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NASA center in Va may cut contractor work force

Brock Vergakis, Associated Press

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) -- The large contractor work force at NASA's Langley Research Center could soon shrink as a result of automatic federal spending cuts that took effect earlier this month, according to NASA officials.

The Hampton facility has about 1,900 civil servants and 1,700 contract workers who are employed by a variety of private companies. Among other things, workers at Langley conduct space technology, aeronautics and atmospheric research. The center's civil servants and contractors also participate in a variety of educational and public outreach programs that sometimes take them out of state.

Center Director Lesa Roe told employees last week that she's expecting a $17.4 million cut to Langley's $228 million management and operations budget for the rest of the fiscal year. Roe said the center has imposed restrictions on monetary awards and travel, but that reductions to the contractor work force could also be necessary, according to a post on the center's website.

"We're going to continue to work through this," Roe said in the post. "We're going to work with all of you guys, make the most of what we have and continue to deliver on the great results that we've had in the past."

Center spokesman Rob Wyman said in an e-mail to The Associated Press that it is unclear exactly how many workers' jobs could be affected by the cuts.

"The impacts will depend upon the amount of work that has to be removed from current contracts. The company will then decide how to best manage the reductions," he said.

It wasn't immediately clear Monday when a decision on the contractor work force would be made.

Wyman said the center's $2 million fund for employee performance awards, group awards and special act awards was only available to civil servants, but that the program has been put on hold as a result of the cuts. Restrictions on travel apply to both civil servants and contractors, Wyman said.

"Basically, anything that isn't deemed mission critical won't be funded. This will impact such things as certain kinds of training, participation in different kinds of conferences or scientific symposiums, a wide array of different kinds of things that travel is required to support," he said.

For example, he said the center's workers won't be participating in the National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colo., in April. He said any employee that's traveling must be substantively involved with the purpose of the trip and alternative methods of participation such as video teleconferencing can't be available.


Brock Vergakis can be reached at www.twitter.com/BrockVergakis