FY 2017 Federal Budget Snapshot: National Aeronautics and Space Agency

Published: February 17, 2016


The president’s budget request for fiscal 2017 provides $18.3B in base discretionary funding for the National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA), a 5.3% decrease below FY 2016 enacted levels. These funds are intended to prioritize space technology research and development, enable space exploration, and support commercial partnerships.

Budget Request Highlights

NASA’s discretionary budget request for FY 2017 addresses a range of initiatives and mission priorities:

  • Provides $5.6 billion for Science programs.
    • This includes $2 billion to support various Earth Science missions to study climate, weather, and natural hazards, like continuing the 43-year Landsat record of global land-imaging measurements.
    • $1.5 billion for Planetary Science, advancing the Mars 2020 rover effort and the next selection for the New Frontiers program.
    • $782 million for Astrophysics, continuing support for the Hubble Space Telescope, the Explorers Program, and the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST).
    • $569 million for the James Webb Space Telescope, maintaining its 2018 launch date.
    • $699 million for Heliophysics includes funding to support the launches of two Explorer missions this decade as well as space weather modeling research.
  • Requests $8.4 billion for Human Exploration Operations.
    • Includes $3.3 billion for Exploration and $5.1 billion for Space Operations.
    • Continues commercial development of U.S. crew transportation systems to support the International Space Station.
    • Advances development of the Space Launch System rocket and Orion crew vehicle for deep space missions.
    • Supports Advanced Exploration Systems development of technologies for future exploration missions and grows strategic partnerships.
    • Continues mission-critical space communications and navigation services.
  • Provides $827 million for Space Technology.
    • Supports the identification, acceleration, transfer, and commercialization of technologies.
    • Continues engagement with small businesses and academia through early stage research.
    • Supports fast transit in-space propulsion and high-bandwidth deep space communication to enable future exploration missions.
  • Includes $790 million for Aeronautics Research.
    • Targets transformational advances in the air transportation system while minimizing environmental impact.
    • Establishes a new experimental flight initiative to demonstrate and validate new technologies.
    • Supports research and development as part of a multiagency effort to enable a 21st century clean transportation system.
  • Requests $100 million for Education, including funds to continue efforts in line with strategies of the Five-Year Federal Strategic Plan on STEM Education.
  • Provides $3.3 billion for Safety, Security and Mission Services and Construction & Environmental Compliance and Restoration. These funds ensures the safe, secure, and efficient operation of NASA infrastructure and assets.
  • Provides resources for IT Realignment. Develops a new governance structure and transfers existing agency-wide resources to the NASA Chief Information Officer, enabling consolidation of enterprise IT investments. 

Information Technology Portfolio

With an overall increase of one percent, the budget request for NASA’s information technology roughly maintains investment levels. Total top line numbers for IT spending are set to increase by $15 million from FY 2016 to FY 2017. The portion of that funding marked for development, modernization, and enhancement in FY 2017 remains level with the prior year at 8.4 percent of the total $1.4 billion request. Contractor addressability dropped slightly across the IT investments, dipping from 89.4 percent in FY 2016 to 87.9 percent in FY 2017. The top ten investments by total request account for $953 million, 69.3 percent of the total IT request. Taken together, these investments grew by a combined total of $22.3 million from FY 2016 to FY 2017.

Review of the top investments by total funds requested for FY 2017 and contractor addressable spending shows a number of recurring areas from previous years. In general, NASA’s IT budget continues to run heavy on mission-focused spending. Agency-wide communication services, infrastructure, and end user services all rank high in the roster. While the total requested level of spending for IT infrastructure climbs by nearly 15 percent from FY 2016, the addressability of the investment drops slightly due to increased costs for associated government staff. Along with IT security and high-end computing efforts, major investments from Johnson Space Center (JSC) and Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) also feature in the top budget items.