NASA, White House

Griffin takes on the OMB

I wasn’t at the Goddard Memorial Dinner last Friday night (a black-tie affair well above my pay grade). However, by Monday I had received a few copies of the speech that former NASA administrator Mike Griffin gave in acceptance of the Goddard Trophy awarded to him at the event. Griffin, who had been keeping a relatively low public profile in the last three months (beyond the news last week that he had been hired as a professor and “eminent scholar” at the Univ. of Alabama in Huntsville) used the speech in part to criticize the role of the Office of Management and Budget in carrying out (or interfering with) national space policy.

Griffin noted that the OMB’s recent “passback” of the proposed budget to the agency took $3.5 billion out of the exploration systems line over the next four years. “When combined with earlier reductions of almost $12 billion during the Bush Administration, well over $15 billion has been extracted from the Exploration Systems budget in the five short years since the new space policy was announced,” Griffin said, according to the prepared text of his remarks. He added that meant only $500 million was available to work on Ares 5 and Altair prior to 2015.

A little later in the speech Griffin took sharper aim at OMB:

Let me be clear. In a democracy, the proper purpose of the OMB is not to find a way to create a Potemkin Village at NASA. It is not to create the appearance of having a real space program without having to pay for it. It is not to specify to NASA how much money shall be allocated for human lunar return by 2020. The proper purpose of the OMB is to work with NASA, as a partner in good government, to craft carefully vetted estimates of what is required to achieve national policy goals. The judgment as to whether the stated goals are too costly, or not, is one to be made by the nation’s elected leadership, not career civil service staff.

As for whether the US could afford NASA’s plans, he had this to say:

We’re “investing”, if that is the word, hundreds of billions of dollars in entities whose claim to the money rests on the premise that they have failed to manage their enterprises properly, but are too important to be allowed to founder. This nation’s space program, both civil and military, has been one of the most successful endeavors in human history. On the platform of that success we ended the Cold War and built two generations of world technical and political leadership. Maybe we should consider funding more such success.

And he also came to the defense of the current exploration architecture that is, to large degree, his legacy at NASA:

I’ve grown impatient with the argument that Orion and Ares 1 are not perfect, and should be supplanted with other designs. I don’t agree that there is a better approach for the money, but if there were, so what? Any proposed approach would need to be enormously better to justify wiping out four years worth of solid progress. Engineers do not deal with “perfect”. Your viewgraphs will always be better than my hardware. A fictional space program will always be faster, better, and cheaper than a real space program.

Griffin’s comments did generate a rather mild reaction from the White House. “The president is very committed to human space exploration and believes that NASA has a critical role to play in pushing the bounds of human understanding and achievement,” OMB spokesman Kenneth Baer told the Houston Chronicle.

56 comments to Griffin takes on the OMB

  • TANSTAAFL

    Jeff,

    Thanks for posting this.

    As usual for Dr. Griffin, he creates many “straw man” arguments. For example:

    GRIFFIN: Do we want to be a leader in space, a leader on the frontier? Or do we just want to talk about what we used to do, and what we plan to do, someday?

    This is a complete strawman argument. As if the opponents of ESAS are against being a leader in space, and opening the space frontier to humanity. This argument will fail BECAUSE it is a strawman, and fails to address the underlying core issue.

    Dr. Griffin might consider that the people who oppose his ESAS strategy do so not because they have concluded that it is “less than perfect”, but because they have concluded that ESAS is fundamentally flawed as being neither affordable or sustainable.

    Dr. Griffin might consider that these people, including staff in OMB, have concluded that we need a different plan in order to be “a leader on the frontier”.

    More fundamentally, Griffin argument is based on a false premise that je fails to acknowledge. Griffin uses the phrase “root cause”, but he fails to address the root cause of the problem he devotes an entire speech to.

    OMB only has influence to the extent that the West Wing allows OMB to have influence. OMB is not the root cause of the problem. If OMB is doing something that is not supported by the West Wing, or which contradicts the position of the President, it will be corrected. Quickly.

    The root cause of Dr. Griffin’s problem is that Griffin’s arguments for his ESAS strategy have already failed, first with President Bush and (it appears) with President Obama.

    Dr. Griffin will never admit it, but responsibility for this train wreck lies entirely at his feet.

    FWIW,

    - TANSTAFFL

  • Chance

    “I don’t agree that there is a better approach for the money, but if there were, so what?”

    I think I understand what he is trying to say in that paragraph, but that is still a very poor choice of words. The selected quotes here come across as very whiny, as of someone trying to shift blame to someone, anyone else but himself.

  • Mark R. Whittington

    It all depends on what ones definition of “very committed” is. Of course the Congress has every option to restore whatever funding OMB slashes out. And, despite what the previous poster suggests, OMB is not well populated with rocket engineers who can judge whether the current approach is “unsustainable” or not. One suspects that the planned cuts are arbitrary and have nothing to do with architecture.

  • TANSTAAFL

    WHITTINGTON: OMB is not well populated with rocket engineers who can judge whether the current approach is “unsustainable” or not.

    Mr. Whittington,

    The implication of your statement is that OMB should abrogate their authority and responsibility over public financial matters, and just do whatever NASA leadership wants.

    Is that what you mean to say?

    Do you agree with the underlying premise of my posting that Griffin’s speech fails to acknowledge, and address, the root cause for why his ESAS architecture

    If not, do you believe that OMB is the root cause?

    Do you not believe that Griffin has tried to go over OMB’s head?

    What do you think happened when Griffin appealed to the White House to overrule OMB?

    Why do you think the Bush White House has ignored Griffin’s entreaties to rule in Griffin’s favor in the argument between Griffin and OMB?

    Blaming OMB is an excuse. It is weak. It is the sign of a “victim”. It ignores root causes.

    FWIW,

    TANSTAAFL

  • Edgar Zapata (KSC)

    In response to former NASA Administrator Griffins remarks “The proper purpose of the OMB is to work with NASA, as a partner in good government, to craft carefully vetted estimates of what is required to achieve national policy goals. The judgment as to whether the stated goals are too costly, or not, is one to be made by the nation’s elected leadership, not career civil service staff.” -

    - first, it has to be observed that “stated goals” (about “what”) and the implementation that gives way to “estimates” (an architecture, a “how”) will continue to be challenged at all levels inside and outside the agency so long as leadership within the agency continues to be enamored always of the “sell”. This has resulted in excessively optimistic schedule and cost estimates in the past, losing credibility for everyone today and tomorrow. Regardless of promises to do better today we live with this legacy and must address this with more than just a nuance here, a new reporting system there. To promise change so fundamental in the future, that a cost will come close this time as the years go by, requires showing fundamental change now.

    We must accept responsibility where it is due. Accept criticism where it is due. NASA’s engineering and science culture has yet to mature an integral, long-term approach to programs where, most importantly, reducing recurring yearly production and operating costs for human space flight, and increasing flight rates, are a goal that achieve other benefits. Rather, only up-front costs are considered in design, as a constraint, and recurring costs and flight rates long term are generally seen as only consequential, a result.

    This prior failed equation must be turned on its head. Reducing the long-term recurring production and operations costs for human space flight, while increasing flight rates, both crew and cargo, should inform and drive near term design and investments. Of itself such a long term goal broaches on policy, defining a desire that space travel one day, in our lifetimes, be much more routine and accessible. It is here also that policy about boots-on-the-moon or logistics flights to ISS fall short in the public’s eyes, a public that wants space as a frontier that becomes more open and relevant to them every day.

    In a world where one “assumes” a policy of human access beyond-Earth-orbit is what was singly needed to provide a strategic purpose, and where one “assumes” that cost estimates this time were as good as they’ll get, and one “assumes” that everyone knows that plans for anything more than just 5 years out are just placeholders, then all is fine and the arguments by the former administrator are impeccable. Logical actually. Irrefutable.

    But this is more about assumptions now than anything. It was some years ago as well, but in the rush after Columbia this opportunity to truly question ourselves was missed. The world changes. Leadership becomes not just about strong steering in turbulent times, resigned to the situation ahead, but about having a vision that puts margin, backups, robust options and flexibility into the near-term decisions we ride out into the storm. This requires honesty in the “sell” and improved communication as such an approach may easily appear less ambitious or tangible as one with no margin that promises concrete things for too little funding to actually accomplish them.

    Lastly, assumptions and their implementation will always be open to challenge when the story of what happens “after” the goal is achieved fail to describe a compelling outcome, an exit strategy, or a “what’s next” about how the outcome is a part of what else must go forward. We get to the Moon again in 20xx after an extensive run-out (sort of like the ISS caps of $2B a year?). Then what?

    Assure the world that the recurring production and operations of Constellation, Orion Ares I, Ares V and Altair, are low enough that, with margin to spare, the R&D base is healthy doing true low TRL R&D, development capability moves on to the next thing rather than being enlisted into recurring production and ops, the science enterprise has the funds to put payloads on the agenda related to the Moon without scorching planetary exploration, and the aeronautics enterprise still remembers how to spell “hypersonic” and has made steady progress. Then access to space would have been furthered. Cost lowered. Productivity increased. Technology such as this, reducing recurring costs, would be welcomed by the private sector, applicable for them to help us push on the space frontier.

    The question is – how do we grow and how do we sustain a positive outcome? It always has been. It always will be. Everything else will ring of poorly planned future flags and footprints lacking true vision.

  • Mark R. Whittington

    TANSTAAFL, OMB’s action has nothing to do with architecture or with anything having to do with engineering. OMB is cutting the exploration budget arbitarily because, despite promises to the contrary, President Obama does not see space exploration as a priority. OMB could care less iabout Ares, EELV, Direct, or telepoters for that matter. To think otherwise is to project your own biases and feelings on a group of people who are following adminisration policy.

  • Major Tom

    “Of course the Congress has every option to restore whatever funding OMB slashes out.”

    The White House has not released the details of the President’s FY 2010 Budget. (And some of those details are probably still being settled.) The only public data on NASA is the topline budget. Now that he’s out of the NASA Administrator’s suite, there’s no confirmable way that Griffin could know whether Constellation has been cut or not — those details are not public. So Griffin’s speech is based on rumor at best and falsehoods at worst. And if for some strange reason the FY 2010 budget has been shared with Griffin, then he’s acting in bad faith. The budget is embargoed until at least May 6th and no one with access is supposed to discuss its contents publicly — certainly not in a speech to hundreds of individuals — until then.

    “And, despite what the previous poster suggests, OMB is not well populated with rocket engineers”

    Totally wrong. The individual who directly oversees ESMD at OMB has a physics PhD. Other members of the office overseeing ARMD and SMD have degrees in aerospace engineering and planetary science and spent years in NASA ARMD and FAA OCST. Their boss was the technical lead in the NASA IG’s office for years and also has degrees in aerospace engineering.

    Their former boss, now at DOE, was recently considered for the NASA Administrator’s post and also has degrees in aerospace engineering. Griffin’s predecessor was the OMB Deputy Director.

    OMB staff are very qualified to make programmatic judgements on the departments and agencies for which they’re responsible. They wouldn’t be able to work there if they didn’t have those qualifications.

    If you don’t know anything about the individuals in an organization, then you shouldn’t post statements slandering their credentials based on falsehoods.

    “who can judge whether the current approach is ‘unsustainable’ or not.”

    Regardless of experience, by definition, the people who hold the purse strings — the political leadership at the White House and in Congress — determine whether any government program is sustainable.

    The reality is that, contrary to whatever fantasy Griffin has about how he thinks OMB works, the staff there can’t make budget decisions and publish budget figures without the consent of the White House political leadership. Even if the OMB staff were technically incompetent, they don’t make the actual budget decisions — the White House and President do. If Griffin had a problem with the budget figures for NASA during the Bush II Administration, then he should have been talking to the political leadership in the Bush II White House, not blaming OMB civil servant staff for Bush II budget decisions. Same goes for the Obama Administration — Griffin should criticize the White House political leadership for the decisions they make, not the OMB civil servant staff who don’t make those decisions.

    “One suspects that the planned cuts are arbitrary and have nothing to do with architecture.”

    No, if the White House has cut Constellation, I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that the Ares I/Orion IOC has slipped from 2012 to 2015, now has a zero percent confidence of even meeting that date, and will likely slip again to 2017:

    http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2009/03/aresorion-slipping-18-months-shuttle-extension-upper-hand/

    Yeah, if the White House has cut Constellation, I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that NASA’s own cost estimates for Ares I/Orion have risen 60%, from $57 billion in 2004 to $92 billion today. Or that the Congressional Budget Office estimates that they’ll rise again to $110 billion:

    http://www.cbo.gov/doc.cfm?index=5772&type=0

    And if the White House has cut Constellation, I’m sure it has nothing to do with the fact that a NASA-commissioned Aerospace Corporation study has found that an Orion-capable EELV can be developed by 2014 for about $1.5 billion, about a tenth of the cost of developing Ares I.

    http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2009/04/study-eelv-capable-orion-role-griffin-claims-alternatives-fiction/

    Yes, let’s all keep whistling past the graveyard — it’s so much easier than dealing with the hard programmatic realities.

    [rolls eyes]

    FWIW…

  • TANSTAAFL

    WHITTINGTON: OMB is cutting the exploration budget arbitarily because, despite promises to the contrary, President Obama does not see space exploration as a priority.

    First, I note you did not respond to my questions above. When presented with uncomfortable questions you can not answer, I guess your strategy is to ignore them.

    Second, I can see three logical fallacies in your response:

    1) If the President does not support a federal program, then OMB should cut the program budget. Thus, it is NOT an “arbitrary” cut.

    In this case, stop whining about the OMB.

    At least pick a consistent straw man in your arguments. Is it the OMB, or is it the President?

    2) There is no evidence that the President does not support human exploration beyond LEO. The President has clearly and specifically stated that he supports human exploration. Instead, the President has made it very clear, stating several times, that NASA’s plans are no longer inspirational.

    Do you need me to provide references?

    3) I note that you are picking on the President now, perhaps for the first time in years. As Mike Griffin’s speech points out, NASA’s exploration budget went down repeatedly in the Bush administration after the VSE was announced.

    If you criticize President Obama, then you must criticize President Bush, as well as the Congress for the exact same (so-called) offense of not making exploration a priority.

    It must be noted that there is a pattern here. We can either blame President Obama, President Bush, and Congress. Or we can check our assumptions, for a simpler answer.

    Perhaps the ESAS strategy is fundamentally flawed, and is NOT SELLING to our elected political leaders.

    Why would that be?

    FWIW,

    - TANSTAAFL

  • Major Tom

    “OMB’s action has nothing to do with architecture or with anything having to do with engineering.”

    Evidence? How do you know? Were you sitting in on their meetings? Can you read their minds?

    “OMB is cutting the exploration budget arbitarily”

    The details of the President’s FY 2010 Budget won’t be released until May 6th. How do you know that OMB has cut the “exploration budget”? Where’s your evidence?

    “because, despite promises to the contrary, President Obama does not see space exploration as a priority.”

    And you’re basing this on what statements and actions by the White House with respect to space exploration since the inauguration?

    “OMB could care less iabout Ares, EELV, Direct, or telepoters for that matter.”

    And you know because they told you? Or because you read it somewhere?

    “To think otherwise is to project your own biases and feelings on a group of people who are following adminisration policy.”

    And that policy can be found where?

    Please, if you can’t post without slandering the credentials of individuals and making up the unpublished positions of entire organizations, then take it elsewhere. Most of us would like to debate the issues as they actually exist.

    Ugh…

  • Brian Koester

    Good for Mike.
    He is calling for the President & the congress to match their words to their deeds and fund US space efforts properly.

    Here he is getting an award and is advocating for the nation to honor it’s commitment to NASA & space science, do you think he had to bring this up? I think it is a credit to him he is doing so and I for one appreciate it.

    He is calling a spade a spade, something the mainstream media don’t seem to really care about when it comes to space.

    If the government will not do this right by funding it correctly, then it doesn’t matter what architecture you chose ARES or a fictional program as Mike puts it.

    This whole architecture argument is a distraction that is completely counterproductive and provides opportunity and cover for those in power to reduce funding by re-imagining our space vision and how to do it.

    At some point taxpayers will get fed up with the infighting over the “spoils” of the funding for space science be it 17 Billion or 23 Billion and demand that the whole thing be turned over to the private sector en mass.

    Here is an admittedly radical idea I will put forward (out of frustration)| for debate: ******Set the date for the NASA’s dissolution******

    Maybe this kind of extreme discussion needs to take place, so that not only are COTS-D programs carried out but a hard deadline for NASA to achieve an extensive moon base and heavy lift capability is set, maybe like 2050.

    After that all government funding going forward on public/private system in a transition period of 10 years, until all assets, intellectual property, rockets, launch facilities are transferred and any monies spent on manned programs is privatized on the space basis COTS is supposed to work: Pay for performance.

    Space Science for the entire solar system, robotic exploration to other planets and beyond could remain the purview of NASA in cooperation with the ESA and others in the international community (and they should get the 5-6 Billion that is needed).

    It seems that this is the inevitable direction that history will take and whether it happens by design or by accident and how much money is spent before it does is the question.

    The key question is how long should NASA exist?

  • Major Tom

    “Good for Mike. He is calling for the President & the congress to match their words to their deeds and fund US space efforts properly.”

    Griffin isn’t bravely calling the political decisionmakers in the White House and Congress to task. Instead, he’s mistakenly or cowardly blaming the civil servant staff at OMB for the decisions of their political masters. Two very different things.

    “He is calling a spade a spade”

    No, he’s not. If Griffin were calling a spade a spade, then he’d admit that Constellation cost growth, from $57 billion in 2004 to $92 billion today, or $35 billion total, is more than double the amount, $15 billion, that Griffin is complaining that the White House and Congress have taken out of Constellation’s budget projections.

    There’s no doubt that the Bush II White House and prior Congresses did not meet their budget commitments to the VSE. (And that trend may continue with the Obama White House and the new Congress.)

    But to pretend that a $15 billion difference in budgets is the driving issue, when the program’s own estimates have already experienced $35 billion in growth (and are anticipated to grow another $18 billion by the Congressional Budget Office), is misleading and hypocritical in the extreme. Even if NASA received every dollar promised in the VSE, Constellation would still need another $35-53 billion that was never in any budget projection, VSE or otherwise.

    “If the government will not do this right by funding it correctly, then it doesn’t matter what architecture you chose… This whole architecture argument is a distraction that is completely counterproductive…”

    Programmatic and technical decisions and associated cost estimates the are central to a successful architecture. You can’t have program that doesn’t fit the projected budget. That’s true of anything, from garbage pickup to human space flight.

    ESAS recommended and Griffin chose an egregiously expensive architecture that busted the VSE budget from day one. The situation only got (a lot) worse under Griffin’s watch. Griffin has no one to blame but himself for Constellation being so out of bed with the budget.

    FWIW…

  • Edgar Zapata

    I must re-interject…

    All this talk about a proper vision so easily forgets the past.

    Griffin himself said at the same speech –

    “How soon we forget how it is that we got here. Six years ago I was here
    at this very dinner, where we honored – posthumously – the crew of
    STS‐107 Columbia with the same Goddard Trophy that I am receiving
    tonight. Evelyn Husband accepted the award on behalf of the crew, not
    two months after being widowed. Some months later, Admiral Hal
    Gehman – who is as deserving of this trophy as anyone who has ever
    received it – released his extraordinary report, offering as a root cause
    of the Columbia accident the fact that NASA had proceeded for more
    than three decades in the absence of a guiding vision, and citing a
    thirty‐year failure of leadership by both the Executive and Legislative
    Branches for allowing such a situation to exist.”

    YET- Loss-of-crew (LOC) for the current ISS and Lunar missions of Constellation is running BY ANALYSIS in the low-end of 1/200. Compare this to demonstrated Shuttle at 0.984 or about 3 in 200. Now one value (Shuttle) is by demonstrated capability, as well as a rich amount of information and detail. That value is pretty stable. The one by analysis (Cx) has to be discounted somewhat, and it’s likely will not turn out in practice as well as the result by analysis, especially given increasing complexity as programs address additional performance shortfalls. Meaning a 1/200 could quickly devolve to STS-like values or just slightly better.

    So back to “vision” and using Columbia to justify a destination or some such aspect of a vision?

    The absent “guiding vision” was of improvement, in human space flight per se as more routine, as safer, not at all about some destination. Shuttle at least had that much vision, wanting to see a day when a shirt-sleeve crew climbed aboard and off to space they went.

    Improvement in safety brings with it access, here meaning access to space. Safety improvements in any technology always yield maturity improvements that make a technology more accessible. Safety gains also yield recurring cost gains. Anything safer is also, historically, less recurring cost per unit of productivity measure (mile, pound, etc).

    Again, the absent guiding vision was not a crater on the Moon.

    To use the former administrators remark “How soon we forget”…

    The next steps for NASA will be measured by subsequent generations by the degree to which those steps -

    (1) improve human space flight safety SIGNIFICANTLY, PURPOSEFULLY. Not by chance or because of some destination, not indirectly.

    (2) spread such knowledge from the government to the private sector as knowledge, technology or design so this non-recurring effort would not have to be repeated by everyone else individually

    (3) create a culture of improvement, in safety, cost, especially recurring, and reliability.

    The rest, visions dependent on a place or some event (boots on the moon) can quickly devolve to distraction confusing isolated achievements with inherently repeatable improvements in access to space. Sustainability that enables repetition is the real vision. Doing space exploration on the basis of goals and implementations that are ultimately un-sustainable avoids such improvements and detracts from the vision we should grow and protect.

  • common sense

    I am not suprised of the findings whatsoever. A lot of work had been done during OSP and CEV under O’Keefe’s tenure that were wiped out when Griffin came up with ESAS and the ensueing architecture, including the Orion Apollo-look-alike.

    In a day and age where every $ counts I’ll go with the cheaper, sorry, less expensive alternative. If using EELVs put the program back on track then be it. No reason to keep whining about what the budget could be. It is what it is. Let’s move on. If we can use some of the work done with Ares I then so much the better. Otherwise tough luck.

  • TANSTAAFL

    COMMON SENSE: No reason to keep whining about what the budget could be. It is what it is. Let’s move on.

    Well said.

    - TANSTAAFL

  • sc220

    COMMON SENSE: No reason to keep whining about what the budget could be. It is what it is. Let’s move on.

    NASA is lucky to have the budget it has. Arguments about how it is a drop in the bucket compared to other department and agency budgets carries no weight. NASA’s budget is approximately twice that of Commerce, Treasury, Interior or EPA. It is comparable to either Energy or Agriculture. In fact for an independent agency, it is doing extremely well.

    What’s needed is a serious reassessment of what works and what doesn’t with the budget it has. Dr. Griffin’s view was that NASA’s human space flight element was broken, and deserved extra attention to get it on a more robust course. Others felt that this “break” may indicate that the approach has run its course, and should be dropped or replaced with an entirely new approach (i.e., NASA out of the human space flight business, at least to LEO).

    NASA’s space science enterprise has been a shining star in terms of discovery and exploration of the universe. The rate of knowledge return on investment is solid. This is not the case for human space flight. Here, the metric is the maintenance of workforce and how well the investment plays to key congressional districts.

  • common sense

    @sc220:

    VSE called for a program based on both robotics and human exploration if memory serves well. Constellation, its implementation, generated all the controversy we are in by slashing budgets elsewhere since they could not secure their own budget.

    How about we get the interested parties together and show us how we’ll go about the VSE? VSE had nothing magic in it, just a simple view on what we could achieve. I know I am very naive but I am a human space exploration fan. I do not need to justify it (here), I just want it. YET, I would like that the whole thing be done in harmony with other endeavors in AND outside of NASA. YES WE CAN do it in harmony. Otherwise we will keep going the same way: Slash human exploration one time then robotics and science next time and so on. It is time we all get together on a plan and get going.

    Note further that in my humble opinion and for human space COTS and the likes ARE the solution. But this is a very hard call for anyone in office to make. If COTS-D were to be successful where Constellation may be failing then what for all those guys?

  • red

    Griffin: “well over $15 billion has been extracted from the Exploration Systems budget in the five short years since the new space policy was announced”

    Apparently the Exploration Systems plan isn’t very appealing to those in charge of the budget. I wonder why that’s the case?

    Could it be that the current Constellation plan doesn’t deliver on the goals the former Administration set for the Vision for Space Exploration, except for vague promises of NASA changing its style after the lunar astronaut landings? [From the VSE document: "The fundamental goal of this vision is to advance U.S. scientific, security, and economic interests through a robust space exploration program."]

    Could it be that the current Constellation plan doesn’t deliver sufficient benefits along the way, in time frames that are meaningful to current (and recent) politicians?

    Could it be that the current Constellation plan has alienated what should be supporters and allies, such as the commercial space, NASA science, ISS, and Aeronautics communities, by draining and threatening to continually drain their budgets … leaving the Constellation employees and contractors more or less alone in advocating for their budget?

    Could it be that the current Constellation plan focuses too much on building rockets, and not enough on near-term lunar robotic science missions and lunar surface engineering demos to grow the size and appetite of the lunar science community and the interest of the public, and also not enough on long-term cost-effective lunar transportation and surface operations such as ISRU, refueling, and reusable space components?

  • red

    Griffin: “We’re “investing”, if that is the word, hundreds of billions of dollars in entities whose claim to the money rests on the premise that they have failed to manage their enterprises properly, but are too important to be allowed to founder.”

    Is he talking about Constellation and its predecessors? It sure sounds like the justification Dr. Griffin gave for taking a lot more than “one thin dime” away from more or less functional NASA lines and giving it to Shuttle and Constellation.

    Griffin: “I’ve grown impatient with the argument that Orion and Ares 1 are not perfect, and should be supplanted with other designs. I don’t agree that there is a better approach for the money, but if there were, so what?”

    This is on the Aerospace Corporation report that’s supposed to say the EELVs could replace Ares at considerable cost savings. “So what?” ??! If that’s true, then it’s a huge “So what”! The point isn’t that it’s a better approach for the money, it’s that it’s a better approach for much LESS money! That’s a huge deal … if they saved money could be used productively. Even if the Aerospace Corporation is hugely wrong, and EELVs/Ares 1 are a wash in terms of money and schedule, using the EELVs still can have big advantages:

    - There are 2 of them (providing redundancy in case of problems with 1). [Note: According to Major Tom in another post here, the study indicates both EELVs could be used for cheaper than Ares 1.]

    - They are currently underutilized, driving up per-launch costs for vital operational users (the military, intelligence agencies, NOAA, etc). If they can support Orion at the same time without undue configuration complexity, they can share fixed launch costs and thus the VSE deliver early “science, security, and economic” benefits to the nation.

    - They can be marketed commercially. Adding Orion capability could open up the possibility of using EELVs for non-Orion commercial human transport vehicles for space tourism, Bigelow station transport, etc.

    Griffin: “Any proposed approach would need to be enormously better to justify wiping out four years worth of solid progress.”

    Progress? It seems like the completion date is slipping by faster than time itself. Or did he mix up his Russian ISS support vehicles, and mean to say “Soyuz” instead of “Progress”?

    Griffin: “Engineers do not deal with “perfect”. Your viewgraphs will always be better than my hardware. A fictional space program will always be faster, better, and cheaper than a real space program.”

    So, let me get this straight. Is Dr. Griffin saying Ares 1 is real, and the EELVs aren’t?

  • sc220

    common sense:…I know I am very naive but I am a human space exploration fan. I do not need to justify it (here), I just want it…

    That’s no problem, and I won’t disagree with you either. I just hate for us to do things almost exactly how we did it 40 years ago. I personally feel that human space flight, if conducted properly, could greatly expand are ability to perform space science – and not necessarily along the lines of servicing science assets in earth orbit or other locales. I think the idea of expanded telerobotic exploration on the surface of Mars and other planetary bodies via human presence in orbit makes a lot more sense as an intermediate step. It requires less investment in infrastructure, and gives us a capability to many more places other than the Moon.

  • Mark R. Whittington

    It’s amazing. Ares’s development budget has been cut by twoi administrations and people are amazed and apalled that its scheduled has slipped. CBO has suggested that more nor less money will be needed if the project is to be placed back on track.

    Not only that, but there are actually people posting here who seem to be shocked, shocked that there is politics going on in Washington. Amazing.

  • common sense

    @sc220:

    I think the current state was/is dictated by a few things, not even looking at ATK or LMT associated issues (e.g. Horowtiz’s role):
    1. When Shuttle retires what do you do with ATK?
    2. Do they have enough to go on without the SRBs?
    3. What happens to all (1000s?) those involved with Ares if we get rid of Ares I?
    4. They wanted to do it within a few years which was the most absurd of all.

    I would say there is a need for a REPLAN where you just don’t lay off everyone and that’s it. This replan will require a very long term vision. For example, as we use robotics to start the exploration we start the development of advanced spacecraft and re-entry vehicles that will allow us to efficiently explore. BUT this will not happen in 4 years, and not in 8 years but much longer than that. Also if we do it well with COTS-D you get NASA to help the private sector to come up even more quickly with a solution for ISS and LEO and even possibly the Moon. Moon has been done, there is nothing magic about it BUT it not easy either. AND this MUST be POLITICALLY sustainable, not sustainable technologically. We will make small steps BUT they will be forward NOT backward.

    Unfortunately, because of a so divided community (with good reasons but how long do we keep fighting each other?) the most likely today will be status quo that will eventually be even more terrible to NASA entirely. Limping around with Shuttle, forever delayed Constellation and little to no science/robotics.

  • Major Tom

    “Ares’s development budget has been cut by twoi [sic] administrations”

    It’s already been pointed out to you that the Obama Administration won’t release their budget for Constellation until at least May 6th. Only one administration (Bush II) has released budgets for Constellation to date. So unless the Obama White House has previewed their budget with you, this statement is patently false.

    Why can’t you get your facts straight, even after other posters point them out to you?

    “people are amazed and apalled [sic] that its scheduled [sic] has slipped”

    It’s appalling that four years into Constellation, the schedule for the Ares I/Orion IOC has slipped at least three years, has zero confidence of making that date, and will likely slip another two years.

    It’s appalling that Constellation will not meet the Bush II Administration’s 2014 deadline for an ISS crew transport vehicle, as stipulated in the VSE. It’s appalling that Constellation is now projected to not meet the Bush II Administration’s 2020 deadline for a human lunar return, as stipulated in the VSE.

    It’s appalling that four years into Constellation, Ares I has not completed its preliminary design review and Orion has yet to start its preliminary design review. How many more years are going to go by until Ares I and Orion pass preliminary design review? Start their critical design reviews? When is Constellation going to close these designs and start bending metal on actual, operational flight hardware?

    “CBO has suggested that more nor [sic] less money will be needed if the project is to be placed back on track.”

    Because, as CBO pointed out, NASA’s own cost estimates for Constellation have grown from $57 billion in 2004 to $92 billion today, or $35 billion total. That $35 billion in cost growth is more than double the amount, $15 billion, that Griffin is complaining that the White House and Congress have taken out of Constellation’s budget projections.

    Worse than that, CBO projects another $18 billion of cost growth in Constellation, or $53 billion in total cost growth. That’s more than triple the amount, $15 billion, that Griffin is complaining that the White House and Congress have taken out of Constellation’s budget projections.

    The driving problem in the Constellation budget is not what the White House and Congress are taking out of NASA’s budget projections. The critical issue is spiraling cost growth in the Constellation program itself. If NASA doesn’t get Constellation’s cost growth under control — whether it’s by terminating Ares I and switching to EELVs per the independent Aerospace Corp. report or some other method — it won’t matter how much taxpayer money the White House and Congress are willing throw at the program. The program will remain unexecutable.

    FWIW…

  • John Malkin

    Here’s a question, is OMB more objective or are they just following which ever administration is in the White House? Otherwise are they setting the budgets to meet the objectives of the White House or are they truly determining the direction of the space program in the best interest of the people? What are the biases of the OMB? I don’t see anything from the current administration, OMB or Congress that they are going to switch to an EELV option. So if the OMB stays with Ares I who do you blame, the administration or NASA?

    Also do we really know for sure how much cheaper an EELV option is over Ares I or COTSx?

  • SpaceMan

    Most of us would like to debate the issues as they actually exist.

    While that may be true I haven’t seen any evidence of it here. Maybe tomorrow.

  • Major Tom

    “Here’s a question, is OMB more objective or are they just following which ever administration is in the White House? Otherwise are they setting the budgets to meet the objectives of the White House or are they truly determining the direction of the space program in the best interest of the people? What are the biases of the OMB?”

    OMB is an agency of the White House. The OMB staff support White House decisionmakers by developing and analyzing program and budget options. After the White House makes a decision on a program or budget option, OMB makes sure that the responsible department or agency carries it out.

    “I don’t see anything from the current administration, OMB or Congress that they are going to switch to an EELV option.”

    Correct. The details of the Obama Administration’s first budget (FY 2010) have yet to be released. All we know from the pre-release is the topline NASA number, that the Obama Administration reiterated a human lunar return, mentioned commercial cargo and crew capabilities, and did not mention Constellation/Ares I/Orion explicitly.

    “So if the OMB stays with Ares I who do you blame, the administration or NASA?”

    OMB staff don’t make the decision. White House policymakers do, based on the agency’s request, alternative options presented by OMB staff, and whatever other factors are weighing in at the time. So you blame the White House, if that’s the decision they make. Whether that decision aligns with what NASA leadership wanted at the time is not terribly relevant because, as part of the Executive Branch, NASA is suppossed to carry out the President’s priorities, plus or minus whatever Congress adds at the margins.

    I’d be surprised if the Obama White House has already decided to terminate Ares I in favor of EELVs or something else in the FY 2010 budget. It’s just too early in the Administration (logically you’d have a NASA Administrator in place before such a decision), there’s no pressing crisis (yet) to force a decision, and it’s still too early for the Aerospace Corp. report and other evidence to have percolated through the decision process.

    However, with the cost trends on Constellation, the Administration is going to be confronted with a budget crisis at NASA that’s going to have to be decided one way or the other in the coming year or so, if a technical crisis (like an Ares I-X failure) doesn’t force such a decision sooner. (Such budget-crisis/redesign-forcing events happened twice on ISS — at the beginning of the Clinton Administration which led to the Alpha redesign and again at the beginning of the Bush II Administration, which led to the cancellation of CRV, Hab, etc.) Unless Constellation managers pull out miracles in the coming months that reverse the spiraling Ares I/Orion costs shown in the CBO report, I’d be surprised to see Ares I survive the FY 2011-12 budget processes.

    My 2 cents… FWIW…

  • Major Tom

    An internal NASA study discussed in this AvWeek article makes clear that Constellation’s budget problems are due to technical issues within the program:

    http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story.jsp?id=news/Events042209.xml&headline=Events%20Overtake%20NASA%20Acceleration%20Study%20&channel=space

    “Factors cited in the internal NASA study as contributing to the [$1.9 billion] shortfall [to meet a 2014 IOC] include undefinitized changes in the Orion contract; the shift from land to water landing and its effect on Orion reusability, and the need for additional testing in the J2-X upper stage engine development program.

    The study, which included managers and engineers inside and outside the Constellation Program that is building Ares I and Orion, also found a number of unfunded technical-baseline changes that contributed to the shortage of funds, including a phased-array communication system, high voltage power system, first stage nozzle extension and ongoing efforts to mitigate the thrust oscillation imparted to the Ares I/Orion stack as its solid fuel first stage nears burnout.”

    FWIW…

  • common sense

    @ Major Tom:

    As I said elsewhere. Funny how the Apollo guys actually got it right from the start, e.g. water landing. Major problem for Constellation is to re-do Apollo but actually not. Had they wanted to make it “cheap” they should have gotten all the Apollo blueprints and rebuild them with updated systems. Instead we are getting this mixed bag of inadequate and unproven technologies. On that premise alone I submit that Constellation is not politically sustainable (read budget) as it is today. One must decide: Sustainable AND expensive (budget and timewise) or NOT sustainable. Reusability (which is as vague a term as it gets) is not necessarily the panacea either: See Soyuz.

    On a side note but related: CEV was not supposed to service ISS, at least initially anyway. Maybe we should have kept it that way. Upcreeping requirements certainly does not help.

    It’d have been fun to watch Saturn-V-II though.

  • common sense

    @SpaceMan:

    For us to talk about the issues as they actually exist they would have to be in the open. And I assume YOU only talk technical issues.

    Because everything else (read budget) discussed here is relevant to the survival of Constellation and possibly NASA.

  • I’d be surprised if the Obama White House has already decided to terminate Ares I in favor of EELVs or something else in the FY 2010 budget. It’s just too early in the Administration (logically you’d have a NASA Administrator in place before such a decision), there’s no pressing crisis (yet) to force a decision, and it’s still too early for the Aerospace Corp. report and other evidence to have percolated through the decision process.

    Perhaps not, but there is a pressing crisis as to whether to continue to fly Shuttle or not beyond 2010.

    Obama’s science adviser has said that crucial decisions on the shuttle and a new spacecraft to carry astronauts back to the moon will not be made until NASA gets a new administrator. In an interview two weeks ago, John Holdren did not know when that would be.

    A key deadline is April 30, when a congressional rule governing the shuttle’s infrastructure expires. After that date, NASA will be free to start taking apart the shuttle program if it chooses.

  • common sense

    @ Rand Simberg:

    It is my (arguable) belief that we are done with Shuttle as the current acting Administrator does not seem to like the idea of extending Shuttle and that taking the budget away from Shuttle (past) should (?) help Orion (future).

    I do not believe for one second that Sen. Nelson will be willing or even be able to push hard enough to get Shuttle extended. It looks like he’s playing to his constituency knowing very well there is NO budget for both programs. Is this possible?

  • Blue

    I work for a state agency with a similar function to the OMB. If it is anything like us, staff may have some latitude but major decisions are ALWAYS made with full oversight from political types.

  • common sense

    @Blue:

    I certainly hope so! How could it be any different? Otherwise, who the heck is in charge? Why do we need an elected government?

    If OMB takes away money it is because they were instructed to do so. So let’s all try and figure who is giving orders to OMB? To NASA?

  • Major Tom

    “Perhaps not, but there is a pressing crisis as to whether to continue to fly Shuttle or not beyond 2010.”

    Holdren’s off-hand comment and Congressional wishful thinking about OMB documents not representing White House positions aside, I think that decision has been made. The budget blueprint confirmed Shuttle shutdown in 2010.

    Something may happen during the fly out of the remaining manifest that forces the White House to revisit that decision. But I’d guess that the decision has been made and that it may even be a litmus test in the White House vetting of NASA Administrator candidates.

    My 2 cents… FWIW…

  • common sense

    @ Major Tom:

    Now, that would be quite interesting a litmus test indeed.

  • Sometimes the lack of a decision is a decision…

  • Blue

    Exactly, Rand. They do nothing, Shuttle goes away. They cut funding to Constellation, it gets pushed off to 2017-2019…and from there it is but a little nudge to “2020-2025″ and US manned spaceflight is dead with no one’s fingerprints really on it.

  • Major Tom

    “Funny how the Apollo guys actually got it right from the start, e.g. water landing.”

    I dunno about that. Soyuz argues the opposite, and landing modes are not the only technical or cost driver in a crewed vehicle or architecture.

    “Major problem for Constellation is to re-do Apollo but actually not.”

    The challenge to Constellation was to recreate Apollo-like capabilities without incurring the huge fixed costs associated with Apollo (or Shuttle) so that the effort could be sustained within a wide range of budget scenarios (and so that there would always be some level of resources available to further evolve and extend those capabilities). There are multiple ways to do that — leveraging existing capabilities in the military/commercial space sectors (EELV), leveraging existing Shuttle capabilities (actual Shuttle-derived vehicles), encouraging new commercial space sector capabilities (COTS), restricting NASA’s role to in-space elements that don’t exist in other sectors (one of the original CEV options carried by ESMD before Griffin), securing international contributions early, minimizing requirements with scarring for later growth, choosing scales of production over size, choosing competition over sole sourcing , utilizing fixed cost arrangements, introducing reusability and technological advanced in an evolutionary manner over time, etc. Unfortunately, Constellation never embraced or has abandoned these principles.

    “Had they wanted to make it ‘cheap’ they should have gotten all the Apollo blueprints and rebuild them with updated systems.”

    After resolving an existential Cold War threat, Apollo’s fixed costs proved unsustainable. (Shuttle was suppossed to address this issue but failed.) In the absence of a similarly compelling rationale, the same would hold true today.

    “One must decide: Sustainable AND expensive (budget and timewise) or NOT sustainable.”

    I think you mean sustainable and inexpensive. An expensive solution, like Apollo or Shuttle, will not be sustainable or will not leave enough resources in the budget to pursue actual or new exploration activities.

    “On a side note but related: CEV was not supposed to service ISS, at least initially anyway.”

    Actually, the VSE says that “The Crew Exploration Vehicle might also supplement international partner crew transport systems to the Space
    Station”, but you’re right that, contrary to ESAS assumptions and Griffin’s speeches, there was a clear preference in the VSE for relying on commercial and foreign vehicles for ISS support. Steidle’s ESMD team carried both options — a initial CEV spiral for ISS support and relying on the program that became COTS for ISS and ETO transport and turning CEV into an in-space/trans-lunar vehicle. But the latter was just one of several options that died with Griffin and ESAS.

    “Upcreeping requirements certainly does not help.”

    The current incarnation of CEV, Orion, hasn’t suffered from classic requirements creep so much as it has suffered from a heavy set of requirements upfront followed by repeated redefinitions of its requirements (arguably a type of requirements creep) to cover shortfalls and issues on Ares I.

    FWIW…

  • Major Tom

    “Sometimes the lack of a decision is a decision…”

    That may also be what is happening with Shuttle.

  • Major Tom

    “They do nothing, Shuttle goes away. They cut funding to Constellation, it gets pushed off to 2017-2019…and from there it is but a little nudge to “2020-2025″ and US manned spaceflight is dead with no one’s fingerprints really on it.”

    There’s no evidence for that in the President’s budget blueprint. It supports a lunar return and bumps NASA’s total annual budget about $1 billion above the levels of the Bush Administration.

    FWIW…

  • Major Tom

    News of the slip in the Ares V and lunar return schedule is also starting to leak, with technical issues on Ares I/Orion as the cause. Note that the situation is so bad that Orion’s ISS variant may have have to be scaled back to a four-person crew:

    http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/space/orl-nasa-moon-launch-delayed-04222009,0,3021635.story

    “In meetings over the last few weeks at Kennedy Space Center, agency managers have told employees and contractors that they are delaying the first lunar launch of the Ares V rocket — a cargo hauler slated to be the most powerful rocket ever built — by two years.

    NASA’s internal plans had called for Ares V to go to the moon in 2018, though the agency had announced a public goal of 2020. Internal deadlines are used by NASA to keep programs on track and to provide a margin of error for developmental problems.

    But because of growing budget woes, the agency is resetting its internal date to 2020. And privately, engineers say that means the public 2020 date to send humans back to the moon is in deepening trouble…

    …Engineers say the reason for the Ares V delay is that its sister ship, the Ares I, is taking longer and costing more to develop than originally planned. Unlike the Apollo-era Saturn V and the space shuttle, which launched crew and cargo on the same rocket, NASA’s Constellation program plans to use the Ares I for crew and the Ares V for cargo.

    Ares I, topped by an Orion capsule designed to carry six astronauts, is supposed to replace the space shuttle and make its first flight to the international space station by 2015. NASA’s internal schedule had originally called for a 2013 liftoff, but design and cost issues forced NASA to delay that date too.

    Now NASA is struggling to make the 2015 date, and hopes to speed up the rocket’s development are evaporating fast…

    … The “Constellation Acceleration Study” — obtained by the Sentinel through a Freedom of Information Act request — said that half that amount was needed just to cover $1.9 billion in cost overruns resulting from design changes to the Ares I and the Orion crew capsule.

    Among the costly changes: a decision to land Orion in the ocean, rather than on hard ground, and a plan to install dampers on Ares I to counteract violent shaking caused by its solid-rocket first stage.

    “These costs must be addressed irrespective of acceleration,” the study said.

    And even getting more money — considered extremely unlikely — is no guarantee, as the program continues to fall behind…

    … Without more money, the study said, meeting a 2015 launch date would require NASA to implement “all no-cost and cost avoidance strategies as soon as possible.” Among the changes it recommends are simplifying the design of the rocket and capsule, streamlining tests intended to double-check how different systems work, and scrapping plans to use sophisticated new computer programs to help fly the spaceship.

    Some safety engineers fear those are moves that could mean cutting corners as well as costs.

    According to agency officials, NASA engineers have already started to scrap some tests and software programs…

    … To save weight and cost, NASA is even considering reducing the size of the crew that can fly on the Orion capsule from six to four. Orion was originally designed for up to six astronauts so it could carry a full crew to and from the space station.”

    FWIW…

  • Blue

    Major Tom, the Obama budget also sees $1T deficits as far as the eye can see. That is simply not sustainable. In a year or two OMB will be scouring federal programs looking for $500B or more in savings.

    NASA’s new Moon rocket will be on that list.

  • Eric Sterner

    Wow….didn’t realize there were so many folks in Washington who loved OMB and wanted to absolve it of any responsiblity for performing its basic functions. I think they’re getting a little too much of a pass in this discussion. So, here’s a few observations to take or leave as you are so inclined.

    I do have some experience working with OMB staffers. I generally found them to be dedicated, hard-working, well informed, appropriately skeptical civil servants. They do excellent work and often find themselves taking hits for decisions made above their paygrades.

    That said, OMB is still a bureaucracy. It still practices politics. It’s still vulnerable to having its own priorities, which may or may not coincide with those of the political higher-ups in the White House. It still, occasionally, can’t resist the temptation to invent goals, procedures, and practices against which it can measure departmetns and agencies with an eye towards justifying its own existence…not in order to assist a department or agency achieve whatever mission/function it has been assigned. Remember, the definition for success at OMB differs from the definition of success at NASA, EPA, DOD, etc. etc. etc. OMB is fully capable of closing a budget because the numbers work 1 year, knowing full well that the 5-year runout it releases at budget time does NOT bear any relation to the reality it purports to represent and knowing full well that the programs contained in that budget are NOT sustainable at the projected funding levels. Dishonest budgeting? In Washington? Who’da thunk. Additionally, neither are OMB staff omniscient; they simply cannot and do not always anticipate all of the flow-down consequences of decisions that are made. And yes, sometimes OMB (like all oversight agencies and Congress) falls into the trap of micromanagement, attempting to run various agencies or programs according to its wishes without being held accountable for program success.

    Ultimately, an administration’s senior political leaders are accountable for all of this, as they should be. After all, either they encouraged it as a matter of policy or they permitted it as a matter of indifference. That said, neither perspective absolves OMB of responsiblity for its actions. It’s not merely a bearer of guidance from above, it’s an active player in the policy arena–which usually gets to work outside the public spotlight–and should be held accountable as such (for both the good and the bad). To do less, is to treat OMB as a mere adding machine, which is generally disrespectful of the fact that its personnel are living, breathing people who make anlaytical judgments, have opinions, and feel a responsibility to make their views known.

  • common sense

    @Major Tom:

    Just a few comments. I am mostly with you on all you say, including COTS and judicious use of existing resources. Shuttle derived launchers initially may have brought a more diginified end to Shuttle. Intead it will be terminated but it’s a somewhat different story.

    I really meant EXPENSIVE and sustainable but to be clear: The upfront investment will be orders of magnitude what they claim they could do it with. Life cycle cost, if sustainable, would probably drop later on to sustainable level if done correctly. Sustainable also means, to me, politically, at many levels: White-House(s) and Congress(es) sustainable but also in such a way that IT DOES NOT ALIENATE the rest of the community (e.g. science). None of those basic trivial principles were applied, it looks like. But how can you involve the scientific community when the direction from CEV was to NOT INNOVATE. Nobody in science gets interested (back to my Saturn comment and see below).

    As for my “joke” about Apollo. I only meant: Since all the studies were done for Apollo to actually fly and it did fly, then “all you need” is to reopen the assembly line. Upfront cost will be low. As to life cycle cost that’s another story…

    Limited “vision” in thiss business is a real problem especially by those claiming to be the next von Braun(s).

    Soyuz is a very different vehicle, designed for land-landing. Not Apollo, nothing Apollo-like. A simple example is the shape of the vehicle. During cross-wind landings and/or other conditions, the CM might flip over and break like a nutshell. CEV ended up with airbags, etc, to make it work, which of course require droping the heat-sshield which requires added mass, …blahblahblaah…, that eventually Ares I cannot lift. Ooopss. Let’s go back to water landing. Ooopss reusability now is a problem. Can someone say what reusability really is? And also btw Soyus IS NOT reusable. The Russians only “Ford-T’ed” their assembly line and they fly as often they can. Not once or twice a year. Anyway.

    Soyuz for re-entry is safer than conical shapes. It may have less L/D at any given alpha, but WHO CARES? Do we want something inexpensive and reliable? Or not?

    Well, we could go on and on until chaos comes. Oh wait! Chaos has arrived!…

  • common sense

    @ Eric Sterner:

    I don’t think your post actually is in any significant opposition with the others especially in light of your last paragraph. I did not read anyone wanted to absolve OMB, rather bring the responsibility where it belongs. In summary, if you want to lead then lead: Take all the perks AND responsibilities that come with the job. Anything else is just pointless and fingerpointing. Difficult? You judge.

  • Major Tom

    “Major Tom, the Obama budget also sees $1T deficits as far as the eye can see. That is simply not sustainable. In a year or two OMB will be scouring federal programs looking for $500B or more in savings.

    NASA’s new Moon rocket will be on that list.”

    Regardless of how one feels about the deficit being run for the current economic bailout, there’s no doubt that the nation’s demographics are going to hand the White House (even if it was a McCain White House) huge, multi-trillion dollar deficits starting about 2011-13. The size of the retiring Baby Boomer population, combined with Medicare and Social Security commitments and spiraling medical costs, make this an inevitability in the absence of entitlement and medical system reform. It can’t be fixed by cutting discretionary programs and agencies, like Constellation and NASA. We could wipe out all the discretionary funding in the federal budget and it wouldn’t solve the problem. The costs and benefits of Medicare and Social Security will have to be fundamentally revised.

    That doesn’t mean that Constellation might not become a target for the Obama Administration down the road. But if NASA can’t get Constellation’s multi-ten-billion-dollar cost growth, multi-year delays, and shrinking requirements under control, that would be true regardless of whether there was an overall federal budget crisis. Any White House, Obama, McCain, or otherwise (or Congress for that matter), isn’t going to cough up another $50+ billion in cost growth so that Constellation can deliver four crew to ISS in 2017 and maybe get back to the Moon sometime the following decade — that was never in the cards. Even in the federal government, very poor performing and inexecutable programs get cut or terminated.

    Finally, there’s some big news brewing with regards to what the White House is going to do to deal with the burgeoning problems in the Constellation Program and NASA’s human space flight programs in general. If true, major changes may be in the offing by late summer/early fall. I’d urge anyone to subscribe to L2 at nasaspaceflight.com if you don’t already. It’s covered well there.

    FWIW…

  • Major Tom

    “Wow….didn’t realize there were so many folks in Washington who loved OMB and wanted to absolve it of any responsiblity for performing its basic functions.”

    Please reread the earlier posts. No one stated that they wanted to “absolve” OMB of all responsibility. The argument was that Griffin was placing blame where it didn’t belong. Griffin was blaming OMB civil servant staff in his speech for budget decisions that they simply don’t have the authority to make. Those decisions are made by the political staff at OMB (program associated directors, the deputy director, and the director of OMB), by the West Wing staff, and by the VPOTUS and POTUS. There’s also usually inputs from OSTP, NSC, and other White House agencies. Griffin may just be ignorant of how the White House budget process works or he may just be continuing in the time-honored and cowardly tradition of criticizing White House decisions without criticizing the President or his advisors by blaming “rogue” civil servant staff. Regardless of whether Griffin’s remarks are made out of ignorance or cowardice, they’re false — OMB civil servant staff can’t publish budget numbers unless there is sign-off at the political level. Civil servant staff present options — political decisionmakers make decisions.

    I don’t know why this is so hard to understand, even for folks who have worked in the federal government. OMB’s basic functions and processes are no different than any other agency or department budget office.

    “Remember, the definition for success at OMB differs from the definition of success at NASA, EPA, DOD, etc. etc. etc. OMB is fully capable of closing a budget because the numbers work 1 year, knowing full well that the 5-year runout it releases at budget time does NOT bear any relation to the reality it purports to represent and knowing full well that the programs contained in that budget are NOT sustainable at the projected funding levels. Dishonest budgeting? In Washington? Who’da thunk.”

    This is totally false, and anyone who believes it has not studied a NASA budget request in enough detail. Every annual NASA budget request to Congress is a five-year budget down to the project and sub-project level. The numbers add up from top to bottom in all five years, not just the fiscal year. Go visit the NASA CFO’s website and see for yourself.

    That doesn’t mean that programs won’t encounter problems or priorities might not change from one year to the next and affect the five-year runout. But each five-year budget is whole and coherent.

    “To do less, is to treat OMB as a mere adding machine, which is generally disrespectful of the fact that its personnel are living, breathing people who make anlaytical judgments, have opinions, and feel a responsibility to make their views known.”

    No doubt. But to blame civil servant staff for suppossed $15 billion dollar budget cuts, almost the size of NASA’s entire annual budget, is ludicrous and/or cowardly. If Griffin is really so upset by the budgets he received while Administrator, then he should be criticizing the President and Vice-President that he worked for, the OMB, OSTP, and NSC Directors at the time, and their political staff.

    And if Griffin was really so ineffective as NASA Administrator that he could be rolled by a few civil servant staff, then maybe he should look in the mirror when assigning blame for the budgets he received. Every agency and department is allowed to appeal OMB budget recommendations all the way up to the President. One has to wonder where Griffin and his staff were during that process each year.

    FWIW…

  • common sense

    It looks like all (?) the positions at NASA HQ located in ESMD for GS > 14 are being cancelled.

    FWIW…

  • Eric Sterner

    Tom:

    You really think POTUS and VPOTUS spend a lot of time on the NASA budget? Really? Truly? Do you you really think the OMB PAD consistently knows and cares enough about NASA and the challenges of running any high-tech program to do much more than sign off on what the civil service experts tell him? It’s “so hard to understand” your version of the way the world works because it doesn’t work that way.

    That’s not to say that Griffin is right to round on OMB civil servants as the source of the problem.

    I noted:

    “Remember, the definition for success at OMB differs from the definition of success at NASA, EPA, DOD, etc. etc. etc. OMB is fully capable of closing a budget because the numbers work 1 year, knowing full well that the 5-year runout it releases at budget time does NOT bear any relation to the reality it purports to represent and knowing full well that the programs contained in that budget are NOT sustainable at the projected funding levels. Dishonest budgeting? In Washington? Who’da thunk.”

    You responded:

    “This is totally false, and anyone who believes it has not studied a NASA
    budget request in enough detail. Every annual NASA budget request to Congress is a five-year budget down to the project and sub-project level. The numbers add up from top to bottom in all five years, not just the fiscal year. Go visit the NASA CFO’s website and see for yourself.”

    My reaction:

    If all you do is read the annual budget request, even in great detail, then you don’t understand budgets or government. Of course the columns add up fine. But, they don’t reflect the projected likely costs of the program and everyone knows it. NASA, OMB, and Congress skirt the problem by using budget gimmicks, including: 1) changing program-budget confidence intervals; 2) assuming magic “savings” from some other program; 3) planning on “paying back” a short-term budget cut in the out-years (which sometimes happens, but not always); 4) masking short-term problems by managing cash flows differently; 5) obligating the money, but failing to “cost” it by delaying the work in any given fiscal year, creating a nice little revolving fund that can be used in an emergency; and, 6) just plain ol’ pushing work that has to be done–and would best be done sooner, rather than later, into the outyears. That’s why GAO or CBO are so frequently in the news when they run the numbers, compare them with likely performance, point out some of the budget shenanigans, and otherwise note the disconnects. (See GAO’s reports on MTPE’s uncosted carryover balances in the 1990s and practically every report it did on cost/schedule for ISS, particularly those that occured in conjunction with the multi-billion dollar over-run NASA presented to Bush in 2001.)

    None of this has anything to do with changing priorities or unanticipated problems. It is budget politics pure and simple and OMB–civil servants included–is masterful at it.

    I do agree with the point that Griffin’s anger might better be directed at levels higher up than the civil servants at OMB. I don’t know whether any of the career folks at OMB staffed papers up the chain laying out the consequences of continued budget cuts, or whether they promised to “take care of it without doing damage to the President’s agenda” because their bosses didn’t want to hear bad news. Certainly, their bosses would deserve more blame for either ignoring the warnings or creating an environment in which bad news wasn’t welcome–assuming there was someone willing to deliver it. Sadly, this kind of stuff doesn’t generally rise to the President’s desk on its own, or even the Veep’s. Space was managed at relatively low levels in the WH (the NSC and OSTP folks were director level civil servants and OMB jealously fights to keep them out of budget issues) and there didn’t seem to be any senior politicals who cared enough to take the time to follow-up on VSE. I don’t know if anyone has asked Mike whether, in hindsight, he regrets not just throwing his badge on the table and walking. You always have to ask yourself whether you can do more good on the inside than on the outside.

  • Blue

    Eric, again, I work for a state agency that has the same role as OMB. Yes, an agency of the relative size of NASA isn’t going to be at the top of anyone’s agenda. At least with us, there is a top line number for the overall bill, it gets divided basically according to existing allocations and then changes are made at the margins before it is submitted to the Legislature. Do budget staffers have policy preferences? Sure. Can they make a difference? From time to time. But we’re reminded every day who really calls the shots–and it isn’t the budget staff!

  • TANSTAAFL

    Eric,

    Thanks for contributing your insights. I agree with basically everything you said, and I am guessing that “Major Tom” will grudgingly agree to the core points of your latest response to his first response.

    I wanted to emphasize a point of substance that you accepted and agreed to, and ask you a follow-up question (to expand on something you said in your first post.

    1) STERNER: I do agree with the point that Griffin’s anger might better be directed at levels higher up than the civil servants at OMB.

    I think this is the core point that people were making. I am glad you agree.

    A note for those who don’t know Eric — Eric used to work for Mike Griffin at NASA (most recently as AA for Strategic Communications). If even Eric can acknowledge that Griffin’s ire is misdirected, then I think that most everybody else should be able to accept this point.

    2) STERNER: That said, OMB is still a bureaucracy. It still practices politics. It’s still vulnerable to having its own priorities, which may or may not coincide with those of the political higher-ups in the White House.

    I wanted to emphasize this because I think it is important, and I think Major Tom should be able to agree with this too.

    NASA is a bureaucracy, with institutional interests sometimes at odds with public interests (sometimes glaringly — think “white collar welfare” of protecting jobs at Centers without regard to whether it is good for the nation).

    Congress is a bureaucracy, with institutional interests sometimes at odds with public interests (sometimes glaringly — think “pork” or think how Members of Congress join NASA bureaucratic interests to protect jobs at a Center).

    The White House (including OMB) is a bureaucracy, with institutional interests sometimes at odds with public interests (not as glaringly, because most observers can’t see how the game is played — think “closed door budget games that don’t reflect the real truth about our budget problems, as Sterner laid out”).

    3) STERNER: It still, occasionally, can’t resist the temptation to invent goals, procedures, and practices against which it can measure departments and agencies with an eye towards justifying its own existence…not in order to assist a department or agency achieve whatever mission/function it has been assigned.

    I would like you to expand on this. OMB is not just of the “Bureau of Budget” anymore. It is the “Office of MANAGMENT and Budget”. It has been given the explicity responsibility to help the White House “manage” the federal agencies. To do its job, the OMB needs to “invent goals, procedures and practices” to help the WH manage federal agencies.

    Now, I am willing to acknowledge that they may not be “good at it”, but that does not mean that they should not try to figure out how to execute on this responsibility. I am also willing to consider that they may abuse this responsibility, but I would want to hear the specific circumstances.

    Can you share some specific circumstances to shed light on this issue?

    - TANSTAAFL

  • common sense

    I have to say that I am a little baffled here with what Eric Sterner and TANSTAAFL are saying. Without being super naive I believe I understand what you mean about everyone’s own interests and views of the world. Be it at NASA centers, Congress, OMB, etc.

    BUT I would hope that someone takes responsibility for their subordinates and thir actions. For example, the WH for say OMB and the NASA Admin. I believe pointing fingers only is the reflection of those who relinquished their responsibilities. Sorry.

    Is it difficult to do everything? You bet and that is why we elect WH and Congress. Does it require diplomacy? Of course and they are being paid (fairly well) to do it. Is it difficult to go to the Moon and beyond? Well, if we cannot even manage our administrative people to properly manage budget or NASA, then please allow me to be skeptical that we will ever do it, ever again. Therefore the NASA we know will most likely go the way GM is going.

    It is time to stop pointitng fingers and SERIOUSLY refelect. What do we want to do? Going to the Moon or perserve the status quo. Those who are in charge should really start to THINK or pretty soon they’ll also be looking for something to do.

  • Major Tom

    “Tom:

    You really think POTUS and VPOTUS spend a lot of time on the NASA budget?”

    Of course not. But, contrary to Griffin’s claims, that doesn’t mean that OMB civil servants are responsible for POTUS and VPOTUS decisions. If Griffin appealed an OMB passback to the POTUS or VPOTUS, but got shot down, that’s not OMB’s fault. Either Griffin’s team didn’t do a good job making their case, or the POTUS or VPOTUS made a bad decision. Griffin should blame himself or his former bosses, not OMB.

    And, in fact, in order for OMB to publish a budget, the White House has to reach agreement with the department or agency in question, i.e., Griffin has to agree to the budget numbers he’s being given. There’s gobs of Congressional testimony from Griffin when he was Administrator in which he makes it clear that he stands by the President’s budget. For Griffin to go back now and imply that he didn’t actually agree to or support those budgets would indicate that he was dishonest then or is being dishonest now.

    And I failed to make this last point in the prior posts, but it’s just boggling that Griffin would blame a $15 billion reduction in NASA’s multi-year budget projections for Constellation’s current budget woes when the program’s own cost estimates have experienced $35 billion in growth and are threatening another $18 billion in growth according to the CBO. That’s the most blatant and worst kind of blame-shifting. Regardless of whether OMB staff, the POTUS, the Congress, or Martians are responsible for the $15 billion reduction in budget projections, clearly the great majority of Constellation’s budget problems, $35-53 billion worth of cost growth, are due to decisions by NASA managers and their prior Administrator. For Griffin to argue otherwise demonstrates a worrisome ignorance of the numbers involved or a transparent attempt to shift the blame.

    “Do you you really think the OMB PAD consistently knows and cares enough about NASA and the challenges of running any high-tech program to do much more than sign off on what the civil service experts tell him?”

    I think that’s an inaccurate understanding of the the PADs’ role and involvement. My understanding is that OMB PADs typically have broad backgrounds in the areas that they cover (NASA’s PAD is often an engineer or scientist even if they’re not in aerospace discplines), that they sit in on the initial budget overview briefings provided by departments/agencies to OMB staff, that they typically spend a half-day to a day getting briefed on and working program and budget options for a particular agency with OMB staff, that they typically send OMB staff back to the showers when they don’t like the program and budget options being presented to them, that they are active participants in the final briefings and decision meetings with the OMB Director, that they have to review and sign off on the passback sent to the agency, and that they play a crucial role in negotiating the final appeals/reclamas with the departments/agencies.

    I guess there could be lazy PADs that just repeatedly hit the rubber stamp, but given the nature of the process, I don’t see how they’d survive more than one budget cycle.

    And so what if there were lazy PADs, does that somehow make the civil servants responsible for their PAD’s laziness?

    “It’s ‘so hard to understand’ your version of the way the world works because it doesn’t work that way.”

    In addition to the role of the PADs discussed above, I’ve heard of at least one instance where the OMB Director himself sent OMB staff back to the showers because he didn’t agree with the options being presented for NASA budget content (i.e., there were two meetings with the OMB Director on NASA’s budget before it went to the White House). Contrary to Griffin’s claims, the political levels at OMB are actively engaged in developing department and agency budgets. They’re not being rolled by civil servant staff.

    “If all you do is read the annual budget request, even in great detail, then you don’t understand budgets or government. Of course the columns add up fine.”

    That may not be what you meant, but it was strongly implied when you differentiated between the budget fiscal year and the five-year runout.

    “1) changing program-budget confidence intervals”

    NASA does this, not OMB. For example, it was Griffin who decided to allow Ares I/Orion to be budgeted at the 65% confidence level for a 2014 IOC (now 2015 with zero confidence) in order to accommodate those projects’ large amount of programmatic content (versus a less technically and budgetarily challenging alternative).

    “2) assuming magic “savings” from some other program;”

    The only example of this I can think of is the difference in assumptions about projected savings during the Shuttle flyout under O’Keefe versus Griffin. Although O’Keefe was previously at OMB, the difference in assumptions is driven by the different Administrators, not OMB.

    “3) planning on “paying back” a short-term budget cut in the out-years (which sometimes happens, but not always);”

    Again, NASA does this all the time in the science budget, where there are lots of ongoing projects that can do those kinds of budget swaps. But I don’t see OMB brokering those intra-agency agreements.

    “4) masking short-term problems by managing cash flows differently;”

    I’m not sure what this means, specifically. Cash flow is a business accounting term not really used in government.

    “5) obligating the money, but failing to “cost” it by delaying the work in any given fiscal year, creating a nice little revolving fund that can be used in an emergency;”

    Again, NASA runs contracts and has the power to delay work, not OMB. Among its many weaknesses, Griffin’s Constellation budget assumed a large year-to-year rollover to carry the program until Shuttle retired.

    “6) just plain ol’ pushing work that has to be done–and would best be done sooner, rather than later, into the outyears.”

    NASA and OMB are guilty of this, but when a program is overrunning and content can’t be taken out of the program, the only alternative left is stretching out the schedule (or termination).

    “That’s not to say that Griffin is right to round on OMB civil servants as the source of the problem… I do agree with the point that Griffin’s anger might better be directed at levels higher up than the civil servants at OMB.”

    That’s the central argument, and regardless of the details above, on this, we appear to agree.

    FWIW…

  • Eric Sterner

    TAANSTAFL/Tom:

    Ouch, way to put me on the spot! You’re asking me to remember specifics from a few years back…a period I’ve tried to put out of my mind!

    A few quick points in the interests of full disclosure:

    First, I worked at NASA as Associate Deputy Administrator for Policy and Plans. In that job I reported directly to Shana Dale, the Deputy Administrator, for whom I had worked in the 90s. The main gig there was helping her handle agency management & ops. I didn’t get involved in programs. About six months into the job, the Chief of Strategic Communications left. So, I took that responsiblity on as well, first on an acting basis and eventually, on an official basis. That’s not an AA slot and, technically, was not actually a management job. As O’Keefe conceived it, it was a coordination function that, apparently, was meant to reduce the number of direct reports to him, or so the CW inside NASA went. As a matter of practice, it was a hybrid between coordination and management by default because the agency, Congress, and eventually OMB were dissatisfied with the functions nominally grouped under “strategic communications:” PAO, OLA, External Relations, & Education at HQ. We added a planning office out of hide to build a common communications plan and help with messaging. (The centers, mission directorates, and programs had their own shops, so you’re looking at a spaghetti wiring diagram in trying to figure out how it works.) Before NASA, I was the senior PSM for national security policy on the House Armed Services Committee, a Special Assistant in OASD/ISP (the Pentagon), a PSM and Staff Director for the House Science Committee’s Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, and a defense contractor, mainly working on proliferation issues and challenges presented by new technologies. I am currently a fellow at the George C. Marshall Institute and have done some consulting work for companies that had NASA contracts, although I do not currently have any clients who work with NASA. So…there’s full disclosure. (Can I suggest that others do the same?)

    Second, in re the suggestion of specifics on OMB’s unhelpful management guidance. The one that struck me the most was the requirement to have access/ID badges in place by a date certain. I forget the Presidential circular and am reaching back into the dim recesses, but you may recall it was part of the process that led some JPL folks to sue the government in order to avoid elementary background checks that are being required of all incoming government employees. Basically, OMB set up detailed requirements and a timeline to complete the transition to new id cards. To help things along, it identified a possible contractor, the use of which would result in a “green” score. The problem was that the card available from the contractor at that point only met the near term OMB performance requirements. It didn’t meet the mid- or long-term requirements–and apparently wouldn’t in the time allotted. Moreover, IIRC, no agency had been given additional resources to compile biometric data that had to go on the cards, designate access areas based on info on the cards, or procure and install swipe pads that made the cards very useful from an access standpoint. So, one could waste a lot of time, energy, and money complying with OMB’s guidance without solving any real problems, or, for that matter, getting one inch closer to the moon or Mars. NASA went into a months-long effort to get “permission” to build a better program from the ground up, which I think it received after I left. IMHO, the amount of time, energy, and resources that went into convincing OMB to loosen up a little was not well spent. Don’t get me wrong, the Presidential circular was overdue and NASA’s compliance task was made harder because: 1) it had ignored an EO on background checks dating back to Eisenhower, 2) it had a technical culture of trying to promote easy access and openness (yes, believe it or not), 3) it always suffers from a NIMBY reaction to outside solutions; and 4) it often seems to believe that external guidance is a mere suggestion, and not a requirement. (It’s more guilty than other agencies of using a decision as a departure point to begin the discussion.) That said, in this case, NASA was right, had solid analysis to back up its position, and attempted to clearly communicate that position to OMB on multiple occasions. Still, it took months and the general reaction from NASA folks dealing directly w/OMB was that OMB had no interest in solving the problem, provided that the letter of its guidance was followed. It was their opinion that OMB was more interested in its report card than in the substance of the policy. It would’ve been better for OMB simply to leave it to the agencies to demonstrate how they had complied with the circular, rather than issuing detailed instructions. To its credit, OMB saw the light in this case (again, if my memory serves) and gov’t worked properly. No doubt I’ve forgotten many of the details, but you get the gist. Nobody was acting maliciously; everyone had good intentions and wanted a good outcome, but the process was inefficient. (FWIW, I represented NASA on an interagency management council sponsored by OMB usually made up of only politicals and the consistent complaint from EVERY agency was about OMB micromanagement. I didn’t think it was just folks complaining about life; there was a substantive problem.)

    Third, someone suggested that if Griffin got rolled by OMB civil servants on budget issues that it reflected poorly on Griffin. I’m paraphrasing because I’m too lazy to go cut and paste. But, I think the observation, whether true or not, makes my point. Why would Griffin, appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate to carry out national policy, have had a budget conflict with OMB in the first place? What was OMB’s job when it came to the space program? Was it to contain the NASA budget or achieve the President’s vision? If NASA, the President, and OMB were on the same page in re the big picture, the question shouldn’t have come up. If the President and Griffin were on different pages, then Griffin should’ve been fired or done a better job toeing the line. I believe that the President was fully capable of firing Griffin and that Mike was doing his best to toe the President’s line as he understood it. So, what does that leave, since the issue kept coming up? OMB was the odd-man out. If you think those statements are naive, you’re making my point. Of course they come up because OMB IS a player, which to my mind means that OMB can and should be held accountable for the things it does that affect the program. Some may want to excuse civil servants from that role, but I don’t think you can entirely. They know the programs better than anyone in the WH, are valued by the politicals for that reason, and contribute to the WH decision-making process by defining the options and serving as a buffer between the agency and the politicals.

    In the main, we seem to agree that: 1) frustration with total budget levels accorded to NASA to achieve the President’s vision lies with senior politicals in the WH, most probably the President. I cut him some slack because the nation had higher priorities and Presidents don’t usually spend a lot of time on department/agency budgets. Those things are delegated to…OMB. But, ultimately, it was still his responsiblity; 2) the civil servants at OMB are sincere, knowledgeable professionals doing what they think is best for the country given their responsibilities as budget folks.

    I hope we agree that: 1) OMB is not responsible for mission success and responds to different incentives; 2) OMB is a player in national policy; and, 3) OMB is a bureaucracy capable of pursuing its own interests.

    We seem to disagree in that based on my experience, I believe that 1) OMB civil servants are capable of pursuing their agency’s institutional agenda, which may or may not reflect those of the President and 2) OMB civil servants should be held accountable when they do; 3) others believe OMB civil servants are neutered when it comes to affecting the direction of national progams and policies; and/or 4) others believe that OMB civil servants are not accountable for the results when they succeed in influencing the national agenda to their liking because they work for/through more senior politicals.

    On that, I think I’m concluding my posts on this chain, although I probably will post occasionally on other subjects.

    Thanks for the exchanges. Look forward to more in the future.

  • TANSTAAFL

    Eric,

    Thanks for the detailed response. I have great respect for your thinking — and knowledge — which is well demonstrated without sharing your resume.

    I choose not to share my resume. I will have to let my command of verifiable facts and (hopefully some level of) logic speak for themselves. I hope that is enough.

    A couple issues:

    STERNER: What was OMB’s job when it came to the space program? Was it to contain the NASA budget or achieve the President’s vision?

    I suggest it is the President’s job to answer that question, and not anybody else’s.

    It could go either way, based on the President’s stated desires.

    This is all circumstance based — the total sum of the President’s *real* desires are unlikely to be all written down on paper in a policy statement.

    Those desires are different for every federal agency, and what OMB does is a partial reflection of those desires.

    STERNER: If NASA, the President, and OMB were on the same page in re the big picture, the question shouldn’t have come up. If the President and Griffin were on different pages, then Griffin should’ve been fired or done a better job toeing the line.

    Only the President, and perhaps his closest advisors, can answer why the President did not resolve this conflict between OMB and NASA.

    I am guessing that the President felt it was not important enough to fire Griffin (he then would have had to hire a new person), and he had other more important priorities.

    Somehow President Bush communicated to OMB his intent — his real desires — on NASA’s budget, as well as every other federal agency. That is his job.

    I think it goes without saying that the President’s *real* priorities in the federal budget received the level of funding that the President wanted.

    Again, I appreciate your participation in this discussion. Thanks for the story on the OMB micromanagement of security card requirements to implement the EO policy.

    FWIW,

    - TANSTAAFL

  • [...] directly at former administrator Mike Griffin, who has complained about the . As you may recall, Griffin complained about the OMB in his Goddard Memorial Dinner speech in April, saying that the office had taken out billions of dollars of money intended for carrying [...]

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