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S. 1584 [Report No. 108-143], FY 2004 NASA Excerpts (part 2)

Status Report From: Senate Appropriations Committee
Posted: Friday, September 12, 2003

Part 1|2

PROGRAM DESCRIPTION

NASA's `Science, Aeronautics and Exploration' [SAE] account provides funding for the Space Science, Earth Science, Biological and Physical Research, Aeronautics and Education Programs. The SAE appropriation includes both the direct and the indirect costs supporting the Programs, and provides for all of the research; development; operations; salaries and related expenses; design, repair, rehabilitation, and modification of facilities and construction of new facilities; maintenance and operation of facilities; and other general and administrative activities supporting SAE programs.

COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATION

The Committee recommends $7,730,507,000 for the Science, Aeronautics and Exploration account, an increase of $69,607,000 above the President's request and $1,417,308,000 below the fiscal year 2003 enacted level.

Space Science.--The activities of NASA's Space Science Enterprise seek to chart the evolution of the universe, from origins to destiny, and understand its galaxies, stars, planetary bodies, and life. The Enterprise asks basic questions that have eternally perplexed human beings, such as how the universe began and evolved and whether there is other intelligent life in the universe. The Space Science Enterprise develops space observatories and directs robotic spacecraft into the solar system and beyond to investigate the nature of the universe.

The quest for this information, and the answers themselves, are intended to maintain scientific leadership, excite and inspire our society, strengthen education and scientific literacy, develop and transfer technologies to promote U.S. competitiveness, foster international cooperation to enhance programs and share their benefits, and set the stage for future space ventures.

The opportunities presented under the new Project Prometheus are both compelling and will be revolutionary to how space research is done. The additional power resources developed through nuclear power will provide scientists with unprecedented ability to collect data though powerful scientific instruments. The Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter [JIMO] will use breakthrough nuclear propulsion and power systems to fuel an ambitious mission to Jupiter's icy moons, which scientists believe may harbor organic material, and lay the groundwork for even more ambitious exploration missions in the coming decades. The technology to develop such capabilities does not come easily, or without the need for substantial resources. It has been estimated that the cost of Project Prometheus through 2012 will be on the order of $8,000,000,000 to $9,000,000,000. This ambitious project, and the resources it will consume, will require NASA to make trade-offs over the next decade, but if successful, could change the potential scientific payoff for all missions after a successful JIMO mission.

The Committee is concerned that the current uncertainties in the mission design, and the dependence on the development of new technologies for success, will cause Prometheus to incur additional unanticipated costs and potential delays. The Committee directs NASA to provide specific milestones and funding paths for all elements of Project Prometheus, and to report on these items, with any updated funding and out-year implications on a quarterly basis. Again, NASA needs to provide the Committee with an analysis of all out-year costs, including those targeted to shuttle reform, as to how NASA will accommodate the projected budgets of all NASA programs, including reserves. A report on these costs based on a 10-year funding profile is due no later than May 1, 2004.

The Committee has made the following adjustments to the budget request:

A decrease of $20,000,000 for the JIMO. The Committee notes that JIMO received $20,000,000 in unanticipated funding in fiscal year 2003. This funding was done in advance of the new initiative and is considered to have been used to initiate JIMO earlier than previously planned by NASA. The $72,600,000 recommended by the Committee, when combined with the advance funding of $20,000,000 from the previous year will provide NASA with the full requested amount, albeit over a 2-year period.

The Committee has made the following adjustments to the budget request:

An increase of $3,000,000 for Solar Probe mission within available funds;

An increase of $1,000,000 to Utah State University, Logan, Utah for the Calibration Center;

An increase of $1,500,000 to Montana State University-Bozeman for the Center for Studying Life in Extreme Environments;

An increase of $750,000 to Montana State University-Bozeman for the Space Science and Engineering Lab;

An increase of $1,000,000 to the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho for advanced microelectronics and biomolecular research;

An increase of $1,500,000 to Glenn Research Center for Advance Power Systems Institute;

An increase of $2,000,000 to New Mexico State University for the ultra-long balloon program to augment planned flights and technology development;

An increase of $2,000,000 to Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas for equipment at the Experimental Sciences Building;

An increase of $1,000,000 to the University of Texas, Austin for nanomedicine;

An increase of $1,000,000 to Texas A&M University in College Station for the Space Engineering Institute;

An increase of $2,000,000 for Stennis Space Center for the commercial technology program;

An increase of $1,400,000 to the University of New Orleans, Louisiana for the Composites Research Center of Excellence and for the development of advanced metallic joining technologies at Michoud Space Center;

An increase of $2,500,000 to Marshall University, Bridgeport, West Virginia for the Hubble Telescope Project;

An increase of $2,300,000 to the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, North Dakota for the Northern Great Plains Space Science and Technology Center;

An increase of $2,000,000 for University of Maryland, Baltimore County for photonics research.

Earth Science.--The activities of NASA's Earth Science Enterprise seek to understand the total Earth system and the effects of humans on the global environment. This pioneering program of studying global climate change is developing many of the capabilities that will be needed for long-term environment and climate monitoring and prediction. Governments around the world need information based on the strongest possible scientific understanding. The unique vantage-point of space provides information about the Earth's land, atmosphere, ice, oceans, and biota as a global system, which is available in no other way. In concert with the global research community, the Earth Science Enterprise is developing the understanding needed to support the complex environmental policy decisions that must be addressed.

The Committee has made the following adjustments to the budget request:

A decrease of $11,000,000 from Global Climate Change Research Initiative;

A decrease of $15,000,000 from Earth Science Applications;

An increase of $11,000,000 for mission formulation studies for EOS follow-on missions;

An increase of $25,000,000 for EOSDIS Core System Synergy Program.

Future EOSDIS- The Committee supports NASA's decision to guarantee that the future data system will be evolutionary in nature. Such an approach must maximize the utilization of the existing operational ground system while allowing for the introduction of new capabilities as new technologies develop. Utilizing the existing EOSDIS Core System, the Committee expects NASA to develop the initial baseline architecture and information technology blueprint for this system. The architecture should guarantee the system's resilience to accommodate various flight models and schedules, as well as permit the maximum number of end users from the scientific, educational, governmental and commercial sectors.

An increase of $1,500,000 to George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia for the Center for Earth Observing and Space Research Mid-Atlantic Geospatial Information Consortium;

An increase of $1,000,000 to Utah State University, Logan, Utah for the Intermountain Region Digital Image Archive and Processing Center;

An increase of $2,500,000 to the University of Mississippi for the Enterprise for Innovative Geospatial Solutions;

An increase of $2,000,000 to Mississippi State University for the Geospatial and Natural Resources Institute;

An increase of $1,600,000 to the University of New Mexico for the Center for Rapid Environmental Assessment and Terrain Evaluation;

An increase of $3,000,000 for the University of Alaska for weather and ocean research;

An increase of $1,000,000 for the Pacific Northwest Collaboratory at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to demonstrate real-time applications of earth science data.

Biological and Physical Research.--NASA's Biological and Physical Research [BPR] Enterprise recognizes the essential role biology will play in the 21st century and pursues the core of biological and physical sciences research needed to support NASA's strategic objectives. BPR fosters and enhances rigorous interdisciplinary research, closely linking fundamental biological and physical sciences in order to develop leading-edge, world-class research programs. BPR uses the unique characteristics of the space environment to understand biological, physical, and chemical processes, conducting science and technology research required to enable humans to safely and effectively live and work in space, and transferring knowledge and technologies for Earth benefits. BPR also fosters commercial space research by the private sector toward new or improved products and/or services on Earth, in support of the commercial use of space.

In previous years, the Committee has expressed its intent that scientific research remain one of NASA's top priorities. However, delays in the construction of the Station and the current stand down of the Shuttle fleet have significantly reduced the opportunities for life and microgravity research in the near term. The Committee urges NASA to resume, as practically as possible, scientific research in this area, as well as to fully employ all resources currently available to further research in this area until regular operations on the ISS are resumed.

The Committee has made the following adjustments to the budget request:

An increase of $1,000,000 to Glenn Research Center for the John Glenn Biomedical Engineering Consortium;

An increase of $1,250,000 to Space Sciences Inc. for microgravity related pharmaceutical development;

An increase of $2,500,000 for Marshall Space Flight Center for the Propulsion Materials Microgravity Research project;

An increase of $2,000,000 for the University of Missouri Bioinformatics Consortium for equipment purchase;

An increase of $1,500,000 for Truman State University Life Sciences for laboratory equipment.

Aero-Space Technology.--NASA's Aerospace Technology Enterprise works to maintain U.S. preeminence in aerospace research and technology. The Enterprise aims to radically improve air travel, making it safer, faster, and quieter as well as more affordable, accessible, and environmentally sound. The Enterprise is also working to develop more affordable, reliable, and safe access to space; improve the way in which air and space vehicles are designed and built; and ensure new aerospace technologies are available to benefit the public.

NASA's Aeronautics program pioneers the identification, development, verification, transfer, application, and commercialization of high-payoff aeronautics technologies. NASA also supports the development of technologies to address airport crowding, aircraft engine emissions, aircraft noise, and other issues that could constrain future U.S. air system growth.

The Committee is concerned with the steady decline during recent years in the aeronautics research and technology request. NASA's failure to reverse this trend over the next several years is even more alarming. Further, the United States faces major foreign competition in the commercial aviation arena. The Europeans have stated in their `Vision 2020,' that they intend to dominate the commercial aviation global market by 2020 through their investment in aeronautics R&D. The Committee feels that the vitality of U.S. aviation should not be left behind. The Committee is committed to the research NASA conducts in aeronautics, and to the benefits, both in safety and economically, that will be made available to the public through NASA led research.

The Committee also supports NASA's investment in the Mobile Broadband Network and urges NASA and the Ames Research Center to work with the Department of Homeland Security to continue research into highly secure communications systems that will benefit local, State and Federal governments.

The Committee urges NASA to move forward with implementation of the Wallops Flight Facility Mission 2005 Strategic Plan and encourages further cooperation between Wallops and the Marshall Space Flight Center.

The Committee has made the following adjustments to the budget request:

An increase of $5,000,000 for the development of an aeronautics research budget covering the next 5 years. It is expected that air traffic management will also be included within this budget. Funds shall be allocated to the National Institute for Aerospace for contracting with industry and academia to prepare such a budget plan no later than March 1, 2004;

An increase of $15,000,000 for future aircraft research with a priority on supersonic flight technologies;

An increase of $15,000,000 for future aviation systems including a priority on aviation security and air traffic management;

An increase of $15,000,000 for continued development of flight technologies with direct application to military vehicles;

An increase of $3,000,000 to Wichita State University, Wichita, Kansas for the National Center for Composite Materials Performance;

An increase of $1,000,000 to Wichita State University, Wichita, Kansas for the Critical Aircraft Icing project;

An increase of $2,000,000 to Glenn Research Center for the commercial technology program;

An increase of $2,500,000 to Stennis Space Center for infrastructure improvements;

An increase of $1,000,000 to Stennis Space Center for relocation of the visitors center. NASA is also directed to submit a funding plan to the Committee for the visitors center;

An increase of $1,000,000 to the Delaware Aerospace Education and Foundation, Kent County, Delaware;

An increase of $2,000,000 to Wheeling Jesuit University for the National Technology Transfer Center.

Academic Programs.--The objective of NASA's academic programs is to promote excellence in America's education system through enhancing and expanding scientific and technological competence. Activities conducted within academic programs capture the interest of students in science and technology, develop talented students at the undergraduate and graduate levels, provide research opportunities for students and faculty members at NASA centers, and strengthen and enhance the research capabilities of the Nation's colleges and universities. NASA's education programs span from the elementary through graduate levels, and are directed at students and faculty. Academic programs includes the Minority University Research Program, which expands opportunities for talented students from underrepresented groups who are pursuing degrees in science and engineering, and to strengthen the research capabilities of minority universities and colleges.

The Committee recommends the following adjustments to the budget request:

An increase of $600,000 to the Challenger Center in Kenai, Alaska;

An increase of $1,000,000 to the Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia for advance research in batteries and fuel cells;

An increase of $1,500,000 to the University of Montana in Missoula, Montana for the National Space Privatization Program;

An increase of $2,000,000 for the Denver Museum of Nature and Science in Denver, Colorado for equipment for the Space Science Museum;

An increase of $1,500,000 for the Adventure Science Center in Nashville, Tennessee for the Sudekum Planetarium;

An increase of $500,000 for the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa for the Existing Business Enhancement Program;

An increase of $1,300,000 for Iowa State University for the PIPELINES Project;

An increase of $1,000,000 for the Metropolitan School District of Decatur Township Indiana for the Challenger Learning Center Expansion;

An increase of $1,700,000 for Northern Kentucky University/University of Louisville for a digital science center;

An increase of $2,000,000 for the University of Alabama in Huntsville for the Center for Modeling Simulation and Analysis;

An increase of $1,000,000 for the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry for the space science education distance learning program;

An increase of $1,000,000 for Southeast Missouri State University for the NASA ERSC Outreach Project;

An increase of $1,500,000 for Dominican University's Center for Science and Technology for project based learning;

An increase of $200,000 to Wheeling Jesuit University for Classroom of the Future;

An increase $2,000,000 to the University of Connecticut for the Center for Land Use Education and Research;

An increase of $2,000,000 to Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa for non-destructive evaluation studies;

An increase of $500,000 to the Des Moines Science Center, Des Moines, Iowa;

An increase of $2,000,000 for the School of Science and Mathematics at the College of Charleston, Charleston, South Carolina;

An increase of $3,000,000 to the University of Hawaii, Hilo for the Mauna Kea Astronomy Education Center;

An increase of $1,500,000 to Space Education Initiative, Wisconsin for the Wisconsin Geoscience Education initiative;

An increase of $1,000,000 to the Youth Achievers Committee of New Jersey, Burlington County, New Jersey for the Youth Achievers Committee Science and Math Initiative;

An increase of $500,000 to the University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont for the Center for Advanced Computing;

An increase of $1,000,000 to Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan for the Center of Smart Sensors and Integrated Microsystems;

An increase of $1,000,000 for Wellpinit School District in Wellpinit, Washington for the Virtual Classroom Project;

An increase of $1,500,000 for the Mitchell Institute, Portland, Maine for science and engineering education.

COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATION

The Committee recommends $26,300,000 for fiscal year 2004, the same as the budget request and $866,000 above the fiscal year 2003 enacted level. The Committee commends the NASA IG's diligence in addressing issues of fraud and abuse.

As a high profile agency within the Federal Government, NASA has been the target of numerous attacks against its IT infrastructure. The NASA IG has waged a battle with the sole purpose of being able to provide cyber-security for NASA in order to keep the data collected by the agency safe. With this effort in mind, the Committee notes its awareness that there are technologies that have been developed commercially to provide vulnerability management that can help identify network susceptibility to intrusion and to reduce risk exposure. For example, nCircle has a product that provides real time analysis of network vulnerabilities, and System Detection Inc. has developed software that identifies anomalies in computer networks. Other IT related products are also available and could be of benefit to NASA, and to other agencies, in maintaining a high degree of IT security. The Committee urges NASA, and the NASA OIG, in particular, to assess the effectiveness of these technologies and to use appropriate funding for procurement if such technologies are determined to be beneficial to NASA's IT security. In particular, because of the high commitment of the NASA IG to computer security, the Committee directs the IG to assess the status of computer security within NASA and the IT that is available in the marketplace, and to report to the Congress by May 15, 2004 on overall IT weaknesses within NASA.

The Committee also directs the NASA IG to review NASA's contract procedures and conventions to determine if there are ways to reform the process and reduce the costs of NASA programs and activities. In particular, many NASA contract provisions require NASA to pay for significant cost overruns and, in cases of program delays, significant costs associated with staffing that appears to be maintained solely to ensure the preservation of the institutional memory for the delayed program or activity. The Committee agrees that institutional memory is critical to the success of many if not all NASA programs which are in most cases exceedingly complex. Nevertheless, these costs are substantial and, in some cases, may be unwarranted or unnecessary. As a result, the Committee believes that contract reform should be considered a priority as part of NASA's overall restructuring in response to the CAIB. The Committee expects the NASA IG to work with NASA to identify and implement reform of NASA's contract process and procedures. The NASA IG is directed to report on these efforts and issues no later than June 1, 2004.

ADMINISTRATIVE PROVISIONS

The Committee recommendation includes a series of provisions, proposed by the administration, which are largely technical in nature, concerning the availability of funds. These provisions have been carried largely, in prior-year appropriation acts.

NASA has continued to ask Congress to look at the human capital challenges within the agency. The Committee is aware that the Senate has, for its consideration, S. 610 that addresses the tools NASA deems necessary to address human capital needs at the agency and will monitor the progress of this legislation. The Committee is also aware of the challenges faced by NASA in the area of human capital and is conscious of the over 3-to-1 ratio of workers over 60 to those who are under 30. This imbalance did not appear suddenly, but has come about over time and will likely take time to correct. This also is a Government-wide problem and is consistent with projected retirements at other agencies throughout the Government. In addition, the human capital options that NASA desires will have more than an impact on the workforce at NASA, it will also have a budgetary impact if the proposed changes are enacted. Therefore, the Committee directs NASA to provide a report that quantifies the budgetary impacts of the changes to the hiring and retention of human capital, and the effects of such spending in the outyears, as proposed by NASA and expects this report to be provided to the Committee no later than 30 days after the enactment of this bill.

The Committee is also concerned about the management structure at NASA. The CAIB report contains comments about the management structure of the shuttle program and possibly NASA as a whole. The Committee believes that now is an appropriate time to conduct a complete review of NASA's organizational, programmatic, and personnel structures. The Committee is particularly interested in reviewing the field and headquarters organizational structures, business processes, human resources management, and program structures and operations. It is expected that this review will take into account any recommendations of the CAIB, as well as the proposed human capital issues contained in NASA's report that is due no later than 30 days after the enactment of this bill. The Committee has allocated $2,000,000 within the amounts appropriated to NASA for a contract with the National Academy of Public Administration (the Academy) to conduct this study. The Committee understands that NASA is already working with NAPA on developing a study and commends NASA for these efforts. Consequently, the Committee expects NASA to award this contract to the Academy within 3 months after the signing of NASA's fiscal year 2004 appropriation bill, and that the Academy will issue a final report no later than 18 months after the signing of the contract.

ADMINISTRATIVE PROVISIONS

The Committee recommendation includes a series of provisions, proposed by the administration, which are largely technical in nature, concerning the availability of funds. These provisions have been carried largely, in prior-year appropriation acts.

NASA has continued to ask Congress to look at the human capital challenges within the agency. The Committee is aware that the Senate has, for its consideration, S. 610 that addresses the tools NASA deems necessary to address human capital needs at the agency and will monitor the progress of this legislation. The Committee is also aware of the challenges faced by NASA in the area of human capital and is conscious of the over 3-to-1 ratio of workers over 60 to those who are under 30. This imbalance did not appear suddenly, but has come about over time and will likely take time to correct. This also is a Government-wide problem and is consistent with projected retirements at other agencies throughout the Government. In addition, the human capital options that NASA desires will have more than an impact on the workforce at NASA, it will also have a budgetary impact if the proposed changes are enacted. Therefore, the Committee directs NASA to provide a report that quantifies the budgetary impacts of the changes to the hiring and retention of human capital, and the effects of such spending in the outyears, as proposed by NASA and expects this report to be provided to the Committee no later than 30 days after the enactment of this bill.

The Committee is also concerned about the management structure at NASA. The CAIB report contains comments about the management structure of the shuttle program and possibly NASA as a whole. The Committee believes that now is an appropriate time to conduct a complete review of NASA's organizational, programmatic, and personnel structures. The Committee is particularly interested in reviewing the field and headquarters organizational structures, business processes, human resources management, and program structures and operations. It is expected that this review will take into account any recommendations of the CAIB, as well as the proposed human capital issues contained in NASA's report that is due no later than 30 days after the enactment of this bill. The Committee has allocated $2,000,000 within the amounts appropriated to NASA for a contract with the National Academy of Public Administration (the Academy) to conduct this study. The Committee understands that NASA is already working with NAPA on developing a study and commends NASA for these efforts. Consequently, the Committee expects NASA to award this contract to the Academy within 3 months after the signing of NASA's fiscal year 2004 appropriation bill, and that the Academy will issue a final report no later than 18 months after the signing of the contract.

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