CBO: Implementing Space Situational Awareness Act Would Cost $127 Million

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that it will cost $127 million over five years to implement a House bill that gives the Department of Commerce authority to provide civilian space situational awareness and traffic management.

Of that amount, the Department of Commerce would spend $118 million for fiscal years 2019-23.

“The bill would authorize the appropriation of $20 million annually to implement the civil space situational awareness program, and an additional $5 million annually to develop and implement the pilot program,” the CBO report stated.

NASA would spend an additional $9 million over this period to establish and operate a research center focused on space situational awareness and traffic management.

Some of the costs of the program would be offset by fees.

“The bill would authorize DOC to charge a user fee for providing certain civil space situational awareness services, beyond a basic set of such services and information,” the analysis noted. “Those user fee collections would be recorded in the budget as reductions in direct spending.

“CBO has no information on whether or how DOC would collect any user fees, who might pay the fee, or when it would be imposed. Thus, CBO has no basis to estimate the direct spending effects of the bill,” the document added.

The CBO analysis is reproduced below.

Congressional Budget Office Analysis

H.R. 6226: American Space Situational Awareness
and Framework for Entity Management Act

As ordered reported
by the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
on June 27, 2018

Summary

H.R. 6226 would direct the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Department of Commerce (DOC) to implement programs in space situational awareness and traffic management. CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 6226 would cost $127 million over the 2019-2023 period, assuming appropriation of the authorized amounts.

Enacting H.R. 6226 could affect direct spending; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures apply. The bill would authorize DOC to charge user fees, which would be recorded in the budget as reductions in direct spending. How, when, or whether the proposed fees would be collected is unclear; as a result, CBO has no basis to estimate the bill’s effect on direct spending. The bill would not affect revenues.

CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 6226 would not increase net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2029.

H.R. 6226 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA).

Estimated Cost to the Federal Government

The estimated budgetary effect of H.R. 6226 is shown in the following table. The costs of the legislation fall within budget functions 250 (general science, space and technology) and 370 (commerce and housing credit).

Basis of Estimate

For this estimate, CBO assumes that H.R. 6226 will be enacted near the end of 2018 and that the authorized amounts will be appropriated in each year. Estimated outlays are based on historical spending patterns for the affected activities.

CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 6226 would cost $127 million over the 2019-2023 period, assuming appropriation of the authorized amounts.

Department of Commerce

H.R. 6226 would direct DOC to establish a program that provides basic space situational awareness information to commercial entities, states, and foreign governments. (The Department of Defense currently operates a similar program.) The bill also would require DOC to establish a pilot program to implement voluntary civil space traffic coordination guidelines.

The bill would authorize the appropriation of $20 million annually to implement the civil space situational awareness program, and an additional $5 million annually to develop and implement the pilot program. CBO estimates that implementing those provisions would cost $118 million over the 2019-2023 period.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

H.R. 6226 would direct NASA to establish a research center to promote research on civil space situational awareness and traffic management. The bill would authorize the appropriation of $2 million annually to establish and support this research center. CBO estimates that implementing this provision would cost $9 million over the 2019-2023 period.

Other Provisions

H.R. 6226 would direct NASA to submit to the Congress a plan for civil space situational awareness and space traffic management. The bill also would require DOC to publish voluntary guidelines for civil space traffic coordination and to submit various reports to the Congress. Based on the costs of similar tasks, CBO estimates that implementing those provisions would cost less than $500,000.

Pay-As-You-Go Considerations

The bill would authorize DOC to charge a user fee for providing certain civil space situational awareness services, beyond a basic set of such services and information. Those user fee collections would be recorded in the budget as reductions in direct spending. CBO has no information on whether or how DOC would collect any user fees, who might pay the fee, or when it would be imposed. Thus, CBO has no basis to estimate the direct spending effects of the bill. The bill would not affect revenues.

Increase in Long-term Direct Spending and Deficits

CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 6226 would not increase net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2029.

Mandates

H.R. 6226 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in UMRA.

Estimate Prepared By

Federal Costs: Janani Shankaran, Stephen Rabent, and Sophie Godfrey-McKee
Mandates: Jon Sperl

Estimate Reviewed By

Kim P. Cawley
Chief, Natural and Physical Resources Cost Estimates Unit

H. Samuel Papenfuss
Deputy Assistant Director for Budget Analysis