IFPTE Letters Opposing S. 3661, the Space Exploration Sustainability Act


December 14, 2012

Hon. John Rockefeller, Chairman Committee on Commerce
United States Senate
254 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Rockefeller,

Although the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE) greatly appreciates your past efforts on behalf of NASA and its talented and dedicated federal workforce, regretfully, we must vigorously oppose S. 3661 in its current form.

Like all federal agencies, NASA is likely facing large, unknown budget cuts as it enters 2013 and will need to adjust its programmatic planning accordingly to sustain its core competencies and critical missions. During that painful process, it is going to need a balanced approach whereby it accepts some schedule slip in its outsourced vehicle development programs as well as other savings in its procurement activities, while maintaining to the maximum extent possible its internal core functional capabilities in order to continue to perform the broad range of missions across its Science, Aeronautics, Technology, Human Spaceflight, and Education portfolios. NASA will need to produce fewer golden eggs, but it must preserve and protect the goose so that it may continue to produce for the American taxpayer for decades to come.

S. 3661 in its current form is a flawed and unbalanced effort to improperly prioritize a few outsourced and offshored activities, while neglecting NASA's internal core capabilities and other critical needs. It is focused on catering to the demands of the Russian government and on preserving Russian aerospace jobs all the way through the end of this decade, while doing absolutely nothing to protect NASA's federal workforce. In the difficult zero-sum game ahead, the bill would act to coerce NASA to favor foreign jobs over NASA jobs, with jobs in Ohio, California, Virginia, and Maryland especially at risk. The jobs at NASA's IV&V center in West Virginia would also be vulnerable.
In addition to driving NASA to lock itself inappropriately into certain long-term procurements, the bill contains an unfunded mandate to perform yet another study with coercive language that would serve to bias the outcome of what should be an objective Engineering study.

For these reasons and others, IFPTE opposes S. 3661 in its current form, but we would be supportive if an extension to September 30, 2016 of the workforce protections of P.L. 111-267 (section 1105) were included to balance out the other extensions, or if the bill were stripped down to H.R. 6586 as passed by the House.

If you or your staff have any questions, please contact IFPTE Legislative Director, Matt Biggs, at 202-239-4880.

Sincerely,
Gregory J. Junemann, President

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December 17, 2012

Dear Senator:

The International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE) NASA's largest federal employee Union, urges you to reject S. 3661 and instead support passage of H.R. 6586 as passed by the House of Representatives.

S. 3661 in its current form is a flawed and unbalanced effort to improperly prioritize a few outsourced and offshored activities, while neglecting NASA's internal core capabilities and other critical needs. Unlike H.R. 6586 which is appropriately focused exclusively on the expiration in two weeks of the current indemnification of U.S. Commercial Space activities, S. 6331 is an attempt to take advantage of a false sense of urgency to tag on additional provisions better considered during the normal Re-Authorization process:

S. 3661 provides a four-year extension of NASA's waiver to the Iran, North Korea, Syria Non-Proliferation Act through the end of the decade, despite the fact that the current waiver expires in more than three and half years. This simply plays into the hands of the Russian government, which is seeking to lock-in Russian aerospace jobs at the expense of U.S. aerospace jobs, just as Russia is continuing to undermine U.S foreign policy on Iran and Syria, and just as the recent successes of the U.S. Commercial Space sector may obviate the need for extended dependence on Russia;

S. 3661 singles out certain vehicle development programs for inflexible prioritization, making, by omission, NASA's other missions more vulnerable; and

S. 3661 contains an unfunded mandate to perform yet another architecture study along with coercive language to bias the outcome.

NASA and the nation would be better served by a more thoughtful prioritization process shaped by open committee hearings and resolved by balanced, non-parochial trade-offs. In the difficult zero-sum game ahead, S. 3661 would act to push NASA to favor a few outsourced and foreign vehicle development programs, at the expense of all of NASA's other missions and of thousands of jobs at NASA and their academic and industry partners.

Like all federal agencies, NASA is likely facing large, unknown budget cuts as it enters 2013. It will need to adjust its programmatic planning accordingly to sustain its core competencies and critical missions. During that painful process, it is going to need a balanced approach whereby it accepts some schedule slip and other savings in its procurement activities, while maintaining to the maximum extent possible its internal core functional capabilities in order to continue to perform the broad range of missions across its Science, Aeronautics, Technology, Human Spaceflight, and Education portfolios. Now is not the time to encourage narrow or parochial plans.

If you have any questions please contact IFPTE Legislative Director, Matt Biggs.

Sincerely,
Gregory J. Junemann, President

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