NASA Outlines Plan For Possible Government Shutdown
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
With the Senate and House still debating Obamacare, the government is heading towards a potential shutdown tonight, and NASA has already devised a plan in case that scenario plays out.
NASA released a five-page document last Friday detailing the steps the space agency would be taking if government agencies were to halt. NASA said its revised shutdown plan insures that routine activities carried out by employees, contractor employees, and facilities could come to an end in just half a day.
“Depending on when a shutdown occurs, certain specific activities, for example equipment tests and research that may be underway at the time of a hiatus, may require longer to conduct an orderly shutdown in order to eliminate the risk of personnel and to preserve the government property involved,” wrote NASA’s Chief Financial Officer Elizabeth M. Robinson.
A few employees at NASA would need to stick around even if the agency were to shutdown in order to maintain activities in space, including those involved in watching hazardous operations as well as helping out with the International Space Station (ISS). However, these individuals who would still be needed at work would not be getting paid for their time there.
NASA said its Center Directors will determine which activities will have to continue, and from there figure out which employees will be contributing to those activities. All other employees would be furloughed immediately after an “orderly shutdown.”
NASA is currently operating the space station with a crew of six astronauts and cosmonauts. The space agency said that in order to protect the life of the crew as well as the assets themselves it would continue to support planned operations of the ISS during any funding hiatus. NASA also said it would closely monitor the impact of an extended shutdown to determine if crew transportation or cargo resupply services are required to mitigate imminent threats to life and property on the ISS.
If a satellite mission is in the operations phase, NASA said it will continue operations that are essential to ensure the safety of that satellite and the data received from it. However, if a satellite mission has not launched yet, the space agency will hold off on carrying out that project.
Private contractors who are continuing to work under the provisions are being instructed to preserve resources and limit contractual expenditures.
This plan will be put into action if a stop-gap spending bill for the new fiscal year is not passed before midnight on Monday. This would be the first time government agencies and programs have closed their doors in 17 years.