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IFPTE Urges Congress to Save NASA Science and Aeronautics

Press Release From: IFPTE
Posted: Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Union Also Calls New Workforce Strategy "Woefully Inadequate"

SILVER SPRING, MD In anticipation of today's NASA funding hearing before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice & Science, the International Federation of Professional & Technical Engineers (IFPTE) sent a letter to both Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Ranking Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), expressing grave concern with the drastic cuts to key NASA programs. In particular, the union took issue with NASA's proposed shortfalls in the Aeronautics and the Science funding, as well as NASA's failure to provide a Workforce Strategy with sufficient content to justify the continued planning for a Reduction-in-Force (RIF) next year.

IFPTE President Gregory Junemann outlined the union's requests to restore funding to these two programs back to the levels approved by Congress last year. Junemann also raised objections to NASA's new Workforce Strategy and the proposal to spend tens of millions of dollars implementing a RIF of up to 1,000 NASA civil servant scientists, engineers, and other staff. The brewing plan to support some of NASA's aeronautics expertise by farming it out to European interests was also addressed.

In pointing out the obvious, Junemann's letter asked appropriators if the damage to NASA's future, its workforce and U.S. security is worth the budgetary sacrifice.

"How will NASA be able to support America's threatened leadership in civilian and military aviation if it cuts its Aeronautics research and development (R&D) budget by a quarter from FY05 levels," Junemann wrote. "How can NASA lead the world in studying and understanding our home planet, our solar system, our universe, and the forces acting upon them if it cuts its Science budget by almost 10% from FY05 levels? How can NASA attract and retain a workforce with engineering and scientific skills and capabilities second to none if it continues to threaten its scientists and engineers with layoffs in order to meet arbitrary downsizing quotas?"

In particular, IFPTE asked the Senate to:

  • Increase the Aeronautics budget by at least $179 million (consistent with this year's Senate budget bill), equaling last year's final appropriation of $903 million while forbidding the leveraging of NASA's aeronautics capabilities and expertise by foreign interests in any way that compromises America's competitiveness in civilian or military aviation;
  • Increase the Science budget by $132.2 million, equaling last year's appropriation of $5.5968 billion, and;
  • Streamline administrative (G&A) costs. In particular, cut the proposed $41 million planned workforce reshaping while forbidding any FY07 monies from being used to plan or implement a RIF. NASA Administrator Michael Griffin is testifying today before the Subcommittee. Full text of the Junemann letter can be found at www.ifpte.org.

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