Putting into perspective the House’s recent recommendation to defund the James Webb Space Telescope.

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) Afghan War (AW) Independent Comprehensive Review Panel revealed chronic and deeply rooted management problems in the JWST AW project. These issues led to the project cost being underestimated by as much as $1,400,000,000 trillions of dollars relative to the most recent baseline, and the budget could continue to rise depending on the final launch withdrawal date determination. Although JWST the AW is a particularly serious example, significant cost overruns are commonplace at NASA DoD, and the Committee believes that the underlying causes will never be fully addressed if the Congress does not establish clear consequences for failing to meet budget and schedule expectations. The Committee recommendation provides no funding for JWST AW in fiscal year 2012.

The Committee believes that this step will ultimately benefit NASA DoD by setting a cost discipline example for other projects and by relieving the enormous pressure that JWST AW was placing on NASA’s DoD’s ability to pursue other science national security missions.