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Letter from Rep. Wolf to NASA Regarding Attendance at the International Astronautical Congress

Status Report From: Rep. Frank Wolf
Posted: Friday, August 31, 2012

August 29, 2012

Administrator Charles F. Bolden, Jr.
NASA
300 E St SW Mailstop 9042
Washington DC 20546
Dear Administrator Bolden:

As you know, in May I wrote you urging vigilance in spending on conferences, especially following the abuses reported about the General Services Administration (GSA) conference in Las Vegas and the questions surrounding the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference in Hawaii.

In your June 15 response to me, you wrote, "As the NASA Administrator, I take my responsibility and accountability for use of taxpayer dollars in this area very seriously..." and you outlined your process for reviewing NASA-sponsored conferences exceeding $20,000 and non-NASA-sponsored conferences exceeding $100,000.

That is why I was concerned to learn from the Web site NASAWatch.com that, "[sjources report that 50 or more NASA employees will be attending the IAC (International Astronautical Congress) meeting from 1-5 October in tourist-friendly Naples, Italy."

While this conference merits participation by NASA, it is difficult to accept that taxpayers should fund travel, lodging and conference fees for "50 or more NASA employees" to visit Italy. If accurate, the cost of this travel and this level of participation would certainly conflict with my May 22 letter warning that excessive conference spending is not appropriate.

I would appreciate your response to the following questions by no later than September 7:

1. Is this report about NASA attendance at IAC accurate?

a. If so, please provide a detailed summary of NASA personnel who will be attending, the total cost for each employee's participation and justification for their attendance.

b. If not, please clarify the number of NASA personnel who will be attending, and provide the cost associated with employee's participation and a justification for their attendance.

2. Given the protocols outlined in your June 15 letter (enclosed), were you aware and/or did you approve the participation of 50 or more NASA employees to travel to and participate in this conference?

I look forward to your prompt response. Best wishes.

Sincerely

[signed]

Frank R. Wolf Member of Congress

Full letter with attachments

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