(Washington, DC) - Today, witnesses at a hearing of the House Committee on Science and Technology's Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics told Members that programmatic and budgetary stability will be the key to ensuring NASA can carry out its missions safely.
"NASA is at a critical crossroads," said Subcommittee Chairwoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ). "Decisions made by Congress and the White House this year will have an impact on NASA for years to come--for better or worse--and we need to ensure that they are for the better."
Subcommittee Members heard testimony from representatives of advisory bodies that monitor NASA's activities and programs and from the aerospace industry.
"In my view, the most important factor in NASA's future success will be stability in purpose, strategy, requirements and funding. If our Nation's leadership cannot provide that stability, NASA's efforts to implement the nation's space policy will cost more and accomplish less," said Kenneth Ford, Chair of the NASA Advisory Council (NAC).
John Marshall, a witness representing the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP), said safety should not be compromised when considering NASA's programs and funding.
"Without question, from the ASAP's perspective, the top priority for this agency is the need to have and to maintain a stable and sufficient budget that allows NASA to safely execute an integrated space program that follows the Administration's and Congress' national space objectives," said Marshall. "Safety always is an unintended victim of reduced spending and any resultant stretch-out of major programs if we are not careful. That should not be allowed to happen for this agency!"
Chairwoman Giffords said the advisory boards provide an important service as the Committee develops a NASA Reauthorization bill. The insights from bodies such as the ASAP, the NAC, and the Space Studies Board and Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board of the National Academies, as well as from stakeholder groups such as the Aerospace Industries Association will help inform the Committee's deliberations during the reauthorization process.
The Members heard testimony on the NAC's review of NASA's financial management system and NASA's efforts to correct problems with its implementation.
"NASA's financial management system has long been a concern of this Committee, and we are pleased to hear that NASA is implementing needed reforms," said Giffords. "Good financial management practices are going to be a key factor in ensuring that NASA is a responsible steward of the taxpayers' dollars."
The Committee also held a hearing on May 19th to receive testimony from the Acting Administrator of NASA on the FY10 Budget Request.
For more information, please visit the Committee's website.