VIERA, Florida and WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Six influential members on the issue of science and space exploration have introduced a bill that would revamp the leadership structure within the space program in the United States.
Space Coast Congressman Bill Posey (FL-15) along with Reps. John Culberson (TX-07), Frank Wolf (VA-10), Pete Olson (TX-22), James Sensenbrenner (WI-05) and Lamar Smith (TX-21), have introduced the Space Leadership Preservation Act, legislation that they say will change business as usual at NASA and result in a more stable and accountable space program.
The bill would create a 10-year term for the NASA Administrator to provide crucial stability of the leadership structure at NASA so that decisions are made based on science and are removed from the politics of changing administrations.
In the past 20 years alone, 27 programs have been cancelled resulting in over $20 billion wasted on uncompleted programs. This legislation establishes a new Board of Directors to provide a quadrennial review of space programs and a vision for space exploration that will set a tone for NASA’s endeavors to ensure American preeminence in the space industry.
“NASA has suffered from a lack of continuity and long-term vision,” said Rep. Posey, Representative of Cape Canaveral, Florida. “Our bill fixes NASA's systemic problem and enables NASA to operate beyond short-term political agendas. It adds accountability to the agency, and puts an end to the abrupt terminations that have wasted too many limited dollars. The ability to commit to longer term projects will provide stability, which benefits our national space program, our national security, and will build the stable workforce that is needed to maintain U.S. Space leadership.”
Captain Gene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon, also offered his support. “America’s Space Program is just that – AMERICA’S Space Program,” said Captain Cernan. “It has been a bi-partisan commitment in the Congress since the days of JFK’s challenge to go to the moon. But, it has lacked long-term stability and focus because of the constantly changing political whims of the Executive Branch of government. This legislation is critical to providing the much needed continuity for the future of NASA’s far-reaching goals in space.”
“The U.S. enjoyed 40 years of unquestioned dominance in space, but the 21st Century has already seen increased competition from other countries, including those that don’t share our democratic institutions or values – like China,” said Rep. Wolf, Chairman of the Commerce-Justice-Science Subcommittee. “This status quo has to change, and the Space Leadership Preservation Act is our effort to start a national conversation on this very necessary reform effort. Our bill gets America back on the road to being a leading competitor in the next space race by outlining a leadership structure to develop a bold, strategic and long-term direction for the future of NASA and U.S. space exploration.”
“Yesterday, Houston bid a final goodbye to shuttle Endeavor on its way to its resting place in Los Angeles,” said Rep. Olson, Representative of Johnson Space Center, Texas. "It was a sad reminder of where we have been as a nation in human space exploration and just how far we have to go. This legislation lays out a clear framework for what is needed to ensure American dominance in space exploration and a blueprint for how we get there. NASA needs a mission, the vision, the leadership and the resources to accomplish the mission. This bill provides it.”
The Space Leadership Act will:
- Create a Board of Directors chosen by the administration, House, and Senate, made up of former astronauts and eminent scientists responsible for:
- Preparing a budget submission approved by the Administrator and submitted CONCURRENTLY to House and Senate Appropriations and the president.
- Recommending three candidates for NASA Administrator, Deputy Administrator and CFO; the president is encouraged to select one of the above, who would then be approved by the Senate.
- Preparing a quadrennial review of space programs and other reports.
- Board terms would change to three, three-year terms. (Currently, two, six-year terms)
- It will also include a clause that states that no board member can work for a company which has business with NASA.
- The Administrator would be selected for a 10-year term.
- This mirrors the FBI directors 10-year term.
- The board will be allowed to remove the NASA Administrator for cause.
- The legislation extends the provision for long term contracting from EELV (Evolvable Expendable Launch Vehicle) to rocket propulsion systems and manned and unmanned space transportation vehicles and payloads, including expendable launch vehicles, and related services.