NASA outreach/education caught in sequestration morass

Posted by David Eicher
on Tuesday, March 26, 2013

You know, I can remember when the American government worked — at least at times. The recent standoff with regard to budget in Washington and the resulting sequestration mess underscores the functionality of Congress at an all-time low. It’s really ridiculous, given the nation’s history, but so be it.

For the time being, another victim of the sequestration fiasco is the slate of educational and outreach programs put on by NASA, which are now in a state of suspension. NASA has cut back or essentially stopped a range of activities including social media, education, and other outreach to bring NASA’s budget from the $17.8 billion approved last year down to $16.9 billion.

On Saturday, space supporters started a petition drive on the White House “We the People” website, calling for a repeal of the sequestration, but the White House and NASA are both bound by the regulations of the sequestration.

And the NASA cutbacks do not affect education and outreach alone — they are just the most publicly noticed.

In a time when many believe the public needs greater science education — not just for the good of knowledge but to remake the American economy and labor force — we are not getting off to a very good start.

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