While I appreciate the time and effort expended by the task force Chairman, Mr. Tom Young, and other members of the task force, I am concerned that this Administration may be forging the future of human space policy based on ten weeks of work. NASA has certainly not done itself any favors in recent years with mismanagement of ISS and other key programs, and I find their communication with Capitol Hill to be significantly lacking. But that does not eliminate one key fact-NASA is not solely responsible for the problems it faces today.
This report, in fact, very directly states that fact, and this must not be overlooked. Section 3.3, page 68 in the appendix, clearly states that budget caps instituted by the previous Administration are the greatest single factor in the cost growth of the Space Station program. Indeed, I remember taking testimoney in this committee in years past where officials said that the cost caps were going to lead to cost growth in the out years.
I challenge the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to lay out its role in these past budget increases, and as well describe their proposal for ISS to become the world-class science lab it was intended to be. OMB has been the driving force behind NASA's policy for far too many years, and we now need the White House to provide substantial leadership for our nation's manned spaceflight program.
Despite my strong support for the Bush Administration in many other policy arenas, they have failed to provide even a minimum level of the leadership needed on civil space policy. Frankly, I haven't even gotten a straight answer on who I should call at the White House to voice my concerns about space policy, and multiple letters on this topic have gone unanswered. So my frustration increases when I see this type of report, one that was hastily completed, and have every reason to fear it will serve as the template for OMB's FY03 plans for NASA's budget.
We find our nation on the verge of ending up with a bargain basement Space Station with a 3-person capability and little real science, rather than a world class research facility. This administration needs to present to this Committee clear and unequivocal assurances that it intends to pursue the world class version of ISS, not the limited platform we have today. Additionally,
OMB needs to provide this Committee with a better understanding of what policy framework-if any-is used to assess the relative value of ISS, the Space Shuttle, space science, and aeronautics as the Administration makes budgetary decisions. Only with an understanding of an overall civil space policy framework can key decisions about ISS be made.
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