Wanna control NASA's budget?

By Phil Plait | August 19, 2009 8:00 am

If you’ve ever wanted to influence the way the government spends money on NASA, here’s your chance! The Federal Office of Management and Budget has a job opening for NASA Program Manager:

Incumbent will analyze, evaluate, and develop creative and effective options and recommendations for policy, budget, legislative, and management issues pertaining to science and technology.

Of course, the qualifications section makes it clear they want someone with experience and abilities to handle the load. Personally, they’d have to quintuple the salary to make me even consider a job like that; knowing what I know about a) the government and 2) NASA, I’m sure after a week I’d go running naked down the streets of DC babbling incoherently and have to be locked up for the public’s safety.

But don’t let that slow you down. Seriously, this is an important job, and I hope they can find someone who understands the process and can cut through a lot of the garbage bureaucracy that’s slowing down our ability to get out into space.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Humor, NASA, Piece of mind

Comments (33)

  1. I nominate Adam Savage. The phrase “kid in a candy shop” springs to mind.

  2. Hahahaha! I have a hard time balancing my own cheque-book! I think I would be tarred and feathered if I got hold of that budget!

  3. The part about running naked down the streets of DC and babbling incoherently sounds good…..


  4. Nomen Publicus

    I’d want a salary proportional to government interference plus $1000 per phone call from the Washington DC or Boston area codes.

  5. foolfodder

    Tee hee hee, you went a) 2), silly astwonomer. :p

  6. Spade

    “someone who understands the process and can cut through a lot of the garbage bureaucracy.”

    That’s pretty funny. I’m going to have to use that one later.

  7. Wait… didn’t I see you running down Pearl Street babbling… naked… um…. wait…

  8. 1 million for nasa, 1 million for davidlpf. :-)

  9. StevoR

    I’d love to see the BA in charge of NASA – or Alan Stern or John Glenn.

    But I’d really love to see NASA funded properly – getting say at least half (preferably all) the amount that was thrown away needlessly on invading Iraq, occupying Afghanistan & supporting Israel’s brutal & illegal oppression against the Palestineans.

    Plus NASA actually announcing a dramatic new goal with a firm timetable – send humans to Mars, land the first woman on the Moon and land people on a Near Earth Asteroid all by 2020.

  10. Petrolonfire

    Wanna control NASA’s budget?

    Nah. Anyhow – what budget? They just don’t get enough. 😉

    Now if you asked : Wanna control the *USA’s* budget and then fund NASA properly from that with enough money to do all the cool stuff NASA should be doing instead of wasting it on other rubbish like stupid wars for bad reasons?

    Now that I’d like to do! 😉

  11. Psh! If NASA really cares, it would have headhunted me by now and offered $10,000,000 plus residuals on the whole UFO scam thing they’ve got going. Oh look at me, I’ve said too much already.

  12. ScepticsBane

    NASA budget??

    Gee, considering the forthcoming possible indictment of Michael Jackson’s MD,
    I’m waiting for your blog entitled:


  13. IBY

    That’s okay. If it were me, I would have launched myself into space and opened the compartment to kill myself in the vacuum. :)

  14. Steve A

    “Plus NASA actually announcing a dramatic new goal with a firm timetable.”

    Problem is, they keep doing this, every new administration. Or I should say, every administration gives NASA a new goal, forcing them to abandon the old. Allowing NASA to finish a big program without changing it after it just gets started would be nice.

  15. IBY

    Except for a few major goals they would like, they should stop telling scientists and engineers what to do, jeez.:(

  16. Amalekite

    supporting Israel’s brutal & illegal oppression against the Palestineans

    Anyone care to tell me why the US spends as much as a dime on Israel anyway?

    And what value American taxpayers get in return for harming their own American interests for the sake of the theocratic military apartheid Jewish state which is continually illegally occupying other peoples lands and committing appalling violations of human rights and international laws yet seems to go unpunished and unsanctioned. Well?


    The Amalekites were a nation of Semitic people who were exterminated by the Jews under King Saul & the “prophet” Samuel who personally murdered the last surviving Amalekite – then an unarmed prisoner.* The OT – Torah / Talmud celebrates the merciless Jewish genocide against the entire Amalekite population in one of many Israelite “ethnic cleansing” genocides against their neighbours incl. the Jebusites, Philistines, Canaanites, Midianites, Amorites & more.** The term ‘Amalekite’ is still used by Jews as a derogatory term of abuse for Palestineans and other non-Jews and is also used by Jews to mean ‘atheist’. The core, defining premise of Judaism is that God is a violent, genocidal racist** who chose the Jews to be his “master race” ordering them to take over a “promised land” already inhabited and owned by others. The Jewish god, Yahweh or Jehovah, also frequently engages in mass murder and demands human sacrifice (eg. Isaac, Jephthah’s daughter*** – the latter actually being butchered but still going unnamed – probably because she was only a girl in a misogynist religion.) These facts lead one to the conclusion that Judaism is an evil, racist, hypocritical and unethical belief system that incites racial hatred, loathes other cultures and is guilty of inflicting far more genocides than its ever suffered.

    Want positive proof of this? For evidence see :

    * King Saul dammed as the “prophet” Samuel murders an unarmed prisoner after delivering a race hate rant :


    ** Yahweh (Jews god) orders the Jews to exterminate other peoples and cultures – a commandment the jews have never abandoned or refused and which continue to celebrate & follow. They are currently putting this “holy order” into practice againt the Palestineans :


    *** Yahweh, the Jews “god”, demands & accepts the human sacrifice of Jephthah’s innocent daughter :


  17. @Davidlpf,

    I think budget allocations are supposed to go like this:

    “1 million for NASA. 1 million for me. 2 million for NASA. 1… 2 million for me. 3 million for NASA, 1… 2… 3 million for me.” 😉

  18. Oh dear, looks like an anti-Semitic spammer’s moved in.

  19. Hey, Amelikite (#16): I am asking you, just once, to keep that kind of stuff out of the comments here. It’s off topic and designed to derail a thoughtful discussion. If your email address is correct, then I know you are a regular commenter with things to say… but I won’t let anyone violate my commenting policy.

    Got it?

  20. …I’m sure after a week I’d go running naked down the streets of DC babbling incoherently and have to be locked up for the public’s safety.

    To be fair, I’m pretty sure you do that and require that anyway, right? I know I do/should be…

  21. WJM

    I’m sure after a week I’d go running naked down the streets of DC babbling incoherently and have to be locked up for the public’s safety.

    = = =

    Worth it.

  22. Charles Boyer

    It seems like there are a lot of people helping form NASA’s policies and goals, but at the end of the day, the long-term ones are as clear as mud.

    The real shame of that is that many of the far-reaching ones require focused basic research in order to achieve the goals that are outlined. For example, the guidance package for Apollo was started in 1961, and took quite a while to develop the basic concepts much less the device itself.

  23. Torbjörn Larsson, OM

    The field is ripe for some creative financing, say using negative cash and complex accounting with imaginary securities.

    I mean, how hard can it be, economy isn’t exactly rocket science…

  24. Paul M.

    Damn, I don’t qualify. I’m only bureaucrat level 24.

  25. Michael Kingsford Gray

    I’d do it for free beer.
    I may not do it all that well, but like anyone would notice…

  26. Grand Lunar

    “I nominate Adam Savage. The phrase “kid in a candy shop” springs to mind.”

    The image of Adam rigging a shuttle SRB as a giant firecracker comes to my mind.
    But isn’t that what it is, estentially?

    Anyway, I probably would be hated, as I would push NASA to scrap Ares and fund Direct 3.0.

    Now, if I had control of how much NASA’s budget would be, well…I’d still be hated, but not by the same people.

    On the other hand, I’d be loved by so many others.

    Too bad we can’t rig it where NASA’s budget is like that of the Meta Section in “Raise the Titanic!” (the novel, not the movie) and just have the low number be the admitted amount. 😀

  27. Amalekite

    @ # 19 Phil Plait :

    Okay, I hear you – & I do honestly believe that I am complying with your policy while also trying to make some valid points that I think really do need to be made & which I think people need to consider – yet rarely get the chance to hear & think about.

    While I am passionate about what I know to be true & forceful in putting my case in this regard :

    I am being polite.

    I’m not swearing or trying to advertise any product or spamming.

    I don’t think I’m being a jerk & I just wish to provide another perspective across; a whole side of a certain issue which seems to be all too often ignored, censored or suppressed. Not that I think you are doing any of those things I hasten to add!

    Now okay, I may be a bit off-topic but I think I still a made a valid point albeit maybe a slightly tangential one to the main debate, ie. priorities with money, what it could be spent on (Eg. NASA) vs what a lot of it is spent on. (Eg. Israel.) Isn’t that reasonable enough?

    Thankyou for allowing everyone freedom of speech & expression & enabling all sides to put their points of view rationally.

  28. Jim

    Israel being tangential? Try not even on the radar as regards the topic at hand.

    Fact is, a monkey with an abacus could do a better job than what’s being done with NASA’s budget now.

    Anyone remember Big G? The expanded Gemini capsule that could carry a crew of twelve? Off the shelf technology available forty years ago.

    Skylab? A rare stroke of genius in which a refurbished Saturn V fuel tank was used to put the largest single habitable volume on orbit before or since.

    What about Shuttle external fule tanks for the same purpose?

    While I have no quarrel with the the new Orion capsule, what about using rockets currently in the inventory with proven track records? Deltas, Titans, etc.

    What about Direct Launch, which REALLY uses Shuttle infrastructure and off the shelf technology at a fraction of the cost of Ares?

    NASA is at sole fault for the situation in which we find ourselves. Thank you, Dr. Griffin, you have betrayed the American Dream and the Human Spirit.

    Meanwhile, I shall sit back with my banana, click the beads, and await a response.

  29. breadfred

    @ Amalekite: This is an astronomy blog. It deals with astronomy. I might, or might not, be supporting your cause. But there is a time and a place for everything. An astronomy blog is the place for astronomy talk. I suggest you find an appropriate political site to view your ideas.

    I know it is about budgeting and you make a link through that, but I am not going to mention my shopping list here either (affecting my weekly budget) now, am I.

  30. Jamesonian

    “…they’d have to quintuple the salary to make me even consider a job like that ”

    Phil I hope that you’re kidding about this. As a long-time government staffer, I can tell you that, yes, the pay is low and, yes, it’s sometimes difficult to attract the best and the brightest. But let me remind you of some of these low-paid government workers who now have schools named after them: Chris Craft, Dr. Wernher Magnus Maximilian Freiherr von Braun, Ed White, Gene Kranz, John Young, Jim Lovell, and John Glenn to name a few. Working for the government, and especially for NASA, is a privilege. Guiding your nation’s space program should be reward enough, but I understand that for some the almighty dollar is more attractive. Work for NASA first, then write your book and cash in.

  31. One problem with the whole business is that the NASA leadership has very little say in how the budget gets spent. Sure, NASA puts a list together of things they’d like, but then the President (through “The President’s Budget” typically released in February of each year)and the Congress (through authorization and appropriation committees…their ‘power of the purse’ as provided in the Constitution) have their say with very little deviation allowed.

    Mike Griffin frequently said that his position was called an Administrator (as opposed to a Director, or Leader) because he was charged with administering the program given to him by the President and the Congress. The lead financial guy at NASA is therefore further down the line in power to change anything.


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