Legislative Wrap-Up for the 110th Congress

From a legislative perspective, the last nine weeks have been a whirlwind. Since my last legislative status report in August, NASA funding by way of a Continuing Resolution (through March 2009), including extension of NASA’s exemption under INKSNA, has been signed by the President, and the Authorization Act has been cleared by the Congress and transmitted to the President for signature.

On September 30, the President signed the Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2009, (H.R. 2638), otherwise known as the Continuing Resolution (CR). This legislation funds NASA at FY 2008 levels through March 6, 2009, or until a full-year appropriations bill is passed. Also for NASA, the bill includes $30 million in disaster funding (for damage caused by Hurricane Ike) and an important anomaly related to the Agency’s account and budget structure, which allows NASA to execute appropriations under the Continuing Resolution in the proposed FY 2009 account structure. To further explain, the FY2008 appropriations bill required a new accounting structure for NASA (moving from four to seven appropriations accounts). NASA needed the special authority to proceed with this new structure in FY2009 because a CR requires the same funding and structure as in FY2008. To reverse back to the four-account structure would be very costly so the appropriations gave us special “anomaly” authority in the CR.

Of particular note, the Act includes an extension of our waiver of the Iran North Korea Syria Non-Proliferation Act (INKSNA) provision. This extension allows NASA to continue purchasing Soyuz flights beyond 2011, through July 1, 2016. This will enable NASA to continue to send American astronauts, as well as our international partner crew members, to and from the International Space Station during the “gap” between the time the Shuttle is retired and Orion/Ares I comes on-line. The Agency does not intend to purchase Progress cargo services after 2011, and will look to the U.S. commercial sector to provide our needs. Mike and I worked closely with the Senate Foreign Relations and House Foreign Affairs Committees (both of which approved extensions to our exception), House and Senate leadership, and our House and Senate Appropriations and Authorization Committees to secure this extension.

On the authorization front, on September 27, the House cleared, by voice vote, the one-year, $20.2 billion NASA Authorization Act of 2008 (H.R. 6063). The Senate passed the measure by unanimous consent on September 25. Most critical for NASA, this bill reaffirms Congress’ strong bipartisan support for the “Vision for Space Exploration,” including human exploration of the Moon and eventually Mars. The bill signals Congressional intent to the next Administration by supporting accelerated development of the Orion and Ares programs, as well as directing that there be no activity between now and April 30, 2009 that would preclude the continued flight of the Space Shuttle after FY 2010. The measure also directs NASA to fly one additional Space Shuttle flight to deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer to the International Space Station, but only if it can be done before the end of calendar year 2010 and would not result in significant increased costs or unacceptable safety risks. There are other provisions of the bill but these can wait until the President actually signs it into law.

Central America Trip

NASA Earth Science R&D

The purpose of the trip to Central America was to see first-hand the practical applications of NASA’s Earth science research and development. In Guatemala, we were introduced to how NASA’s remote sensing leads to identification of archaeological sites. In Panama, we toured SERVIR (more later) — a project that involves the only regional network in the world dedicated to environmental management.

I was accompanied by Woody Turner, Program Scientist, Earth Science Division, Science Mission Directorate, whose knowledge of NASA’s Earth science program provided me with a deeper understanding and appreciation of what I saw. NASA’s archaeologist Dr. Tom Sever, SERVIR Project Manager Dr. Daniel Irwin, and Boston University Assistant Professor of Archaeology Dr. Bill Saturno (who is currently on detail to Marshall Space Flight Center) were on the trip as well. The work of these three men, all based at Marshall Space Flight Center, is truly inspirational. Their work is important in many dimensions — from NASA to the world and from our generation to all future generations of human beings. As usual, I received great support from the Office of External Relations through their Deputy Assistant Administrator Al Condes and NASA’s Latin America Desk Officer, Michael Moore. And thanks to my executive assistant Kathryn Manuel who goes above and beyond every day and puts up with me. Bill Ingalls, NASA photographer, was with us and he is an incredible photographer and a real joy to be around.


Walking in the dense Guatemalan jungle

One of the NASA scientists said that we were in the “wild west” of Guatemala when we landed in Flores, Guatemala last week (the week of December 10, 2007). After seeing the dense jungle and the wide variety of animals along and in the roadway (dogs, horses, chickens, and pigs), I definitely had to agree. Everyone I met was so open and friendly and very welcoming of visitors from NASA.  

In Guatemala we left the Flores airport on a bus with members of the National Police, complete with machine guns, behind us in a truck. We traveled close to an hour to reach the place where we stayed while in Guatemala. We flew via helicopter from our remote site to an even more remote site called San Bartolo, with Bill Saturno (the clearing for the helicopter where we landed was small, so we had to descend straight vertical).  Then we hiked through the jungle for about 15 minutes to reach the Maya archaeological site at San Bartolo. 

Bill Saturno is an archaeologist specializing in ancient Maya civilization, New World  archaeology, and remote sensing. In March 2001, while exploring in northeastern Guatemala, he found the remote archaeological site of San Bartolo and the oldest intact murals ever found in the Maya world. He came close to death, from dehydration, on that journey. Excavations are ongoing at San Bartolo. When the excavation team is up and running, there are approximately 120 people in camp.

After finding San Bartolo, Bill began working with Tom Sever and Dan Irwin at NASA. He noticed in some imagery acquired from NASA that the tree cover over Maya sites, known to him, tended to have a slightly different color in the satellite data than the surrounding vegetation. Tom Sever inspected the data and found a similar color change  in the tree canopies above other known sites. Working together, Sever, Saturno, and Irwin confirmed that Maya sites could be identified from space with satellite imagery because the vegetation had a different color signature where the Mayans had cleared land and laid down limestone for their buildings and plazas — one of the scientists had a depiction of what the sites would really have looked like at the time — it would have been all cleared, not a temple in the jungle as it is presently.


In the above photo you can see the small opening (hole) between Bill Saturno and me that we used to enter the main part of the temple. This site is sealed and guarded when the excavation team is not on-site. It was absolutely amazing to view the murals from 100 B.C. about the Mayan story of creation. These murals display early Maya writing, implying that the Mayans had developed a writing system centuries earlier than previously thought.

These early wall paintings were buried within a pyramidal structure.  Looters had previously tunneled through major parts of the temple.  Tunneling deeper into the structure by scientific excavations has since led to the discovery of older parts, some dating back to 400 B.C.

Early Maya mural Third early Maya mural Second early Maya mural

Demarcation Between Mexico and Guatemala

In the early 1990’s, images such as the one above, which clearly shows significant deforestation in Mexico on the border between Mexico and Guatemala, led leaders in the region to join together to establish the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor.  This Corridor links hundreds of protected areas stretching from Mexico to Colombia.  Located within this protected Corridor in northern Guatemala are the ruins of the Maya city Tikal.

Mexico and Guatemala border Tikal temple view
Maya ruin at Tikal Tikal Maya chamber

The Maya ruins at Tikal are located in a dense jungle preserve that serves as the home for an incredible diversity of plants and animals.  My visit to the excavated ruins at Tikal was a great complement to my visit earlier in the day to the San Bartolo site. My brief visit to Tikal also provided an excellent opportunity to better understand Maya culture and the significant impact that the Mayans had on their surrounding environment. The magnificent temples served as a backdrop for a rebel base in the Star Wars movie. What you probably don’t realize from this photo is that Bill and I were close to the edge (behind Bill, not me) of a sheer drop that would have killed anyone who fell.

Dropoff at Tikal ruin Tom Sever briefing

Tom Sever has done extensive field work in the region and through his research using NASA remote sensing data, a large number of  Mayan sites have been identified beneath a rain forest canopy in the Peten area of Guatemala, which is considered the Maya civilization’s heartland.  Also through Tom’s studies, information was revealed that suggested a civilization may have existed in the subtropical Peruvian jungles prior to that of the Incas.  Overall, my trip to Guatemala was spectacular and provided an opportunity to see how NASA’s remote sensing data were used to locate and interpret the remains of the  ancient Maya civilization, and how climate science offers insights into that civilization’s rise and fall. 

We flew Wednesday morning to Guatemala City and we met with scientists, officials, and the U.S. Ambassador James M. Derham.  Later that day, we flew from Guatemala to Panama.


On Thursday, we visited the SERVIR operations facility.  SERVIR (both a Spanish acronym and also a Spanish verb meaning “to serve”) is a regional visualization and monitoring system for Mesoamerica that integrates satellite and other geospatial data for improved scientific knowledge and decision making.  Among other things, SERVIR is used to monitor and forecast ecological changes and severe events such as forest fires, red tides, and tropical storms.  SERVIR addresses the nine societal benefit areas of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS): disasters, ecosystems, biodiversity, weather, water, climate, health, agriculture, and energy.  Eight countries in the region are members of this network and I believe it brings countries together in a unique way.  By viewing this region from space it is clear that land management decisions impact not just that country, but the entire region.

Ambassador DerhamSERVIR-implementing agencies include NASA, the Water Center for the Humid Tropics and Latin America and the Caribbean or CATHALAC, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Central American Commission for Environment and Development or CCAD, the World Bank, the Nature Conservancy, and the United Nations Environmental Programme.  A test bed and rapid prototyping SERVIR facility is managed by Marshall Space Flight Center.  There is great potential to use this network as a model for other parts of the world.  Discussions are already underway to potentially use this model in the eastern part of Africa (maybe as many as 14 countries).   Information about SERVIR can be found at: http://www.servir.net/

  Dan Irwin is the NASA Project Director for SERVIR.  A goal of Dan’s work is to show how NASA data could be used for forest conservation and development throughout the tropics.  Dan also has helped develop small businesses in Central American villages to provide economic alternatives to tropical rainforest slash-and-burn agriculture.  He has built a children’s library and several playgrounds in rural Guatemalan villages.  And on this trip, he brought down twenty bags of clothes and toys for some of the more needy in Guatemala. 


Panama CanalAfter SERVIR, we met with the U.S. Ambassador to Panama, William A. Eaton, as well as Panamanian government officials and members of the university community right next to the Panama Canal.

While in Panama, I was interviewed by Ms. Luz Maria Noli, the “Barbara Walters of Panama.”  She is one of the most extroverted people I have ever met and a real kick to be around. Al Condes was carrying my portfolio because I had to leave it while being interviewed.  Luz saw that and said to me, “I am older than you and I need him to carry my things around.” So, of course, I told her she could have Al.

We flew back late Thursday night. This was one of the most personally fulfilling trips I have taken. The NASA scientists whose work benefits this region are selfless and inspirational. It is my honor to work with such fine individuals.

Budget Update

NASA is still in formulation with the White House on the President’s budget for FY 2009. The program direction and budget numbers are embargoed until the President’s budget is released in early February.
Regarding the FY 2008 budget, the House and Senate, as of December 19, adopted an FY 2008 omnibus appropriation for 11 domestic appropriations bills including NASA’s, clearing the measure for the President.  In the interim, the House and Senate have adopted an extension to the FY 2008 Continuing Resolution through December 31, allowing time for the omnibus appropriation to be presented to the President for his consideration. I will update you in future postings on the status of the FY 2008 bill.

Budget Update and Travels

Update on the NASA Budget

As you know from my previous postings, NASA’s fiscal year 2008 budget is of great concern. So, of interest is that the Senate Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations Subcommittee marked up the appropriations bill in which NASA is contained on June 26, 2007 and the full Appropriations Committee marked up the CJS bill on June 28, 2007. NASA was funded at $17.459 billion; $150 million above the requested level.

Colorado and Arizona Trip

On Sunday afternoon, June 17, I flew to Denver, Colorado. Early on Monday, June 18, I went to the local NBC affiliate studio, KUSA, and gave a live interview. I discussed the importance of a dynamic and vibrant space program to United States national and economic security. Then I went to the Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce and met with Lieutenant Governor Barbara O’Brien briefly before joining her in a meeting of the Colorado Space Coalition. This Coalition includes representatives from the Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce, the Space Foundation, the Colorado Space Business Roundtable, several aerospace companies, and representation from local businesses. Cities throughout the state of Colorado were represented, including Aurora, Boulder, Colorado Springs, and Denver. The meeting also included staff from the Denver Mayor’s office.

The Coalition had arranged to have U.S. Representative Mark Udall and U.S. Senator Ken Salazar speak at different parts of the meeting. Representative Udall is Chair of the House Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee. Representative Udall, along with Representatives Diana DeGette and Ed Perlmutter and Senator Salazar, sent a letter to the House Appropriations Chair and Ranking Member which stated that, “[i]n 2006, U.S. aerospace-generated revenues topped $184B, producing a trade surplus of $52B, and a level of exports three times the level of imports. NASA’s unique capabilities in scientific research and engineering make it a critical source of technology, which provide high paying jobs…”

Colorado ranks third in the United States for largest space economy, as measured by employment and second for private aerospace employment concentration. This meeting provided an opportunity for me to provide a brief update on NASA’s various efforts and how NASA would allocate its financial resources across our many missions. I gave a formal speech at the beginning and then we broke into a more informal discussion. In similar gatherings and discussions around the country, I have spoken about the impact local communities can have on young people and their educational goals in support of America’s space program.

The Colorado Space Coalition includes a diverse group, representing all major economic and specific aerospace interests, and there are participants from across the state. They are well-organized. I accepted, on behalf of NASA, a proclamation presented by Lt. Governor O’Brien on behalf of the State of Colorado. The proclamation noted the importance of exploration and discovery to America’s history, and NASA’s continuing mission to pioneer the future in aeronautics research, space exploration, and scientific discovery. On behalf of NASA, I presented the Lt. Governor, who accepted on behalf of the State of Colorado, a montage, flown on STS-116, of the American flag and the Colorado state flag.

Later that day I met with the editorial board of the Denver Post, “NASA exec preaches to Colo choir” ; then local mayors from Aurora, Boulder, and Colorado Springs. I participated in an academic roundtable discussion with senior officials from the University of Colorado at Boulder, Colorado State University, and The Colorado School of Mines. An article about my visit also ran in the Denver Business Journal and my editorial ran in the Rocky Mountain News.

On Tuesday morning, June 19, I flew to Phoenix (110 degrees!) for a meeting with Arizona senior officials from the state governor’s office, the state government, business groups, as well as representatives from U.S. Representative John Shadegg’s office, and from U.S. Representative Rick Renzi’s office. Governor Napolitano, as chair of the National Governors Association, chose Innovation America for this year’s initiative. The initiative is focused on the need to drive innovation primarily through science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. By elevating the priority of STEM education, the ultimate goal is to meet workforce needs, commercialize scientific discovery, and regain America’s status as the global leader of innovation.

Consistent with NASA’s existing programs, we discussed three priorities in STEM education that are the focus for the Governor: 1) creating a STEM Center; 2) increasing interest in math and science in preschool through college; and 3) generating innovative solutions to raise interest in math and science.

With this group, I discussed NASA’s effort to map our education programs to the Agency’s three strategic education goals and to assign metrics and objectives to each program. The three NASA strategic education goals are:

  1. Strengthen NASA and the Nation’s future workforce  — NASA will identify and develop the critical skills and capabilities needed to ensure achievement of exploration, science, and aeronautics.
  2. Attract and retain students in STEM disciplines through a progression of educational opportunities for students, teachers, and faculty — To compete effectively for the minds, imaginations, and career ambitions of America’s young people, NASA will focus on engaging and retaining students in STEM education programs to encourage their pursuit of educational disciplines critical to NASA’s future engineering, scientific, and technical missions.
  3. Engage Americans in NASA’s mission  — NASA will build strategic partnerships and linkages between STEM formal and informal education providers. Through hands-on, interactive, educational activities, NASA will engage students, educators, families, the general public, and all agency stakeholders to increase America’s science and technology literacy.

NASA invests approximately $240 million per year (Education office, plus educational efforts in the Mission Directorates) in education. NASA is very interested in maximizing this educational investment, and ensuring it makes a positive difference. It’s a sizeable investment and I could say much more but now I’m thinking this would be a good topic for an upcoming blog entry.

This discussion was followed by a meeting with the editorial board of the Arizona Republic and then an industry roundtable with senior officials from Arizona business organizations and businesses including the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, and several aerospace companies. Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon attended the latter portion of this meeting and spoke briefly. Late in the afternoon there was an academic roundtable discussion with many representatives from various educational institutions and organizations from throughout the state.

All in all, these meetings were an opportunity to discuss NASA’s activities and their results in states that have a significant aerospace presence but no NASA Centers.

Space Enterprise Council of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

In last week’s posting I said I would write more this week about the efforts of the Space Enterprise Council (SEC) of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. This is based on my understanding of their activities. Since the beginning of 2007, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s SEC has been partnering with chambers across the country in support of our Nation’s space program. A large majority of these chambers are within a close proximity of a NASA Field Center, usually within a 100 mile radius.

As part of partnering effort with the chambers, in mid-May, the U.S. Chamber’s SEC teamed with the Citizens for Space Exploration for a Capitol Hill Blitz. Over 300 congressional offices were visited over a two-day period. Based on the work of the SEC, all ten NASA Field Centers were represented by their respective local chambers [which was a first for the annual event]. Though the participating chambers represented a diverse portfolio of NASA programs, all agreed on the importance of the Vision for Space Exploration to their local economies and to the nation’s high-tech competitiveness.

On June 29th, the U.S. Chamber interviewed Mike Griffin for their monthly publication that reaches roughly 200,000 chamber members. The interview covered a wide range of topics ranging from the relevance of NASA to the local business communities to NASA’s efforts ensuring America keeps its competitive edge in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.

New NASA Website

I don’t have a theme for this week’s blog, just a collection of random thoughts.  I would like to hear from you about issues/topics that you want discussed in the blog. Please send your thoughts via the website, which can also be found at InsideNASA).

New NASA Website

It’s taken awhile, but I’m glad we were finally able to unveil the new website earlier this week.  Keeping the website current needs to be an ongoing process with refreshers much more frequent than every five years. Hopefully, that commitment can be maintained even as the transition to a new Administration occurs. I’ll be interested to know what users, especially young people, think about content, look, and features. I have established an intra-agency web strategy council, led by Chris Kemp of Ames Research Center, to look into policy regarding a multitude of NASA websites with the ultimate goal of making the breadth and depth of NASA’s information more easily accessible. They have many other tasks in front of them as well.

Operations Management Council

Almost every month, I chair the Operations Management Council, a group that consists of senior representatives from the Mission Directorates, Centers, and Mission Support offices. Charles Scales, Rebecca Keiser, and Kelly Carter have been working over the past year to focus each meeting on a particular theme that needs attention. For example, one meeting focused on protection of NASA’s personnel and assets: emergency preparedness planning, hurricane vulnerabilities and mitigation strategies, workplace violence policy, and guidance regarding sensitive but unclassified information. Another meeting focused on NASA property: disposition of assets during the transition between Space Shuttle and Constellation, and status of a new automated asset management system. January’s meeting will focus on human capital — particularly, planning for the transition between Space Shuttle and Constellation.

NASA FY2009 Budget

We are full-swing in the budget season for FY2009. The agency received the FY2009 passback from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) (this is the response to NASA’s original budget submit). We continue with the discussion phase with OMB.  The end result will be incorporated into the President’s budget, which will be rolled out in February 2008. Then, Congress will take up the budget for its consideration.

Launch of Space Shuttle STS-122 Mission

I am currently in Florida for the launch of the Space Shuttle STS-122 Mission. We have a very large crowd from Europe joining us at the Kennedy Space Center to witness the launch of the European Space Agency’s Columbus laboratory, which will become part of the International Space Station. I joined German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other European officials in Bremen, Germany, on May 2, 2006, to celebrate the completion of the Columbus laboratory. So, I look forward to the continuation of the journey of this major new addition to the International Space Station.

Travel to Guatemala and Panama

Next week, I travel to Guatemala and Panama to see first-hand how data from NASA’s Earth sciences satellites are being used in practical applications throughout the region. In Guatemala, I will learn more about how NASA’s remote sensing data were used to locate and interpret the remains of the ancient Mayan civilization, and how NASA’s climate research offers insights into that civilization’s rise and fall. During my visit to Panama, I will visit the Mesoamerican Regional Visualization and Monitoring System (known by its Spanish acronym, SERVIR).  The SERVIR facility receives and integrates NASA remote sensing data and makes it readily available to regional users including government officials, researchers, students and the general public. SERVIR uniquely helps to monitor and forecast ecological changes in Central America and assists in responding to severe events such as forest fires, red tides and tropical storms.  This should be very interesting and I will provide more details next week.

Budget Rollout

Budget Rollout

The preparation for budget rollout is always intense. This year, it was even more so because the budget experts at NASA were dealing with preparing the fiscal year (FY) 2008 operating plan for submission back to the Hill; rapidly reworking the account structure for NASA for the FY2009 budget and five-year run-out (as required by the FY2008 Omnibus Appropriations Act); preparing for FY2009 budget rollout; and working the strategic planning guidance for all areas of NASA to start preparation of the FY2010 budget request.

I have to admit that I am glad last week is over. The budget press conference on Monday (February 4) went well. Lynn Cline (Deputy Associate Administrator [AA] for Space Operations), Rick Gilbrech (AA for Exploration), Jaiwon Shin (AA for Aeronautics), and Alan Stern (AA for Science) joined me for the press conference and the Q&A went very fast. At the end, I was thinking, “Are there no more questions?” I decided to keep that as an internal thought bubble and not say it out loud.

On Thursday of last week (February 7), I spoke before the National Space Club at what has become an annual event to communicate with the Washington, DC crowd about the budget request.

Presidential Rank Awards

After days filled with budget books and numbers, I had the pleasure of honoring the NASA Presidential Rank Award winners. Each year, the President recognizes a small group of career Senior Executives with the Presidential Rank Award for exceptional long-term accomplishments. Winners of this prestigious award are strong leaders, professionals, and scientists who achieve results and consistently demonstrate strength, integrity, industry, and a relentless commitment to excellence in public service.

There are two categories of rank awards: Distinguished and Meritorious. Award winners are chosen through a rigorous selection process. They are nominated by their agency heads, evaluated by boards of private citizens, and approved by the President. The evaluation criteria focus on leadership and results.

The NASA awardees are employees dedicated to NASA’s missions, to aeronautics and science and human space flight. Accomplishments made by awardees include leading teams that investigated technical issues directly related to the loss of Columbia; being part of the Hubble Space Telescope program’s incredible success; streamlining aeronautics operations at Ames; making major contributions to the aeronautics budget development process; developing and implementing NASA’s solar physics and geospace science programs; overseeing NASA’s spectacular astrophysics programs; ensuring the success of the avionics and software for International Space Station; leading the development of Orion Service module; and selecting, tailoring, and applying technical requirements as we develop the Ares I launch vehicle.

We should thank all of these employees for their service and commitment to excellence. The list of Rank Award winners can be found at http://www.opm.gov/ses/presrankaward.asp.

Events Next Week

On Monday, February 18, I travel to San Jose, CA, to give the keynote address at the National Association of Women Business Owners of Silicon Valley (NAWBO-SV) Awards luncheon. I was surprised to get the invitation and wanted to know why they wanted someone from NASA. My hope is that our collective efforts to reach out to industries and groups beyond traditional aerospace are resonating. Mike Griffin and I consider this another great opportunity to spread the message about the exciting work that NASA is engaged in and how what we do in the space program has relevance to everyday life.

Since this is a group of female entrepreneurs who have started and own their own businesses, I will tailor my speech around the space economy. We define space economy as the full range of activities that create and provide value to human beings in the course of exploring, understanding, and utilizing space. Space is pervasive in our lives, invisible yet critical to so many aspects of our daily activities and well-being. One of our jobs is to highlight the technologies derived from space exploration that most people take for granted.

I have found that people in the high-tech industries are very receptive to the message of how NASA drives markets (microprocessors during the Apollo days) and develops technologies for space exploration that are then modified or transformed for a specific application here on Earth (advanced breast cancer imaging and robots that search for improvised explosive devices). All of this leads to NASA spurring innovation and helping drive U.S. economic competitiveness. The goal is to link the awe-inspiring work we do at NASA (people around the country are very interested in and excited by our work) with something that hits home with the listener. For NAWBO, I believe they will be very interested in how space exploration spurs U.S. economic competitiveness.

Then I fly to Columbus, OH, for the second NASA Future Forum, which will be held at the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) on February 21. The Columbus Future Forum will focus on how space exploration benefits Ohio’s economy. Astronaut Carl Walz, director of NASA’s Advanced Capabilities Division, will provide an overview of NASA’s exploration program. Other NASA participants include Woodrow Whitlow, director of NASA’s Glenn Research Center, and Glenn employees John Hairston and Dr. Geoffrey Landis.

Our industry and University speakers include Dr. Anthony Dennis, President and CEO, BioOhio; Dr. John Stanford, Executive Assistant for Education Policy, State of Ohio; Dr. Kim Kiehl, Vice President of Strategy and Partnerships, COSI; and Ms. Dorothy Baunach, President and CEO, NorTech. Ohio Governor Ted Strickland will deliver the luncheon keynote.

The Seattle Future Forum in January was very successful and exceeded my high expectations. I believe the Columbus Future Forum will be equally impressive. The Future Forums coming up are St. Louis in March, Miami in April, and San Jose in May.

The Budget Process

This year’s budget process is different from what we normally do but is very similar to the budget submittal for FY 2002 as a new Administration came into office.  NASA, like most federal agencies, will develop two budget requests this year.  The first is the normal 5-year budget developed during our Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Execution (PPBE) cycle.  The second budget is developed under a set of rules established by the Budget Enforcement Act of 1990, as documented in OMB Circular A-11.  

With only two weeks between the Presidential Inauguration and the due date for submitting the President’s budget to Congress, there is insufficient time to develop and deliver a budget request.   Thus, the federal government has developed a process for managing the budget delivery in years with a change in Administration (such as what happened eight years ago). The memo from OMB Director Jim Nussle (PDF) explains the process for developing this budget. Each agency is asked to develop a “current services budget.”  This budget is simply the current appropriation (FY 2009 if enacted, else the equivalent of a full-year continuing resolution), with no changes to subsequent years other than inflation.  

The PPBE process is well under way and although it is not required to be delivered to OMB, it is necessary to develop the PPBE budget as this provides the updated details for execution in FY 2009, as well as the integrated 5-year baseline for understanding the second budget.  This year, no budget reviews will be conducted with OMB directors, and there will be no formal passback process.

We will work with OMB on issues that may arise with ongoing programs due to the difference between the PPBE baseline and the current services baseline.  This will help OMB form position papers that will be presented to the new Administration’s transition team.  The current services budget also becomes the starting baseline for NASA’s discussions with the incoming transition team that will typically start in November, as soon as the election is clearly settled.  Understanding how this baseline differs from the PPBE baseline, and understanding the options for resolving any issues will be important in preparing for the incoming team.

Finally, an updated budget will be developed by the new Administration for submittal to Congress in April, which will then become the new Administration’s initial 5-year plan for NASA.  This will likely draw heavily on the details developed during PPBE, as well as any strategic decisions made by the new team.  So as we work through the current PPBE cycle, we must recognize that any PPBE proposals for changes in strategy or overguides will be compared to the current services budget and not the PPBE cycle when we begin discussion with OMB in September and the transition team in November.

I would like to thank David Schurr, NASA Comptroller, for his contribution to this week’s blog.

Hearing Summaries and Budget Resolution Status

FY 2009 Budget Update

After the rollout of the President’s FY 2009 budget request for NASA on February 4, 2008, the Congressional budget process began and is now in full swing, with hearings in several of our oversight committees and subcommittees complete, and the House and Senate Budget Committees completing action on the budget resolution.

Hearings after budget release typically are held by House and Senate Authorization (policy) committees and House and Senate appropriations (funding) Committees.

On February 13, 2008, the House Science and Technology Committee (authorization) held a hearing regarding NASA’s FY 2009 budget request. Mike Griffin testified on behalf of the agency. Members expressed bipartisan support for NASA’s exploration goals, but also expressed concern that a number of programs appeared to be either unfunded or underfunded, including: Constellation systems, Shuttle transition and retirement, future needs for the Deep Space Network, Space Station logistics and utilization post-2011, and aeronautics research. Several Members praised the agency’s decision to propose new science missions, but expressed concern that funding for the new missions was simply being moved within science from other project lines.

Several Members expressed concern with the gap between retirement of the Shuttle and the Initial Operational Capability (IOC) of Orion in 2015, and questioned whether NASA could extend the Shuttle program beyond 2010 and/or accelerate Orion/Ares development, and failing these options, whether the agency would be reliant on purchasing Russian services. (Even with acceleration of Orion/Ares, IOC would be in 2013. Given Shuttle retirement in 2010, crew access to ISS is needed between then and Orion/Ares.)

Other areas of Congressional interest included: China’s emerging prowess in the space arena; options for flying the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) to Station; plans for further data release from the National Aviation Operational Monitoring Service project; options for flying the Total Solar Irradiance Suite; increased support for the Near-Earth Object project and the Arecibo radio telescope; and, gaining a better understanding of heat shield development problems experienced by the Mars Science Laboratory.

On February 27, 2008, the Senate Subcommittee on Space, Aeronautics and Related Sciences (authorization) held a hearing regarding NASA’s FY 2009 budget request. Mike Griffin testified on behalf of the agency. Chairman Bill Nelson (D-FL) dispensed with opening statements, but before questions began, commended Mike on his public service, adding that it was a “difficult job.” The Chairman also recognized the crew of STS-120 at the beginning of the hearing, before their departure for meetings with other Members of Congress. Chairman Nelson and Ranking Member David Vitter (R-LA) participated for the entire hearing; Full Committee Vice-Chairman Ted Stevens (R-AK) departed after a few questions.

Member questions covered the breadth of NASA activities, but primarily focused on: status of Shuttle transition and potential workforce impacts at the Centers, especially Kennedy Space Center and Michoud Assembly Facility; options for minimizing the gap between Shuttle retirement and Initial Operational Capability (IOC) for Orion and Ares; plans for addressing dependence on Russia for transportation to the Space Station post-2011, and after the Iran North Korea Syria Nonproliferation Act exemption expires; options for accelerating Option D (human transport capability) under the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services agreements; and scenarios for altering the Shuttle manifest to accommodate flying AMS to the Space Station.

On March 5 and 6, the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (appropriations) held hearings regarding NASA’s FY 2009 budget request. Mike Griffin testified on behalf of the agency, accompanied by the Associate Administrators for Exploration Systems, Space Operations, Science, and Aeronautics Research (Rick Gilbrech, Bill Gerstenmaier, Alan Stern, and Jaiwon Shin). Opening statements from Subcommittee Members, as well as their lines of questioning, focused heavily on the adequacy of NASA’s overall budget given the totality of planned activities, status of missions within the Science Mission Directorate and plans to address the priorities outlined in the Decadal Surveys.

Subcommittee Members were also interested in issues that had been subject to Government Accountability Office (GAO) review, such as, Orion/Ares program status, Shuttle transition and the Commercial Orbital Transportation System (COTS). Discussion also revolved around NASA’s fiscal shortfall due to the FY 2007 Continuing Resolution (CR, P.L. 110-5), and the significant impact this shortfall has had on the schedule for Orion/Ares IOC.

On March 5, 2008, the House and Senate Budget Committees met separately to begin markup of their respective Budget Resolutions for FY 2009. In the early hours of March 6, the House Budget Committee reported out its budget resolution, as amended, with 22 yeas and 16 nays. The House Budget Committee-passed resolution does not contain specific funding assumptions for NASA. Also on March 6, the Senate Budget Committee reported out its budget resolution, as amended, with 12 yeas and 10 nays. The Senate Budget Committee Chairman’s Mark reflects the following language regarding NASA:

“The Chairman’s Mark funds NASA at $18.7B, $1.0B above the President’s 2009 request. This level of funding reflects the ongoing need to reimburse NASA for the catastrophic loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia as well as the costs of investigating the Columbia tragedy. For the Agency, this represents an increase of $1.2B, or 6.8 percent above the 2008 level adjusted for inflation.”

The Chairman’s Mark includes additional language highlighting the importance of “our nation’s space program,” and the “strategic importance” of uninterrupted access to space and the need to minimize “the five-year gap” in U.S. human spaceflight. According to Committee staff, both the House and Senate are expected to begin Floor consideration of their respective budget resolutions the week of March 10. Please note the Budget Resolution is not yet enacted, and the funding recommendations within the resolution are not binding on the Appropriations Committees.

On April 3, 2008, Administrator Griffin is scheduled to testify before the Senate Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (appropriations).

So, the process is off to a fast start, and we at Headquarters will keep a close eye on developments on Capitol Hill and keep you informed along the way.

Thanks to Bill Bruner and his staff in the Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs, for helping me get this information together.

FY09 Budget Rollout

FY09 Budget Rollout


I’ve been spending a great deal of time this week preparing for the rollout of the President’s FY 2009 budget request. The rollout will occur on Monday, February 4. As part of the rollout, I will be talking to the media to explain NASA’s budget request and to answer questions.


Today, I participated in a press conference along with the Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). We announced that NASA is working closely with NOAA & OSTP to support the flight of critical climate measurements that were removed from the National Polar-Orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) platform following the Nunn-McCurdy recertification of the program. Specifically NASA will be flying the Clouds and the Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES) on the NPOESS Preparatory Project, and is working to remanifest the Total Solar Irradiance (TSI) instrument to follow the Total Irradiance Monitor (TIM) now preparing to fly on NASA’s Glory mission.


We also discussed what will be a big deal for Earth science and for NASA: the Administration’s FY 2009 plan enables NASA to vigorously embark on the recommendations of the first ever Earth Science Decadal Survey. NASA’s budget will allow for five total new mission starts, over the next six years, with the first Decadal Survey mission launch planned for 2012. NASA plans to start work on the first two missions in FY 2009: SMAP and ICESAT-II. SMAP is the Soil Moisture Active/Passive mission and it is designed to measure soil moisture. ICESAT-II, the Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite, is designed to precisely measure the heights of ice sheets, sea ice and forests. The President’s budget plan for NASA also secures continued implementation of the current set of seven systematic measurement missions and Earth System Science Pathfinder missions. All of these seven missions were endorsed by the Decadal Survey. Further, we will continue to fund operations and data production for NASA’s 14 Earth Science Missions currently in orbit.


OSTP has issued a press release.


Future Forums — Introduction by Shana


Last week I mentioned the Seattle Future Forum. I think it was very successful and was another step forward on the path to get out beyond our typical stomping grounds and talk about what NASA is doing with other parts of the United States. It was an extremely well-run event and the bar is now raised for the next Future Forum event in Columbus on February 21. I would like to extend my appreciation to the team who worked so diligently to make the Forum a success, including Bob Hopkins, Chief of Strategic Communications; Janet Kavandi, Deputy Chief of the Astronaut Office; Jeff Hanley, Constellation Program Manager; Bonnie Dunbar, CEO of the Seattle Museum of Flight and her staff; Kristen Erickson, Deputy of the Office of Communications Planning (OCP); the OCP staff; Ames Research Center staff; and everyone else who worked on this event. I’ve asked Bob Hopkins to do a posting this week with more information about the Forum.


Future Forums by Bob Hopkins


Last Friday, NASA held its first Future Forum in Seattle at the Museum of Flight. The Seattle Future Forum was the template for the six more to come, so a great deal of planning and organization went into putting this first one together. The result was a great success for NASA, the Museum of Flight, Seattle and the State of Washington. We’re sure that it will serve as a successful formula as we hold these events in locations around the country. For more information on upcoming Future Forums visit https://www.nasa.gov/50th/future_forums/index.html.


Future Forums are a series of one-day events that highlight the benefits of space exploration through the themes of Inspiration, Innovation and Discovery. These three themes that capture what NASA does and how our exciting missions benefit life here on Earth. Inspiring students to pursue science, engineering and math fields is critical to economic growth and global competitiveness. NASA helps drive U.S. innovation that, in turn, builds our economy. We are challenged to push the very limits of technology through the challenges our complex missions present and through this process we realize a variety of innovations. NASA’s pursuit of discovery pushes the extremes of science to answer fundamental questions about who we are and where we come from; to achieve a greater understanding of the universe; and to determine what is happening to the Earth’s climate and why.


The Future Forums offer a discussion of benefits derived from NASA’s work and exploration of space from a local, regional and state perspective. They also provide a venue to educate the public about the future of space exploration through a presentation on the Constellation program and the building of America‘s next generation of space-faring vehicles — Orion and Ares — that will replace the Shuttle and take us to the Moon, Mars and beyond.


The Seattle Future Forum, as they all will, relied heavily on our partners in the local area. The Museum of Flight in Seattle was our host. Under the direction of retired astronaut Bonnie Dunbar, the museum was a perfect venue and Bonnie’s team did a great job in getting the museum ready and supporting the event. We also had considerable support from other organizations in the community, including Google, Boeing, Raytheon, University of Washington, Washington Space Grant Consortium, and WSA – Washington‘s Technology Association. These partners played a critical role in making the event a success. We’re truly grateful for their contributions.


The agenda highlights included a presentation from astronaut Dr. Janet Kavandi, Deputy Chief of the Astronaut Office at JSC, including a taped downlink from ISS Commander Peggy Whitson. Constellation Program Manager Jeff Hanley gave a presentation on the Constellation Program and Deputy Administrator Shana Dale gave the opening keynote speech. Shana’s speech discussed the Space Economy and NASA’s contributions to it through inspiration, innovation and discovery. Read Shana’s speech. You can view the Future Forum on video.


The themes of inspiration, innovation and discovery were also the themes for the panel sessions held during the day. The panel sessions included a mix of NASA officials and local leaders from business, academia and education. They included representatives from Google, Microsoft, Boeing, and prominent scientists such as Dr. Donald Brownlee from the University of Washington and the PI from the Stardust mission. We also had leaders from the education community including former astronaut Dr. George “Pinky” Nelson from Western Washington University and Dr. Bonnie Dunbar from the Museum of Flight. The full agenda can be found at https://www.nasa.gov/50th/future_forums/seattle.html.


The enthusiasm of our panelists definitely seemed to influence the audience. Audience members were heavily engaged throughout the panel sessions, enabling a free flowing back and forth with panel members and a lively discussion ranging from the role of space flight in driving innovation to how NASA contributes to climate change and leveraging NASA’s unique mission to advance STEM education. The three themes of inspiration, innovation and discovery provided a useful framework for discussing NASA’s contributions to education, the economy and science. The theme that seemed to get the greatest attention throughout the day was inspiration. The STEM education issue and NASA’s ability to inspire students to pursue studies in science, engineering and math was the hot issue of the day, getting attention from every panel and sparking dialogue with the audience.


The Seattle event also included a luncheon keynote address from Lt. Governor Brad Owen. Deputy Administrator Dale was presented a proclamation from Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels honoring NASA’s 50th anniversary. While Governor Christine Gregoire was unable to attend the event due to conflicts, she was able to meet with Deputy Administrator Dale the afternoon before the event. The meeting provided a constructive dialogue that touched on areas of mutual interest including the role of innovation in driving a high-tech economy such as Washington State‘s, the importance of STEM education to sustain growth, the State’s thriving aerospace sector, and NASA’s contributions to enabling more sustainable management of the environment.


There was also considerable media coverage of the event as well as local interest in an exhibit arranged through NASA of a Mars meteorite in the Museum of Flight. Deputy Administrator Dale did live local interviews with a morning news program (Sorry for that early wake-up call, Shana), an editorial board meeting with the Seattle Times, an interview with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, a press conference, and the event featured a live broadcast by KOMO-4 News weather anchor Steve Pool.


Lastly, education was a key component of this event and all of the Future Forums. Teacher training and student activities were conducted the day before and the day of the event. In addition, NASA, along with its partners, arranged for 1,500 square feet of interactive exhibits on space exploration and science at the museum.


Bottom line — this was truly a team effort. I’d like to extend special thanks to folks (you know who you are) from the NASA Strategic Communications team, the Innovative Partnerships Program, all the Mission Directorates, the Office of the General Counsel and Ames Research Center for your dedication and hard work in making this a great event. And especially a big thanks to NASA leadership — Administrator Griffin and Deputy Administrator Dale — for enabling us to move forward with this idea and see it to fruition. This was a great start to a busy and exciting 50th Anniversary year. For more information on NASA’s 50th anniversary activities, please visit https://www.nasa.gov/50th/home/index.html.


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.

Fiscal Year 2008 Appropriations

I was in Colorado and Arizona on June 17-20.  I will write more about my meetings there in my next entry.  I have been traveling quite a bit in the past few months and there is no sense that it will slow down any time soon.  I think these trips are necessary, talking to people outside the beltway to see what their thoughts are about NASA and exploration.  But the main purpose has been to focus on fiscal year (FY) 2008 appropriations for NASA.  The Continuing Resolution for FY 2007 funded most agencies, including NASA, at the FY 2006 level.  For NASA, that meant $528 million less than what was contained in the FY 2007 budget request.  I am extremely concerned about the FY 2008 appropriations cycle because our FY 2007 appropriation was $16.26 billion and the FY 2008 request was $17.3 billion (a significant increase relative to many other agencies).

If the FY 2007 funding level of $16.26 billion (as opposed to the FY 2007 request level of $16.8 billion) became our baseline instead of a blip, that would mean over $3 billion less for NASA over the next 5 years.  This is a scenario that would affect every single mission, Directorate, and Center.  Thus, there has been a lot of effort to educate about NASA’s budget situation and the FY 2008 budget request level.

This has involved a lot of communication with the Coalition for Space Exploration (CSE), a coalition of industry and nonprofits in the aerospace industry.  The Coalition has met with many members of Congress in support of NASA’s budget.  The CSE has met with nearly 60 members of Congress in addition to individual meetings by many of the companies and associations that are part of the CSE.  I understand the Coalition also has met with NASA supporters on the Hill to start the process of canvassing the entire Congress to determine the support level of members throughout the House and Senate.  As the Staff Director of the Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee, I was very involved in a similar process during the 1990s when the International Space Station was subject to numerous amendments.

Mike Griffin and I have met and continue to meet with members of Congress to explain the current budget situation and the progress NASA is making on various programs and projects.  The two of us also met with CEOs of aerospace companies earlier this year to discuss the budget situation, workforce issues, education, and strategic messaging.  On their own initiative, the CEOs later decided to write a joint letter to the chairs and ranking members of NASA’s appropriations subcommittees, which supported a budget level above the request level for the Agency.  Many members of Congress also have written letters in support of NASA, either jointly with several members or individually to the appropriations chairs and ranking members.  Additionally, I have met with the Space Enterprise Council of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and will provide more information on their efforts in the next posting.

In regards to my traveling to different parts of the country, my goal is very short-term in nature.  Given the concerns over whether NASA would receive an appropriation at the budget request level, I need to meet with communities that have an affiliation with aerospace, whether it be those that are near NASA Centers or those that have a significant aerospace presence.  My goal is to energize not only the aerospace community, but also more non-traditional supporters:  local mayors and officials; research universities; Chambers of Commerce; economic development groups; and in Silicon Valley, entities that may have an interest in our work.

I have met with these types of groups in Los Angeles, Pasadena (JPL); Sunnyvale, Mountain View (Ames); Hampton, Hampton Roads (Langley); Houston, Clear Lake (JSC); and recently Denver, with representatives from Aurora, Boulder, Colorado Springs, and Denver; and Phoenix.  These meetings have resulted in many discussions between the members of the local communities and their Members of Congress and Members with whom they have a relationship.

On June 11, the House Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) appropriations subcommittee (where NASA receives its money) marked up its bill and NASA received an increase of $286 million over the FY2008 request level (request level $17.3 billion; House appropriations subcommittee mark $17.6 billion).  The full House appropriations committee is expected to mark up this bill on July 11.  And the Senate CJS appropriations subcommittee is expected to mark up its bill on June 26 at the subcommittee level and June 28 at the full committee level.

HSPD-12 Communications

At the June 12 NASA Update with Mike and I, I was asked a question on NASA’s plans to communicate with employees regarding HSPD-12.  I said that I would get more information and respond back.

As most of you know, in August 2004, the President issued Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 (HSPD-12), Policy for a Common Identification Standard for Federal Employees and Contractors.

Homeland Security Presidential Directives are issued by the President on matters pertaining to Homeland Security and have the force of law.  HSPD-12 requires the development and agency implementation of a mandatory, government-wide standard for secure and reliable forms of identification for Federal employees and contractors.  The White House Office of Management and Budget explained in its 2005 implementation guidance that HSPD-12 was issued because, “Inconsistent agency approaches to facility security and computer security are inefficient and costly, and increase risks to the Federal government. Successful implementation of the Directive and the Standard will increase the security of your Federal facilities and information systems.”

The goals of HSPD-12 are to enhance security, increase Government efficiency, reduce identity fraud, and protect personal privacy through secure and reliable identification.  The successful implementation of HSPD-12 will increase the security of Federal facilities and Federal IT systems.  This will provide better protection for the employees, the information systems and the employees’ work products.  NASA is in the process of implementing this new standard as mandated by the directive and we are doing this in compliance with existing laws.  I want to thank each one of you, in advance, for assisting NASA to comply with this new Federal mandate and improve the security of our facilities and our information systems.   

The question on communications was very timely, as there has been some confusion about HSPD-12.  To better communicate what is required by the Agency, civil service employees, and contract employees, we have asked Bob Hopkins, NASA Chief of Strategic Communications, to develop a plan for communicating the directive’s requirements to our employees.  Bob will be working with the Centers’ HSPD-12 representatives and public affairs offices to make this happen. One of Bob’s first priorities is to refocus the HSPD-12 web site, making it more informative and user friendly.   In the weeks to come, you will see other informational products appear throughout the Agency, helping to inform and educate you on the HSPD-12 implementation process.  Additionally, NASA and its Centers are providing training to those who are or will be assisting in implementation of HSPD-12.

Before I came to NASA, I worked on homeland and national security issues at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.  I care a great deal about this topic because security compromises present a great risk to all Americans.  Implementing HSPD-12 won’t be easy, but it is important, and I truly appreciate you doing your part to help NASA comply with this directive.

For more information on HSPD-12, please visit http://hspd12.nasa.gov.