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.
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.