New GAO Reports and Testimonies
Source: Government Accountability Office
1. Federal Courthouses: Recommended Construction Projects Should Be Evaluated under New Capital- Planning Process. GAO-13-263, April 11.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/653747.pdf
3. Veterans Health Care: VHA Has Taken Steps to Address Deficiencies in Its Logistics Program, but Significant Concerns Remain. GAO-13-336, April 17.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/653887.pdf
4. Information Technology: Consistently Applying Best Practices Could Help IRS Improve the Reliability of Reported Cost and Schedule Information. GAO-13-401, April 17.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/653845.pdf
1. U.S. Postal Service: Urgent Action Needed to Achieve Financial Sustainability, by Gene L. Dodaro, Comptroller General of the United States, before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. GAO-13-562T, April 17.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/653840.pdf
2. Federal Courthouses: Most Recommended New Construction Projects Do Not Qualify Under Improved Capital-Planning Process, by Mark L. Goldstein, director, physical infrastructure issues, before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. GAO-13-523T, April 17.
3. F-35 Joint Strike Fighter: Program Has Improved in Some Areas, but Affordability Challenges and Other Risks Remain, by Michael J. Sullivan, director, acquisition and sourcing management, before the Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces, House Committee on Armed Services. GAO-13-500T, April 17.
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/660/653858.pdf
4. Foreclosure Review: Lessons Learned Could Enhance Continuing Reviews and Activities under Amended Consent Orders, by Lawrance L. Evans, Jr., director, financial markets and community investment, before the Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development, Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. GAO-13-550T, April 17.
NASA scientists say 2012 was the ninth warmest of any year since 1880, continuing a long-term trend of rising global temperatures. With the exception of 1998, the nine warmest years in the 132-year record all have occurred since 2000, with 2010 and 2005 ranking as the hottest years on record.
NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York, which monitors global surface temperatures on an ongoing basis, released an updated analysis Tuesday that compares temperatures around the globe in 2012 to the average global temperature from the mid-20th century. The comparison shows how Earth continues to experience warmer temperatures than several decades ago.
See: 2012 Sustained Long-Term Climate Warming Trend, NASA Finds (Science Daily)
National Disagreement Over NASA’s Goals and Objectives Detrimental to Agency Planning, Budgeting Efforts
Source: National Research Council
Without a national consensus on strategic goals and objectives for NASA, the agency cannot be expected to establish or work toward achieving long-term priorities, says a new report from the National Research Council. In addition, there is a mismatch between the portfolio of programs and activities assigned to the agency and the budget allocated by Congress, and legislative restrictions inhibit NASA from more efficiently managing its personnel and infrastructure. The White House should take the lead in forging a new consensus on NASA’s future in order to more closely align the agency’s budget and objectives and remove restrictions impeding NASA’s efficient operations.
The committee that authored the report was not asked to offer views on what NASA’s goals, objectives, and strategy should be; rather it was tasked with recommending how these goals, objectives, and strategies might best be established and communicated.
The report recommends establishing a national consensus on NASA’s future with the executive branch taking the lead after technical consultations with potential international partners. The strategic goals and objectives chosen should be ambitious yet technically rational and should focus on the long term, the report says.
To reduce the discrepancy between the overall size of NASA’s budget and its current portfolio of missions, facilities, and personnel, the report says, the White House, Congress, and NASA, as appropriate, could pursue any or all of the following four options:
- Institute an aggressive restructuring program to reduce infrastructure and personnel costs and improve efficiency;
- Engage in and commit for the long term to more cost-sharing partnerships with other U.S. government agencies, private sector industries, and international partners;
- Increase the size of the NASA budget;
- Reduce considerably the size and scope of elements of NASA’s current program portfolio to better fit the current and anticipated budget profile.
Visions and Voyages for Planetary Science 2013 – 2022
Source: NASA and the National Science Foundation
In recent years, planetary science has seen a tremendous growth in new knowledge. Deposits of water ice exist at the Moon’s poles. Discoveries on the surface of Mars point to an early warm wet climate, and perhaps conditions under which life could have emerged. Liquid methane rain falls on Saturn’s moon Titan, creating rivers, lakes, and geologic landscapes with uncanny resemblances to Earth’s. Comets impact Jupiter, producing Earth-sized scars in the planet’s atmosphere. Saturn’s poles exhibit bizarre geometric cloud patterns and changes; its rings show processes that may help us understand the nature of planetary accretion. Venus may be volcanically active. Jupiter’s icy moons harbor oceans below their ice shells: conceivably Europa’s ocean could support life. Saturn’s tiny moon Enceladus has enough geothermal energy to drive plumes of ice and vapor from its south pole. Dust from comets shows the nature of the primitive materials from which the planets and life arose. And hundreds of new planets discovered around nearby stars have begun to reveal how our solar system fits into a vast collection of others.
This report was requested by NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF) to review the status of planetary science in the United States and to develop a comprehensive strategy that will continue these advances in the coming decade. Drawing on extensive interactions with the broad planetary science community, the report presents a decadal program of science and exploration with the potential to yield revolutionary new discoveries. The program will achieve long-standing scientific goals with a suite of new missions across the solar system. It will provide fundamental new scientific knowledge, engage a broad segment of the planetary science community, and have wide appeal for the general public whose support enables the program.
NASA Offers Guidelines To Protect Historic Sites On The Moon
Source: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
NASA and the X Prize Foundation of Playa Vista, Calif., announced Thursday the Google Lunar X Prize is recognizing guidelines established by NASA to protect lunar historic sites and preserve ongoing and future science on the moon. The foundation will take the guidelines into account as it judges mobility plans submitted by 26 teams vying to be the first privately-funded entity to visit the moon.
NASA recognizes that many spacefaring nations and commercial entities are on the verge of landing spacecraft on the moon. The agency engaged in a cooperative dialogue with the X Prize Foundation and the Google Lunar X Prize teams to develop the recommendations. NASA and the next generation of lunar explorers share a common interest in preserving humanity’s first steps on another celestial body and protecting ongoing science from the potentially damaging effects of nearby landers.
NASA assembled the guidelines using data from previous lunar studies and analysis of the unmanned lander Surveyor 3′s samples after Apollo 12 landed nearby in 1969. Experts from the historic, scientific and flight-planning communities also contributed to the technical recommendations. The guidelines do not represent mandatory U.S. or international requirements. NASA provided them to help lunar mission planners preserve and protect historic lunar artifacts and potential science opportunities for future missions.
Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies: FY2013 Appropriations (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)
On February 13, 2012, President Obama submitted his FY2013 budget to Congress. The Administration requests a total of $62.076 billion for the agencies and bureaus funded as a part of the annual Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) appropriations bill. The Administration’s request includes $7.978 billion for the Department of Commerce, $28.079 billion for the Department of Justice, $25.090 billion for the science agencies, and $929.2 million for the related agencies. The FY2013 request for CJS is 1.9% greater than the FY2012 appropriation of $60.910 billion.
On November 18, 2011, President Obama signed into law the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012 (P.L. 112-55), which included the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2012 (Division B). The act included $60.910 billion for CJS, of which $7.808 billion was for the Department of Commerce, $27.408 billion was for the Department of Justice, $24.838 billion was for the science agencies, and $856.6 million was for the related agencies.
This report will track and describe actions taken by the Administration and Congress to provide FY2013 appropriations for CJS accounts. It also provides an overview of FY2012 appropriations for agencies and bureaus funded as a part of the annual appropriation for CJS.
The source for the FY2012-enacted amounts is the conference report for the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2012 (P.L. 112-55, H.Rept. 112-284). FY2013-requested amounts were taken from the congressional budget submissions for the Department of Commerce, the Department of Justice, the Executive Office of the President, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Science Foundation, and the appendix to the Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2013.
NASA Finds 2011 Ninth-Warmest Year on Record
Source: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
The global average surface temperature in 2011 was the ninth warmest since 1880, according to NASA scientists. The finding continues a trend in which nine of the 10 warmest years in the modern meteorological record have occurred since the year 2000.
NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York, which monitors global surface temperatures on an ongoing basis, released an updated analysis that shows temperatures around the globe in 2011 compared to the average global temperature from the mid-20th century. The comparison shows how Earth continues to experience warmer temperatures than several decades ago. The average temperature around the globe in 2011 was 0.92 degrees F (0.51 C) warmer than the mid-20th century baseline.
A new study led by a NASA scientist highlights 14 key air pollution control measures that, if implemented, could slow the pace of global warming, improve health and boost agricultural production.
The research, led by Drew Shindell of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York City, finds that focusing on these measures could slow mean global warming 0.9 ºF (0.5ºC) by 2050, increase global crop yields by up to 135 million metric tons per season and prevent hundreds of thousands of premature deaths each year. While all regions of the world would benefit, countries in Asia and the Middle East would see the biggest health and agricultural gains from emissions reductions.
Delivery of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Data (PDF)
Source: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
To support much of NASA’s Upper Atmosphere Research Program science, NASA has acquired two Global Hawk Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Two major missions are currently planned using the Global Hawk: the Global Hawk Pacific (GloPac) and the Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes (GRIP) missions. This paper briefly describes GloPac and GRIP, the concept of operations and the resulting requirements and communication architectures. Also discussed are requirements for future missions that may use satellite systems and networks owned and operated by third parties.