Dear Dr. Alberts:
The Conference Report accompanying H.R. 2491, the FY 1994 VA-HUD-Independent Agencies appropriations bill, provides $1.0 million “for an assessment of whether a National Institute of Space Science should be established within NASA.” I request that the NAS's Space Studies Board (SSB) initiate this study in accordance with Congressional guidelines.
Specific directions are provided in the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Report 103-127. In compliance with these directions, a task group should be formed to examine alternative organizational approaches to coordinating and overseeing NASA's science programs. In addition, the SSB should utilize existing task groups and/or subpanels to evaluate possible mechanisms for establishing interdisciplinary science priorities based on scientific merit and/or other pertinent criteria; improving utilization of advanced technologies in future science missions; and ensuring opportunities for smaller, newer science disciplines to successfully compete for limited resources against larger, more established ones. A statement of work outlining the specific study tasks has been mutually agreed upon by NASA's Chief Scientist and the SSB Chair.
The NAS should incorporate its findings into a report that addresses all issues specified above. It is essential that recommendations clearly define the pros and cons for any proposed changes to the existing organization. Since this type of assessment is within the scope of our current contract, funding for this activity will be provided through this channel. I am grateful to NAS for its assistance in this endeavor, and I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.