Uncertainty remains the one certainty for NASA’s budgets

By Jeff Foust on 2013 March 8 at 7:04 am ET

One week ago today, budget sequestration formally went into effect, cutting NASA’s budget by five percent from its 2012 levels. Earlier this week, the House passed a continuing resolution (CR) that would fund NASA and other government agencies at fiscal year 2012 levels, with a few adjustments for programs like the Space Launch System and commercial crew. However, at officials with NASA’s single largest budget account, science, are still trying to figure out what these developments mean for the programs they’re trying to fund.

“Let me start with everything I know about the fiscal year ’13 budget,” said John Grunsfeld in a presentation Wednesday morning at the National Research Council’s Space Science Week, a joint meeting of several advisory groups in the astronomical, planerary, space, and earth sciences held in Washington. He then proceeded to put up a (deliberately) blank slide, to laughter from the audience. “Moving on to FY14, I’m going to tell you everything I can tell you about the FY14 budget,” he then said, putting up another blank slide, reflecting the fact that the administration had yet to release its 2014 budget proposal.

Grunsfeld offered a few more details about sequestration, noting that the sequester cuts science funding by $51.1 million from the FY13 budget request, to $4.86 billion (on the assumption that the science account will be funded in 2013 at the same level as it was in 2012 through a CR, which is what the House CR passed this week does.) How those cuts will be implemented, though, is still being worked out within the agency. “This is still very much a work in progress. Nothing has been decided,” he said.

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