recommended reading

NASA program to launch space shuttle workers into new jobs

The government initiated on Wednesday a competition for $35 million in federal grants aimed at creating jobs along Florida's space coast, where about 9,000 contractors, including information technology workers, could lose their jobs when NASA's shuttle program is shut down next year.

Award winners will be named by January 2011, pending congressional approval of NASA's fiscal 2011 budget. If lawmakers fail to provide the funding, the Obama administration will cancel the grants, according to a notice in Wednesday's Federal Register. The Commerce Department, which is administering the grants, is looking to fund initiatives that align with the region's desire for economic development in aviation and aerospace, clean technology, homeland security, IT and life sciences.

Applications are due Oct. 15.

The space coast, home to the Kennedy Space Center, encompasses a 72-mile long area of eastern Florida, about 35 miles outside Orlando. President Obama's national space agenda anticipates boosting the number of jobs along the space coast and nationwide, despite plans to end the shuttle program, which created many Florida jobs.

Employees currently staffed to the shuttle program in the space coast region represent a combined income of more than $600 million, according to an interagency task force on the space industry workforce. Boeing Co. and the United Space Alliance employ about 60 percent of the personnel.

"The termination of the space shuttle program will carry consequences for the workforce and economy of Florida's space coast and other communities across the country," the task force stated in its Aug. 15 report. The paper outlined recommendations for using $40 million in federal funding to ease the transition of NASA contractors to new jobs. Most of the workers are engineers, skilled flight hardware technicians, program support specialists, ground services and equipment specialists and other staff with scientific and management backgrounds.

The task force advised most of the money be used to establish the competitive grants. "This fast-tracked process will mitigate uncertainty that accompanies any transition, and will ensure that local governments, businesses and other entities have swift access to economic planning assistance," the task force wrote.

Commerce's Economic Development Administration, the lead agency for the grants, said awards for regional innovation clusters could be as large as $10 million. EDA wants applicants to focus on public-private capital investments.

"The culmination of the space shuttle program poses significant economic challenges for Florida's space coast region. However, the region is connected to a tremendous range of economic assets that can serve as the foundation for future business activity," agency officials wrote.

While EDA expects to provide grants, it could instead offer funding via cooperative agreements, if the amount of interaction between the agency and the awardee is particularly intensive. Generally, federal funding should cover -- at most -- 80 percent of the project, and the amount of money matched locally will be a competitive factor, according to the notice. Applicants also will be judged based on the degree to which their proposed projects would enhance the quality of the environment and utilize green products.

Project timelines will vary. For instance, an infrastructure project might last three or more years until construction is completed, while a technology transfer and commercialization project might take one year.

The administration is not obligated to award all available funds, according to the notice.

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.