HUNTSVILLE, AL – Huntsville’s Constellation contractors find out as early as today about what’s left of the rocket program, and that means hundreds of layoff notices beginning next week.
NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center began sending letters to contractors Thursday telling them how much money they have left to spend on Constellation for the rest of the fiscal year ending Sept. 30.
Contractors said Thursday they’ve been waiting for these “scope of work” letters to decide how many layoffs they have to make.
An estimated 1,750 workers support NASA’s Constellation program here, a Marshall spokeswoman said Thursday. Most perform computer, engineering and technical work.
NASA has estimated 30-60 percent of Constellation support employees nationwide will lose their jobs in what the agency calls a “replanning” of the program. No NASA civil service workers will be affected.
A 30 percent layoff here would be 525 people. Sixty percent would be 1,050.
Boeing has already announced it will lay off 100 here, and another contractor informed local officials Thursday it will send 60 people home next week.
“All-hands” meetings and executive huddles were taking place at contractors across town Thursday.
One employee, who asked not to be named, left his meeting saying the mood in Cummings Research Park is shock and anger.
“They can bail out AIG and the car companies,” he said, “but not NASA.”
The funding crisis began suddenly last week when NASA Administrator Charles Bolden told Congress that contractors had not set aside nearly $1 billion from their contracts as required by law. The money was supposed to be saved to shut down the program in an orderly way if it was canceled, Bolden said, although others said NASA has rarely, if ever, required the set-asides before.
Bolden said NASA had no choice but to hold back the money from the contractors. That meant nearly $1 billion less to spend on Constellation in the last quarter of the fiscal year.
by Huntsville Times