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Comments by Rep. Kucinich During Regarding Workforce RIFs During House Debate on NASA FY 2007 Budget

Status Report From: U.S. House of Representatives
Posted: Friday, June 30, 2006

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Mr. KUCINICH. I want to thank the gentleman from West Virginia.

Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank the chairman, Mr. Wolf, for his leadership in helping to keep our NASA centers healthy in the long term, a concern that I share and that requires extremely difficult decisions under tight funding caps.

At the same time, I am concerned with the bedrock of NASA's success, its world class workforce. The 2005 NASA Authorization Bill enacted a moratorium on involuntary reductions in force until March of 2007.

In addition, the act required 11.5 months between the submission of a complete workforce plan and the end of a ban on RIFs. However, NASA has thus far been unable to determine their existing skills mix and future skills mix demand. Any hasty action would cause NASA to lose irreplaceable intellectual capacity and institutional memory and would harm its recruiting capabilities.

Any workforce reshaping should therefore only be implemented after clearly establishing the agency's current and future workforce needs and after exhausting all cost-effective voluntary means to maintain critical skills and to fill any gaps. This is especially true given that so much Constellation work on the horizon relies heavily on Apollo era and shuttle era design elements.

Mr. WOLF. Would the gentleman yield?

Mr. KUCINICH. I yield to the gentleman from Virginia.

Mr. WOLF. I share the gentleman's concerns about NASA's high quality workforce, and I expect NASA to develop and move forward with a long-term strategy to replenish the skills of its aging workforce while also maintaining key institutional memory. I urge NASA to address and correct any imbalances through an aggressive campaign of retraining, work transfer across centers, judicious buyouts and carefully managed recruitment, all with a minimum of disruption to the workforce. The people really have to be treated fairly, fair in the sense that everyone will say it is fair.

I expect that NASA will respect the moratorium on reductions in force in the 2005 NASA Reauthorization Act and will not engage in any reduction in force until they have met the workforce planning requirements in that act and provide it sufficient time for congressional oversight. So I would be happy to continue to work with the gentlemen on these issues as the gentleman moves forward in conference.

Mr. KUCINICH. I want to thank the gentleman for his commitment and thank him for the outstanding work that he has done in the past in helping us on these matters.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman and, thank you Mr. Mollohan.

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