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  Sequestration: NASA suspends outreach activities

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Author Topic:   Sequestration: NASA suspends outreach activities
Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-22-2013 07:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
On Friday (March 22), NASA issued an internal memo in regards to the on-going sequester-mandated budget cuts and its public and education outreach activities. The memo reads in part:
Effective immediately, all education and public outreach activities should be suspended, pending further review. In terms of scope, this includes all public engagement and outreach events, programs, activities, and products developed and implemented by Headquarters, Mission Directorates, and Centers across the Agency, including all education and public outreach efforts conducted by programs and projects.

The scope comprises activities intended to communicate, connect with, and engage a wide and diverse set of audiences to raise awareness and involvement in NASA, its goals, missions and programs, and to develop an appreciation for, exposure to, and involvement in STEM. Audiences include employees, partners, educators, students, and members of the general public. The scope encompasses, but is not limited to:

  • Programs, events, and workshops.
  • Permanent and traveling exhibits, signage, and other materials.
  • Speeches, presentations, and appearances, with the exception of technical presentations by researchers at scientific and technical symposia.
  • Video and multimedia products in development (and renewal of existing products).
  • Web and social media sites in development (excludes operational sites).
  • External and internal publications, with the exception of Scientific and Technical Information as defined by NPD 2200.1B.
  • Any other activity whose goal is to reach out to external and internal stakeholders and the public concerning NASA, its programs, and activities.
Additional information regarding the waiver and review process will be issued by the Associate Administrators for Communications and Education. The Agency has already made tough choices about conferences and travel. For those activities planned to be held between the date of this memorandum through April 30, 2013, that your organization deems to be Agency mission-critical, the Headquarters Offices of Communications and Education will conduct a waiver process to promptly evaluate those specific efforts.

For future activities, the Offices of Communications and Education have established a process to assess and determine, in light of the current budget situation, what education and public outreach activities should be determined Agency mission critical and thereby be continued or implemented...

It is not yet clear what effect, if any, this will have on outreach activities like Destination Station, on-going astronaut appearances or the availability of NASA materials for educators and the public. That said, this is a suspension for review, not an outright cancellation, so time will tell.

MB
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Posts: 90
From: Olmsted Falls, Ohio U.S.A.
Registered: Jul 2005

posted 03-22-2013 08:09 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MB   Click Here to Email MB     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is very bad news. Friends of mine work at the NASA Glenn exhibits department and I'm very concerned for their jobs. I just volunteered to assist with the facility tours at NASA Glenn. From the sounds of this they may only be allowed to hold there April tour. I hope this mess gets resolved soon!!

SpaceAholic
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posted 03-22-2013 08:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The proverbial chickens are definately coming home to roost on the national debt.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-22-2013 08:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA tweeted:
Heard that NASA communications and outreach is shutting down? We're not going anywhere.

Given the budget climate, we're reviewing outreach to ensure we’re communicating smartly - priority on mission critical activities.

arjuna
unregistered
posted 03-23-2013 12:35 AM           Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I wish I could say that saner heads will prevail over this manufactured "crisis", but frankly I'm not that hopeful.

issman1
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posted 03-23-2013 05:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Is this really sequestration? Or just being obsequious to overzealous and reactionary US politicians?

cspg
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posted 03-23-2013 06:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cspg   Click Here to Email cspg     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
And that would include publications (books)?

(External and internal publications, with the exception of Scientific and Technical Information as defined by NPD 2200.1B.)

BMckay
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posted 03-23-2013 07:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for BMckay   Click Here to Email BMckay     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This is already effecting us with a few astronaut appearance already put on hold.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-23-2013 07:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by issman1:
Is this really sequestration?
Yes, it is. From NASA spokesman Bob Jacobs via NBC News:
"The agency's budget for the fiscal year is more that $1 billion below the original request. We are taking prudent steps to ensure the resources expended on outreach activities are done so wisely.

"Mission activities and much of the existing news and information dissemination is not likely to be impacted, including our successful social media efforts," he said. "However, it is important in this constrained fiscal environment to pause and assess how the money is being spent on a wide variety of outreach activities, many of which are funded by independent projects and programs. We are not canceling anything yet. We are being financially responsible by pausing long enough to review activities before they go forward."

Spaceguy5
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From: Pampa, TX, US
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posted 03-23-2013 11:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spaceguy5   Click Here to Email Spaceguy5     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Considering the huge scope of NASA's educational and public outreach programs, this sounds like it has potential to be disastrous.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-23-2013 02:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
White House petition: Repeal the sequester's cuts on NASA's spending in public outreach and its STEM programs
The Sequester's recent cuts on NASA's spending in public outreach and its STEM programs must not be allowed. These cuts would end the many programs NASA has for educating the children of our society, as well as many other forms of public outreach held by NASA.

SpaceAholic
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posted 03-23-2013 02:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I hope there is a recommendation provided on where the cuts should come from as an alternative. The US cant keep spending itself into oblivion.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-23-2013 02:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Cutting NASA is not a solution. You could shut down the entire agency and it wouldn't make a difference to the larger issue.

These cuts are unnecessary and accomplish nothing, other than weakening the U.S. space program and its ability to effectively accomplish its charter.

SpaceAholic
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From: Sierra Vista, Arizona
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posted 03-23-2013 02:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Certainly the way that Sequestration is being administered indiscriminately across the budget line is destructive but it was believed inconceivable at the time of its enactment that it was going to be triggered. Unfortunately that's not the reality... both political parties including the President (who was the originator of the Sequester concept) signed off. I'm one of the 800K federal employees who will be furloughed and stand to loose 10-20 percent of my income each year over the next 10. As disheartening as that is, it's no more so then living in a country which is on the path to insolvency.

GoesTo11
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posted 03-23-2013 03:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GoesTo11   Click Here to Email GoesTo11     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
Cutting NASA is not a solution. You could shut down the entire agency and it wouldn't make a difference to the larger issue.

These cuts are unnecessary and accomplish nothing, other than weakening the U.S. space program and its ability to effectively accomplish its charter.


Quite so. Just as quintupling NASA's budget would not noticeably increase the tax burden of any US citizen, you could shut down the agency entirely and it would not change the fact that the current American socioeconomic model is unsustainable.

Every agency and bureaucracy that cries "sequestration!" is targeting its "cuts" for maximum visibility and public impact, rather than actually prioritizing spending or reorganizing for greater efficiency. That's how government here works...or doesn't.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-23-2013 03:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by GoesTo11:
Every agency and bureaucracy that cries "sequestration!" is targeting its "cuts" for maximum visibility...
If NASA was really going after maximum visibility, it would start grounding astronauts from space station missions, or shutting down its older planetary probes like Opportunity and Cassini. Instead, the agency is trying to trim around the edges of its mission activities, without impacting the missions themselves.

It's not clear however, if there are enough savings in travel restrictions and outreach reviews to avoid mission operations altogether.

Spaceguy5
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posted 03-23-2013 03:49 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Spaceguy5   Click Here to Email Spaceguy5     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by GoesTo11:
Every agency and bureaucracy that cries "sequestration!" is targeting its "cuts" for maximum visibility and public impact, rather than actually prioritizing spending or reorganizing for greater efficiency. That's how government here works... or doesn't.
Washington Monument Syndrome

capoetc
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From: Newnan GA (USA)
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posted 03-23-2013 06:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for capoetc   Click Here to Email capoetc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
Cutting NASA is not a solution. You could shut down the entire agency and it wouldn't make a difference to the larger issue.

These cuts are unnecessary and accomplish nothing, other than weakening the U.S. space program and its ability to effectively accomplish its charter.


While I agree with you in principle, Robert, the question is: What programs can you cut that (1) will make a difference in the larger issue, and (2) don't have their share of vehement supporters?

Whenever I have the "government spending" discussion with someone, I always ask, "What is YOUR favorite government program? Perhaps national parks are important to you, or Social Security, or NASA ... regardless, are you willing to cut 1%, 2%, 5%, or more from YOUR favorite program?"

If the answer to that question is "no," then we will never balance the budget.

That having been said, some will say, "Why balance the budget? As long as the budget is less than XX% of GDP, then a deficit is ok and perhaps even good". I disagree with this philosophy, primarily because what happens is: government spending grows and grows when the economy rapidly expands (ie, 1990's) ... when the inevitable economic correction occurs, government spending does not contract with it and the national debt grows exponentially and to unsustainable levels. At the current growth rate of the debt, as interest rates rise programs will have to be cut just so we can pay the interest on the debt.

Some have equated sequestration with the austerity programs in Europe, and they say "look how badly the austerity programs have worked!" Problem is, the austerity programs became necessary BECAUSE of the out-of-control government spending that preceded them.

Finally, sequestration did not cause NASA outreach programs to be cancelled. NASA managers have some discretion (as do other government managers) within each "program, project, and activity" to make the cuts, and they have been given guidelines from OMB on how to prioritize.

Bottom line: The President and Congress made the sequester deal. It was part of the Budget Control Act of 2011, passed in the House 269-161 (174 Republicans and 95 Democrats voted for it) and in the Senate (74-26), and then signed into law by the President. Republicans and blue-dog Democrats in Congress agreed to it in order to force some fiscal sanity into the process. The President agreed to it in exchange for not having to deal with an increase in the debt ceiling during an election year. Neither side believed it would happen, but neither side did enough to avert it from happening. So ... here we are.

Greggy_D
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posted 03-23-2013 06:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Greggy_D   Click Here to Email Greggy_D     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by SpaceAholic:
I hope there is a recommendation provided on where the cuts should come from as an alternative. The US cant keep spending itself into oblivion.

How about Welfare to start? Too many people have turned it into a lifestyle instead of the temporary helping hand it was meant to be.

But they will NEVER cut that en masse block of votes.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-23-2013 07:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Let's try to keep this discussion focused on NASA.

So long as the sequestration is in place, NASA will be making cuts to its activities. It's not an option (at least as of now) to turn to other programs outside of NASA to provide the space agency relief.

alanh_7
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posted 03-24-2013 08:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for alanh_7   Click Here to Email alanh_7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Unfortunately sequestration is a fact for better or for worse. I read that the US Air Force has been forced to ground the Thunderbirds aerobatic team and the Navy has grounded the Blue Angels rather the cut from operational units. Popular teams with the public and the result of mindless political infighting which ended with cross the board budget cuts rather than both sides sitting down to find common ground and come up with reasonable solutions.

NASA also finds itself in the same position.

GoesTo11
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posted 03-24-2013 11:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for GoesTo11   Click Here to Email GoesTo11     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As Robert noted, this is a far bigger issue than NASA, and I don't wish to drive this discussion afield...but it must be considered in this context that Charlie Bolden is an appointee of the current Administration, and while I respect and admire Bolden, it's safe to assume that he and his staff are wielding their budget scalpel mindful of balancing highly visible cuts with those which might be politically damaging or at least embarrassing.*

*Stop snickering. I realize that the last four years have shown us that this Administration is both incapable of embarrassment and unlikely to be questioned by the vast bulk of the US media on any matter of greater import than the President's NCAA basketball tournament bracket. I'm thinking more in terms of cuts that might affect Congressional districts with particularly influential and vocal representatives.

arjuna
unregistered
posted 03-24-2013 05:26 PM           Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by GoesTo11:
As Robert noted, this is a far bigger issue than NASA, and I don't wish to drive this discussion afield... but... I realize that the last four years have shown us that this Administration is...
Can we please avoid the facile yet invidious political commentary? Thank you.

canyon42
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posted 03-24-2013 06:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for canyon42   Click Here to Email canyon42     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
GoesTo11, for someone who stated outright that you didn't wish to drive the discussion far afield, you sure accomplished that. Do I now get to hammer my U.S. Congressman as well, a certain gentleman from Ohio with the initials JB?

*Robert, understood completely if you should choose to delete this and a couple of preceding messages.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-24-2013 06:26 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by GoesTo11:
As Robert noted...
Let's try to keep this discussion focused on NASA.

GoesTo11
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posted 03-24-2013 06:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GoesTo11   Click Here to Email GoesTo11     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by canyon42:
Do I now get to hammer my U.S. Congressman as well, a certain gentleman from Ohio with the initials JB?

Hammer away, if you're so inclined. There's plenty of blame to go around. But asking to confine this discussion to NASA sort of tries to skirt the fact that this is a political issue, and as a previous poster said, sequestration is a manufactured "crisis."

In any event, I've said what I have to say...I won't be fueling any flame war on the subject here, not that Robert would tolerate it regardless.

canyon42
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posted 03-24-2013 08:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for canyon42   Click Here to Email canyon42     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Of course it's a political issue, and of course there is blame to spread on both sides. Your initial paragraph was actually an astute one, and I would see no issue with your post if you had left it at that. Statements such as the one you preceded with your asterisk are completely unhelpful though, particularly from someone who is still stating that they do not wish to fuel a "flame war." A little too late to say such a thing now--you already have.

Cozmosis22
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posted 03-30-2013 02:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cozmosis22     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Unfortunately, with the recent shut-down of the manned space launch program (STS) many people think that NASA is done, kaput.

To put a twist on an early space era phrase, "No Buck Rogers... no bucks!"

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-30-2013 03:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Cozmosis22:
many people think that NASA is done
Please cite your source, because I don't remember many people thinking NASA was done when Curiosity landed on Mars, an event that took place more than a year after the last space shuttle mission.

Yes, there was a brief period in summer 2011 when much was made of the shuttle program ending, but since then public interest in NASA's other activities has consistently trended upwards. In fact, interest in the International Space Station — based on social media trends and national news coverage — has grown since the space shuttle was retired in July 2011.

With regards to NASA's future, a recent (February 2013) public opinion poll found that 71 percent of Americans are confident humans will get to Mars in 20 years. On average, the same people polled believed NASA's budget accounted for 2.4 percent of the federal budget, but when informed of the actual level of funding, the majority "agreed" or "strongly agreed" that NASA's budget should be raised to 1 percent of the federal budget (Source).

GoesTo11
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posted 04-02-2013 08:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GoesTo11   Click Here to Email GoesTo11     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Couple of points re: Robert's last paragraph. I definitely believe that social media have made a BIG positive difference in the coverage and public awareness of NASA's activities, especially among the younger, more educated, and more tech-savvy...which is to say those who pay the bulk of our tax revenue now and/or will for the foreseeable future.

Second (and related), whenever the subject of space comes up in conversation with friends, family, or colleagues I'm STILL, in 2013, absolutely bereft at the chasm between their perception of how much of the federal budget NASA actually consumes and the reality. In these conversations, my objective is not to, say, get them to follow Curiousity on Twitter (But if they do, great!). It's simply to get across that we're not going broke because of NASA, we don't spend as much as you think on space, and in any case the benefits we accrue from such endeavors are both real and societally uplifting. If I can get that much across in conversation, I've done at least a small part.

Cliff Lentz
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posted 04-04-2013 11:48 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cliff Lentz   Click Here to Email Cliff Lentz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by GoesTo11:
I'm STILL, in 2013, absolutely bereft at the chasm between their perception of how much of the federal budget NASA actually consumes and the reality.
You're not alone. Whenever I wear a NASA jacket out in public, there is always someone that insists that the NASA budget is higher than the defense budget. When I tell them it's less than a percent, they think it's a lie!

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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posted 04-04-2013 07:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's also a matter of perception, as one astronaut told me. If you tell people NASA's budget is so many millions or billions of dollars, those people will think too much money is spent on NASA. Tell them it is only one half of one percent or whatever it is, and those people will think it is just the right amount of money.

GoesTo11
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posted 04-04-2013 09:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GoesTo11   Click Here to Email GoesTo11     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Hart Sastrowardoyo:
If you tell people NASA's budget is so many millions or billions of dollars, those people will think too much money is spent on NASA...
Absolutely correct...a billion dollars may not mean much in government-scale accounting anymore, but most people still think that's a lot of money! Any such discussion must be approached in terms of perspective and proportion.

In such discussions, I emphasize most pointedly that NASA's budget could be quadrupled tomorrow and it would neither measurably affect the nation's fiscal situation, nor noticeably impact any taxpayer.

BMckay
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posted 04-05-2013 05:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for BMckay   Click Here to Email BMckay     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It looks like some events are back on. Especially the ones that are sponsored by outside sources.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 04-10-2013 10:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The President's FY2014 budget proposal reorganizes how educational outreach programs are funded and managed throughout all federal agencies, NASA included.
The President places a high priority on STEM education and has set ambitious goals of generating 100,000 new effective STEM teachers and one million more STEM graduates. In order to improve STEM education outcomes and achieve these goals, the Budget includes a bold reorganization of Federal STEM programs that uses existing resources more effectively and in a more streamlined, consolidated way.

The Budget redirects $47.5 million of funding from small NASA education programs throughout the agency to other agencies where these funds will be consolidated with similar resources from across the Federal Government. NASA retains $67.5 million for high-performing existing programs, and an additional $26.8 million from other education and outreach programs previously distributed throughout the agency's mission directorates.

NASA's assets will be used more effectively through coordination with the National Science Foundation, the Department of Education, and the Smithsonian Institution to achieve the Administration's wider STEM education goals.

BMacKinnon
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From: Waterford, MI. USA
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posted 04-10-2013 11:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for BMacKinnon   Click Here to Email BMacKinnon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Hart Sastrowardoyo:
Tell them it is only one half of one percent or whatever it is, and those people will think it is just the right amount of money.
When I met former NASA Deputy Administrator Shana Dale, four years ago, she mentioned in her presentation that the NASA budget was 1/10 of 1% of the Federal Budget at that time.

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