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Casey DreierJuly 30, 2013

"NASA non-concurs"

NASA's official responses to recommendations made by its official advisory council are posted online at SpaceRef. These recommendations were from April of 2013.

Of course, my eye immediately was drawn to the NAC (NASA Advisory Council) recommendation to properly fund the Planetary Science Division. NASA's response was middling at best, promising nothing but not disagreeing outright:

NASA will use the approved FY 2013 funding for Planetary Science and the outcome of the FY 2014 appropriations process to inform its future planning with respect to the formulation of the FY 2015 budget request.

Good to know there's that strong institutional support!

It's another reminder that NASA itself is not fighting for Planetary Science the way it needs to, despite the fact that the division has been responsible for some of its biggest successes (media- and mission-wise).

In response to the council's recommendation that NASA "should fight for continuance of Education and Public Outreach activities that are enabled by capabilities that are uniquely NASA's," i.e. "please stop the consolidation of all educational activities into the Department of Education which doesn't know NASA's activities all that well," NASA responded with a wonderful example of passive bureaucratic-ese that is the title of this post (emphasis mine):

NASA's Office of Education appreciates the support and insight of the NASA Advisory Council; however, NASA non-concurs with the recommendation.

I looked this up, and it really is a word, though a new one to me. How do you argue with noncurrence? It's easier if someone disagrees, but if one nonconcurs? Tricky. It's more of a circular statement than a position (by disagreeing you by definition prevent concurrence, etc).

It's worth reading all the responses [PDF] to get a glimpse into the general attitudes of the current NASA Administration. They're not all bad! But the ones we most care about aren't great.

Read more: Space Policy

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Casey Dreier

Director of Space Policy for The Planetary Society
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