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NASA Releases New Policy Guidance to Respond to Sequestration--UPDATE

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 13-Mar-2013
Updated: 13-Mar-2013 07:21 PM

UPDATE, March 13, 2013, 6:30 pm:  This article is updated with additional information on the effect on conference attendance by NASA employees and contractors.

NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden released new policy guidance to NASA employees today in response to funding constraints imposed by the sequester.   Conference sponsorship and attendance are among the areas that will be subject to greater scrutiny.

Bolden's memo to employees revealed that he and Deputy Administrator Lori Garver have cancelled their participation in the Space Foundation's National Space Symposium (NSS) next month, but a separate document released later in the day shows that the new guidance goes much further.  

NASA will no longer fund travel or registration costs for NASA employees or contractors to participate in several major conferences through the end of the fiscal year unless a list of specific criteria are met.  The document specifically identifies the American Astronautical Society's Goddard Memorial Symposium, the National Space Club's signature Goddard Dinner, and the annual spring meetings associated with the International Astronautical Conference, all of which will be held next week, as not meeting those criteria.  Nor does the NSS or the 6th European Conference on Space Debris, both in April, among others.

AAS has published an updated agenda replacing planned panels featuring NASA's Center Directors with local NASA officials.   NASA employees still may attend local conferences, but cannot rely on NASA to pay registration fees.

Bolden emphasized in his memo that the agency still does not plan to furlough any employees and hiring can proceed as scheduled, but he cautioned that the agency would continue to monitor congressional action on NASA's budget and revise the policy as needed.

The changes he announced set limits on monetary awards and conference sponsorships and attendance, as well as increased scrutiny of travel and training expenditures for the rest of FY2013.  In addition to cancelling his participation in the National Space Symposium, Bolden said he also cancelled an overseas trip.


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