WASHINGTON D.C. - Today in a hearing of the Science and Technology Committee, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin testified that the Administration's fiscal year 2009 (FY09) budget request will allow the agency to continue to make steady progress, while prioritizing and streamlining its current programs.
"I have said this in other forums, but it warrants repeating here: at present funding levels, NASA's budget is sufficient to support a variety of excellent space programs, but it cannot support all of the potential programs we could execute," Griffin said. "No plan or level of funding can fully satisfy all the many constituencies we have. Balanced choices must be made. But they cannot continually be remade and revisited if there is to be steady progress toward our common, defined objectives."
He continued, "NASA has a lot of hard work ahead, but the Agency continues to make steady progress in managing its challenges. We are deploying our workforce to carry out the great task before us... NASA is committed to executing the exciting programs and projects within the President's FY 2009 budget request. Having reached a steady state on a balanced set of priorities, we now have a sense of purpose to make steady progress toward achieving our goals for continued leadership in space exploration, scientific discovery, and aeronautics research."
Science and Technology Committee Ranking Member Ralph Hall (R-TX) acknowledged the tough choices Administrator Griffin has had to make, saying, "Given the current budget profile, I believe Administrator Griffin is making the right choices." Hall continued, "I also believe it is vitally important that NASA continues to keep the Constellation program on schedule to meet a 2015 launch date, if not sooner, and it is essential that we minimize, to the greatest degree possible, the amount of time that the U.S. goes without a manned space-launch capability. The prospect of being entirely reliant on our international partners for access to and from space is one that could have serious implications for America's space supremacy."
NASA's proposed budget for FY 2009 is $17.6 billion, an increase of 1.8% over the FY08 President's request for NASA and an increase of 2.9% over the agency's FY 08 appropriation, when the rescission of $192.5 million contained in the Consolidated Appropriations Act for 2008 is accounted for.
The President's Vision for Space Exploration, which was endorsed by Congress in the NASA Authorization Act of 2005, gives the agency clear direction and priorities. These priorities include: flying the Shuttle safely until the end of the decade, at which point it will be retired; developing a new Crew Exploration Vehicle, scheduled to be finished by 2015; returning humans to the moon no later than 2020; meeting international agreements to finishing the International Space Station; and maintaining a robust portfolio of science and aeronautics programs.
Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics Ranking Member Tom Feeney (R-FL) complimented the great work of NASA, while pointing out the need for Congress and the Administration to provide a budget that is appropriately sized to the agency's programs. "On Capitol Hill, we are often eager to assign new missions to NASA," Feeney said. "This compliment stems from NASA's ability to perform the most difficult of assignments. Today, the Administration's FY09 budget request of $17.6 billion is 1.8% percent above last year's request. After factoring in inflation, NASA's resources are shrinking in real terms while the agency is charged with maintaining America's preeminence as a spacefaring nation."
The Committee intends to reauthorize NASA this year.