Bridenstine Proposed Radical Restructuring of NASA Oversight Last Year

Rep. Jim Bridenstine

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Donald Trump’s nominee to become administrator of NASA proposed a fundamental overhaul of how the space agency would be run last year.

Rep. Jim Bridenstine’s (R-OK) American Space Renaissance Act (ASRA) proposes the establishment of a 21-member board to oversee the space agency, giving the NASA administrator a five-year term, and the creation of 10- and 20-year strategic plans.

The overarching goal of these proposals is to insulate the space agency from changes in direction each time a new presidential administration takes over.

ASRA was a catch-all bill that contained proposals for broad changes to the nation’s civil, military and commercial space efforts. Bridenstine did not intend the ASRA to be passed as a single bill but as a series of individual measures. Congress has not taken up any of the NASA management reforms included in bill.


Obama Administration Criticizes NASA Cuts


National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The Administration is concerned with the reduction of $670 million from the President’s FY 2010 request for Exploration Systems. This large reduction would likely cause major negative impacts to any options that may emerge from the ongoing blue ribbon review of U.S. human space flight plans. The Administration appreciates the Committee’s strong support for the NASA Earth science program, which advances the President’s goal of deploying a global climate change research and monitoring system. The Administration is concerned with the elimination of $21 million from the request for NASA innovation, which uses public-private partnerships to advance important technologies and enable access to new sources of innovation through incentive prizes and partnerships. In addition, the Administration is concerned about funding NASA’s R&D activities with primarily one-year rather than two-year appropriations. Such an action would increase the cost and complexity of budget execution and would diminish flexibility without improving management.

Transition Update: New OMB Chief Likes Prizes

Peter Orszag and Technology Prizes
Associated Content

“President Elect Barack Obama has named Peter Oszag, current Director of the Congressional Budget Office, as his Director of the Office of Management and Budget. The selection will bring into the Obama White House an advocate of prizes to foster technological innovation. Recently, in his blog as Director of the Congressional Budget Office, Peter Orszag praised the idea of prizes as a means to encourage technological innovation.

“‘In many settings, prizes can be an efficient way of encouraging new breakthroughs…I was therefore particularly encouraged to see that the X-Prize Foundation and Wellpoint have created a competition with a prize of at least $10 million for innovative approaches to addressing health care problems and improving the sector’s efficiency — which is a key issue for our long-term fiscal and economic future'”