Status Report

FY 2003 Budget: National Aeronautics and Space Administration

By SpaceRef Editor
February 4, 2002
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Note: Full document online at OMB (Adobe Acrobat)

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

The President’s Proposal:

  • Realigns science programs to focus on high priority planetary exploration, climate
    change research, and biological sciences;

  • Enables new technologies for more effective access to space, and accomplishing
    more capable planetary missions;

  • Gets the massive cost overruns in NASA’s Human Space Flight development
    programs under control while maintaining the U.S. core Space Station and the
    necessary Space Shuttle flights to safely assemble it;

  • Reduces NASA’s operational and institutional burdens by pursuing activities like
    Space Shuttle competitive sourcing, while furthering research goals in areas like
    Space Station-related research and development; and

  • Promotes cost management reforms to ensure ongoing projects meet
    performance, cost, and schedule plans.

The National Aeronautics and Space
Administration (NASA) pushes the frontiers
of discovery in space and aeronautics. It
supports science, technology, and exploration
in four areas: 1) Space Science to better
understand the origin and evolution of
the universe; 2) Earth Science to better
comprehend environmental forces including
the Earth’s climate; 3) Biological and Physical
Research that studies living and physical
systems in the environment of space; and 4)
Aeronautics Technology to improve aviation
safety, reduce air traffic congestion, and
enable breakthrough aircraft design.

NASA’s work in science, technology, and
exploration would not be possible without its pursuit of supporting capabilities such as space launch
vehicles (e.g., the Space Shuttle) and orbiting platforms (e.g., the Space Station). Supporting
capabilities currently consume about two-thirds of NASA’s $15 billion budget.

Status Report on Select Programs

The Administration is reviewing programs throughout the federal government to identify strong
and weak performers. The budget seeks to redirect funds where appropriate from lesser performing
programs to higher priority or more effective programs. Particularly, when low performing programs
are in priority areas, deficiencies will be addressed through reforms to improve performance. The
following table presents the ratings of selected programs for illustrative purposes. Some of these
programs will be improved by proposals described in this chapter.

Program Assessment Explanation
Discovery and Explorer Programs Effective Space science missions competitively selected from researcher proposals. Successful cost/risk management and science results.
Mars Exploration Program Moderately Effective Robotic exploration of Mars. Completed major restructuring in wake of spacecraft failures. Recovery from failures successful so far.
Space Launch Initiative Moderately Effective Preparation for competition to replace the Space Shuttle with lower cost vehicles. Need to better understand key requirements and manage risks.
Earth Observing System Program Moderately Effective Satellite remote sensing to understand global climate change. Need improved integration with federal climate change and applications
Aeronautics Research Moderately Effective Technology research to improve the nation’s aviation system and for breakthrough aircraft. Need to better transfer technology to users.
Outer Planets Program Ineffective Major planetary science missions. Large cost increases and schedule delays. Budget proposes program restructuring.
Space Shuttle Safety Upgrades Ineffective Need to address large cost overruns and schedule delays to improve shuttle safety through effective investments.
International Space Station Ineffective Supports space-based biological and physical research. Effective technically, but need much better management controls to eliminate huge cost overruns.

The accompanying chart shows total cost
growth for ongoing development programs
in each of NASA’s five enterprises or
organizational divisions. Although ideally
no NASA enterprise would demonstrate
any cost growth, a goal of not exceeding 10
percent cost growth across all development
programs within an enterprise would be
realistic. NASA’s Space Science and Earth
Science enterprises nearly meet this goal.
Through management reforms and cost-saving
initiatives, NASA will increase the proportion
of its budget that goes directly towards
science, technology, and exploration activities
as described in the following section.

Science, Technology, and Exploration

In making investments in the nation’s
future, NASA must set priorities and establish
an integrated portfolio of research and
technology investments. One foundation of
ensuring quality science is the competitive
selection of merit-reviewed research. In most
areas NASA does this well. Its three science
enterprises will competitively award in excess
of 80 percent of their research in 2002Ñwith
Space Science at 99 percent. The integrity
of NASA’s merit-based research is seriously
eroded by the practice of congressionally
directed spending known as earmarks. NASA
has suffered from a surge in both the number
and cost of earmarks.

While the Congress adds partial funding to pay for some earmarks, funding often must be diverted
from higher priority activities. Unfortunately, the number and cost of earmarks have increased more
than fivefold in recent years (see accompanying chart). This detracts from the important science,
technology, and exploration activities described below.

Earmarks Disrupt NASA’s Science Activities

Many earmarks in NASA’s budget have little to do with the agency’s mission in scientific research, technology
development, and exploration. For example, the Congress earmarked NASA’s current budget to fund
corporate jets, college dormitories, libraries, and museums. Some especially damaging earmarks divert funds
from critical NASA needs and reverse good cost management decisions at NASA. For example, after costs
had doubled, NASA cancelled its Pluto-Kuiper Belt mission last year, but the Congress earmarked funds to
put the mission back in NASA’s budget. However, the Congress only provided $30 million, while over $400
million more is needed to finish the mission. Congress also redirected $40 million from the Space Station
2002 budget to an unaffordable space test vehicle at a time when NASA is trying to get Station costs under
control. Finally, the Congress earmarked funds for a low priority propulsion lab by cutting the very research
the lab it is meant to support.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

(In millions of dollars)




Discretionary Budget Authority:   
Human Space Flight7,198 6,797 6,173
   Space Shuttle3,119 3,273 3,208
   Space Station 2,128 1,722 1,492
    Other Programs1,951 1,802 1,473
Science, Aeronautics and Technology7,135 8,082 8,918
   Space Science.2,618 2,873 3,428
   Earth Science1,771 1,631 1,639
   Biological and Physical Research365 823 851
   Aero-Space Technology2,248 2,528 2,856
   Other Programs133 227 144
Inspector General24 25 26
Subtotal, Discretionary budget
authority adjusted 1
14,357 14,904 15,117
   Remove contingent adjustments-104 -111 -117
Total, Discretionary budget authority 14,253 14,793 15,000
Emergency Response Fund,
Budgetary resources.

1 Adjusted to include the full share of accruing employee pensions and annuitants
health benefits. For more information, see Chapter 14, “Preview Report,” in Analytical

SpaceRef staff editor.