SILVER SPRING, MD Ė As the 110th Congress prepares to begin its work this week, NASA's largest union, the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE), is also preparing to assist Appropriators as they finalize the remaining Fiscal Year 2007 (FY07) funding measures.
As stipulated in a December 22nd letter from IFPTE President Gregory Junemann to key Congressional Appropriators, the four key goals of the Union's proposals are to maintain NASA's Science and Aeronautics research and development activities at levels only moderately lower than the FY06 enacted levels, to re-establish firm legislative authority in setting NASA's major program budgets, to protect NASA's core technical capabilities and independent expertise from transient political mischief or budgetary shortfall, and to provide NASA with a more respectful and effective mechanism for reshaping the workforce to meet the challenges ahead. These critical priorities can all be met within the FY06 enacted baseline of $16,456.8 million (see budget below).
Of particular note, IFPTE's letter requested that Congress:
IFPTE also argues that Congress make absolutely every effort to provide a $305.9 million budgetary increase above the FY06 enacted level to allow the Agency to continue its development of a new generation of manned spacecraft. Even with this modest increase, the total NASA budget would be 0.2% less than the President's request and 6.5% less than that authorized. IFPTE therefore requests that Appropriators:
"America's continued status as the world's superpower depends on our willingness to invest in cutting edge scientific and engineering research and development....NASA plays a crucial role in this effort through its Science, Aeronautics, and Space Exploration programs," said Gregory Junemann, President of IFPTE, in his December 22nd letter to the incoming Chairs of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees and Sub- Committees.
"The Vision for Space Exploration is deeply embedded in the American psyche and cannot be dismissed as a mere political ploy or passing fancy. Administrator Griffin has performed a masterful job of moving this Vision towards reality and deserves high praise for the successes thus far in the Return-to-Flight of the Shuttle and in the Preparation-for- Flight of the new Exploration Vehicles. Although the budgets, schedule, and contracts of the Vision will need to be carefully scrutinized as we move into FY08, Dr. Griffin and NASA have earned the small budgetary increase needed in FY07 to keep the Constellation program moving forward at a reasonable pace and thus to minimize the gap between Shuttle retirement and the first manned launch of NASA's next space vehicle.
"In the proposals above, we acknowledge current fiscal realities. We accept moderate Science and Aeronautics cuts in order to sustain the Vision... However, we oppose the President's proposed deeper cuts that would seriously hamper NASA's Science and Aeronautics programs as well as harm its scientific and engineering capabilities. Instead, we ask Congress to provide an increase above the FY06 baseline ... to sustain the Constellation program... IFPTE embraces the pay-as-you-go approach for the Vision and asks that Congress pay this small price so that the Constellation program may go forward at its current pace."
As the FY07 NASA funding measure is addressed during the first weeks of the 110th Congress, IFPTE will continue to work with Congressional Appropriators, advocating for Science and Aero funding as close as possible to their current enacted baselines, for strong workforce protection, and for the justified increase in the overall NASA budget needed to fund the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at the level requested by the Administration.
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Contact: Matt Biggs (301) 565-9016