LONDON — Every week after the White Home introduced its intent to appoint a Senate aide to the submit of NASA deputy administrator, response stays muted, however some supporters say his Senate expertise will probably be an asset on the company.
The White Home formally submitted the nomination of James Morhard as NASA deputy administrator to the Senate July 17, 5 days after the Trump administration introduced its intent to take action. The Senate has but to schedule a affirmation listening to for his nomination.
Morhard’s nomination shocked many within the area group due to his lack of area expertise. Morhard is presently the deputy sergeant-at-arms for the Senate, overseeing administrative issues concerning the legislative physique. His earlier positions embody serving as a workers director and chief of workers of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Morhard didn’t emerge as a number one candidate for the place till days earlier than the White Home introduced his nomination. That, coupled along with his lack of interplay with the area subject, contrasts strongly with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, who was nicely often known as an energetic member of Congress on area coverage points, and was a number one candidate for months previous to being formally nominated in September 2017.
Bridenstine’s familiarity, and the lengthy lead time previous to the nomination, meant that members of Congress, area trade organizations and others had been fast to react, positively or negatively, when the nomination was introduced, regardless that it was launched on the Friday evening of the Labor Day vacation weekend.
Against this, members of Congress and trade organizations have had little to say about Morhard’s nomination. A spokesperson for Sen. Invoice Nelson (D-Fla.), who led the opposition to Bridenstine’s nomination partly due to Bridenstine’s lack of technical expertise, mentioned July 13 that Nelson was travelling when the nomination was introduced and couldn’t instantly remark, and hasn’t since offered a follow-up remark.
Morhard, although, does have his advocates. “Jim Morhard is lower from the identical fabric as excellent NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe,” mentioned Mark Albrecht, former president of Worldwide Launch Companies and, earlier than that, government secretary of the Nationwide Area Council.
O’Keefe, like Morhard, had no area trade expertise when he was nominated within the fall of 2001 by President George W. Bush. He did have important fiscal experience, together with serving as comptroller of the Protection Division and deputy director of the Workplace of Administration and Price range. O’Keefe had earlier served on the Senate Appropriations Committee workers. O’Keefe and Morhard have a extra tragic hyperlink as nicely: they each survived the August 2010 aircraft crash in Alaska that killed former Sen. Ted Stevens, for whom each Morhard and O’Keefe had labored.
Albrecht argued that Morhard’s expertise on the appropriations committee workers would serve him nicely at NASA. “His data of applications and budgeting and execution is an ideal match for the wants of NASA in assembly the daring targets for area President Trump has vigorously charted,” he mentioned. “His deep data of complicated R&D applications as Senate appropriations workers director will assist NASA obtain outcomes and restore American management in human exploration and area science.”
Some advocates of Morhard have pointed to his time working as workers director of what’s now often known as the commerce, justice and science appropriations subcommittee, whose present oversight contains NASA. Nevertheless, on the time he was workers director the subcommittee’s jurisdiction didn’t embody NASA, whose funds was overseen by a separate subcommittee on veterans affairs, housing and concrete improvement, and impartial businesses. The present subcommittee construction took kind within the mid-2000s, across the time Morhard left the committee.
Even with out that direct expertise with NASA, supporters of Morhard’s nomination say he’s well-equipped to assist run the company. “Jim has spent years reviewing tons of of applications and budgets of departments, businesses, and the Senate Sergeant at Arms. Many individuals in authorities and trade solely see a number of dozen applications throughout their complete profession, and infrequently a whole division or company funds,” mentioned John Younger, former undersecretary of protection for acquisition, logistics and know-how.
“Jim’s experiences present him nice judgment expertise about budgets, program execution, acquisition methods and program administration plans,” Younger added. “Jim is greater than certified for the place, and he will probably be very useful to NASA Administrator Bridenstine and your complete NASA group.”