Reading between the lines

This time of year it’s customary for NASA officials, as well as their counterparts in other federal agencies, to beg off questions about the pending budget proposal, claiming that either they don’t know the details of the budget or noting that the details are embargoed until the budget’s release in early February. Of course, every word they say on the subject is scrutinized, looking for clues about what the budget will contain.

For example, at the American Astronomical Society (AAS) conference in Washington last Tuesday, Griffin was asked about the fate of space sciences in the upcoming budget. After noting that space science has done well over the last decade he said the following:

We’re in a budget environment right now where that level of growth can’t be maintained, although science at NASA will still have growth. But we are all hurting. Now, the president’s FY07 budget will be out shortly. I do not yet know in all its details what it will contain.

The implication from that excerpt was that either the FY07 was indeed not yet finalized, or that Griffin was being very tight-lipped about its contents. Compare that to Griffin’s response this Tuesday at a KSC press conference, when a reporter asked him about the FY07 budget:

We have, of course, in this nation—I do not need to be the one to tell you this—a difficult budgetary environment. NASA is not looking forward or expecting any gifts of robust growth from either the administration or the Congress. We expect to keep approximately the funding we have, which will essentially be a very low growth funding profile and therefore, all of the components, each separate component of what NASA does can expect to have, at best, only modest growth.

Does that mean anything changed in the week between those two statements? Did NASA get a decision on its budget from the White House? The more recent statement is not that surprising, unless you were holding out hope for another large budget increase. We’ll know one way or another in about two and a half weeks…

1 comment to Reading between the lines

  • As I recall, the first statement is very close to what he said at the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, back in mid-December. I’d be leary of reading anything into this, since it looks a lot to me like minor variations on the same statement.

    Nobody getting much more money, and science not getting much more money, are not mutually exclusive statements!

    — Donald