(Washington, DC) – Today, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology is holding the second of a two day series of hearings titled, “James Webb Space Telescope: Program Breach and its Implications.”


Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Space, Rep. Ami Bera’s (D-CA), opening statement for the record is below.

Good morning.  Mr. Bush, welcome to Day Two of the Committee’s hearings on “James Webb Space Telescope: Program Breach and its Implications.”  Welcome back Mr. Young.  We appreciate your flexibility to appear both yesterday and today. 

Mr. Chairman, as we will hear today, Northrop Grumman acknowledges that they have contributed to the telescope’s delays.  They also acknowledge that some of the challenges they have encountered have been the result of human error and procedures.  Those errors were avoidable and we need to understand both why they occurred and what NASA and Northrop Grumman are going to do to prevent any more such errors.

As I indicated last month at the Space Subcommittee’s hearing on NASA’s Cost and Schedule Overruns, we, on this Committee, have the responsibility for making sure that agencies are being good stewards of taxpayer dollars.  It is our job to ensure that we understand why programs run into difficulty, verify that necessary improvements are being put in place to put these programs back on the right course, and apply the lessons learned for future missions.

As we heard from Mr. Young yesterday, the JWST Independent Review Board (IRB) focused its energies on maximizing the probability of JWST mission success.  It is worth highlighting that the IRB stated that it undertook “a mission success review, not a failure review.”  Another point worth noting is that the recognition of avoidable human errors that disrupted the integration and testing activities should not detract from the technological “miracles” that NASA and its industry partners had to bring about just to get us to this point.  Indeed, while the human errors the IRB identified should not have happened, the American people should be given the context necessary to understand the technical complexity associated with building and testing JWST.

Thus, I hope that Mr. Bush can provide us with details on how Northrop Grumman will move forward and what they are doing to prioritize mission success such that a launch in March 2021 will lead to successful commissioning of this tremendous capability.

With that, I yield back.

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