NASA To Use Outer Planets Data Analysis Funds for Other Purposes

By Keith Cowing
January 24, 2005
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NASA To Use Outer Planets Data Analysis Funds for Other Purposes

27 Jan 2005 Update: Message to Outer Planet Research Community by NASA Mission Directorate’s Solar System Division

“Due to miscommunications within the Solar System Division, the email that you received was misleading and premature.  I sincerely apologize for the confusion and concern that it has caused.  I am working with Science Mission Directorate Management to institute a process that will eliminate future miscommunications to the Science Community.”

DPS ALERT: Outer Planets Research Cancelled; Concern for all R&A Programs

“On January 24, 2005, Curt Niebur, Discipline Scientist for the Outer Planets Research Program sent a message to PIs in that program rescinding funding letters that had been received in early December, because those funds had been redirected by senior management. This action is to my knowledge without precedent in the NASA Research and Analysis programs and is having substantial and significant negative impact on many scientists. The DPS is collecting impact statements from the affected PIs.”

Fiscal Year 2005 funds for NASA’s Outer Planets Data Analyis solicitation have been reallocated. In 2004, 142 proposals were submitted in response to this solicitation. 55 proposals were selected accounting for $4.8 million of the $5 million available.

The following email was sent out recently by Curt Niebur at NASA Headquarters to Prinicipal Investigators for those proposals which were selected:

“In December 2004 you received a selection letter notifying you that your Outer Planets Research Program proposal had been selected for funding, and in late December I initiated the release of funds to cover the first year of your effort. I regret to inform you that the FY05 funds to support this program have been redirected by the order of the NASA Administrator to meet other agency needs. Therefore, NASA will be unable to provide you with any funds in FY05. I realize this comes as disappointing news that will very likely have detrimental effects for you personally and for the community as a whole, and these issues were brought forward when I was notified of the decision.

I plan to postpone the start of your award until FY06 in the hope that this program will be restored in the FY06 budget. However, the future of the program is far from secure, and I suggest you not make any firm plans regarding this funding as I can not say with confidence that it will be requested in the President’s budget or funded by Congress. I will notify you as soon as more information is available.

I understand that new sources of R&A funds are desperately needed for the outer planets community and am still committed to finding them. Fortunately, I have been assured that the FY05 budget cuts will not harm the planned Cassini Data Analysis Program or Participating Scientists Program (please contact Denis Bogan with any questions about those programs). If you have any questions or concerns that I can address please feel free to contact me at (202)358-0390 or at Curt.Niebur@nasa.gov.”

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