six voting "present."

"Today's mark-up was an important step to achieve a NASA authorization bill," said Subcommittee Chairman Ken Calvert (R-CA).  "H.R. 3070 is needed to strengthen the agency and give Administrator Mike Griffin the tools he needs as NASA pursues the Vision for Space Exploration and continues its important work in aeronautics and science programs.  I welcome the future comments and input from my Democratic colleagues.  I am confident that we can work together to craft a bi-partisan bill."

Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) added, "I'm very pleased that we were able to take the first step today to move forward with this important bill.  I look forward to working with Members on both sides of the aisle as we prepare for a Full Committee markup next month."

H.R. 3070 carries out the President's Vision for Space Exploration by calling for the return of Americans to the Moon by 2020 and the retirement of the Space Shuttle by December 31, 2010. The bill would also keep NASA from becoming a single-mission agency by ensuring that its efforts in Aeronautics, Space Science and Earth Science remain strong and productive.  The legislation also requires additional information from NASA to ensure that Congress has the information it needs to make policy decisions in the years ahead.

The Subcommittee accepted two amendments.  By voice vote the Subcommittee agreed to a manager's amendment by Chairman Calvert that:

  • Adds a requirement that the Administrator include a description of the steps NASA will use "to retain needed employees" in the human capital strategy required by the underlying bill;
  • Strikes a provision in the bill requiring NASA to annually report its General and Administrative expenses with the President's budget and creates a new provision requiring NASA to produce such information upon request from the Committee;
  • Adds a requirement that NASA report to the Committee on "the extent to which the Crew Exploration Vehicle will allow for the escape of the crew in the event of an emergency";
  • Adds flexibility to the requirement in the underlying bill concerning the "national awareness campaign" (which the fiscal year 2006 House Science, State, Justice and Commerce Appropriations bill directed NASA to undertake) by making it clear that the awareness campaign activities can begin immediately but require Congressional notice; and
  • Adds a requirement that the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) include a list of all the research and development programs of federal agencies other than NASA that OSTP will have reviewed in conducting a study that the underlying bill requires to determine whether NASA's research programs are duplicative of those in other agencies or neglectful of any related national needs.

The Subcommittee also accepted by voice vote an amendment offered by Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) that requires NASA to report to Congress the amount of money it spends on safety.

A summary of H.R. 3070 is attached to this release.  For further information, please contact the Science Committee press office at 202-225-4275.

Short Summary of H.R. 3070 The National Aeronautics and Space Administration Authorization Act of 2005.

Overall Mission: The bill charges NASA with carrying out a balanced set of programs including programs in human space flight, aeronautics research and development, and scientific research including space and earth science. It encourages NASA to work with entrepreneurs and to involve other nations to the extent appropriate.

Vision for Space Exploration: The bill directs NASA to return Americans to the Moon no later than 2020, launch a Crew Exploration Vehicle as close to 2010 as possible, and conduct research on the impacts of space on the human body to enable long-duration space exploration. The bill directs NASA to retire the Shuttle at the end of 2010.

New Policies and Plans: The bill requires the Administration to develop policies and plans to guide NASA's efforts in missions other than human space flight and in managing its facilities and workforce:

  • The bill requires the President, through the Administrator to develop a national aeronautics policy to guide NASA's aeronautics programs. The report is due with the President's FY 2007 budget request.
  • It requires NASA to develop a policy to guide NASA's programs in space and earth science, drawing on the work of the National Academy of Sciences, and requires the agency to prioritize its scientific missions. The bill requires the policy to describe NASA's plans in regard to servicing the Hubble Space Telescope. The report is due with the President's FY 2007 budget request.
  • The bill requires NASA to develop a plan for managing its facilities, including a description of any facilities NASA intends to build or no longer to use. The report is due with the President's FY 2008 budget request.
  • The bill also requires NASA to develop a human capital strategy to ensure that it has a workforce of the appropriate size and with the appropriate skills. It limits NASA's flexibility to reduce its workforce until 60 days after the plan is submitted. The report is due with the President's FY 2007 budget request.

Transparency in Program Management: The bill provides incentives for good program management by requiring annual reporting on programs costing over $100 million and initiating reviews of any such program that experiences large cost overruns or schedule delays.

Prizes: Gives NASA the authority to conduct competitions for cash prizes, modeled after the X-Prize won last year by famed airplane designer Burt Rutan and his SpaceShipOne, to stimulate innovative technology development.

Reports: The bill requires NASA to report to Congress on its plans in a number of areas, including its strategy for sending humans to the Moon, the costs of the Crew Exploration Vehicle, a plan for updating the U.S.'s system of space communications and navigation satellites, and a plan for helping NASA's Shuttle workforce make the transition to other jobs.

Miscellaneous Provisions: The bill includes several miscellaneous provisions, including an extension of NASA's indemnification authority, programs addressing near-Earth asteroids and comets, and a requirement for better coordination between NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on earth science missions.

Funding: The bill authorizes to be appropriated to NASA $16,471,050,000 for fiscal year 2006, the same amount provided in the House Science, State, Justice and Commerce Appropriations Bill for FY 2005, or approximately $15 million above the President's FY 2006 request.

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