Legislation introduced last fall to reorganize how NASA is managed appears to be getting a second shot in the new Congress. The House Science Committee’s space subcommittee has scheduled a hearing titled “A Review of The Space Leadership Preservation Act” for Wednesday, February 27, at 10 am. No witnesses or other information about the hearing have been released by the committee so far.
Last September, several members of Congress introduced the Space Leadership Preservation Act to correct issues they perceived with how NASA is run. The original legislation, HR 6491 in the 112th Congress, created a board of directors for NASA, eight of whose 11 members would be appointed by the majority and minority leaders of the House and Senate. A key task for that board would be to nominate candidates to serve as NASA administrator; the president would appoint one of the nominees to serve a ten-year term. The board would also draft budgets submitted simultaneously to the White House and Congress. The legislation would also give NASA authority to perform multi-year procurements.
Despite optimistic statements by the bill’s sponsors at the time of its introduction, the legislation went nowhere in the last Congress, not even getting a formal hearing. The new version of the bill has not been formally introduced yet (as of early Friday morning), so it’s uncertain if it will be a copy of last year’s bill or incorporate any changes. While the original bill had a bit of bipartisan support (one co-sponsor was Houston-area Rep. Gene Green, a Democrat), there was little overt interest in the bill in the Senate. In addition, the White House would likely be opposed to legislation that would appear to shift power, in terms of freedom to nominate administrators and control of the budget process, from the administration to Congress.