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IFPTE Letter to House and Senate Appropriators Regarding NASA FY 2008 Budget Issues

Status Report From: IFPTE
Posted: Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Hon. David Obey, Chairman Hon. Robert Byrd, Chairman
House Appropriations Committee Senate Appropriations Committee
H-218 U.S. Capitol S-131 U.S. Capitol
Washington, DC 20515 Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairmen,

As you consider the fiscal year 2008 (FY08) Appropriations for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the International Federation of Professional & Technical Engineers (IFPTE), NASA’s largest federal employee Union, urges you to provide adequate funding to allow NASA to successfully perform its assigned missions. We specifically request that NASA’s top line be as close as possible to $18.3 billion dollars, a billion dollar plus-up from the President’s request, in order to meet its broad range of responsibilities to the American people. Given that the Department of Defense’s (DoD’s) military space programs have been funded in excess of $20 billion annually and that NASA’s Exploration activities will likely produce new dual-use capabilities, we recommend that you consider moving some space funding from DoD to NASA to cover the plus-up. We also strongly support maintaining the FY07 Continuing Resolution’s prohibition on executive transfer authority in order to foster transparency and accountability in NASA’s Appropriations process.

On January 14th of 2004, the President presented an ambitious plan to raise the Agency out of the shadow of the Columbia disaster and to give NASA a reinvigorated long-term vision. In December of 2005, Congress echoed that direction in NASA’s Authorization Act, which provided a strong bi-partisan endorsement of NASA’s full set of existing and new missions, and recommended a thoughtful and realistic budget so that NASA could meet this set of responsibilities for the good of the nation. Unfortunately, the necessary funds have not been forthcoming, thus driving the Administrator to divert nearly all long-term investments into his highest priority short-term goals. While we at IFPTE appreciate the fiscal constraints facing the Administrator, we nonetheless believe that this is a very harmful course of action in the long run. We are now reaching a critical juncture in NASA’s history. Courageous and decisive leadership is needed, or NASA will indeed face a serious crisis in the near future.

The President’s proposed FY08 budget shortchanges NASA’s Science programs by about a billion dollars from those levels projected by the Executive branch only two years ago and authorized by the Legislative branch a little over a year ago. The net spending power of NASA’s Aeronautics programs is down by more than 40% since FY04. Technology development programs are being funded at only a small fraction of levels seen three years ago. Funding for Life and Microgravity Science, the major rationale for building the Space Station, has been all but eliminated. NASA is also shirking its outreach and educational responsibilities, and failing to meet the critical need to recruit the next generation of young engineering and scientific talent into the Agency. This turmoil, which is beginning to cause serious long-term damage, is due to the simple fact that NASA has been shackled with an unfunded Exploration mandate. Furthermore, those who do not support the Vision for Space Exploration need to realize that under-funding NASA is preferentially harming all of NASA’s vital non-Exploration missions. We respectfully ask that you rectify this serious situation by providing NASA with a billion dollars more than the President’s request, still nearly $400 million less than authorized.

Thank you for your consideration of these proposals. Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact me, or IFPTE Legislative Director Matt Biggs at (301) 565-9016. Sincerely,

Gregory J. Junemann, President

Cc: Hon. Alan Mollohan
Hon. Barbara Mikulski
Hon. Bart Gordon
Hon. Bill Nelson

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