WASHINGTON — The White House is asking Congress to significantly boost funding in 2011 for a planned civilian weather satellite system as lawmakers draft a budget measure that would hold spending on most other federal programs to 2010 levels, according to government and industry sources.
With Congress having been unable to pass any spending bills for 2011, the federal government has been operating since Oct. 1, the start of the fiscal year, under a series of stopgap measures known as continuing resolutions, which typically hold funding to prior year levels. A final continuing resolution that would fund the government for the remainder of fiscal 2011 could be introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives as early as Dec. 8, and the White House has requested that the measure include an additional $528 million for the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS), sources said.
The JPSS program was established after the White House dismantled the joint civil-military National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) in February. NASA was directed to build the JPSS on behalf of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), while the U.S. Air Force is pursuing a military system separately.
NOAA requested $1.06 billion in 2011 for JPSS, which will utilize hardware developed under the NPOESS program. The $382 million appropriated for NPOESS in 2010 would be the amount the agency can spend on JPSS in 2011 under a full-year continuing resolution unless Congress were to make a specific exception to provide more funding.
In anticipation of a full-year continuing resolution, the White House Office of Management and Budget sent a list of proposed budget changes for high-priority programs to Congress Dec. 2. The so-called anomaly request did not include any more money for JPSS, sources said. However, a revised request delivered Dec. 6 included an extra $528 million for JPSS, for a total of $910 million, if it is approved by lawmakers.
The White House also asked for more money for the Air Force’s GPS 3 satellite program. The service requested $194.8 million in 2011 to begin long-lead procurement of GPS 3 satellite hardware. New procurement programs are not allowed to begin under a continuing resolution, and thus the White House asked Congress provide full funding and allow procurement to begin, according to documents obtained by Space News.