More on Budget

More on Budget

I know that many are interested in reading more details about the budget and how it all works. We are working on three budget years right now, all in different stages. Since we now have an appropriation from Congress, signed by the President, for fiscal year (FY) 2008, we are now moving to the next step to compile a plan for how the funding will be allocated at the program level.  For FY 2009, we are working toward release of the President’s budget in February. Finally, we are compiling the Strategic Planning Guidance for FY 2010 to start that budget process.

FY 2008

The FY 2008 Omnibus Appropriations Act (P.L. 110-161) bill was signed into law by the President on December 26, 2007. The “omnibus” wrapped appropriations (funding) for many departments and agencies into one bill as opposed to individual bills. NASA is funded under the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies appropriations bill, which is reflected as Division B in the FY 2008 Omnibus Appropriations Act. In this Omnibus Appropriations Act, NASA is funded at $17.31B, equivalent to the President’s request level. NASA is also required to rescind a total of $193M in prior year appropriations. A “rescission” is the cancellation of budget authority previously provided by Congress.  NASA will accomplish the rescission primarily by reducing FY 2007 activities and some construction activities that involve funds that are not limited to two-year availability. 

The FY 2008 Omnibus Appropriations Act fully funds the Crew Exploration Vehicle, the Crew Launch Vehicle, Space Shuttle and the International Space Station. The measure increases Science by $61M, increases Aeronautics by $71M, increases Education by $26M, and provides $83M for Congressionally-directed items. To fund overall Congressional increases for NASA, the bill makes reductions totaling $428M, made up of reductions in program and corporate funds. Some of these reductions are general or unspecified. This means that, while Congress funded NASA at our request level of $17.3B, there are some differences in how Congress wants us to spend the money.  Thus, there are puts and takes with direction on particular areas that should be increased and then specific and unspecified reductions (unspecified cuts mean that NASA will determine how to take the cuts and report this to Congressional Committees via the “operating plan” that is mentioned in the next paragraph).

The Explanatory Statement accompanying the Omnibus Appropriations Act calls upon departments and agencies in the bill to submit plans for rescissions within 30 days of enactment (by January 26, 2008) and to submit Operating Plans for FY 2008 within 60 days of enactment (by February 26, 2008). The report on rescissions will identify specific amounts, by program, to reach the $193M total. The initial Operating Plan will identify the manner in which NASA is implementing Congressional direction, including specified programmatic augmentations and reductions, and the manner in which NASA is allocating, by program, unspecified and general reductions. NASA also will identify any discretionary changes that the Agency proposes, with specific augmentations and reductions, by program, to accomplish those changes. Under law, the Committees on Appropriations have 15 days to consider the proposed rescissions as well as changes, or “reprogrammings,” reflected in the Operating Plan before they are implemented by NASA. 

NASA is in the process of compiling the plan to accommodate rescissions in prior-year unobligated appropriations along with the FY 2008 Operating Plan. NASA consults with the Executive Office of the President (EOP; the EOP is a broader term for the White House that includes other offices such as the Office of Science and Technology Policy) to compile these plans. NASA will endeavor to submit both the plan for rescissions and the FY 2008 Operating Plan within 30 days of enactment.

FY 2009

NASA has settled with OMB on the FY 2009 budget. This is the end result of numerous discussions between NASA and OMB. This iterative budget discussion with back-and-forth between federal agencies and OMB, with input from other EOP offices such as the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Security Council, is a key part of the process. The FY 2009 President’s budget is now being prepared and will be delivered to the Congress on February 4, 2008.

FY 2010

The FY 2010 Strategic Planning Guidance (SPG) provides high-level, strategic budget development guidance. This FY 2010 Strategic Planning Guidance (SPG) is the official, Strategic Management Council (SMC)-controlled guidance for use in developing the Agency’s FY 2010 President’s budget and represents the Agency’s continued efforts in implementing the Agency’s Mission and Vision as described in the 2006 NASA Strategic Plan. 

The Office of Program Analysis and Evaluation (PA&E), Strategic Investments Division, develops and publishes the SPG. The SPG includes both programmatic and institutional guidance, and publication of the SPG officially kicks off the FY 2010 Programming Phase of NASA’s Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Execution (PPBE) process.  Control Account Managers (or CAMs, the single points of contact who are responsible for specific agency accounts — there is one CAM per agency account) will publish detailed guidance, including relative priorities for resolving issues within their accounts, in a Program and Resources Guidance (PRG) document.  The official release of these PRGs will be posted to the Knowledge Information Center (KIC). 

The proposed SPG was discussed at the SMC on January 9 to request approval to proceed. The guidance will be posted to the NASA KIC by January 11 but will not contain the Budget controls until after the President’s FY 2009 budget has been released on February 4.

Thanks to PA&E and the Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO)

The Strategic Investments Division of PA&E and members of the OCFO (particularly the Comptroller’s Office within the OCFO shop) worked long, hard hours over the holidays in December. Juggling external actions for three fiscal years at the same time is hard and painstaking and the crew did fantastic work. They are a dedicated group and they’re looking a little tired these days — so thank them when you see one of them.