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Republicans in Congress Pushing For Permanent Head of NASA

February 3, 1986

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Some Republicans in Congress urged President Reagan on Monday to name a permanent administrator to head the troubled National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

The agency’s current boss is William Graham, who became acting administrator late last year when Administrator James Beggs was indicted.

Beggs, now on leave-of-absence, was indicted Dec. 2, along with three other present or former executives of General Dynamics Corp., on charges involving attempts to hide overrun losses on the Army’s ill-fated Sgt. York anti- aircraft gun.

Rep. Manuel Lujan, R-N.M., the senior Republican on the House Science and Technology Committee, said in a statement Monday: ″We need to get our space program going again as fast as we can. Either Dr. Graham should become the permanent NASA administrator or one should be found immediately. Our space program deserves no less.″

Lujan noted there are other management jobs vacant, as well.

″...The head of the shuttle program, Jesse Moore, has also been named to head the Johnson Space Flight Center; and, Phil Culbertson, the head of the Office of the Space Station now also acts as NASA’s general anager. This is not a good time to be without a permanent administrator or permanent managers of major programs like the shuttle and the space station,″ said Lujan, who added that he wished Beggs could ″come back tomorrow.″

At the White House, presidential spokesman Larry Speakes said he was not aware of any discussion within the executive mansion of whether NASA would be better served by having a permanent director.

Asked if Reagan wanted Beggs to keep his job, Speakes said, ″Mr. Beggs has stepped aside during this course of events that he’s involved in, and when they’re resolved, then a determination would be made.″

In addition to Lujan, Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah, chairman of the appropriations subcommittee that deals with NASA, voiced the same sentiments.

″I certainly think it would be good sense to appoint a top administrator,″ whether it is Graham or another candidate,″ said Garn, who flew last year aboard an earlier shuttle mission.

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