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(Overall Agency) House Rpt.107-740 VA-HUD Appropriations Bill 2003

Status Report From: House Appropriations Committee
Posted: Sunday, October 13, 2002

Source: House Rpt.107-740 - DEPARTMENTS OF VETERANS AFFAIRS AND HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT, AND INDEPENDENT AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS BILL, 2003

NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION

     Fiscal year 2003 recommendation                       $15,300,000,000  
     Fiscal year 2002 appropriation                         14,901,700,000  
     Fiscal year 2003 budget request                        15,000,000,000  
     Comparison with fiscal year 2002 appropriation           +398,300,000  
     Comparison with fiscal year 2003 request                 +300,000,000  

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration was created by the National Space Act of 1958. NASA conducts space and aeronautics research, development, and flight activity designed to ensure and maintain U.S. preeminence in space and aeronautical endeavors.

The Committee has recommended a total program level of $15,300,000,000 in fiscal year 2003, which is an increase of $300,000,000 from the budget request and an increase of $398,300,000 when compared to the fiscal year 2002 enacted appropriation.

The Committee strongly believes that NASA's goal of significantly improving the agency's financial management process, as a primary goal, is noteworthy. The Committee is convinced that this increased emphasis on financial management, and the improved cost visibility that will result from these efforts, will yield substantially improved decision making in the future.

Integrated Financial Management Program. The Committee is aware that there have been two previous NASA attempts at fielding a new financial management system, neither of which was successful. The Committee concurs with recent revisions to the program, which, in order to reduce risk, has focused on fielding the core financial programs initially, and on reducing overlap with follow-on modules. However, the Committee is concerned about the current estimated overall cost of the IFMP at $644,300,000. The Committee directs that NASA undertake a comprehensive review of all elements of IFMP and follow-on IFMP modules in order to reduce the overall cost; this review should include consideration by NASA of other financial applications already operating within the government. NASA is directed to submit the results of this review not later than February 15, 2003.

Working Capital Fund. In support of efforts to improve cost visibility, the Committee has authorized the establishment of a working capital fund. The Committee recommends that information technology (IT) be adopted as the first area for inclusion in the fund since Agency reports indicate that IT funding has not been sufficiently managed in the past, and this lack of control has threatened the performance of numerous Agency-wide systems, not the least of which has been information financial management. The Committee cautions the Agency that the working capital fund should not be used as a means to circumvent the normal appropriations process.

Full Cost Accounting/Reports. The Committee also notes that the Agency plans to submit the fiscal year 2004 budget under a full cost model. It should be noted, however, that there are numerous recurring reports and cost limitations that may be affected as a result of this change, not the least of which is the limitation on expenditures for the International Space Station. NASA is directed to submit, in conjunction with the fiscal year 2004 budget, recommended changes to existing law, if necessary, to the ``cost caps'' to reflect full cost methodology.

Title IV of the bill includes four general provisions which directly affect NASA operations. Section 419 provides for the establishment of a working capital fund. Section 420 provides NASA with enhanced lease authority. Section 421 provides NASA with authority to privatize certain utility systems. This authority is similar to that provided to the Department of Defense. The Committee has taken this action in anticipation of NASA getting more reliable and cost efficient utility service in selected locations. Included in the legislation is direction requiring NASA to present to the Congress a detailed economic analysis prior to entering into any agreement to convey utilities to a private party. Finally, Section 422 extends NASA's authority to offer buy-out incentives to employees for three additional years.

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