White House Report on Sequestration Details Severe Impacts on NASA, NOAA and DOD

White House Report on Sequestration Details Severe Impacts on NASA, NOAA and DOD

The White House today released the report required by Congress detailing the impact of sequestration if it goes into effect in January.  The report was due last week, but was not submitted until now.

The report from the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) was required by the Sequestration Transparency Act, passed by Congress just before it left for its August recess.  Running 394 pages, it provides agency-by-agency details on what FY2013 funding is subject to the sequester and what is exempt, and then what percentage and dollar amount would be cut from the sequestrable funds.  

The White House describes the report as preliminary, saying that actual cuts would “differ based on changes in law and ongoing legal, budgetary and technical analysis.”  It also points out that since Congress has not passed any of the FY2013 appropriations bills, the estimates are based on FY2012 appropriations.

For NASA, just about everything is subject to an 8.2 percent sequester except for $2.3 billion in the Cross-Agency Support category, which funds operations of the NASA centers and other infrastructure costs.   NOAA’s Operations, Research and Facilities (ORF) account and its Procurement, Acquisition and Construction (PAC) account, both would be cut by 8.2 percent as well.  The PAC account funds the JPSS and GOES-R weather satellite procurements.  The report includes a paragraph with examples of the non-defense programs that would be jeopardized under sequestration, but neither NASA nor NOAA are called out.

Department of Defense (DOD) accounts generally would be cut 9.4 percent.   DOD would be able to shift funds to “ensure war fighting and critical military readiness capabilities were not degraded,” but sequestration would negatively impact readiness, investments in new equipment and facilities, repairs, R&D, and base services for military families according to the report.

Overall, the report says sequestration “would have a devastating impact on important defense and nondefense programs.”

Under last year’s Budget Control Act, the sequester will go into effect on January 2, 2013 unless Congress and the White House agree on another method of reducing the deficit by $1.2 trillion by the year 2021.  The sequester was included as a “poison pill” to motivate congressional Republicans and Democrats to reach a deal last fall, but they did not.  As today’s report says “The sequestration itself was never intended to be implemented.”  It goes on to put the onus on Congress to fix the problem: “The Administration strongly believes that sequestration is bad policy, and the Congress can and should take action to avoid it by passing a comprehensive and balanced deficit reduction package.”

The two parties remain at loggerheads on how to reduce the deficit.  The Republicans want to achieve the reduction entirely through spending cuts while Democrats want a combination of spending cuts and tax increases.

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