Administration's NASA Budget Woefully Inadequate

Press Release From: IFPTE
Posted: Monday, February 4, 2008

Union Opposes Cuts to Aeronautics, Education, and Science

SILVER SPRING, MD - With today's unveiling of President's Bush's final budget, the International Federation of Professional & Technical Engineers (IFPTE) expressed grave disappointed with the failure of the White House to match its rhetoric to the Office and Management and Budget's (OMB) fiscal plan. This no truer than at NASA when comparing the stated grand Vision for Space Exploration with the Administration's proposed meager NASA budget that barely keeps up with inflation.

Particularly troubling is the Administration's stubborn insistence on cutting key NASA programs that a bipartisan majority of Congress has specifically and repeatedly directed them to pursue. The proposed underfunding of Aeronautics, Science, and Education would undermine the nation's ability to remain the unchallenged world leader in Aviation and Space science and exploration, damage NASA's critical Research & Development capabilities, and ultimately threaten America's safety and economic competitiveness. Lastly, in a shamefully cynical effort to conceal these frightening budget trends, the Administration has for the second time in as many years changed its accounting rules and transferred programs between accounts, thus making it nearly impossible to track program budget trends.

Among the harmful impacts to NASA are:

  • Cuts to Aeronautics funding of 12.7% (from $511.7 to $446.5 million) reducing it 35% from the FY2004 level ($788 million). This would force NASA to shirk its responsibilities in Aviation Safety, Technology, and Fundamental R&D, and in the development of the Next Generation Airspace system (NextGen). It is becoming increasingly clear that we must make radical changes to the US Airspace System to enable the anticipated dramatic growth of civil aviation before the safety of the travelling public and our economic competitiveness is compromised, yet the Department of Transportation IG has stated that NASA's underfunding of Aeronautics is a significant threat to NextGen's schedule and budget.
  • Cuts to Science funding of 6%* (from $4.706 to $4.442 billion). This would force NASA to abandon decades-long commitments to Earth and Space science research just as it is becoming increasingly clear that we must address the threat of global climate change and the risk of impact from near-earth asteroids. *The percentage may need to be re-adjusted downward to reflect transfers of FY08 Science programs to the Space Operations account in FY09, but the actual cut will only be revealed in the final FY09 operating plan, which will state to what extent the transferred funds are ultimately diverted to non-Science activities.
  • Cuts to Education funding of 21% (from $146.8 to $115.6 million). This will force NASA to deny the best and brightest young Americans the opportunity to be inspired and guided towards careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math just as it becomes increasingly clear that the US is lagging dangerously behind its competitors in training the next generation of high-tech and aerospace workers.

IFPTE President Gregory Junemann expressed his ongoing concern about the Administration's misguided policies and their budgetary consequences:

"How will NASA meet its solemn responsibility to maintain America's world leadership in civilian and military aviation if the Administration continues to make dramatic cuts to its Aeronautics budget? 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 the Administration continues to whittle away its Science budget? How can NASA attract and retain an engineering and scientific workforce second to none if the Administration fails to inspire, train, and recruit the next generation of scientists and engineers and, worse yet, continues to drive its current talented technical workforce from the Agency by cutting R&D funds, threatening layoffs or forced reassignments, and interfering with the publication of research findings?

"It is particularly troublesome that NASA's leadership has arbitrarily and capriciously deleted 'protect our home planet' from NASA's mission statement, has arrogantly suggested that Global Warming might be good for us, has publicly attacked or suppressed technical opinions that challenge Administration policies, and has repeatedly mislead Congress and the American people with voodoo accounting to support the Administration's untenable assertion that NASA can complete the Space Station, design and build the next generation of manned space vehicles, support an ambitious change in the nation's civil aviation airspace system, and maintain vigorous Earth and Space Science programs, all within a budget that is barely keeping up with inflation. We at IFPTE look forward to working with Congress in a bipartisan fashion to re-invigorate and re-balance NASA's budget so that the Agency can realistically meet its awesome responsibility to the American people.

"Lastly, for the cost of just a couple of days of the Iraq war, NASA could be made whole again. Instead, it is likely that the next Administrator will not be able to keep his predecessor's manned exploration promises and that critical manned exploration milestones will be slipped even further into the future despite the sacrifices currently being made by NASA's other programs."

IFPTE is NASA's largest Civil Servant union, representing upwards of 8,000 NASA workers across the country.

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