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AAS Electronic Notification Service - Announcement #47 12/97

[Mailed from at 4:40 pm on 4 DEC 97]

November 26, 1997

Dear Colleague:

This summer's Congressional Budget season has concluded with a monumental result for Space Science. The Congress has accepted the Administration's proposal for a new Origins Initiative in Space Science and has approved the funding augmentation required to start the proposed new programs in the FY 1998 budget.

Just one year ago, NASA was working with the National Academy of Science and the White House to develop the science goals and program content for the "Origins" initiative in Space Science. The President had just released his new Civil Space Policy in September 1996 containing specific directives to NASA relevant to Space Science. In October 1996, the Space Studies Board conducted its Space Science Workshop and produced a report for the Vice President. The Vice President then conducted his own workshop on Space Science with selected members of the science community on December 11, 1996. The outcome of all this activity was the new Origins program content in the President's FY 1998 budget proposal for NASA submitted to Congress in February 1997 which the Congress has now approved and the President has signed.

Another result of the FY 1998 Congressional budget process was the extraordinary support for the future of Space Science. The VA, HUD and Independent Agencies Appropriations Act which funds NASA contains specific language regarding Congressional expectation that the Administration submit an FY 1999 budget which fully supports the outyear runout for Space Science contained in the FY 1998 Congressional budget. At the same time, however, the Congress and Administration reached an agreement on a balanced budget for the Nation by 2002. This agreement is not compatible with the outyear runout of the Federal

FY 1998 budget and will require significant outyear reductions across the Federal Government. The budget pressures will not ease, and the new programs for Space Science in our Strategic Plan will continue to be a fiscal challenge in the future. We must continue to demonstrate the value of Space Science to the Nation by delivering--both on time and on budget--the quality science that the public has come to expect.

The Congress also added language to the Appropriations bill which requires Space Science to consolidate its Advanced Technology Development (ATD) activities into a single budget line and to broadly compete 75 percent of all ATD funds. Since the dissolution of NASA's Technology Office last year and the acquisition of some of its technology programs by Space Science, we have been restructuring the entire Space Science technology program including the processes by which we make funding decisions. We agree wholeheartedly with the intent of the Appropriations Committees in the appropriate use of competition in making funding decisions for ATD.

Therefore, we will be working to establish the appropriate balance in Space Science between directed technology development to enable approved missions at the promised cost, maintenance of core capabilities at the Centers to carry out the development of these missions,  and broadly competed advanced technology development (ATD). 

To assist the Office of Space Science in this process, we will be conducting an internal Agencywide review; and, also, we will be seeking advice from the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering and from other Federal Agencies involved in technology development.

Fiscal Year 1998 initiates a significant change in the future for Space Science and constitutes a healthy start in realizing the vision and missions articulated in the new Space Science Strategic Plan to be published early next month. We should all be grateful to our champions in the Administration, the Congress, and the public who have responded so positively to the exciting things we are doing in Space Science and who have all supported us in making this possible. We must now work to ensure that this vision for the Nation is maintained as we proceed through the continuing difficult fiscal years ahead.


Wesley T. Huntress, Jr.

Associate Administrator for Space Science


This Electronic Announcement was mailed by request from NASA administration. Normally the AAS Electronic Announcement is mailed to all members around the 10th of each month. Included are  important items that do not fit into the schedule of the AAS Newsletter.

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