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House Rpt.108-401 - NASA Excerpts (part 1)

Status Report From: U.S. House of Representatives
Posted: Tuesday, December 2, 2003

House Rpt.108-401 - MAKING APPROPRIATIONS FOR AGRICULTURE, RURAL DEVELOPMENT, FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION, AND RELATED AGENCIES FOR THE FISCAL YEAR ENDING SEPTEMBER 30, 2004, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES

NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION

Of the amounts approved by the conferees in this agreement, NASA must limit reprogramming of funds between programs and activities to not more than $500,000 without prior notification to the Committees on Appropriations of the House and Senate. Any activity or program cited in this report shall be construed as the position of the conferees and should not be subject to reductions or reprogramming without prior approval. The conferees agree with the Senate directive that NASA include the outyear budget impacts of all reprogramming requests, including the outyear budget impact of all missions in the annual operating plan. The conferees direct NASA to identify, in the initial operating plan and all subsequent revisions, all Space Shuttle Return to Flight costs and purposes, the anticipated budget runout of the Return to Flight actions, and the funding sources being used to pay for the Return to Flight costs. The operating plan and all subsequent changes to the plan shall include a separate accounting of all program/mission reserves.

The conferees agree with the House direction that NASA is to provide no less than $2,000,000 to demonstrate encryption technology as part of its cyber-security architecture. This demonstration should be conducted in cooperation with the NASA Inspector General. NASA is to report to the Committees on Appropriations of the House and Senate within 90 days on its plan to conduct this demonstration and is directed to convey the results of the demonstration upon its completion.

The conferees agree with the Senate directive for NASA to provide a comprehensive plan that will respond to the Columbia Accident Investigation Board report as well as address other staffing, systemic and program shortcomings in NASA programs. The plan should include an assessment of any proposed investments that NASA considers critical to the reform of the agency and the success of its missions. The conferees expect the plan to include a 10-year funding profile for implementing the proposed reforms with benchmarks that are designed to ensure a safe return to flight. The conferees direct NASA to provide the report to the Committees on Appropriations of the House and Senate no later than January 15, 2004.

The conferees agree with the Senate direction for a report on the risks associated with illegal transfer or theft of sensitive technologies. The conferees direct NASA and the NASA Inspector General to work together and report annually on these issues, including an assessment of risk.

The conferees agree that program delays often result in large cost increases that are increasingly difficult to justify and that NASA should have as a priority a desire to reduce these costs. Therefore, the conferees direct NASA to work to reduce the costs associated with program delays, and report to the Committees on Appropriations by January 15, 2004 on options for cost reductions. In arriving at these options, NASA should include in the report an explanation of what constitutes core staff and program needs versus full development and operations staff requirements.

SPACE FLIGHT CAPABILITIES

(INCLUDING TRANSFER OF FUNDS)

Appropriates $7,512,100,000 for space flight capabilities instead of $7,806,100,000 as proposed by the House and $7,582,100,000 as proposed by the Senate. Specifies that $15,000,000 of the amount provided for the Space Shuttle Life Extension Program shall be for development and independent assessment of concepts to increase crew survivability for crew sizes of 4 to 7 as proposed by the House. The conferees have not included the House language which would have specified these efforts should result in increased survivability by a factor of 20. Deletes the Senate language which would have specified $3,986,000,000 for activities related to the Space Shuttle and prohibited transfer of any of these funds to other programs or activities. Deletes Senate language which would have capped International Space Station costs at $1,507,000,000. Retains House language which allows for the transfer of funds from this account to the science, aeronautics, and exploration account in accordance with section 312(b) of the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958.

The amount provided is a reduction of $270,000,000 from the budget request and includes a reduction of $200,000,000 from the International Space Station request and a reduction of $70,000,000 from the Space Launch Initiative budget request.

While the conferees have agreed to delete Senate bill language which would have specified $3,986,000,000 for activities related to the Space Shuttle, the conferees agree that none of the reductions specified in this report should be taken against this activity. Transfers made pursuant to section 312(b) of the National Aeronautics and Space Act, while allowed, will need to be fully justified and approved by the Committees on Appropriations of the House and Senate

in advance of the transfer and must include the outyear implications on all activities involved in the reprogramming action.

The conferees have not included a cost cap on the International Space Station as proposed by the Senate but do agree that there are substantial cost reductions associated with the program as a result of shuttle operations being suspended and agree that NASA needs to be more aggressive in controlling costs associated with reduced program activity.

The conferees agree that of the funds appropriated in this account, $24,000,000 shall be for the commercial technology program within the Innovative Technology Transfer Partnerships theme. NASA shall maintain this program as it existed in fiscal year 2003 and prior fiscal years.

The conferees do not agree with the Senate direction that the Space Flight Advisory Committee is to report directly and independently to the Congress on NASA's implementation of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board (CAIB) recommendations. Implementation of the CAIB recommendations is addressed further in the Inspector General section of this statement.

The conferees are in agreement that the new charter of the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel addresses the concerns expressed in the Senate report and will satisfy the desire of the conferees to receive timely reports that assess the shuttle program in terms of safety, upgrades, operations, and overall management of the shuttle program.

Upon the resumption of shuttle flights to the International Space Station, the conferees direct NASA to develop and forward to the Committees on Appropriations of the House and Senate a plan detailing the steps necessary to reach U.S. Core Complete, as well as the outyear costs associated with this plan.

The conferees are in agreement that the Orbital Space Plane External Program Assessment Team (EPAT), as currently chartered, will address many of the concerns expressed by the Senate when its report suggested the creation of an independent oversight committee. However, the conferees are concerned that the current membership relies too heavily on former NASA officials and direct NASA to expand the membership of the EPAT to include individuals that have extensive non-NASA experience in program management to ensure necessary independence from the Space Launch Initiative program management. The conferees also direct the EPAT to report on its assessments of the program to the Congress on a quarterly basis, with the first report due on December 31, 2003.

The Orbital Space Plane (OSP) program is expected to represent a significant investment by the American taxpayers if it is carried out to completion. It is therefore necessary that NASA manage this program unlike any other program it has ever executed or tried to execute in the past. The conferees believe that first and foremost, NASA must heed all the findings and recommendations of the International Space Station Management and Cost Evaluation report as well as the CAIB report. It does not appear from materials provided to the Congress thus far that this is the case. The conferees understand that NASA is currently scheduled to release the OSP full-scale development Request for Proposals (RFP) in late 2003, and are concerned that the goals of this RFP may not be aligned with the results of the ongoing interagency space policy review. The conferees believe that NASA should not release the RFP until the interagency space policy review has been completed and NASA has determined that the RFP is consistent with the results of this review. Additionally, the conferees believe the President must assure the Congress that sufficient resources will be available to support the contract awarded as a result of the RFP and the related NASA in-house efforts in fiscal year 2004 and the outyears and anticipate receipt of such assurances in a timely manner. Any operating plan changes that involve this program will not take effect until 90 days after submission to the Congress unless approved by the Committees on Appropriations of the House and Senate sooner than 90 days.

The conferees agree with the Senate direction that NASA report by January 31, 2004, on the outyear costs for each project within the Next Generation Launch Technology program, the criteria being used to select technologies for investment, and the metrics used to determine whether projects within the program are progressing or should be discontinued.

The conferees understand that NASA is currently assessing complementary and/or replacement logistics support to and from the International Space Station (ISS). This assessment encompasses utilization of Progress, Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), H-II Transfer Vehicle (HTV), Alternative Access to Space (AAS) concepts, Autonomous Shuttle, and possibly other cargo capability concepts. The AAS studies have an anticipated completion date of January 2004 to be followed by a thorough review of all the options by NASA. Additionally, the conferees understand that the administration is reviewing overall U.S. space exploration goals, including new cargo capability, as part of the fiscal year 2005 budget process. The conferees direct the administration to report back to the Committees on Appropriations of the House and Senate with the Agency's plan on ISS re-supply services by June 1, 2004.

The conferees are concerned that in its desire to return the shuttle to full operations, NASA may damage seriously the integrity of the Shuttle Life Extension Program (SLEP). The conferees believe that the process that NASA has put in place for the SLEP will correctly identify cost effective and necessary modifications, but NASA must still demonstrate the resolve to execute properly the program by requesting adequate budget resources and devoting management attention to the effort. The conferees will continue to examine this program and will not entertain unrealistic reprogramming proposals that place the program's overall objectives in jeopardy.

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