Federal Computer Week has a depressing article today on the impact of recent and planned cuts to NASA’s IT programs. The agency’s IT R&D programs are due to decline $66 million in FY 2005, with a further cut of $89 million requested in the President’s FY 2006 budget — a figure that would represent a total cut of 60 percent since FY 2004. The Administration says that NASA’s investments in IT R&D in FY 2006 will be reduced across the board, largely due to redirected funding to the President’s Moon/Mars initiative and the Space Shuttle Return to Flight program — the same reason given for the FY 2005 cuts that are putting pressure on agency supercomputing efforts now.
FCW says the cuts in FY 05 will result in 15 to 20 layoffs of NASA Ames’ supercomputing staff and 20 to 25 layoffs in its robotics staff (currently at 70 and 100, respectively). Buyout packages are being offered.
Chris Knight, vice president for negotiations at Ames Federal Employees Union and a Computational Sciences Division employee, said the buyouts apply to all IT workers except three in visualization and robotics. But the amounts will not be enough to convince most people to leave, he said.
A lot of the research centers are being basically bled dry, Knight said.
Read the whole article.