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New Version of Space Leadership Act Would Appoint NASA Administrator for Six, Not Ten, Years -- UPDATE

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 26-Feb-2013
Updated: 27-Feb-2013 09:26 AM

UPDATE, February 27:   Additional differences between the old version and new version of the bill are identified in this update.

ORIGINAL STORY, February 26: A day before a hearing before the House Science, Space and Technology (HSS&T) Committee, a revised version of the Space Leadership Preservation Act has been introduced.

The text of the new bill, H.R. 823, is somewhat different from the version introduced in the last Congress.   Key changes are that:

  • the NASA Administrator would be appointed for six years rather than 10;
  • a new provision was added under which the Deputy Administrator could serve as Acting Administrator for no more than 45 days, after which the Associate Administrator would become Acting Administrator (the Deputy Administrator is a political appointee like the Administrator while the Associate Administrator is the top ranking civil servant in the agency -- currently Lori Garver and Robert Lightfoot, respectively);
  • the Board of Directors for NASA created by the bill would still recommend nominees for Administrator and Deputy Administrator, but instead of requiring ("shall") the President to choose among them, the new bill makes it permissive ("may") to choose among them;
  • a provision in the old bill is omitted in the new bill that would have required the President to appoint a new administrator no later than 3 months after the list of nominees is provided by the Board of Directors; and
  • a provision under which the Board of Directors could recommend removal of the Administrator for cause is expanded to include the Deputy Administrator and Chief Financial Officer.

The co-sponsors of the bill, Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) and Frank Wolf (R-VA), will testify before the Space Subcommittee of the HSS&T Committee tomorrow morning at 10:00 to explain what they hope the bill, if passed by the House and Senate and signed into law, would accomplish.

Wolf chairs the House Appropriations Commerce-Justice-Science subcommittee that funds NASA.  Culberson is a member of that subcommittee.

Correction:  An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified Rep. Wolf's state.  He is, of course, from Virginia.


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