The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee today held a hearing on The Space Leadership Preservation Act and the need for stability at NASA. The hearing featured input from former astronaut and first female Space Shuttle pilot and commander, Eileen Collins, former NASA Administrator Michael Griffin, and Rep. John Culberson, author of the Space Leadership Preservation Act.

Chairman Lamar Smith: “Presidential transitions often have provided a challenge to NASA programs that require continuity and budget stability. But few have been as rocky as the administration change we experienced seven years ago.

“The 2005, 2008 and 2010 NASA Authorization Acts are consistent in their direction to NASA. NASA needs the same certainty from the Executive Branch that it receives from Congress. Today we are discussing how to provide that stability to NASA once again as we look toward a presidential transition in less than a year.”

Rep. Culberson is the author of The Space Leadership Preservation Act and serves as the chairman of the Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee. The bill is intended to bring stability to NASA despite changing presidential administrations.

Congressman Culberson: “Over the last 30 years, NASA programs have been cancelled due to cost-overruns, mismanagement or abrupt program changes at the start of each new administration. In the past 20 years alone, 27 programs have been cancelled resulting in over $20 billion wasted on uncompleted programs. That is unacceptable. Our space program is too important to continue on this path.

“The Space Leadership Preservation Act will improve our space program and improve morale at NASA centers by ensuring that we take the politics out of science and provide NASA with clear direction and guidance that outlasts the political whims of any one presidential administration – and the political whims of Congress.”

Witnesses testified to the challenges NASA has faced due to abrupt changes with presidential transitions. Colonel Eileen Collins stated, “I believe program cancellation decisions that are made by bureaucracies, behind closed doors, and without input by the people, are divisive, damaging, cowardly, and many times more expensive in the long run.”

And former NASA Administrator Michael Griffin lamented that “the space policy changes wrought in 2010 were not proffered to or discussed with Congress, our international partners, the various stakeholders in the domestic space community, or even senior officials at NASA.”

The following witnesses testified today:

Panel 1
The Honorable John Culberson, Member, U.S. House of Representatives

Panel 2
The Honorable Michael Griffin, Former Administrator, NASA

Colonel Eileen Collins, USAF (Retired); NASA Astronaut, Commander, STS-93 and 114; NASA Astronaut, Pilot, STS-63 and 94

Ms. Cristina Chaplain, Director of Acquisition and Sourcing Management, U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO)