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House Passes NASA Re-Authorization Bill

Press Release From: IFPTE
Posted: Thursday, June 19, 2008

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Increases science, aeronautics, & technology budgets; protect employees

WASHINGTON, DC - By an overwhelming vote of 409-15, the U.S. House of Representatives today passed the NASA Authorization Act of 2008 (H.R. 6063). The bill calls for a $2.6 billion dollar increase over the President's proposed FY09 NASA budget, thus sending a powerful pro-NASA message to the next Administration. In particular, the clear call for funding increases for NASA's Science, Aeronautics, Education, and Technology programs, in order to begin the process of restoring them to full health, will hopefully guide Commerce, Justice, & Science Appropriators as they finalize NASA's FY09 spending allocations.

International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE) President Gregory Junemann issued the following response to today's House action:

"IFPTE is pleased that workforce provisions proposed by Representatives Kucinich and Danny Davis were added by Chairman Gordon's manager's amendment. The layoff moratorium is essential for improving employee morale as it will allow NASA's workforce to focus on technical productivity and on program continuity, not on job security. The ten percent cap on the use of term positions is critical for reinforcing employee technical independence and for attracting the best and brightest young scientists and engineers into meaningful and sustained careers at NASA, as it will allow NASA's workforce to focus on mission integrity and safety, not on job security.

"IFPTE is also pleased that an amendment by Congressman Wu, expressing the sense of Congress that NASA should not dilute, distort, suppress, or impede scientific research or the dissemination thereof, was included in the bill. As the recent IG report on climate-change information suppression and the earlier Aviation Safety database scandal remind us, NASA's management culture continues to tolerate the view that dissenting or inconvenient technical opinions and data can be marginalized, disparaged, or even suppressed. It is troubling that during floor debate on this amendment last week Congressman Feeney opposed this timely call for depoliticizing NASA Science. As the Union representing the majority of NASA scientists, we know first hand the gap between the Administrator's lofty words about scientific integrity and the harsh reality of management's ongoing culture problems. We at IFPTE stand ready to meet with Representative Feeney personally to give him the real story behind this reckless management culture.

"While IFPTE applauds the Chairman, the union continues to be concerned about the addition of three additional Shuttle flights, which will likely conflict with the Columbia Accident Investigation Board's deadline of retirement or recertification by the end of 2010. Any mandate for extra Shuttle missions should be contingent upon feasible, safe completion before the end of 2010 and upon specific appropriations. Outsourcing mandates included in the bill will prevent NASA from making critical contracting decisions based on best practices, specific circumstances, and -- most importantly -- on the long-term health of NASA and its missions. All outsourcing of NASA R&D should be discretionary, merit-based, and contingent on being in the best interest of the Agency and the taxpayer.

"A healthy NASA is critical to maintain U.S. leadership in scientific research, civilian aviation, and space exploration, to foster American economic competitiveness, and to inspire the next generation of bright young Americans into becoming scientists and engineers at NASA and in the aerospace private sector. H.R. 6063 recognizes these important realities and will help NASA achieve greater success in all of its missions for the benefit of the American people."

IFPTE is NASA's largest civil-servant union, and represents upwards of 85,000 U.S. and Canadian workers in the Private, Public and Federal sectors.

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