NASA Excerpt: Senate Report 109-280 Departments of Commerce and Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill 2007



NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION

Appropriations, 2006 $16,246,614,000
Supplemental appropriations, 2006 384,800,000
Budget estimate, 2007 16,792,227,000
House allowance 16,707,000,000
Committee recommendation 16,757,227,000

The Committee recommendation provides $16,757,227,000 for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration [NASA]. The recommendation is $510,613,000 above the fiscal year 2006 enacted level, excluding emergency supplemental appropriations, and $35,000,000 below the budget request.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration was established by the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 (Public Law 85-568) to conduct space and aeronautical research and development and to conduct flight activities for peaceful purposes. NASA's unique mission of exploration, discovery, and innovation is intended to preserve the United States' role as both a leader in world aviation and as the pre-eminent space-faring nation. It is NASA's mission to: advance human exploration, use, and development of space; advance and communicate scientific knowledge and understanding of the Earth, the solar system and the universe; and research, develop, verify, and transfer advanced aeronautics and space technologies.

NASA's new vision for space exploration maps out an aggressive role for the United States in manned space exploration. However, the potential costs are substantial and will likely be very difficult to maintain at the current estimated funding levels. In addition, the Committee feels strongly that NASA must show its commitment to those human spaceflight activities already underway. The Shuttle program and the construction of the International Space Station [ISS] continue to be the primary focus of the Nation's manned space flight activities. Nevertheless, the replacements for the Space Shuttle's manned and heavy lift capabilities must also be considered as part of any plan for continued human access to space but not to the detriment of existing obligations.

The Committee is concerned that NASA will neglect areas that only tangentially benefit or do not fit within, the proposed exploration vision. Specifically, the fiscal year 2007 budget request proposes to defer or cancel existing programs and infrastructure that are not directly supportive of the explorative vision. These appear to be the programs sacrificed to provide the near-term budgetary resources necessary to facilitate the implementation of the Moon/Mars vision. However, the Committee believes that NASA must work diligently to balance existing programs and priorities with its plans for the future. Counterbalancing future priorities places existing research and expertise in jeopardy and risks squandering significant Federal investments that may be essential to the proposed explorations vision.

In addition, the Committee is concerned that the strong, balanced science program that has served the Nation so successfully for many years is being left behind rather than being nurtured and sustained. That science program has been based on a set of carefully crafted scientific strategies that are founded on scientific and technical merit, relevance to overall national needs, and broad consultation with the scientific community.

In past years, NASA has chosen to make major programmatic decisions through comprehensive operating plans. The Committee notes that since fiscal year 2002, NASA has sent the Committee an average of four operating plans per fiscal year, with each operating plan containing an average of 170 changes per operating plan. While such changes are allowed, it is the view of the Committee that this should not be a regular occurrence. Instead, such plans should be utilized for minor adjustments in programs as they arise and only in exceptional circumstances should comprehensive measures be taken. Programs and missions have reserves for the purpose of mitigating risk and are available for the purpose of covering unexpected costs. If additional funds beyond the amount set aside for reserves by NASA are necessary, a reprogramming request should then be submitted to the Committee. Any reprogramming or operating request submitted to the Committee shall contain an explanation of where each adjustment of funds is proposed to be taken from and the exact destination of those funds. Providing a list of puts and takes across an entire operating plan does not provide the Committee with enough information to accurately understand the impacts of the sweeping operating plan changes NASA has regularly provided the Committee in the past.


SCIENCE, AERONAUTICS, AND EXPLORATION

Appropriations, 2006 $9,636,727,000
Budget estimate, 2007 10,523,805,000
House allowance 10,482,000,000
Committee recommendation 10,488,805,000

The Committee recommendation provides $10,488,805,000 for the Science, Aeronautics, and Exploration account. The recommendation is $852,078,000 above the fiscal year 2006 enacted level and $35,000,000 below the budget request.

NASA's Science, Aeronautics, and Exploration [SAE] account provides funding for the Science, Exploration Systems, and Aeronautics Research Mission Directorates and Education Programs. The SAE appropriation includes both the direct and the indirect costs of supporting the Mission Directorates and Education Program, and provides for: 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.

Within this account, the Committee directs NASA to refrain from charging any administrative expenses to congressionally directed spending on specific projects. These costs shall be absorbed within the funding provided in this account.

The activities of NASA's Space Science Enterprise seeks 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 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 Committee reiterates its strong support for the servicing of the Hubble Space Telescope by the Space Shuttle once the Administrator has determined the Shuttle is safe to fly and certified its use for a Hubble servicing mission.

The Committee has provided the full budget request of $443,100,000 for the James Webb Telescope and directs NASA to maintain the current launch schedule.

The Committee has provided the full budget request of $73,400,000 for the Explorer program and expects NASA to support the continued development of the Interstellar Boundary Explorer to maintain its current launch schedule.

The budget request eliminates funding for the SOFIA mission in fiscal year 2007. Since the budget was released, NASA has completed a review of its decision and has concluded that there are no scientific or technical reasons for cancelling the mission. Likewise, the Dawn mission was initially cancelled by NASA, only to be reinstated after complete information about the mission was reviewed. This calls into question the credibility of the science directorate in making budget decisions and determining scientific priorities.

The Committee expects NASA to come up with a plan to fund the SOFIA mission in 2007 from within available funds through a reprogramming request subject to section 505 of this act. In determining the funding strategy for this program, the Committee directs NASA to follow the recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences Decadal survey in Astronomy and Astrophysics when setting mission and budget priorities. Missions that are ranked higher in the surveys should be given priority over missions that are ranked lower in priority with launch dates that are far into the future.

The Committee has included an additional $16,500,000 for the Living With A Star Program as follows: an additional $5,000,000 for the Geospace Radiation Belt Mapper to accelerate launch to January 2011; $4,000,000 for pre-phase A definition on the Sentinels Program; and $7,500,000 for Solar Probe to retire technical and cost risk for the missions thermal protection system.

The National Academy of Sciences has recommended that NASA and the Department of Energy work together to develop a Joint Dark Energy Mission [JDEM]. The Committee strongly supports development of the JDEM through full and open competition with project management residing at the appropriate NASA center.

The Committee supports continued development of NASA's Planetary Aircraft Risk Reduction High-Altitude Deployment Demonstration Program.

The Committee has provided the budget request of $120,000,000 for the Juno-Jupiter Polar Orbiter mission and fully expects NASA to maintain this mission and its out-year budget profile to accommodate a 2010 launch as originally envisioned.

Earth science has been a critical part of the balanced space program long advocated by this Committee. The Committee remains fully committed to a robust Earth science program at NASA and the Committee expects NASA to remain fully committed to earth science, with future missions that reflect a serious commitment to earth science as a vital part of the Nation's space program.

The Committee fully expects this implementation profile to have a continuous mixture of small-, medium-, and observatory-class earth science missions that guarantee regular and recurring flight opportunities for the earth science community.

The recommendation includes an increase of $15,000,000 above the budget request for the NASA Earth Science Applications Program. This funding increase shall only be used to support new competitively selected applications projects to be selected during fiscal year 2007. These projects will integrate the results of NASA's Earth observing systems and earth system models (using observations and predictions) into decision support tools to serve applications of national priority including, but not limited to: Homeland Security; Coastal Management; Agriculture Efficiency; and Water Management and Disaster Management.

In Senate Report 109-88 accompanying the fiscal year 2006 appropriations for NASA, the Committee directed NASA to guarantee that the EOSDIS core system remain the operational foundation for all new Earth science missions. The Committee strongly reiterates this view and directs NASA to follow this direction in implementing future Earth science missions. The Committee does not support development of new, separate data systems for future Earth science missions and cautions the agency against taking further action that does not follow the guidance contained in Senate Report 109-88 or the report accompanying this act.

While the Committee supports continuation of the Landsat program and a follow-on Landsat mission, the Committee has provided no funding for the Landsat Data Continuity Mission in fiscal year 2007. The Committee does not agree with the agency's proposed procurement strategy and directs the agency to suspend any further procurement activity until enactment of the fiscal year 2007 State, Science, Justice, Commerce Appropriations Act.

The agency's proposed procurement strategy for Landsat closely resembles the failed NPOEES procurement and marks a significant departure from previous Landsat procurement policy. The Committee urges NASA to return to the previous procurement model that fully competes separate elements of the mission with a NASA center serving as project integrator and manager. This procurement model ensures the best value for NASA and the taxpayer.

The Committee recommends the budget request of $28,400,000 for continued operation of the Independent Verification and Validation [IV&V] Center in Fairmont, West Virginia.

The Committee is supportive of the vision for exploration and provides $894,700,000 for the Crew Exploration Vehicle [CEV]. The Committee also funds the Crew Launch Vehicle at $836,700,000 for the Crew Launch Vehicle [CLV] and $373,100,000 for Launch and Mission systems to support facility needs. The Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program is provided $121,000,000, the same as the budget request.

The Committee further provides $312,700,000 for the Robotic Lunar Exploration Program [RLEP]. The Committee believes that the missions associated with RLEP are essential to the success of the anticipated manned missions to the Moon. In 2005, NASA made the decision calling for the development of a lunar robotic lander mission and the Committee believes this mission is of critical importance for the exploration vision. For this purpose, $40,000,000 is provided from within funds provided to the RLEP program to initiate work on this mission.

The Committee is concerned with the steady decline in the aeronautics research and technology request. Even more alarming, NASA's budget projections indicate that this trend will continue. The Committee is committed to the research NASA conducts in aeronautics, and to the benefits, both in terms of safety and economics, that will be made available to the public through NASA-led research. Accordingly, the Committee provides an additional $35,000,000 beyond the amount requested for aeronautics programs at NASA.

NASA has a long history of supporting science, technology, engineering, and mathematical education. This support reaches all levels of education from K-12 to graduate level. For NASA to embark on its vision for exploration there must exist a general workforce that is technically skilled as well as a wide range of scientists and engineers for NASA to draw upon. This will require exciting young minds in the areas of science, and then sustaining this excitement through college and beyond. To help accomplish this task, NASA has dedicated funds toward many education activities. The Committee supports the budget request for the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program (Space Grant). The Committee also directs, to the extent possible, that education funds within this account address the education needs of women, minorities, and other historically underrepresented groups.

The Committee has provided the full budget request for the Classroom of the Future located at Wheeling Jesuit University, Wheeling, West Virginia. The Classroom of the Future focuses on educational research, curriculum design, teacher development and educational outreach in the STEM disciplines. Since its inception, Classroom of the Future has directly impacted nearly 53,000 teachers.

The Committee does not provide any funding in fiscal year 2007 for the Centennial Challenges program. Funding provided in previous fiscal years for this program is sufficient for NASA to run a prize based competition, as well as to verify that NASA will see tangential benefits from running such a program. Providing additional funds to a program based on prizes only creates a pot of unused funds while other aspects of NASA's mission are being cut or delayed due to a lack of funds.

The Committee recognizes the National Remote Sensing and Space Law Center's role as a resource to multiple agencies, providing legal research and outreach on critical space and aviation law issues. The Committee recognizes a growing need for objective and timely space and aviation law support in areas that include deployment and operation of satellites, commercial infrastructure, data policies, intellectual property, privacy, liability, international law, use of imagery as legal evidence, environmental issues, and licensing. As public and private entities continue to expand their presence in space, this research will increase in importance. The Committee therefore provides $3,000,000 for this purpose.

Also, within the amounts made available under this heading, the Committee recommends funding for the following organizations and programs:

National Center for Advanced Materials Performance, National Institute for Aviation Research;

Alliance for NanoHealth;

The Mauna Kea Astronomy Education Center, Hilo, Hawaii;

The Center for Nano/Micro/Meso Manufacturing at Purdue University, Indiana;

The N-SERT (Near-Space Engineering Research and Technology) Program;

Modular Autonomous Rendevous and Docking Sensor System [MARDS];

The Delaware AeroSpace Education Foundation;

Fisk University Astronomy and Space Science Education Program;

Pittsburgh Tissue Engineering Initiative;

The National Technology Transfer Center at Wheeling Jesuit University, Wheeling, West Virginia, for the HEALTHeWV program;

The Institute for NanoBio Technology at Johns Hopkins University;

The Jason Foundation;

Manned Space Flight Education Foundation;

Southeast Missouri State University, Educator Resource Center;

The Alabama Nature Center Immersive Reality Laboratory;

New Mexico State University College of Education for the Southern New Mexico Science, Engineering, Mathematics, and Aerospace Academy;

University of Missouri-Rolla, for development of a millimeter wave portable imaging system;

University of Louisville Rejuvenating Injured Tissues for Enhanced Wound Healing Project;

NASA Space Nuclear Power Systems Research and Development;

Infrastructure upgrades at the Wallops Island Flight Facility to accommodate unmanned aerial vehicles;

University of Northern Iowa--GeoInformatics Training, Research, Education, and Extension Center;

Rhodes College NASA Stars Program;

The Aviation Learning Center at the Museum of Flight, Seattle, Washington;

The Global Earth Observing System of Systems at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County;

Center for Science and Technology, Dominican University, California;

Next Generation Infrastructure Support Equipment;

University of Houston Commercial Space Partnership;

Northwest Missouri State University, nanoscience education project;

U.S. Space and Rocket Center Museum and Exhibit Upgrades;

The NASA Science, Engineering, Mathematics, and Aerospace Academy at West Virginia State University;

Northern Kentucky University Astrobiology Initiative;

Spaceflight Health Monitoring Technology;

Western Connecticut State University Science Education Initiative;

High Strength Composite research;

AAMURI Advanced Space Propulsion Research and Technology Center for High Temperature Materials Research and Development for NASA CEV and CLV;

Snake River Institute;

Space Dynamics Lab, Utah State University Calibration Institute;

The Chesapeake Information Based Aeronautics Consortium;

The MSFC Knowledge Management Integrated Data Environment;

Basic and Test Infrastructure Improvements for Stennis Space Center;

Boston Museum of Science;

Robotic Exploration Testbed;

The Northern Great Plains Space Sciences Technology Center at the University of North Dakota, Grand Forks;

Temporal Land Cover Change Research Program at Idaho State University;

CSU Combined PET/CT Scanner;

The Mid-Atlantic Institute for Space and Technology;

The Bio-Info-Nano Research and Development Institute at NASA Ames Research Center;

Missouri Western State University, to renovate and expand a science and mathematics facility;

Wheelock College, Boston, Massachusetts, for a K-6 Science Teacher Training Program;

The South Alabama Science and Technology Literacy Project;

Compact Laser Sensors;

Montana Space Grant Consortium's Robotics and Lego League Promotion;

Ramapo College Mathematics, Educational Technology, Computer Science, and Bioinformatics Initiative, Mahwah, New Jersey;

A Level 4 Data Storage Prototype Facility;

The Maryland Institute of Dexterous Space Robotics at the University of Maryland, College Park;

Stennis Commercial Technology Program;

The Center for Advanced Computing at the University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont;

McWane Science Center Education Programs;

The MSFC Integrated Health Monitoring Fault Detection and Correction System;

Grand Valley State University, Allendale, Michigan, for the West Michigan Science and Technology Initiative;

Western Kentucky University Hardin Planetarium Improvement Project;

Arkansas Center for Space and Planetary Sciences;

Improvement and Expansion of Science Education Programs for the North Alabama Counties;

High Peak Power Plasmoid Thruster research;

The Pacific Science Center, Seattle, Washington, to support the State-wide Leadership and Assistance for Science Education Reform Initiative;

The Composites Technology Institute in Bridgeport, West Virginia, for continuation of NASA-related composites workforce development training;

Methane Fuels for in-space Propulsion Applications;

The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development for continued construction of a broadband link between the Wallops Island Flight Facility and the Patuxent River Naval Air Station;

Dole Scholarship Program; The Mitchell Institute in Portland, Maine;

A Micro Satellite Development Program;

Primary Zinc-Air Batteries for Single Use UAVs;

Radially Segmented Launch Vehicle TRL Maturation;

Lightweight Composite Materials research;

Auxiliary Rocket Propulsion Technology; and

Joint Visualization Collaboration between the Goddard Space Flight Center and NOAA.


EXPLORATION CAPABILITIES

Appropriations, 2006 $6,577,901,000
Supplemental appropriations, 2006 384,800,000
Budget estimate, 2007 6,234,922,000
House allowance 6,193,500,000
Committee recommendation 6,234,922,000

The Committee recommendation provides $6,234,922,000. The recommendation is $342,979,000 below the fiscal year 2006 enacted level and the same as the President's request for these activities.

NASA's Exploration Capabilities [EC] account provides funding for the Space Operations Mission Directorate. The Space Operations Mission Directorate includes International Space Station [ISS], Space Shuttle Program, and Space and Flight Support.

The EC appropriation includes both the direct and the indirect costs supporting the Space Operations Mission Directorate, 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 the EC programs.

The Shuttle remains the cornerstone of our Nation's heavy launch capability and is critical to the future of the ISS and scientific research. The future of the ISS, and other U.S. manned space flight missions for the rest of the decade are contingent upon having a working Shuttle fleet that is safe and reliable throughout the remaining years of the shuttle program.

The Committee recommends $4,056,700,000 for the Shuttle. This is the same as the budget request. The funds provided are to be dedicated solely to Shuttle funding needs.

The Committee expects consultation by NASA on all proposed changes to investments in the Shuttle program. If NASA intends to make any alterations to funding for the Shuttle, the Committee expects NASA to follow the guidelines provided in section 505 of this act.

The Committee has provided the full requested amount of $1,811,300,000 for the International Space Station [ISS]. The ISS is a research and technology test bed in low Earth orbit in which United States and International astronauts conduct scientific and technological investigations in a space environment. The ISS supports scientific research for human space exploration, as well as other research that can only be conducted in space but require the presence of humans in space.

OFFICE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL

Appropriations, 2006 $31,986,000
Budget estimate, 2007 33,500,000
House allowance 33,500,000
Committee recommendation 33,500,000

The Committee recommendation provides $33,500,000. The recommendation is $1,514,000 above the fiscal year 2006 enacted level and the same as the budget request.

The Office of Inspector General [IG] was established by the Inspector General Act of 1978. The Office is responsible for providing agencywide audits and investigative functions to identify and correct management and administrative deficiencies which create conditions for existing or potential instances of fraud, waste, and mismanagement.

The Committee commends the NASA IG's diligence in addressing issues of fraud and abuse.

The Committee also directs the NASA IG to continue its efforts 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 in cases of program delays. These costs are substantial and, in some cases, may be unwarranted or unnecessary. As a result, implementation of contract reform should be considered a priority as part of any overall restructuring at NASA.


OFFICE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL

Appropriations, 2006 $31,986,000
Budget estimate, 2007 33,500,000
House allowance 33,500,000
Committee recommendation 33,500,000

The Committee recommendation provides $33,500,000. The recommendation is $1,514,000 above the fiscal year 2006 enacted level and the same as the budget request.

The Office of Inspector General [IG] was established by the Inspector General Act of 1978. The Office is responsible for providing agencywide audits and investigative functions to identify and correct management and administrative deficiencies which create conditions for existing or potential instances of fraud, waste, and mismanagement.

The Committee commends the NASA IG's diligence in addressing issues of fraud and abuse.

The Committee also directs the NASA IG to continue its efforts 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 in cases of program delays. These costs are substantial and, in some cases, may be unwarranted or unnecessary. As a result, implementation of contract reform should be considered a priority as part of any overall restructuring at NASA.

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 in prior-year appropriations acts.

The Committee is again extremely disappointed in the lack of detail provided in the fiscal year 2007 congressional budget justification document. Budget justifications are critical to the Committee's ability to make informed decisions concerning the administration's funding requests and must be submitted in a format with the greatest level of detail possible. By submitting a budget justification that is not transparent to the Committee, NASA does itself a disservice by being unable to explain adjustments to programs on a year-to-year basis. To address this situation, the Committee has included bill language that stipulates the minimum acceptable details for each fiscal year budget submission. NASA shall submit to the Committee, no later than October 15, 2006, a template for its fiscal year 2008 budget justification document that complies with this direction.

The Committee has not included the proposed transfer authority as requested by NASA. NASA shall also abide by the guidelines provided in section 505 of this act for any future requests to reprogram funds.

The Committee recommendation provides no more than $20,000,000 for the Office of Strategic Communications. The Committee believes that within the amounts provided adequate resources exist to execute the functions of this office. Over time, this office has grown to a total staffing level of 131 FTEs, including 14 Senior Executive Service [SES] positions, for the Offices of Legislative Affairs, External Affairs, and Public Affairs. The Committee is also aware that NASA has a pending solicitation for strategic messaging and communication services that proposes to further outsource current in-house speechwriting duties of the Office of Strategic Communications. The Committee does not appreciate the need for such services given that there are over 100 staff members, including two writers in the office of Public Affairs, who are responsible for supporting NASA with its public representation.

The Committee is concerned that NASA has not utilized independent cost verification early in the process of estimating costs for its programs and missions, or in assessing the appropriate funding levels of sole-source contracts. Therefore, NASA cannot be certain that potential contract costs are accurately represented. In allocating resources for current and future needs, effective cost estimation is crucial. NASA is directed to incorporate independent cost verification as part of the process by which contracts are selected and monitored. Utilization of independent cost verification shall be used as a guide for assessing when costs have exceeded expectations and to help identify projects for termination.

Once again the Committee directs NASA that it shall notify, in writing, the Committee 30 days prior to allocating funds, modifying, or extending existing contracts that are in excess of 15 percent of the original contract value. Within this notification NASA shall justify the additional expenditure of funds, and NASA shall identify the source of any necessary additional funds. It is absolutely critical that NASA be able to control the costs of its activities. The Committee notes with interest that it has received no such notifications in fiscal year 2006 and trusts that NASA will maintain a vigilant eye to ensure all contracts continue to remain on budget.

Finally, for fiscal year 2007 and each year thereafter, the Committee directs NASA to include the out-year budget impacts in all reprogramming requests. Future operating plans and all budget resubmissions also shall include a separate accounting of all program/mission reserves and impacts on estimated carry over funds.


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 in prior-year appropriations acts.

The Committee is again extremely disappointed in the lack of detail provided in the fiscal year 2007 congressional budget justification document. Budget justifications are critical to the Committee's ability to make informed decisions concerning the administration's funding requests and must be submitted in a format with the greatest level of detail possible. By submitting a budget justification that is not transparent to the Committee, NASA does itself a disservice by being unable to explain adjustments to programs on a year-to-year basis. To address this situation, the Committee has included bill language that stipulates the minimum acceptable details for each fiscal year budget submission. NASA shall submit to the Committee, no later than October 15, 2006, a template for its fiscal year 2008 budget justification document that complies with this direction.

The Committee has not included the proposed transfer authority as requested by NASA. NASA shall also abide by the guidelines provided in section 505 of this act for any future requests to reprogram funds.

The Committee recommendation provides no more than $20,000,000 for the Office of Strategic Communications. The Committee believes that within the amounts provided adequate resources exist to execute the functions of this office. Over time, this office has grown to a total staffing level of 131 FTEs, including 14 Senior Executive Service [SES] positions, for the Offices of Legislative Affairs, External Affairs, and Public Affairs. The Committee is also aware that NASA has a pending solicitation for strategic messaging and communication services that proposes to further outsource current in-house speechwriting duties of the Office of Strategic Communications. The Committee does not appreciate the need for such services given that there are over 100 staff members, including two writers in the office of Public Affairs, who are responsible for supporting NASA with its public representation.

The Committee is concerned that NASA has not utilized independent cost verification early in the process of estimating costs for its programs and missions, or in assessing the appropriate funding levels of sole-source contracts. Therefore, NASA cannot be certain that potential contract costs are accurately represented. In allocating resources for current and future needs, effective cost estimation is crucial. NASA is directed to incorporate independent cost verification as part of the process by which contracts are selected and monitored. Utilization of independent cost verification shall be used as a guide for assessing when costs have exceeded expectations and to help identify projects for termination.

Once again the Committee directs NASA that it shall notify, in writing, the Committee 30 days prior to allocating funds, modifying, or extending existing contracts that are in excess of 15 percent of the original contract value. Within this notification NASA shall justify the additional expenditure of funds, and NASA shall identify the source of any necessary additional funds. It is absolutely critical that NASA be able to control the costs of its activities. The Committee notes with interest that it has received no such notifications in fiscal year 2006 and trusts that NASA will maintain a vigilant eye to ensure all contracts continue to remain on budget.

Finally, for fiscal year 2007 and each year thereafter, the Committee directs NASA to include the out-year budget impacts in all reprogramming requests. Future operating plans and all budget resubmissions also shall include a separate accounting of all program/mission reserves and impacts on estimated carry over funds.

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