Monday, July 07, 2008

Newt Gingrich on Large Prizes and Congressional Rules

RLV News notes that Newt Gingrich spoke recently on the space program and prizes. He advocates large prizes at $1B plus levels for impressive achievements like developing reusable orbital vehicles. One quote, as best as I could transcribe it:

... so one of the things we have to do ... is change the budget rules so a prize only applies the year you pay it. Because today a prize offered for a billion dollars would count against the current Appropriations cap. So you're asking politicians to give up spending a billion dollars this year in return for maybe someday 8 years from now having to spend a billion dollars, and it is impossible to ask politicians to have any sense of patience when it comes to that kind of self-gratification. They're not gonna do it. That's not why you people get on the Appropriations Committee. But if you said to them you can offer prizes and it will be off budget until the year that it comes up, you would suddenly have an explosion of ideas for prizes.

This will be tricky to resolve, since 1 Congress isn't supposed to spend money for another Congress.

He also discusses having a way for OMB to score prizes according to their cost to the government compared to what they would save the government in the long term.

On a non-prize front, he comes down pretty solidly against ITAR.