Is Administrator Bolden Being Straight With Congress?

NASA chief Bolden at JSC - Julio Cortez Chronicle

As reported in NASA Chief Bolden reorganizes his space agency, Administrator Charles Bolden bluntly told Congress in a letter sent Friday that the agency has kept within the law as it prepares to dismantle the Constellation moon rocket program — despite concerns expressed to the contrary by nearly 30 U.S. House members.

In part, the letter written by the Congressional Representatives was motivated by a cancellation of a Request for Proposal, as posted by SpaceRef.com. The wording of the cancellation is clear:

The purpose of this letter is to notify offerors of the Exploration Ground Launch Services (EGLS) Request for Proposal (RFP) cancellation. Solicitation Number NNK09275664R Amendment 005, which cancels the solicitation, is attached.

In light of recent events and the uncertainty of future ground processing requirements for fiscal year 2011 and beyond, it is in NASA’s best interest to cancel the current solicitation. A procurement strategy for future program ground operations requirements will be developed as such requirements are identified.

The Representatives’ concerns centers on the fact that the above solicitation was part of Project Constellation. Language in the FY 2010 Omnibus “…bill requires that any program termination or elimination or the creation of any new program, project or activity not contemplated in the budget request must be approved in subsequent appropriations Acts. ”

Here is the issue…

We are aware that there are tiger teams, staffed by NASA civil servants, working at several NASA centers on post-Constellation studies. People involved in programs associated with Constellation are being directed to start documenting their work preparatory to Constellation’s shut-down. All of the civil servants conducting such activities are being paid out of their “regular accounts “, which are paid out of NASA’s Constellation budget, even though a Congressional directive prevents any effort to shut-down Constellation, as referenced above. NASA employees are, given 40% reductions possibly coming to Marshall Space Flight Center, Johnson Space Center and Kennedy Space Center, too scared to talk openly lest they certainly be chosen to lead the lay-off’s. But given what is going on with the tiger teams and what people are being directed to do, we believe in the above referenced response to Congress that NASA is not being completely candid.

(Via The Orlando Sentinel.)

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