[time-nuts] Loss of NIST transmitters at Colorado and Hawaii

jimlux jimlux at earthlink.net
Mon Aug 13 09:02:53 EDT 2018

On 8/12/18 4:05 PM, Bill Hawkins wrote:
> Group,
> This subject needs some additional detail.  I found an article with comments at
> https://swling.com/blog/2018/08/nist-fy2019-budget-includes-request-to-shutdown-wwv-and-wwvh/
> It is not clear whether WWVB will still be available for all of our cheap "atomic" clocks.
> One comment says that White House budgets are usually ignored in congress.

Not exactly.. I've been involved in very low level tiers of budget 
making - technically known as the PPBE (Planning, programming, 
budgeting, and execution) process.

What happens is that about 2 years ahead of time (i.e. right now, you'd 
be working on PPBE for 2020) you flow your approximate budget requests 
up your chain and there's some preliminary churning and allocation at 
higher levels based on conversations with their higher levels, in terms 
of agency priorities, strategic goals, ongoing programs, etc. 
Ultimately, it's the White House that decides what "the mark" will be at 
some level of detail.  That gets flowed back down do all the 
organizations and divided and subdivided, following the "guidance" from 
above and providing guidance to those below. This typically happens 
around November/December  You prepare your plans and budget based on 
that (over the holidays, often) to turn in a draft in January/February 
(now in 2019), which gets rolled up with other folks plans and budgets, 
and reviewed in the March/April time frame, which then gets rolled up, 
and becomes part of the President's Request.  In a perfect world, 
Congress then funds all or part of the request, perhaps adding some 
specific direction (famously: thou shalt build a magnificent large 
rocket using Shuttle Derived components), which is never identical to 
the request - the agency then flows the actual approval back down, 
adjusting the requests you made earlier, and Gods willing and the river 
don't rise, at the beginning of the Fiscal Year (October 1st) you get 
your first increment of funding and your budget for the coming year 
(FY20 in this example).

Some budgets are "competed" - i.e. the agency says "we want to fund a 
series of missions to understand stellar debris for not to exceed $150M, 
each, with a program cost of $400M, beginning in 2021 and launching in 
2025" - The President sends that request to Congress, they approve it, 
the agency issues a RFP (or Announcement of Opportunity - AO), people 
write proposals, they get evaluated, and the selected project(s)'s 
proposal(s) become part of a program budget, etc.

A huge, huge wrench in the works is that often Congress can get their 
job done and actually pass the required budget bills.  What hopefully 
happens is that they pass a "continuing resolution" (CR) which basically 
funds the agency at the same level as the previous year, and which has 
the requirement that no program can terminate nor start.

So, if your $150M mission is part of a "new start", and Congress does 
the CR thing, your mission funding won't materialize on schedule.  Or, 
if you were planning on decommissioning something (so that you could use 
the funding on something else) - on a CR, you can't do that. When the 
thing is a "big thing" (say, like Space Shuttle, with $B/year budgets) 
that has quite a ripple effect.

Congress also gets involved if a program runs seriously over budget - 
they have to re-authorize - or for building and demolishing permanent 
structures.  The latter is why government agencies have been finding 
rental space if they can.

> Another says that it is NIST that cut WWV and WWVH, not the White House.
> Can anyone clarify the situation?
> Bill Hawkins
> Sent from my retirement home in MN
> Change causes confusion until new methods are learned, and a deep sense of loss when something familiar goes away.
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