September 21, 2012
Attempting to get the attention of the presidential campaigns and aiming to remove politics from space policy, House Republicans have introduced a bill that would overhaul the way NASA is funded and expand the use of multiyear NASA contracts.
The bill would create a 10-year term for the NASA administrator — similar to the term served by FBI directors. And it would call on the space agency to submit a budget directly to Congress alongside the administration’s request that would have been vetted by the White House Office of Management and Budget.
“We’re going to finally get an honest, clear budget request from NASA, without being filtered by OMB,” says bill sponsor John Culberson (R-Texas).
The legislation would allow NASA to expand the use of long-term contracts beyond the Evolvable Expendable Launch Vehicle to rocket propulsion systems, space transportation vehicles, payloads and related services.
The bill would create a board to oversee the agency, similar to the way that the National Science Foundation is governed. To guard against conflicts of interest, no board member would be able to work for a company doing business with NASA. The board would have the authority to remove the administrator.
If the bill is passed out of the House Science Committee in the lame-duck session after the election, it could be included in a full-year continuing resolution early next year, says co-sponsor Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.).