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H. R. 2450: Human Space Flight Independent Investigation Commission Act of 2003

Status Report From: Rep. Bart Gordon
Posted: Monday, June 16, 2003

HR 2450 IH

108th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 2450

To provide for the establishment of an independent, Presidentially-appointed investigative Commission in the event of incidents in the Nation's human space flight program that result in loss of crew, passengers, or the spacecraft, and for other purposes.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

June 12, 2003

Mr. GORDON (for himself, Mr. SENSENBRENNER, Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas, Mr. UDALL of Colorado, Mr. COOPER, Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts, Mr. LAMPSON, Mr. HALL, Mr. SHERMAN, Mr. LARSON of Connecticut, Mr. WEINER, Ms. LOFGREN, Mr. HONDA, Mr. FROST, Mr. COSTELLO, Mr. DAVIS of Tennessee, Mr. WYNN, Mr. BAIRD, and Ms. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON of Texas) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Science


A BILL

To provide for the establishment of an independent, Presidentially-appointed investigative Commission in the event of incidents in the Nation's human space flight program that result in loss of crew, passengers, or the spacecraft, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the `Human Space Flight Independent Investigation Commission Act of 2003'.

SEC. 2. DEFINITIONS.

    For purposes of this Act--

      (1) the term `incident' means either an accident or a deliberate act;

      (2) the term `NASA' means the National Aeronautics and Space Administration;

      (3) the term `NASA Administrator' means the Administrator of NASA; and

      (4) the term `NTSB' means the National Transportation Safety Board.

SEC. 3. ESTABLISHMENT OF COMMISSION.

    (a) ESTABLISHMENT- The President shall establish an independent, nonpartisan Commission within the executive branch to investigate any incident that results in the loss of--

      (1) a Space Shuttle;

      (2) the International Space Station or its operational viability;

      (3) any other United States space vehicle carrying humans;

      (4) any space vehicle carrying United States citizens; or

      (5) a crew member or passenger of any space vehicle described in this subsection.

    (b) DEADLINE FOR ESTABLISHMENT- The President shall issue an executive order establishing a Commission within 7 days after an incident specified in subsection (a).

SEC. 4. COMPOSITION OF COMMISSION.

    (a) NUMBER OF COMMISSIONERS- A Commission established pursuant to this Act shall consist of 15 members.

    (b) SELECTION- The members of a Commission established pursuant to this Act shall be chosen in the following manner:

      (1) The Chairman of the NTSB shall be a member of the Commission.

      (2) The President shall appoint the remaining 14 members, and shall designate the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Commission from among its members.

      (3) Four of the 14 members appointed by the President shall be selected by the President in the following manner:

        (A) The Majority Leader of the Senate, the Minority Leader of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives shall each provide to the President a list of candidates for membership on the Commission.

        (B) The President shall select one of the candidates from each of the 4 lists for membership on the Commission.

      (4) With the exception of the Chairman of the NTSB, no officer or employee of the Federal Government shall serve as a member of the Commission.

      (5) No member of the Commission shall have, or have pending, a contractual relationship with NASA. The President shall not appoint any individual as a member of a Commission under this section who has a current or former relationship with the NASA Administrator that the President determines would constitute a conflict of interest.

      (6) To the extent practicable, the President shall ensure that the members of the Commission include some individuals with experience relative to the human carrying spacecraft being investigated, as well as some individuals with investigative experience and some individuals with legal experience.

      (7) To the extent practicable, the President shall seek diversity in the membership of the Commission.

    (c) DEADLINE FOR APPOINTMENT- All members of the Commission shall be appointed no later than 30 days after the incident.

    (d) INITIAL MEETING- The Commission shall meet and begin operations as soon as practicable.

    (e) QUORUM; VACANCIES- After its initial meeting, the Commission shall meet upon the call of the Chairman or a majority of its members. Eight members of the Commission shall constitute a quorum. Any vacancy in the Commission shall not affect its powers, but shall be filled in the same manner in which the original appointment was made.

SEC. 5. TASKS OF THE COMMISSION.

    A Commission established pursuant to this Act shall, to the extent possible, undertake the following tasks:

      (1) Investigate the incident.

      (2) Determine the cause of the incident.

      (3) Identify all contributing factors to the cause of the incident.

      (4) Make recommendations for corrective actions.

      (5) Provide any additional findings or recommendations deemed by the Commission to be important, whether or not they are related to the specific incident under investigation.

      (6) Prepare a report to Congress, the President, and the public.

SEC. 6. POWERS OF COMMISSION.

    (a) IN GENERAL-

      (1) HEARINGS AND EVIDENCE- A Commission established pursuant to this Act or, on the authority of the Commission, any subcommittee or member thereof, may, for the purpose of carrying out this Act--

        (A) hold such hearings and sit and act at such times and places, take such testimony, receive such evidence, administer such oaths; and

        (B) subject to paragraph (2)(A), require, by subpoena or otherwise, the attendance and testimony of such witnesses and the production of such books, records, correspondence, memoranda, papers, and documents,

      as the Commission or such designated subcommittee or designated member may determine advisable.

      (2) SUBPOENAS-

        (A) ISSUANCE-

          (i) IN GENERAL- A subpoena may be issued under this subsection only--

            (I) by the agreement of the Chairman and the Vice Chairman; or

            (II) by the affirmative vote of 8 members of the Commission.

          (ii) SIGNATURE- Subject to clause (i), subpoenas issued under this subsection may be issued under the signature of the Chairman or any member designated by a majority of the Commission, and may be served by any person designated by the Chairman or by a member designated by a majority of the Commission.

        (B) ENFORCEMENT-

          (i) IN GENERAL- In the case of contumacy or failure to obey a subpoena issued under subsection (a), the United States district court for the judicial district in which the subpoenaed person resides, is served, or may be found, or where the subpoena is returnable, may issue an order requiring such person to appear at any designated place to testify or to produce documentary or other evidence. Any failure to obey the order of the court may be punished by the court as a contempt of that court.

          (ii) ADDITIONAL ENFORCEMENT- In the case of any failure of any witness to comply with any subpoena or to testify when summoned under authority of this section, the Commission may, by majority vote, certify a statement of fact constituting such failure to the appropriate United States attorney, who may bring the matter before the grand jury for its action, under the same statutory authority and procedures as if the United States attorney had received a certification under sections 102 through 104 of the Revised Statutes of the United States (2 U.S.C. 192 through 194).

    (b) CONTRACTING- A Commission established pursuant to this Act may, to such extent and in such amounts as are provided in appropriation Acts, enter into contracts to enable the Commission to discharge its duties under this Act.

    (c) INFORMATION FROM FEDERAL AGENCIES-

      (1) IN GENERAL- A Commission established pursuant to this Act is authorized to secure directly from any executive department, bureau, agency, board, commission, office, independent establishment, or instrumentality of the Government, information, suggestions, estimates, and statistics for the purposes of this Act. Each department, bureau, agency, board, commission, office, independent establishment, or instrumentality shall, to the extent authorized by law, furnish such information, suggestions, estimates, and statistics directly to the Commission, upon request made by the Chairman, the chairman of any subcommittee created by a majority of the Commission, or any member designated by a majority of the Commission.

      (2) RECEIPT, HANDLING, STORAGE, AND DISSEMINATION- Information shall only be received, handled, stored, and disseminated by members of the Commission and its staff consistent with all applicable statutes, regulations, and Executive orders.

    (d) ASSISTANCE FROM FEDERAL AGENCIES-

      (1) GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION- The Administrator of General Services shall provide to a Commission established pursuant to this Act on a reimbursable basis administrative support and other services for the performance of the Commission's tasks.

      (2) OTHER DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES- In addition to the assistance prescribed in paragraph (1), departments and agencies of the United States may provide to the Commission such services, funds, facilities, staff, and other support services as they may determine advisable and as may be authorized by law.

    (e) POSTAL SERVICES- A Commission established pursuant to this Act may use the United States mails in the same manner and under the same conditions as departments and agencies of the United States.

SEC. 7. PUBLIC MEETINGS, INFORMATION, AND HEARINGS.

    (a) PUBLIC MEETINGS AND RELEASE OF PUBLIC VERSIONS OF REPORTS- A Commission established pursuant to this Act shall--

      (1) hold public hearings and meetings to the extent appropriate; and

      (2) release public versions of the reports required under this Act.

    (b) PUBLIC HEARINGS- Any public hearings of a Commission shall be conducted in a manner consistent with the protection of information provided to or developed for or by the Commission as required by any applicable statute, regulation, or Executive order.

SEC. 8. STAFF OF COMMISSION.

    (a) IN GENERAL-

      (1) APPOINTMENT AND COMPENSATION- The Chairman, in consultation with Vice Chairman, in accordance with rules agreed upon by a Commission established pursuant to this Act, may appoint and

fix the compensation of a staff director and such other personnel as may be necessary to enable the Commission to carry out its functions, without regard to the provisions of title 5, United States Code, governing appointments in the competitive service, and without regard to the provisions of chapter 51 and subchapter III of chapter 53 of such title relating to classification and General Schedule pay rates, except that no rate of pay fixed under this subsection may exceed the equivalent of that payable for a position at level V of the Executive Schedule under section 5316 of title 5, United States Code. Employees of NASA shall not be appointed to the staff of a Commission.

      (2) PERSONNEL AS FEDERAL EMPLOYEES-

        (A) IN GENERAL- The executive director and any personnel of a Commission established pursuant to this Act who are employees shall be employees under section 2105 of title 5, United States Code, for purposes of chapters 63, 81, 83, 84, 85, 87, 89, and 90 of that title.

        (B) MEMBERS OF COMMISSION- Subparagraph (A) shall not be construed to apply to members of a Commission established pursuant to this Act.

    (b) DETAILEES- Any Federal Government employee, except for an employee of NASA, may be detailed to a Commission established pursuant to this Act without reimbursement from the Commission, and such detailee shall retain the rights, status, and privileges of his or her regular employment without interruption.

    (c) CONSULTANT SERVICES- A Commission established pursuant to this Act is authorized to procure the services of experts and consultants in accordance with section 3109 of title 5, United States Code, but at rates not to exceed the daily rate paid a person occupying a position at level IV of the Executive Schedule under section 5315 of title 5, United States Code. Any consultant or expert whose services are procured under this subsection shall disclose any contract or association it has with NASA or any NASA contractor.

SEC. 9. COMPENSATION AND TRAVEL EXPENSES.

    (a) COMPENSATION- Each member of a Commission established pursuant to this Act may be compensated at not to exceed the daily equivalent of the annual rate of basic pay in effect for a position at level IV of the Executive Schedule under section 5315 of title 5, United States Code, for each day during which that member is engaged in the actual performance of the duties of the Commission.

    (b) TRAVEL EXPENSES- While away from their homes or regular places of business in the performance of services for the Commission, members of the Commission shall be allowed travel expenses, including per diem in lieu of subsistence, in the same manner as persons employed intermittently in the Government service are allowed expenses under section 5703(b) of title 5, United States Code.

SEC. 10. SECURITY CLEARANCES FOR COMMISSION MEMBERS AND STAFF.

    The appropriate Federal agencies or departments shall cooperate with a Commission established pursuant to this Act in expeditiously providing to the Commission members and staff appropriate security clearances to the extent possible pursuant to existing procedures and requirements. No person shall be provided with access to classified information under this Act without the appropriate security clearances.

SEC. 11. REPORTING REQUIREMENTS AND TERMINATION.

    (a) INTERIM REPORTS- A Commission established pursuant to this Act may submit to the President and Congress interim reports containing such findings, conclusions, and recommendations for corrective actions as have been agreed to by a majority of Commission members.

    (b) FINAL REPORT- A Commission established pursuant to this Act shall submit to the President and Congress, and make concurrently available to the public, a final report containing such findings, conclusions, and recommendations for corrective actions as have been agreed to by a majority of Commission members. Such report shall include any minority views or opinions not reflected in the majority report.

    (c) TERMINATION-

      (1) IN GENERAL- A Commission established pursuant to this Act, and all the authorities of this Act with respect to that Commission, shall terminate 60 days after the date on which the final report is submitted under subsection (b).

      (2) ADMINISTRATIVE ACTIVITIES BEFORE TERMINATION- A Commission may use the 60-day period referred to in paragraph (1) for the purpose of concluding its activities, including providing testimony to committees of Congress concerning its reports and disseminating the final report.

SEC. 12. ROLE OF NTSB.

    The NTSB shall assume responsibility for the investigation of any incident described in section 3(a) immediately upon the occurrence of that incident. The NTSB shall transfer responsibility for the investigation to a Commission established pursuant to this Act as soon as the Commission holds its initial meeting under section 4(d).

SEC. 13. FUNDING.

    Such sums as are necessary to carry out this Act are authorized to be appropriated. Sums authorized by this Act shall remain available until the termination of the Commission for which they are appropriated.

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