Committee on Science, Space, and Technology

Lamar Smith

Chairman Smith Announces Science Committee Republican Members for the 114th Congress


Washington D.C. – Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today announced the roster of Republican Members to serve on the Committee in the 114th Congress. The Members will be formally appointed by the full House of Representatives at the start of the 114th Congress.

Chairman Smith: “In the next Congress, the Science Committee will build on its record of success to promote policies and pass legislation that shape America’s future. The Committee’s goal is to make scientific research stronger and more relevant to our nation and its people.

“We will continue to advocate for transparency and accountability at our federal science agencies. And we will promote principles that hardworking Americans overwhelmingly support, such as ensuring that environmental regulations at the EPA are based on publicly available data. And the National Science Foundation should provide a public explanation for how taxpayer-funded research grants are in the national interest.

“The Committee will also continue to seek bipartisan policy solutions that support our nation’s space program, encourage energy independence, expand scientific education, fund basic research, and advance the development of new technologies. These are areas that will strengthen our economy and raise every American’s standard of living. I look forward to working with my new colleagues who bring diverse talents and a wealth of expertise to this Committee."

Chairman Lamar Smith (Texas)

F. James Sensenbrenner (Wis.)

Dana Rohrabacher (Calif.)

Frank Lucas (Okla.)

Randy Neugebauer (Texas)

Michael McCaul (Texas)

Steven Palazzo (Miss.)

Mo Brooks (Ala.)

Randy Hultgren (Ill.)

Bill Posey (Fla.)

Thomas Massie (Ky.)

Jim Bridenstine (Okla.)

Randy Weber (Texas)

Bill Johnson (Ohio)

John Moolenaar (Mich.)

Steve Knight (Calif.)

Brian Babin (Texas)

Bruce Westerman (Ark.)

Barbara Comstock (Va.)

Dan Newhouse (Wash.)

Gary Palmer (Ala.)

Barry Loudermilk (Ga.)

Established in 1958, the Science, Space, and Technology Committee has jurisdiction over all non-defense federal scientific research and development. The Committee has jurisdiction over programs at the following federal agencies: NASA, the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Highway Administration, the Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate, the U.S. Fire Administration, the United States Geological Survey, among others.


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Bipartisan Cybersecurity R&D Bill Headed to President’s Desk


Washington D.C. – The House of Representatives yesterday approved bipartisan Science Committee legislation to coordinate and drive research and development (R&D) across federal agencies to address cyber threats to America’s high-tech infrastructure.  The Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2014 (S. 1353) is the work of a bicameral, bipartisan compromise prioritizing R&D to help create new technologies and standards to protect America’s information technology systems.

Chairman Smith: “Cyber attacks against the U.S. government and private sector networks are on the rise. Scarcely a day passes without a report of a new cyber attack on critical parts of our nation’s cyber infrastructure, government agency, or business. As our reliance on information technology expands, so do our vulnerabilities. New technological advances bring new avenues from which foreign countries can attack our networks. Protecting America’s cyber systems is critical to our economic and national security."

The negotiated legislation contains important provisions from the House-passed bill (H.R. 756), introduced by Science Committee Member Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), and passed out of the Committee last year with strong bipartisan support.

The bill primarily addresses cybersecurity research efforts conducted by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).  It provides strategic planning for cybersecurity R&D needs across the federal government and enhances NSF scholarships to increase the size and skills of the cybersecurity workforce.  The bill also strengthens R&D standards development and coordination, and public outreach at NIST related to cybersecurity.

The bill is a compromise measure that includes language from a bill authored by Senators Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and John Thune (R-S.D.).  These provisions will encourage competitions and challenges that focus on the security of information technology and support public-private collaboration on cybersecurity.


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Subcommittee Examines Future of Nuclear Energy


Washington D.C. – The Subcommittee on Energy today held a hearing to examine the next generation of reactor designs, including research and development (R&D) at the Department of Energy (DOE) and challenges for private investment in new nuclear energy technology.

Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas): “Nuclear power is a proven source of emission-free electricity that has been generated safely in the United States for over half a century. However, our ability to move from R&D to market deployment has been hampered by government red tape and partisan politics. The U.S. has not lived up to its potential when it comes to nuclear energy. The regulatory process is cumbersome and lacks the certainty needed for sustained investment in new nuclear energy technology."

Currently, the United States generates approximately 20 percent of its electricity from “light water” nuclear reactors. Dating back to the 1950s, the United States began development and construction of numerous advanced reactor designs for research purposes.

Energy Subcommittee Chairman Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.): “Nuclear energy was born in the United States. We have the best scientists and engineers in the world. Yet, we are not seeing the pace of commercial technology advancement that we would expect. At the same time, other countries including China are surging ahead. We have to ask ourselves: is the United States going to remain a global leader in nuclear technology?"

Providing testimony today, Transatomic, a company located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, intends to develop a molten-salt reactor design that will turn nuclear waste into a safe, clean electricity. Also providing testimony, NuScale Power, a company based in Corvallis, Oregon, is developing a Small Modular Reactor with safety features that will cool itself down in an accident scenario without the need for any electricity or mechanized systems.

These non-light water reactor designs can also reach higher levels of thermal efficiency, some of which can use nuclear waste as fuel, including fast reactors, high temperature gas-cooled reactors, and liquid salt-cooled reactors.

The following witnesses testified today before the Subcommittee:

Panel I

The Honorable Peter Lyons, Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy, U. S. Department of Energy

Panel II

Dr. Ashley Finan, Senior Project Manager, Energy Innovation Project, Clean Air Task Force

Mr. Mike McGough, Chief Commercial Officer, NuScale Power

Dr. Leslie Dewan, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Transatomic Power

Mr. Daniel Lipman, Executive Director, Policy Development, Nuclear Energy Institute

For more information about the hearing, including witness testimony and the hearing webcast, visit the Science, Space, and Technology Committee website.


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Energy Subcommittee - The Future of Nuclear Energy


The Future of Nuclear Energy

Hearing Charter

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Subcommittee Reviews Progress of Nation’s Human Spaceflight Program


Washington D.C. – The Space Subcommittee today held a hearing on the progress of the nation’s next generation deep space exploration vehicle and heavy lift rocket. Officials from NASA and the Government Accountability Office testified on the progress of the Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion crew vehicle, which are being developed for deep space human missions that will take astronauts to the Moon and Mars. The Orion vehicle successfully completed its first flight test on December 5th.

Chairman Smith (R-Texas): “The purpose of today’s hearing is simple: we wish to send a loud and clear message that space exploration is NASA’s number one priority, and last week’s test flight demonstrated many firsts. We are also here to ensure the next steps in this long journey are on track and will be just as successful. There is bipartisan support within Congress that NASA stay on track with the Orion crew vehicle and Space Launch System.

“Great nations do great things. Everyone in today’s hearing wants to ensure that the first flag flying on the surface of Mars is planted by an American astronaut. And they will have arrived there onboard an Orion crew vehicle, propelled by the Space Launch System."

In June, the House passed the Committee’s NASA Authorization Act with full support for SLS and Orion. In August, Smith and Palazzo sent a letter to NASA questioning a yearlong delay for the first scheduled launch date for SLS. The delay was announced despite claims by Administrator Bolden that the president’s budget represented “the amount of money that we need to deliver SLS on the date and time that we said."

In its FY 2014 budget, Congress increased funding for SLS and Orion by more than $330 million over the president’s budget request. Had Congress agreed to the Administration’s original requests, NASA delays could have been even longer.

Space Subcommittee Chairman Palazzo (R-Miss.): “The human exploration program at NASA has been plagued with instability from constantly changing requirements, budgets, and missions. We cannot change our program of record every time there is a new president. This committee is consistent and unwavering in its commitment to human exploration, a tradition that I appreciate and am confident will continue into the future.

“While this hearing is certainly an opportunity for us to celebrate the great progress of the SLS and Orion programs, particularly last week’s test flight, the Committee has ongoing concerns about the challenges facing these vital programs.

“At the very least, we need to know, what are the true funding needs and schedule expectations for the development of the SLS and Orion Programs and is NASA on track to meet these expectations?"

For more information about today’s hearing, including witness testimony and the archived webcast, visit the Committee website.


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Smith Statement on NSF Transparency Policies


Washington D.C. – Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today released the following statement after the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced its plans to enact new policies to address transparency and accountability for federally funded research.

Chairman Smith: “I am encouraged by the NSF’s announcement that it will increase transparency and accountability for taxpayer-supported scientific research. For more than a year, I have been calling for the NSF to provide public explanations for how NSF research grants are in the national interest and worthy of taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars. The NSF’s new policy is a step in the right direction. Congress and taxpayers will be eager to see how the new NSF national interest criterion is implemented."

The only information currently available to the public is a brief summary on the agency’s website written by the researcher. The NSF indicated the changes will be incorporated into the agency’s Proposal and Award Policies and Procedures Guide before the end of the year.


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Subcommittee on Space Hearing - An Update on the Space Launch System and Orion: Monitoring the Development of the Nation’s Deep Space Exploration Capabilities


An Update on the Space Launch System and Orion: Monitoring the Development of the Nation’s Deep Space Exploration Capabilities

Hearing Charter

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Chairman Smith Statement on Launch of Orion Spacecraft


House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today released a statement following the launch of the Orion spacecraft from Cape Canaveral:

Chairman Smith: “The Orion launch is a major milestone for U.S. space exploration and our efforts to travel further into our solar system than ever before. That is why I place the highest priority on ensuring NASA remains on budget and on schedule with the Space Launch System (SLS).

“I’m extremely committed to the success of NASA’s Orion vehicle and SLS. The Science Committee will once more review the progress of these crucial systems at a hearing next week as part of ongoing oversight responsibilities.”

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NSF-Funded Group Spent Taxpayer Dollars on Liquor, Lobbying and Parties


Washington, D.C. – The Committee on Science, Space, and Technology today held a hearing to examine how the National Ecological Observatory Network Inc. (NEON), an environmental non-profit funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), exploited lax NSF oversight to spend taxpayer dollars on unallowable expenses such as a $25,000 Christmas party, $1000 a month for premium coffee service, $112,000 for professional lobbying, as well as liquor for office happy hours and trips to a high-end resort in France.

Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas): “Federal agencies must be held accountable for their waste and misuse of taxpayer funds.  And the NSF needs to be held accountable for how they spend taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars. The basic responsibility of any government agency is to act in the national interest.  The NSF needs to meet that standard."

The NSF entered into a long-term agreement with NEON to develop and operate the project’s national network of fixed and mobile sensors. An audit by the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) identified more than $150 million in unsupported or questionable costs in the NEON proposal.  It concluded that there was not a “fair and reasonable basis” for NSF to enter into a contract.  Nevertheless, NSF did not wait for the audit results.  It instead finalized an agreement based on NEON’s original cost proposal.

Committee members today questioned how the NSF managed to approve, without any change, a $433 million proposed construction budget for which the DCAA auditors found $150 million was unsupported or questionable.

The NSF’s Inspector General testified that unallowable costs formed the basis for two fraud referrals that were ultimately sent to the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) for possible prosecution. But the DOJ declined to accept the case.

Audits have also raised questions about cost proposals that were accepted by NSF for several major projects.  These include the Ocean Observatories Initiative, the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope, NEON and, currently, the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope.

The following witnesses testified today:The Honorable Allison Lerner, Inspector General, National Science FoundationThe Honorable Anita Bales, Director, Defense Contract Audit Agency

For more information on the hearing, including witness testimony and the archived webcast, visit the Committee website.



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Audit: Taxpayer dollars paid for eco group’s $25G Christmas party, and more


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Jim Bridenstine


Mo Brooks


Paul Broun


Larry Bucshon


Chris Collins


Kevin Cramer


Ralph Hall


Randy Hultgren


Frank Lucas


Cynthia Lummis


Thomas Massie


Michael McCaul


Randy Neugebauer


Steven Palazzo


Bill Posey


Dana Rohrabacher


David Schweikert


Jim Sensenbrenner


Lamar Smith


Steve Stockman


Randy Weber