NASA and pork barrel spending (i.e. political bribery) 

How can we end pork barrel spending at taxpayers' & space-enthusiasts' expense?

     Peculiarly enough, some states get nearly twice as many tax dollars back from Washington D.C. as they send it.  
To find out which states are the worst offenders, feel free to consult this Tax Foundation chart

     Would you like to see at least some of the political campaign "donations" that the entrepreneurship-stifling companies you distrust the most recently made?   Search for individual or corporate donors' "gifts"  here.

Remember: follow the money!

     "Let prejudices and local interests yield to reason.  Let us look to our national character and to things beyond the present period."                                                                                                                                                  -George Washington

"If pro is the opposite of con, then what is the opposite of progress?"       


If you are willing to rob Peter to pay Paul, Paul is more likely to vote for you.  

Will recent campaign finance reform breakthroughs essentially banning corporate donations to political parties for federal campaigns reduce NASA's wasteful pork barrel spending?  

Are corrupt beltway bandits  using Prospace, the supposed "Citizen's Space Lobby" to rob taxpayers?  

Why doesn't the (sponsorship-seeking) space-related "media" cover these pork barreling scandals much?  Answer.

"One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors."                                                                                                                                                        -Plato

* * *

   Despite our record high $6 trillion dollar national debt,  monopolistic NASA wastefully manages to bribe or pressure Congressional oversight officials to sort of look the other way despite mishaps or abuses such as:

*the United States' substantial loss of launch marketshare throughout the world;

*space station Alpha´s exorbitant cost overruns;

*the X-33 shuttle replacement billion dollar fiasco;

*the fact that a single (wasteful) space shuttle mission costs over half a billion dollars even as the Russians can launch humans into space and back for $20 million, as space tourists like Dennis Tito have already demonstrated;

*the latest Mars mission failures;

*the spectacle of various technologically challenged U.S. satellite companies that are struggling to avoid bankruptcy;

*the high price of sending U.S. astronauts into space...a cost which has gone nowhere but up over the past several decades even as it has declined abroad (unlike foreign success rates, and despite citizen explorers' offers to help).  

Did you ever wonder why Congress keeps giving NASA approximately $14 billion annually despite their mishaps?   In part the answer lies in how NASA seductively spends money in the politically significant districts of those with the most Congressional oversight authority.   NASA´s annual budget is a little over 3 times larger than the NSF´s, but as the report below shows, NASA engages in nearly 9 times as much pork barrel spending.   NASA officials may prefer to blame it all on Congress but under our current campaign finance regulatory scheme, members of Congress who do not "go along with the program" risk getting understandably negative publicity and losing scarce votes during upcoming elections.  
        Published below are the details regarding NASA´s acts of what some would brand "Congressional payoffs" for the year 2000.   (For Senator McCain's November 2001 comments on NASA's latest, and even MORE pork-laden budget, please click here.)

        First, though, here are Senate Science Committee member and former Chairperson John McCain´s criteria for what constitutes nonmeritorious pork barrel spending.  For ten years, he has reviewed the annual appropriations bills to determine whether they contain items that are low-priority, unnecessary, or wasteful expenditures of our tax dollars. In this process, he has used five objective criteria to identify programs and projects that have not been appropriately reviewed in the normal, merit-based prioritization process. These criteria are:

*Unauthorized appropriations;

*Unrequested locality-specific earmarks, research facility-specific earmarks, and other earmarks that would circumvent the normal competitive award process;

*Budget add-ons that would be subject to a budget point of order;

*Transfer or disposal of federal property or items under terms that circumvent existing law; and

*New items added in conference that were never considered in either bill in either House.

Senator McCain says his criteria are not intended to reflect a judgment on the merits of an item. They are designed to identify projects that have not been considered in an appropriate, merit-based prioritization process.  Here is what Senator McCain specifically said regarding the  spending practices of NSF & NASA:   

Statement of Senator John McCain on VA-HUD Conference Report for FY '01

Friday, October 20, 2000
Original source:

Statement of Senator McCain

     Mr. President [Clinton], I want to thank both Senator Bond and Senator Mikulski for their hard work on this important legislation which provides federal funding for the Departments of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and Independent Agencies. Unfortunately, Mr. President, this year-end process to rush spending measures through Congress at the last minute again leaves very little time for members to review in full detail the finalized conference reports, which are all too often bottled up until just before they arrive on the Senate floor. The VA-HUD conference report, regrettably, is no exception.
      The House of Representatives just passed this report, despite the fact that most of the voting members did not have adequate time to fully review its contents. And now, the Senate is being asked to do the same. How can we make sound policy and budget decisions with this type of budget steam-rolling?

(less relevant portions omitted by
Original source:

      There are many needs in communities back in my home state of Arizona [and in many other congressional districts] but these communities will be denied funding as long we continue to tolerate earmarking that circumvents a regular merit-review process.

      Mr. President, let me read from an article by David Rodgers, to be included for the Record, in today's Wall Street Journal:  

"Never before has the appropriations process been such a clearinghouse for literally thousands of individual grants and construction projects coveted as favors for voters. ... The precise language has been closely guarded by the committee, and the clerks deliberately compiled the list in no particular order to make it more difficult to decipher."          

Mr. President, in closing, I urge my colleagues to develop a better standard to curb our habit of directing hard-earned taxpayer dollars to locality-specific special interests so that, in the future, we can better serve the national interest.

(Here is the Senator´s list...)


(Agencies relatively unrelated to space are omitted by
Original source:


National Science Foundation

$1,000,000 for design and model testing of a vessel to replace the R/V Alpha Helix; and

$15,000,000 for development, maintenance, and operations of the Very Large Array and the Very Long Baseline Array in New Mexico and continued construction of the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia.

                                                                                                              Total Cost:  $16,000,000

EDITOR´s NOTE: NASA´s annual budget is a little over 3 times larger than the NSF´s, but as this report shows, NASA engages in nearly 9 times as much pork barrel spending.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

$2,500,000 for the Hubble telescope project to initiate a Composites Technology Institute in Bridgeport, WV;

$3,000,000 to enhance the University of South Mississippi's research capability in the use of remotely senseddata for coastal zone management;

$1,000,000 for a carbon cycle remote sensing technology program for the KARS Regional Earth Sciences Applications Center at the University of Kansas;

$1,500,000 for the University of North Dakota to support the Upper Midwest Aerospace Consortium;

$1,500,000 for the topographic sensor measurement efforts in Alaska;

$3,500,000 for a center on life in extreme thermal environments at Montana State University in Bozeman;

$10,000,000 for a Propulsion Research Laboratory to be located at Marshall Space Flight Center;

$2,000,000 for Montana State University in Bozeman to carry out research into advanced hardware and software technologies for the development of advanced optoelectronic materials;

$3,000,000 for the NASA International Earth Observing System Natural Resource Training Center at the University of Montana, Missoula;

$2,000,000 for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to implement the Wisconsin Initiative for Math, Science, and Technology initiative;

$2,500,000 for the Jason Foundation for the development of an education program for school children;

$2,500,000 for the Bishop Museum/Mauna Kea Astronomy Education Center;

$1,000,000 for the implementation of the statewide learning program for the Challenger Learning Center in Kenai, Alaska;

$1,000,000 for the University of Akron for nanotechnology research;

$1,000,000 for a NASA Center of Excellence in Mathematics, Science, and Technology at Texas College in Tyler, Texas;

$1,000,000 for the Pipelines Project at Iowa State University/Southern University-Baton Rouge;

$1,000,000 for the ongoing aerospace projects at MSE Technology Applications in Butte, Montana;

$250,000 for the Oklahoma Space and Aeronautics Commission for sounding rockets for the Oklahoma Space and Technology Applied Research program;

$1,000,000 for the Chabot Observatory and Science Center, Oakland, CA;

$1,000,000 for Montana State University for the techlink program;

$3,000,000 is provided to the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center's Modern Genetic's project to permit studies that simulate specialized weather conditions, pathogen attacks, and development and characterization on genetically modified plants in controlled-environment chambers;

$4,000,000 for the Green Bank Radio Astronomy Observatory;

$2,000,000 for equipment for the South Carolina State Museum's Observatory, Planetarium and Theater;

$8,000,000 for the University of Hawaii for infrastructure needs of the Mauna Kea Education Center;

$15,000,000 for infrastructure needs for the Life Sciences building at the University of Missouri-Columbia;

$2,000,000 for the Lewis and Clark Rediscovery Web Technology Project which will provide K-12 and university level teachers internet and interactive web teaching technologies through a partnership between the University of Idaho, Wheeling Jesuit College and the University of Montana;

$18,000,000 for E-Complex upgrades and relocation of Government equipment at Stennis Space Center to accommodate growth in large, medium and small-scale liquid propulsion testing as part of the Space Launch Initiative;

$10,500,000 to cover a new Propulsion Test Operations Building for upgrades to the East/West access road at Stennis;

$1,500,000 for Ohio Wesleyan University for infrastructure needs;

$1,500,000 for the Center for Space Sciences at Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas;

$5,000,000 for the Space Radiation program at Loma Linda University Hospital;

$1,000,000 to EARTH University and the University of Alabama in Birmingham to research Chagas disease;

$500,000 for the operations of the applications center for remote sensing at Fulton-Montgomery Community College, Johnston, New York;

$1,000,000 for the Center for Earth Observing and Space Research at George Mason University;

$450,000 for continuation of application remote sensing to forestry at the State University of New York, College of Environmental Sciences and Forestry;

$3,000,000 for the NASA-Illinois Technology Commercialization Center at DuPage Country Research Park;

$3,000,000 for the University of New Orleans Composites Research Center for Excellence at Michoud, Louisiana;

$6,000,000 to expand the Space Alliance Technology Outreach Program in the states of Florida, New Mexico, New York, and Texas;

$1,000,000 for the remote sensing SAID research program at Syracuse University;

$1,000,000 for the Center for Emerging Technologies at Stony Brook, State University of New York;

$1,000,000 for the Garrett Morgan Commercialization Initiative in Ohio;

$3,000,000 for continued academic and infrastructure needs related to computer sciences, mathematics and physics building at the University of Redlands, Redlands, California;

$1,000,000 for equipment needs at the University of San Diego Science and Education Outreach Center;

$500,000 for Science, Engineering, Math, and Aerospace Academy programs at Central Arizona College;

$1,000,000 for the Science Facilities Initiative at Heidelberg College in Ohio;

$1,500,000 for the Santa Ana College Space Education Center in California;

$500,000 for a hands-on interactive science education facility at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill;

$1,000,000 for the Science Learning Center in Hammond, Indiana; and

$1,000,000 for the Environmental Sciences Learning Center (part of the California Science Center) in Los Angeles, California;

                                                                                                              Total Cost: $140,200,000

With an annual budget that is a little over 3 times larger than the NSF´s, how can NASA justify engaging in nearly 9 times as much pork barrel spending?   Is this a good use of our tax-dollars?   To better understand which elected officials are involved in this, please click here.

*U.S. National Debt

Guide to NASA´s budget appropriation$ process...

Is it wi$e to maintain NASA´s official monopoly?