WASHINGTON, Oct. 21 -- The office of Sen. David Vitter, R-La., issued the following news release:
U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) today put a hold on President Obama's nomination of Elizabeth Robinson to be Undersecretary at the U.S. Department of Energy. Robinson is currently the Chief Financial Officer at NASA, and has been directly involved with the lack of approval for a contract to build vehicles at the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, Louisiana. In his letter to Robinson, Vitter asks questions about the use of private emails at NASA too.
"Under the Obama administration, NASA has been stalling on a job creating project at the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans for no apparent reason," Vitter said. "Ms. Robinson needs to answer questions about why they've delayed the project, and other questions about NASA's operations before she leaves her job overseeing their finances."
The Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) and Space Launch System (SLS) have both been delayed because NASA has failed to approve contracts for the projects, which would be built at the Michoud Assembly Facility. Approval of the delayed projects could mean putting approximately 300 to 600 Louisianans back to work. These are programs that are also important to the economies of more than 30 states and jobs across our nation.
As the ranking member of the NASA space subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Vitter secured key provisions in the bipartisan 2010 NASA Reauthorization that ensured Michoud Assembly Facility's continued viability and to help keep Louisiana as an integral part of human space flight for years to come.
In September 2011, Vitter announced that NASA was choosing Michoud to construct components of its new heavy-lift rocket. The MPCV and SLS were both included.
Below is a copy of Vitter's letter to Robinson.
October 21, 2013
Ms. Elizabeth Robinson
Chief Financial Officer
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
300 E Street, SW, Room 8L11
Washington, DC 20546
Dear Ms. Robinson:
As the Senate considers your nomination to be the Undersecretary of the Department of Energy, I think it is important to conduct a thorough review of your job performance in your current position as NASA's Chief Financial Officer to assess what qualities and traits you will bring to your new position. With Louisiana's economy being largely dependent on the energy sector, the undersecretary's role will also have a significant impact on my state. I am concerned with some of your actions, or lack of actions, in performing your current duties at NASA. Delays and mismanagement of funds while you have been CFO will have a severe impact on thousands of jobs across the country. NASA's Inspector General recently reported that the agency has struggled to achieve austerity during your tenure and that cost overruns have grown from $50 million in 2009 to $315 million last year.