Final FY 2000 Report Language on NASA
The conferees would give NASA a total of $13,652.7 million, instead of the House recommendation of $12,653.8 million or the Senate recommendation of $13,578.4 million. The conference amount is greater than the FY 2000 budget request of $13,578.4 million but less than the FY 1999 appropriation of $13,665.0 million. After House appropriators caused consternation within the space and Earth science communities with major cuts, the final results are a significant improvement. For Space Science, Life and Microgravity Sciences and Applications, and Academic Programs, the conferees provided more than what the Administration sought in its budget request. Earth Sciences would receive slightly less than requested. The Space Station would also receive less than the request.
SCIENCE, AERONAUTICS AND TECHNOLOGY
The SAT account would receive $5,606.7 million, instead of the $4,975.7 million proposed by the House and the $5,424.7 million proposed by the Senate. The conference amount is an increase over the budget request of $5,424.7 million; FY 1999 funding was $5,653.9 million. The money would be allocated within SAT as follows: Space Science: $2,197.9 million; Earth Sciences: $1,455.2 million; Life/Microgravity: $277.2 million; Mission Support: $406.3 million; Academic Programs: $141.3 million; Aeronautics and Space Transportation: $1,158.8 million. Then, $30.0 million would be taken in general reductions from the SAT account.
The conference committee is "concerned that the large amount of data being collected as part of NASA science missions is not being put to the best possible use," and calls for a National Research Council report to study "the availability and usefulness of data collected from all of NASA's science missions" and "address what investments are needed in data analysis commensurate with the promotion of new missions." This requirement supercedes Senate report language asking for similar studies from OSTP. The conferees ask for NASA's plan for awarding 75 percent of advanced technology funding for earth and space sciences on a competitive basis. The conferees also "direct NASA to submit project status reports on a quarterly basis for all space and earth science missions," including mission operations/data analysis and advanced technology funding. "The conferees further expect NASA to include...a review of any mission or project that is exceeding its annual or aggregate budget by more than 15 percent.... The conferees have included this reporting requirement as an alternative to the Senate recommendation that NASA missions and projects be terminated where their costs exceed their budget by 15 percent."
The $2,197.9 million provided in the conference report is greater than both the House recommendation of $1,955.8 million and the Senate recommendation of $2,076.6 million. It is also an increase over the request of $2,196.6 million and the FY 1999 appropriation of $2,119.2 million.
Full funding would be provided for SIRTF. The conference provisions would result in the following selected reductions and increases to the budget request (not all changes are listed below): Future planning for the Explorer program would be reduced by $6.1 million, and future planning for Discovery missions would be cut by $23.7 million. "The conferees expect that this reduction will not adversely impact" the schedules for current Discovery missions. "Without prejudice in light of the recent failure" of a Mars probe, funding for Mars missions would be reduced by $22.8 million, and the conferees ask for a report on the most recent failure. The Champollion mission would be canceled. Funding for supporting research and technology would be reduced by $4.4 million, while Space Solar Power would be increased by $8.0 million. Fundamental physics research would be increased by $10.0 million. An increase of $23.0 million would be provided for science costs related to the next Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission. The report cites a number of other changes to the request, including numerous earmarks for specific projects in legislators' home states and districts.
The conferees would provide $1,455.2 million, less than the Senate recommendation of $1,459.1 million, but more than the House recommendation of $1,174.1 million. The conference amount is lower than the request of $1,459.1 million, but greater than FY 1999 funding of $1,413.8 million. Funding is restored for the three programs terminated by House appropriators (Triana, GLOBE and LightSAR). For Triana, "the conferees direct NASA to suspend all work on the development of the Triana satellite using funds made available by this appropriation until the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has completed an evaluation of the scientific goals of the Triana mission."
The conferees call for other several reports, including a joint study with NSF, EPA and FEMA that demonstrates "the potential benefits of remote sensing;" one on "an EOS-II strategy that articulates in detail the NASA plan for earth science through fiscal year 2010;" and a five-year plan for utilization of unmanned vehicles. They "do not agree with the Senate directive to provide a report on the commercialization of EOSDIS data."
Changes to the budget request include a reduction of $20.0 million to the LightSAR program, an increase of $31.0 million for the EOSDIS Core System, and numerous earmarks.
LIFE AND MICROGRAVITY SCIENCES AND APPLICATIONS
This account would receive $277.2 million, greater than both the Senate proposal of $256.2 million and the House proposal of $263.2 million. This is also more than the request of $256.2 million, and than FY 1999 funding of $263.5 million. The report states: "The conferees have included a provision in the Human Space Flight account which calls for two science missions prior to December of 2001. The first mission, STS-107 will utilize up to $5,000,000 of the amounts provided in this account in fiscal year 1999. The remaining $10,000,000 from the fiscal year 1999 appropriation is to be used to finance principal investigators affiliated with the second science mission." [See more on this under Space Station.]
The conferees would provide $141.3 million for academic programs, which is more than recommended by the House or Senate, and is also an increase over the request and current funding. This amount would include increases to the budget request of $5.4 million for EPSCoR and $6.5 million for the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program, as well as a number of earmarks.
The conference report leaves the Human Space Flight account intact, rather than separating it into space station and space shuttle activities as the Senate report would have. Within Human Space Flight, the conferees recommend $2,330.6 million for space station development related activities, which is less than the $2,382.7 million recommended by the House or the $2,482.7 million recommended by the Senate. This is a decrease from the budget request of 2,482.7 million, but greater than FY 1999 funding of $2,304.7 million. This reduction includes "a transfer of $17,100,000 to Mission Support to cover emergent personnel costs, a reduction of $100,000,000 from the funds requested for development of the crew return vehicle, and a general reduction of $35,000,000."
The conference report states that "international agreements to provide hardware for the space station should be binding.... In order to be more fully informed on what potential problems may arise due to a reliance on foreign entities providing necessary hardware," the conferees call for a status and schedule report "on all external hardware components needed for the station that have been contracted internationally," and quarterly reports on "the status of station hardware construction and assembly, as well as associated costs."
Also in the conference report, "the conferees have included a proviso within the Human Space Flight account which reserves $40,000,000 for use only in connection with a shuttle science mission to be flown between the flight of STS-107 and December of 2001. The conferees have taken this action because of the belief that dedicated science missions must continue during the assembly of the International Space Station to ensure that the scientific community remains fully engaged in human space flight activities. Funding of $15,000,000 provided for the life and microgravity science program in fiscal year 1999 is to be used for STS-107 ($5,000,000) and for principal investigators associated with the dedicated flight which will occur before December, 2001 ($10,000,000)."
Elsewhere in the final bill, it states that "unless otherwise provided for in this Act...no part of the funds appropriated for 'Human Space Flight' may be used for the development of the International Space Station in excess of the amounts set forth in the budget estimates submitted as part of the budget request for fiscal year 2000."
Audrey T. Leath
Public Information Division
American Institute of Physics