Budget News: NASA, OSTP Can Cooperation With China Under Certain Conditions

NASA and the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) would be able to cooperate with China under the new budget if they certify that the activities “pose no risk of resulting in the transfer of technology, data, or other information with national security or economic security implications to China or Chinese-owned company.”

The provision is included in the budget passed by Congress earlier this week. The measure requires that

“Any certification…shall be submitted to the Committees on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and the Senate no later than 14 days prior to the activity in question and shall include a description of the purpose of the activity, its major participants, and its location and timing.”

Without certification, there can be no cooperation at all under the budget:

 “(a) None of the funds made available by this Act may be used for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) or the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to develop, design, plan, promulgate, implement, or execute a bilateral policy, program, order, or contract of any kind to participate, collaborate, or coordinate bilaterally in any way with China or any Chinese-owned company unless such activities are specifically authorized by a law enacted after the date of enactinent of this Act.

(b) The limitation in subsection (a) shall also apply to any funds used to effectuate the hosting of official Chinese visitors at facilities belonging to or utilized by NASA.”

The measure is a modification of an existing Congressional ban on cooperation with China that contains no certification provision.

In recent testimony before a House committee, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said the space agency had suspended on-going efforts begun under the Bush Administration.

OSTP has ignored the ban. During the same hearing, OSTP Director John Holdren testified that the ban is an unconstitutional restriction on the ability of the President to pursue foreign policy. Holdren’s position is supported by an opinion of the Justice Department. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has sided with Congress.