It’s rare to get the Obama Administration and the conservative editorial page of the Washington Times in agreement on something. Yet, both have spoken out in opposition to report language in the Senate’s Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) appropriations bill—due to be considered by the full Senate this week—regarding cost and pricing data for commercial crew and cargo providers.
“Requiring private spaceflight contractors to calculate this additional, irrelevant set of numbers would consume thousands of man hours to calculate the complex, esoteric cost-plus system,” argues the Times in its editorial, referring to the “certified cost and pricing data” those companies would have to provide NASA for commercial crew and cargo contracts. Several commercial space advocacy groups have spoken out against the language in the CJS report requiring that information.
The Times editorial also includes a dig at the Space Launch System (SLS). “Launching this ‘Rocket to Nowhere’ will cost taxpayers at least a half-billion dollars every time it lifts off — if it ever does,” the editorial argues. “It’s only fair, and in the long run more efficient, that private firms get a fair opportunity to compete for America’s space business.”
Tuesday morning, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued its Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) on the Senate CJS appropriations bill. “The Administration appreciates the Committee’s support for the Commercial Crew program,” it states in the NASA section of the SAP, “but has concerns about language that would seek to apply accounting requirements unsuitable for a firm, fixed-price acquisition, likely increasing the program’s cost and potentially delaying its schedule.”
The SAP also addresses a couple of other issues with the CJS bill. The administration is “concerned,” it states, about the reduced funding for NASA’s Space Technology program, which gets $580 million versus the administration’s request of $705 million. It also criticizes the Senate for specifying that any future Europa mission use the SLS as the baseline launch vehicle, and warns that the Senate’s “proposed approach to a follow-on Landsat mission is not feasible within the bill’s proposed cost cap of $650 million.”