Report from Washington, D.C.

House Science, Space, & Technology Subcommittee Update

Written by: developer

On Sept. 20, the House Science, Space, & Technology Subcommittee on Space held a hearing on “NASA Infrastructure: Enabling Discovery and Ensuring Capability.”

The hearing was called to review the findings of NASA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) February 2013 report on NASA’s aging infrastructure and antiquated facilities. Paul Martin, inspector general for NASA, testified that the February report identified 33 facilities that NASA was not fully utilizing or for which its managers could not identify a future mission use, which cost $43 million to maintain in Fiscal Year (FY) 2011.

Martin went on to identify four reasons that historically have hindered NASA’s ability to comprehensively address its infrastructure problems:
1) Fluctuating and uncertain requirements
2) NASA culture and business practices
3) Political pressure
4) Inadequate funding

Martin, however, did credit NASA for having several initiatives underway that the OIG viewed as positive steps toward right-sizing its property footprint.

Richard Keegan, associate deputy administrator of NASA, testified that NASA has been making progress on achieving its overarching facilities strategy. For example, Keegan noted that each NASA center has one or more major facility replacement projects underway at the planning, design or construction stage.

Keegan, in his opening statement, also noted that although NASA facilities are generally well-designed and constructed, age and changing mission requirements have affected the resiliency and usefulness of many of its facilities.

The Space Foundation addressed the issue of rationalizing existing infrastructure in our PIONEERING report, which can be found here.

This article is part of Space Watch: October 2013 (Volume: 12, Issue: 10).