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FY2012 Budget Is Now Available at OMB's Website

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 14-Feb-2011 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:13 PM)

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has released the FY2012 budget request. It can be viewed on OMB's website. Top level information for government departments and agencies is provided. Detailed budget information is usually released by each department or agency later in the day.

NASA's detailed budget is expected to be posted on NASA's website at 1:30 today. The total requested for NASA for FY2012 is $18.7 billion, the same as its FY2010 level. For NOAA, the OMB documents state that $1.9 billion is requested for NOAA's satellite programs, including geostationary and polar-orbiting weather satellites. The only mention of space systems in the brief write-up about DOD is $975 million for the Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) communications satellite system. It also says that DOD will implement an "innovative satellite acquisition approach in order to reduce costs and strengthen the industrial base."

The OMB site in general has lots of other useful budget information as well, including analytical perspectives and historical tables.

Detailed NASA FY2012 Budget Request is Now Available

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 14-Feb-2011 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:13 PM)

NASA has posted its detailed budget request on its budget website. NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden and Chief Financial Officer Beth Robinson are holding a press conference (watch on NASA TV).

Lost Amid the Budget Numbers? Check Out Our New Fact Sheet on NASA's FY2011 Appropriations

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 13-Feb-2011 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:15 PM)

Keeping track of congressional action on NASA's budget is hard enough today, but it will become that much more difficult tomorrow with the release of President Obama's FY2012 budget request. We have just published a new fact sheet that will track NASA's FY2011 appropriations bill as it continues to be considered in Congress. We will publish a separate fact sheet on the FY2012 request in the near future.

The new FY2011 fact sheet, NASA's FY2011 Appropriations: the Debate Continues in the 112th Congress, is available under "Our Fact Sheets and Reports" on the left menu. The fact sheet will be updated as necessary.

Meanwhile, for those interested in what happened with NASA's budget in the last Congress, including details on the authorized levels in the 2010 NASA Authorization Act for FY2011, FY2012 and FY2013, our earlier fact sheet remains available, although it will not be updated.

House CR Cuts NASA, Prevents Cooperation with China, Allows Constellation to be Terminated

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 13-Feb-2011 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:14 PM)

The House Appropriations Committee's version of the next Continuing Resolution (CR) does more than cut NASA's budget. It prohibits spending money on anything that would lead to space cooperation with China, and releases NASA from the prohibition against cancelling the Constellation program that was in an earlier appropriations bill.

The cuts to NASA are shown in a new Fact Sheet that will track NASA's FY2011 appropriations as they continue to be considered in the 112th Congress. An earlier version of the House Appropriations Committee's recommendations, released last Wednesday, called for cutting NASA $379 million from its FY2011 request as part of an overall $74 billion cut to federal spending for FY2011. Conservative "Tea Party" Republicans rejected the committee's recommendations because they had pledged a $100 billion cut during their campaigns. The committee members regrouped and on Friday issued their revised recommendations that total $100 billion.

The reduction is to the FY2011 President's request for government spending, but the bill introduced by the appropriations committee, H.R. 1, uses FY2010 spending as its baseline. When reading the bill, one must compare its budget recommendations with what is in the 2010 Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L. 111-117), not the President's FY2011 request. NASA would be cut $303 million compared to its 2010 spending level, but $578.7 million from the FY2011 request. Details are in our fact sheet.

The committee's bill also prohibits spending any funds appropriated for NASA or the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy for space cooperation with China unless specifically authorized by Congress. The exact language is --

SEC. 1339. (a) None of the funds made available by this division may be used for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration or the Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop, design, plan, promulgate, implement, or execute a policy, program, order, or contract of any kind to participate, collaborate, or coordinate in anyway with China or any Chinese-owned company unless such activities are specifically authorized by a law enacted after the date of enactment of this division.

(b) The limitation in subsection (a) shall also apply to any funds used to effectuate the hosting of official Chinese visitors at facilities belonging to or utilized by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), chairman of the Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations subcommittee, is a long standing opponent of U.S. cooperation with China on space activities.

Separately, the bill would relieve NASA of the prohibition in the 2010 Consolidated Appropriations Act against cancelling the Constellation program or initiating a replacement program. NASA currently is caught between that law and the 2010 NASA Authorization Act (P.L. 111-267), which directs NASA to proceed with a different program.

NASA and all other government agencies are currently funded, most at their FY2010 levels, by a CR that expires on March 4. Congress must pass another appropriations bill before then or the government will shut down. The Senate has reacted cooly to the House-proposed cuts, and talk about passing another short-term CR to give the House and Senate time to reach a compromise is growing. Both chambers will be on recess during the week of February 21, so very few legislative days remain before the current CR runs out.

Revised House Appropriations Proposal Cuts NASA More Deeply

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 12-Feb-2011 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:16 PM)

The House Appropriations Committee let another shoe drop today with its revised cuts to domestic discretionary spending in the latest version of a Continuing Resolution (CR) to tund the government for the rest of FY2011. The CR is written as a revision of the FY2011 appropriations for the Department of Defense.

The committee's first proposal issued on Wednesday would have cut $379 million from NASA's FY2011 request, and a total of $74 billion from the President's overall FY2011 request for domestic discretionary spending. Tea Party Republicans demanded that the cut be $100 billion, however, and the appropriations committee was forced to propose deeper cuts. The new proposal would cut the $100 billion overall from the FY2011 request, of which $578.7 million is from NASA's FY2011 request of $19.0 billion. The following statement was made by the committee with regard to NASA, as well as NOAA's satellite activities:

"The bill includes necessary funding increases in two areas: to prevent some work stoppage on NOAA's weather satellite program that will help protect Americans from weather-related natural disasters, and to prevent deficiencies in federal detention and incarceration programs. The CR also provides budget flexibility within overall reduced funding levels to allow the Department of Justice to meet high-priority requirements and NASA to carry out its authorized activities."

What that actually means programmatically is difficult to ascertain. Parsing the language of the bill is challenging.

NASA Budget Briefing on Monday at 2:00 pm EST

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 11-Feb-2011 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:15 PM)

Space policy wonks are more than curious to know what will be in the President's FY2012 budget request for NASA due to be submitted to Congress on Monday. The agency will hold a press briefing at 2:00 pm EST that day in the auditorium at NASA Headquarters, which will be telecast on NASA TV.

The budget request ordinarily is available on the website of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) around 9:00 am on the day of its release, but does not include programmatic specifics. Those are provided throughout the day in agency briefings. Information on budget briefings by NOAA and the Department of Defense will be posted here when they are available.

Giffords for Senate?

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 11-Feb-2011 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:13 PM)

Senator Jon Kyl's (R-AZ) announcement today that he will not run for reelection in 2012 set off rampant speculation as to who will compete to replace him. One of the often mentioned names is Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ). Almost unthinkable four weeks ago in the immediate aftermath of the shooting rampage that left six dead and the Congresswoman critically injured with a gunshot wound to the head, her miraculous recovery to date continues to spur optimism about her future.

Earlier this week, Politico ran a long article about Rep. Giffords and her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly. The article revealed that Rep. Giffords now is eating three meals a day and on Monday was able to speak, asking for toast for breakfast. Other news stories quote her close friend Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) as confirming that Rep. Giffords did in fact verbalize the word toast and hinted it was not the first time she had spoken since the shooting. Her ability to speak is viewed as another milestone in her recovery. Kelly declined to answer reporters' questions last week as to whether she was able to speak or not.

Media reports on the day of the shooting very incorrectly stated that she had died. Today, just four weeks later, there is speculation that she may run for the Senate. She is currently at the TIRR Memorial Hermann rehabilitation hospital in Houston. Kelly calls her rehabilitation a "marathon" and clearly did not want to raise expectations too high at his press conference last week announcing that he was resuming his duties as commander of the STS-134 shuttle mission. Nonetheless, he enthusiastically predicted that she will be at Kennedy Space Center to watch his April 19 launch.

NASA IG: Major Challenges Facing NASA in 2011

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 10-Feb-2011 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:15 PM)

NASA's Inspector General (IG), Paul Martin, is testifying to the House Appropriations Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) subcommittee this morning. His written testimony is available on the Office of Inspector General (OIG) website.

Martin's bottom line is that NASA is in a "state of significant uncertainty" and its "most immediate challenge" is managing the agency's programs "amid the continuing lack of clarity caused by conflicting legislative directives" in the 2010 NASA Authorization Act and the FY2010 Consolidated Appropriations Act that prohibits NASA from cancelling the Constellation program or initiating a replacement program until Congress gives its approval in a subsequent appropriations act.

He goes on to list six key challenges facing NASA:

  • Future of U.S. Space Flight
  • Acquisition and Program Management
  • Infrastructure and Facilities Management
  • Human Capital
  • Information Technology Security
  • Financial Management

House Tea Party Republicans May Force Deeper Cuts

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 10-Feb-2011 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:14 PM)

The cuts proposed yesterday by the House Appropriations Committee reportedly are not being warmly received by the conservative Tea Party Republicans in the House who promised to cut $100 billion in spending during their campaigns.

Doing the math is a problem in calculating how much of a cut was proposed, starting with the fundamental question of whether the baseline is the President's FY2011 budget request or the FY2010 appropriated levels under which the government is currently operating based on the Continuing Resolution (CR). Appropriators used the FY2011 President's request as their baseline, but apparently the Tea Party Republicans want the cut to be from current spending, which is the FY2010 level. If the FY2011 request is used, the House Appropriations Committee's cuts would total $74 billion. If the FY2010 level is used, the cut is only $32 billion according to calculations by the newspaper The Hill.

Using NASA as an example, its FY2010 level is $18.724 billion, while the FY2011 request is $19.000 billion. The House appropriations committee proposed a $379 million cut to NASA's FY2011 request, which would give the agency $18.621 billion, $103 million less than its FY2010 level. Under the Tea Party Republican approach of using the FY2010 level as the baseline, NASA would end up with $18.345 billion. Any cut would have to be absorbed in just 7 months instead of 12 months, since 5 months of FY2011 will have passed by the time the current CR expires on March 4.

Another question is whether the $100 billion cut should come only from non-security programs as recommended by the House Republican Study Committee, or if cuts to the Department of Defense, for example, can be included in the calculation. House appropriators reportedly want to include the cuts they proposed to the FY2011 request for security programs, but if the FY2010 figures are used as the baseline instead, that spending would increase.

As Republicans debate these points, the upshot is that the numbers released yesterday by the House Appropriations Committee may become only the tip of the iceberg in whatever the House passes. Politico reports that the chairs of the appropriations committee and its subcommittees "were closeted away in the Capitol, fending off talks of across-the-board cuts but also admitting they will most likely need days more to come up with an alternative."

Across-the-board cuts are sometimes used by Congress to meet a target spending goal. Each agency is dealt with individually, but then a certain percentage cut is applied to all of them, usually to be taken at an agency's discretion on an account-by-account basis.

What the Senate will do with whatever legislation is sent to them by the House is highly uncertain. Senators reacted cooly to the earlier-announced House cuts; deeper cuts presumably would increase their concern. With the expiration of the current CR only three weeks away, and the House and Senate scheduled to be in recess for one of those weeks (February 21-25), the clock is ticking for resolving these profound issues.

House Appropriators Will Cut $100 Billion from President's FY2011 Request

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 10-Feb-2011 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:14 PM)

Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, announced this afternoon that his committee will yield to demands of the Tea Party Republicans and cut $100 billion from the budget in the upcoming Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government for the rest of FY2011. The cut will be from the FY2011 President's budget request, not current spending levels at the FY2010 level. Details on where the additional cuts will come from were not revealed.

The cuts announced by the committee yesterday totalled $74 billion from the FY2011 request, meaning that an additional $26 billion in cuts are needed. The cuts will have an even greater impact because they will have to be absorbed by the affected agencies over just 7 months instead of 12 months because the new legislation will not be enacted until at least March, when five months of FY2011 will have elapsed.

In a statement, Rep. Rogers said:

"After meeting with my subcommittee Chairs, we have determined that the CR can and will reach a total of $100 billion in cuts compared to the President's request immediately - fully meeting the goal outlined in the Republican Pledge to America' in one fell swoop. Our intent is to make deep but manageable cuts in nearly every area of government, leaving no stone unturned and allowing no agency or program to be held sacred. I have instructed my committee to include these deeper cuts, and we are continuing to work to complete this critical legislation."

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