FYI: The AIP Bulletin of Science Policy News

FY 2014 House Appropriations Committee Report: NASA

Richard M. Jones
Number 129 - July 26, 2013  |  Search FYI  |   FYI Archives  |   Subscribe to FYI

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The House and Senate Appropriations Committees have approved their versions of the FY 2014 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Bills.  These bills provide funding to the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

The amount of money available to the committees differed, with the House committee operating with a significantly lower figure.  The House Appropriations Committee has just released the final version of its report accompanying its bill.

This FYI will excerpt selections from the House committee report accompanying this bill regarding the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, found on pages 60 - 70.  Committee report language does not have the force of law, but agencies usually adhere to it closely.  Conflicts in funding and policy between the House and Senate versions will be resolved in a conference committee.  See FYI #125 for comparable Senate report language.  Senate report numbers are used below.

Total NASA:

The FY 2013 budget (not including the mandatory 5 percent reduction) is $17,506.7 million
The FY 2014 request is $17,715.4 million, an increase of $208.7 million or 1.2 percent
The Senate recommendation is $18,010.3 million, an increase of $503.6 million or 2.9 percent
The House recommendation is $16,598.3 million, a decrease of $908.4 million or 5.2 percent

In an introductory section, the House report provides a funding table on pages 61 – 62.  In addition, the report states:

Asteroid retrieval mission. -- The budget request contains a new proposal to identify, capture and redirect a small asteroid for future study by astronauts on a trans-lunar mission, but the proposal is premature. Feasibility and other pre-formulation studies are needed to determine whether the concept is even possible or would be affordable within expected future budgetary constraints. In addition, NASA has not yet taken all of the necessary steps to build a consensus in support of the mission, a process that the National Research Council last year deemed critical for mission success (while also casting doubt on the level of enthusiasm that exists for an asteroid-focused mission). The Committee believes that NASA should take the time to complete further concept studies, pursue the support of Congress through the authorization process and line up support from potential international partners before seeking new resources to carry out the mission. In the interim, the Committee's recommendation does not include any of the requested increases associated with the asteroid retrieval proposal.”

 

Science:

The FY 2013 budget (not including the mandatory 5 percent reduction) is $5,037.4 million
The FY 2014 request is $5,017.8 million, a decrease of $19.6 million or 0.4 percent
The Senate recommendation is $5,154.2 million, an increase of $116.8 million or 2.3 percent
The House recommendation is $4,781.0 million, a decrease of $256.4 million or 5.1 percent

The report states:

“In order to preserve the existing relative balance among NASA's major science divisions, funding for each division is maintained at the fiscal year 2013 post-sequestration level. Unless otherwise specified below, available resources should be prioritized toward the support of missions in prime operations; top decadal survey priorities already in the development phase; and research awards.

Earth Science -- The Earth Science budget request contains several new projects that solely or primarily support the requirements of other agencies, including the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and NOAA, rather than NASA's own research mission. These projects, which have significant but undefined outyear costs, will place an untenable strain on NASA's budget and crowd out long term investments in NASA's own scientific priorities. The Committee does not support this outcome. Accordingly, no funds should be spent in pursuit of a new land imaging system for USGS or for the development of climate sensors originally intended for NOAA's JPSS program.

“In addition, the recommendation does not include requested funding for Earth-observing instruments that had been planned for inclusion on the DSCOVR spacecraft. The recommendation under NOAA's ‘Procurement, Acquisition and Construction’ heading does not include funding for the DSCOVR mission.

Planetary Science. -- NASA has once again proposed damaging and disproportionate reductions in the Planetary Science budget without any substantive justification. At the requested level, which represents a cut of more than seven percent below a post-sequestration level, NASA would be unable to meet the major scientific goals of the Planetary Science decadal survey in a timely manner; lose its role as the international leader in the field; drive uniquely qualified and promising talent out of the field, perhaps permanently; and increase the risk level on existing projects due to the inefficient phasing of funds. The Committee's recommendation seeks to address these shortcomings while also achieving programmatic balance among project destinations and sizes.

“Within the total amount provided, $213,000,000 is for Planetary Science Research, including no less than $130,000,000 for research and analysis; $290,000,000 is for the Discovery program to enable mission selections at a tempo substantially faster than the 54 months envisioned in the budget request; $288,000,000 is for Mars Exploration, including $65,000,000 for the design and development of the Mars 2020 rover; $159,000,000 is for Outer Planets, including $80,000,000 for pre-formulation and/or formulation activities including an Announcement of Opportunity for instrument development in support of a mission that meets the scientific goals outlined for the Jupiter Europa mission in the Planetary Science decadal survey; and $89,000,000 is for planetary science technology.

“The recommendation does not include the $65,000,000 requested for NASA to support the production of Plutonium-238 (Pu-238) [bolding added] in partnership with the Department of Energy (DOE) because additional planning and preparation is needed before NASA can responsibly assume DOE's costs for this program. Specifically, NASA needs to validate DOE's cost projections to ensure they are reasonable, well supported by appropriate documentation and exclusive to NASA's requirements; establish a management structure with DOE to allow NASA the necessary degree of control over the DOE facilities and personnel that would be operated using NASA's funds; and assess whether there are alternate facilities, technologies or processes that could help NASA meet its Pu-238 needs at lower cost than currently provided by DOE. NASA may use up to $5,000,000 of the funds provided for the planetary science technology program to complete this Pu-238 planning work, and NASA is directed to report to the Committee on its progress no later than 180 days after the enactment of this Act.”

 

Aeronautics:

The FY 2013 budget (not including the mandatory 5 percent reduction) is $558.2 million
The FY 2014 request is $565.7 million, an increase of $7.5 million or 1.3 percent
The Senate recommendation is $558.7 million, an increase of $0.5 million or essentially level funding
The House recommendation is $566.0 million, an increase of $7.8 million or 1.4 percent

 

Space Technology:

The FY 2013 budget (not including the mandatory 5 percent reduction) is $628.7 million
The FY 2014 request is $742.6 million, an increase of $113.9 million or 18.1 percent
The Senate recommendation is $670.1 million, an increase of $41.4 million or 6.6 percent
The House recommendation is $576.0 million, a decrease of $52.7 million or 8.4 percent

 

Exploration:

The FY 2013 budget (not including the mandatory 5 percent reduction) is $3,806.4 million
The FY 2014 request is $3,915.5 million, an increase of $109.1 million or 2.9 percent
The Senate recommendation is $4,209.3 million, an increase of $402.9 million or 10.6 percent
The House recommendation is $3,612.0 million, a decrease of $194.4 million or 5.1 percent

See pages 64 – 66 for report language on the Space Launch System, Exploration Ground Systems, Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, and Commercial Crew.

 

Space Operations:

The FY 2013 budget (not including the mandatory 5 percent reduction) is $3,871.1 million
The FY 2014 request is $3,882.9 million, an increase of $11.8 million or 0.3 percent
The Senate recommendation is $3,882.9 million, an increase of $11.9 million or 0.3 percent
The House recommendation is $3,670.0 million, a decrease of $201.1 million or 5.2 percent

 

Education:

The FY 2013 budget (not including the mandatory 5 percent reduction) is $122.4 million
The FY 2014 request is $94.2 million, a decrease of $28.2 million or 2.3 percent
The Senate recommendation is $116.6 million, a decrease of $5.8 million or 4.7 percent
The House recommendation is $122.0 million, a decrease of $0.4 million or essentially level funding

 

Cross Agency Support:

The FY 2013 budget (not including the mandatory 5 percent reduction) is $2,764.5 million
The FY 2014 request is $2,850.3 million, an increase of $85.8 million or 3.1 percent
The Senate recommendation is $2,793.6 million, an increase of $29.1 million or 1.1 percent
The House recommendation is $2,711.0 million, a decrease of $53.5 million or 1.9 percent

Richard M. Jones
Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics
rjones@aip.org
301-209-3095