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IFPTE: A new day at NASA - a rebirth at Ames

Status Report From: IFPTE
Posted: Thursday, February 4, 2010

image Subject:  A new day at NASA - a rebirth at Ames.
From:  Stone, Leland S.
Date:  Thursday, February 4, 2010

Dear Ames federal employee:

On Monday, President Obama put forth his FY11 budget for NASA that increases NASA's budget by $276M and dramatically changes course for the Agency.  Although for the thousands of dedicated employees who have been working diligently on Constellation, there will naturally be disappointment and concern, in the end, the Administration has chosen a more realistic and pragmatic path towards a more sustainable and ultimately successful overall mission  (see IFPTE Press Release at: http://www.ifpte.org/Downloads/Archives/Press%20Releases/2010/PR_President_NASAFY11.pdf and radio interview http://www.kcbs.com/NASA-Ames-a-Winner-From-Obama-Budget/6269436 ).

In particular, NASA will be reinvigorating its Science, Aeronautics, and Technology Development Missions.  That strategic shift undoes the terrible decision by the previous Administration to dismantle and cannibalize much of NASA's long-term R&D efforts to support an under-funded Human Spaceflight program.  The proposed new vision represents a great new opportunity for Ames and we all need to step up our game to meet that new and exciting challenge.

More specifically, there was truly terrific news on Monday as the Obama Administration has addressed many of IFPTE's NASA-budget recommendations:

1.  Full-cost recovery has been cancelled (IFPTE's #1 workforce priority).

The Agency will be going to a single unified CS labor account in FY11. In a letter from Administrator Bolden on Monday, he assured the Union that:

"Going forward, it is also NASA's intention to work with the Congress to implement a unified labor account for FY 2011.   NASA remains committed to full-cost workforce planning, to including labor estimates in our project baseline, and to complete transparency in workforce utilization at HQ and the Centers; however, we think it very valuable to unify labor into a single account for budget purposes."

This is a huge victory for NASA's CS employees; no more will we or our managers be forced to grovel to find a few tenths of an FTE!  All employees should have their salaries come from a single WBS set-up on October 1st 2010.  We are very happy to see that 15 months of advocacy on this issue (starting the day after the election with the then-transition team) have led to a successful conclusion.  We are also fully  aware that the devil is in the details and the Union will remain diligently engaged with both the Administration and Congress as this process moves forward as part of the FY11 Appropriations.

2.  A significant portion of the Advanced Capabilities program will be moved to a new Directorate and will receive $572M in funding.

This represents a significant increase in funding over the current Exploration Technology Development Program (EDTP).  We expect that Ames will be successful in competing for its fair share of this plus-up within codes P, R, and T.  Funding for Human Research Program (HRP) was also increased, which will benefit Ames' Life Science and Human Factors researchers in codes SC and TH, although these funds were not moved and remain within ESMD.

3. A half-billion dollar increase to the Science Mission Directorate with `~$400M for Earth Science.

This represents a major opportunity for Ames' Space (SS) and Earth (SG) scientists who can expect that some of these funds will be available as R&A funds.

4. An $80M increase to the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate.

This is about half what IFPTE requested, but it does represent a significant course reversal. We see this as a promising down payment on the rebirth of Aeronautics at  NASA.  Again, Ames' Aero researchers (in Codes A and TH) can reasonably expect that  Ames will successfully compete for some of this plus-up.

5. A more than $200M increase to the CM&O budget.

We hope that some of this will come to Ames to help with our Institutional funding shortfalls.

It is very clear that the above highlights will support a major rebirth at NASA's major Research Centers (Ames, Glenn, and Langley) as we have all been liberated to pursue innovative lines of lower TRL research.  We can expect fierce competition from our brethren at these other Research Centers and the Human Spaceflight Centers.  Ames needs to step up to  the plate and swing for the bleachers.

Those NASA employees whose interests have been more focused on Constellation can also rest assured that NASA will continue its  Human Spaceflight Exploration efforts within ESMD's new Human Exploration Architecture Development program, which Congress has already created to replace Constellation in the final FY10 Appropriations bill passed by Congress and signed into law.  Constellation may be gone, but rocket science/engineering is here to stay.

IFPTE will continue to work the many critical details as the FY11 shakes down to the project level and goes through the legislative process.  We remain optimistic that the final product will provide a more sustainable blueprint for the exciting flexible path ahead.

Cheers,

--Lee
President, Ames Federal Employees Union
IFPTE local 30
AFL-CIO

// end //

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