Chairman Rockefeller's Remarks on Transition and Implementation: The NASA Authorization Act of 2010

December 1, 2010

Chairman RockefellerWASHINGTON, D.C— The NASA Authorization Act of 2010 was signed into law nearly two months ago. The bill was the culmination of a spirited year-long debate between members of Congress, the Administration, the space community, and the American public on the future of America’s space agency. We were able to find a sensible center, and the resulting bill signed into law will help refocus and reinvigorate NASA, while making key investments in aeronautics, science and human space flight missions.

For this achievement, I again want to thank my Committee colleagues – the Committee’s Ranking Member, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, and the Science and Space Subcommittee Chairman, Senator Bill Nelson – who worked day in and day out to get this bill passed and sent to the President’s desk.

Passing the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 into law was the first step. We’re now in the implementation process. This transition is an opportunity to chart a clear course forward for NASA, but we must remain vigilant to ensure implementation throughout the authorization period. Objectives must be achieved in a fiscally responsible manner. I intend to fully exercise this committee’s oversight role throughout the transition and implementation of the NASA Authorization Act.

With proper implementation of the law, I believe NASA can continue to lead the world in innovation and discovery, and inspire future generations of scientists. Dr. Holdren, the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, joins us today to discuss these opportunities, as well as the Administration’s plans for implementing the NASA Authorization Act. Also joining us is Dr. Beth Robinson, NASA’S Chief Financial Officer. This is Dr. Robinson’s first time testifying before the committee since her confirmation hearing.

I have made my concerns about NASA’s fiscal and program management clear. At the first hearing we conducted on NASA this year, I stated that I wanted strong financial accountability from NASA’s Chief Financial Officer. Dr. Robinson, you have been on the job now for just over a year. I look forward to hearing what advice and options you have provided to the NASA Administrator, and what actions you have taken to strengthen the agency’s financial management. 

Finally, we have two experts from the Government Accountability Office here today. Ms. Cristina Chaplain, Director of Acquisition and Sourcing Management, and Ms. Susan Poling, the Managing Associate General Counsel, will provide guidance on how NASA can improve its financial and acquisition management to ensure effective implementation of the NASA Authorization Act.

I want to thank all of our witnesses for being here today. I look forward to your testimony.