Chairman Rockefeller, Ranking Member Thune and members of the committee, I appreciate the opportunity to provide testimony on this very important subject. From the perspective of the Aerospace Industries Association, our member companies and their thousands of skilled and dedicated workers, I can report that the partial government shutdown is having a very negative impact on many of the civil aerospace programs that help advance our nation's technological and economic progress. We also expect that the longer this goes on, the worse it will become. And while not much attention has been paid to the private sector workforce that supports our government agencies, they too are suffering the consequences of the shutdown. We are particularly concerned about the small companies that are vital to our nation's aerospace and defense supply chain. With limited cash flow, they are at risk of shuttering their operations in the event of an extended shutdown. And unlike the Department of Defense, many domestic agencies have furloughed most of their financial and accounting staff, leaving companies often performing essential work without reimbursement.
It is impossible to predict exactly what the economic and other impacts will be of a two week, four week, or longer period of the shutdown. Each program, each contract is different and it will take some time to work through the consequences in terms of both costs and delays. However, I believe that the following facts and concerns that we have regarding the impacts of the shutdown to NASA, NOAA, the Federal Aviation Administration and aerospace product exports will help impress upon this Congress and the Administration the need to end the shutdown.
I also want to emphasize our industry's concern about the ongoing problem of sequestration and lack of budget predictability. In the absence of a bipartisan agreement to address fundamental fiscal issues, the sequestration budget cuts will continue to undermine work on the very federal programs that make our country stronger, safer and more economically robust. With these thoughts in mind, I would like to address emerging and expected impacts of the partial shutdown to date to NASA, NOAA, FAA and Department of Commerce export activities, and related industry impacts.
Civil Space Impacts
Under the Federal government shutdown, NASA has been operating with a skeleton crew of less than three percent of its 18,000 workers, hampering many of the agency's ongoing programs as well as programs in development, and impacting industry's ability to do its job efficiently. The industry workforce supporting NASA is also being affected. Program costs are expected to rise as schedules slip. All of NASA's programs may face future funding challenges as a consequence.
While the industry's work on high visibility NASA programs - including the Space Launch System heavy-lift rocket, the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and the James Webb Space Telescope - has been largely unaffected to date, this has not been just due to good fortune; rather, it is due to smart planning by industry and NASA in anticipation of a shutdown and the availability of DoD quality assurance inspectors at facilities with a DoD presence. The situation in other facilities where these inspectors are not present is more problematic as I will explain in more detail.