UNITED STATES COMMISSION ON PLANETARY DEFENSE

Some time ago I recommended the establishment of a US Commission on Planetary Defense.   I think it is about time.   I cannot take credit for the ‘legalese”.   The lawyers did that.   Here is the text for review.

UNITED STATES COMMISSION ON PLANETARY DEFENSE

ESTABLISHMENT OF COMMISSION.

There is established in the legislative branch the United States Commission on Planetary Defense (in this title referred to as the “Commission”).

SEC. XXX. <> PURPOSES.

The purposes of the Commission are to–

Determine capabilities of US Government entities, non government organizations, foreign governments and entities, and international bodies to detect, characterize, and neutralize potentially dangerous Near Earth Objects (NEO)

identify and evaluate roles and responsibilities of US government entities to detect, characterize, and neutralize potentially dangerous NEOs

determine US effectiveness in leading international efforts to detect, characterize, and neutralize potentially dangerous NEOs

build upon US government and foreign analyses, studies and assessments, without duplicating efforts, to determine current and required NEO characterization and mitigation capabilities

identify and report on technology development required to provide effective planetary defense from dangerous NEOs

investigate and report to the President and Congress on its findings, conclusions, and recommendations for corrective measures that can be taken to provide planetary defense.

SEC. XXX. <> COMPOSITION OF COMMISSION.

(a) Members.–The Commission shall be composed of 7 members, of whom–

1 member shall be appointed by the Chairman, House Science and Technology Committee, who shall serve as chairman of the Commission;

1 member shall be appointed by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation, who shall serve as vice chairman of the Commission;

1 member shall be appointed by the Chairman, House Science and Technology Committee;

2 members shall be appointed by the Ranking Minority Member, House Science and Technology Committee;

1 member shall be appointed by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation;

1 member shall be appointed by the Ranking Minority Member, Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation;

(b) Qualifications; Initial Meeting.–

Nongovernmental appointees.–An individual appointed to the Commission may be an officer or employee of the Federal Government or any State or local government.

Other qualifications.–Individuals appointed to the Commission shall be prominent United States citizens, with national recognition and significant depth of experience in astronomy, geology, physics, nuclear weapons systems, space systems, advanced technology, foreign affairs or other relevant disciplines.

Deadline for appointment.–All members of the Commission shall be appointed on or before XXXXXXXX XX, 2010.

Initial meeting.–The Commission shall meet and begin the operations of the Commission as soon as practicable.

(c) Quorum; Vacancies.–After its initial meeting, the Commission shall meet upon the call of the chairman or a majority of its members.

Four members of the Commission shall constitute a quorum. Any vacancy in the Commission shall not affect its powers, but shall be filled in the same manner in which the original appointment was made.

SEC. 604. <> FUNCTIONS OF COMMISSION.

(a) In General.–The functions of the Commission are to–

identify, review, and evaluate the structure, coordination, management policies, and procedures of the Federal Government, and, as appropriate, international bodies, and nongovernmental entities, relative to detecting, characterizing, mitigating, and over all response efforts to dangerous NEOs; and assess US and foreign technology readiness levels required to provide effective planetary defense; make recommendations to develop required technologies.  Such technologies include, but are not limited to, NEO detection and characterization systems, spacecraft,  propulsion systems, nuclear devices, high order explosive systems, modeling and simulation capabilities, laser systems, submit to the President and Congress such reports as are required by this title containing such findings, conclusions, and recommendations as the Commission shall determine, including proposing organization, coordination, planning, management arrangements, procedures, rules, and regulations.

SEC. XXX. <> POWERS OF COMMISSION.

(a) In General.–

(1) Hearings and evidence.–The Commission or, on the authority of the Commission, any subcommittee or member thereof, may, for the purpose of carrying out this title–

(A) hold such hearings and sit and act at such times and places, take such testimony, receive such evidence, administer such oaths; and

(B) subject to paragraph (2)(A), require, by subpoena or otherwise, the attendance and testimony of  such witnesses and the production of such books, records, correspondence, memoranda, papers, and documents, as the Commission or such designated           subcommittee or designated member may determine advisable.

(2) Subpoenas.–

(A) Issuance.–

(i) In general.–A subpoena may be issued

under this subsection only–

(I) by the agreement of the chairman and the vice chairman; or

(II) by the affirmative vote of 4 members of the Commission.

(ii) Signature.–Subject to clause (i), subpoenas issued under this subsection may be issued under the signature of the chairman or any member designated by a majority of the Commission, and may be served by any person designated by the  chairman or by a member designated by a majority  of the Commission.

(B) Enforcement.–

(i)In general.–In the case of contumacy or failure to obey a subpoena issued under subsection

(a), the United States district court for the judicial district in which the subpoenaed person

resides, is served, or may be found, or where the subpoena is returnable, may issue an order  requiring such person to appear at any designated place to testify or to produce documentary or  other evidence. Any failure to obey the order of  the court may be punished by the court as a  contempt of that court.

(ii) Additional enforcement.–In the case of  any failure of any witness to comply with anysubpoena or to testify when summoned under authority of this section, the Commission may, by  majority vote, certify a statement of fact  constituting such failure to the appropriate  United States attorney, who may bring the matter before the grand jury for its action, under the same statutory authority and procedures as if the  United States attorney had received a  certification under sections 102 through 104 of  the Revised Statutes of the United States (2 U.S.C. 192 through 194).

(b) Contracting.–The Commission may, to such extent and in such amounts as are provided in appropriation Acts, enter into contracts to enable the Commission to discharge its duties under this title.

(c) Information From Federal Agencies.–

(1) In general.–The Commission is authorized to secure directly from any executive department, bureau, agency, board, commission, office, independent establishment, or      instrumentality of the Government, information, suggestions, estimates, and statistics for the purposes of this title. Each department, bureau, agency, board, commission, office,        independent establishment, or instrumentality shall, to the extent authorized by law, furnish such information,  suggestions, estimates, and statistics directly to the Commission, upon request made by the chairman, the chairman of any subcommittee created by a majority of the Commission, or any member designated by a majority of the Commission.

(2) Receipt, handling, storage, and dissemination.– Information shall only be received, handled, stored, and disseminated by members of the Commission and its staff consistent with all applicable statutes, regulations, and Executive orders.

(d) Assistance From Federal Agencies.–

(1) General services administration.–The Administrator of General Services shall provide to the Commission on a reimbursable basis administrative support and other services for the performance of the Commission’s functions.

(2) Other departments and agencies.–In addition to the assistance prescribed in paragraph (1), departments and agencies of the United States may provide to the Commission such services, funds, facilities, staff, and other support services as they may determine advisable and as may be authorized by law.

(e) Gifts.–The Commission may accept, use, and dispose of gifts or donations of services or property.

(f) Postal Services.–The Commission may use the United States mails in the same manner and under the same conditions as   departments and agencies of the United States.

SEC. XXX. <> NONAPPLICABILITY OF FEDERAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE ACT.

(a) In General.–The Federal Advisory Committee Act (5 U.S.C. App.) shall not apply to the Commission.

(b) Public Meetings and Release of Public Versions of Reports.–The Commission shall–

(1) hold public hearings and meetings to the extent appropriate; and

(2) release public versions of the reports required under section 610(a) and (b).

(c) Public Hearings.–Any public hearings of the Commission shall be conducted in a manner consistent with the protection of information provided to or developed for or by the Commission as required by any applicable statute, regulation, or Executive order.

SEC. XXX. <> STAFF OF COMMISSION.

(a) In General.–

(1) Appointment and compensation.–The chairman, in consultation with vice chairman, in accordance with rules agreed upon by the Commission, may appoint and fix the compensation of a staff director and such other personnel as may be necessary to enable the Commission to carry out its functions, without regard to the provisions of title 5, United

States Code, governing appointments in the competitive service, and without regard to the provisions of chapter 51 and subchapter III of chapter 53 of such title relating to classification and General Schedule pay rates, except that no  rate of pay fixed under this subsection may exceed the equivalent of that payable for a position at level V of the Executive Schedule under section 5316 of title 5, United States Code.

(2) Personnel as federal employees.–

(A) In general.–The executive director and any personnel of the Commission who are employees shall be employees under section 2105 of title 5, United States Code, for purposes of chapters 63, 81, 83, 84, 85, 87, 89, and 90 of that title.

(B) Members of commission.–Subparagraph (A) shall  not be construed to apply to members of the Commission.

(b) Detailees.–Any Federal Government employee may be detailed to the Commission without reimbursement from the Commission, and such detailee shall retain the rights, status, and privileges of his or her regular employment without interruption.

(c) Consultant Services.–The Commission is authorized to procure the services of experts and consultants in accordance with section 3109 of title 5, United States Code, but at rates not to exceed the daily rate paid a person occupying a position at level IV of the Executive Schedule under section 5315 of title 5, United States Code.

SEC. XXX. <> COMPENSATION AND TRAVEL EXPENSES.

(a) Compensation.–Each member of the Commission may be compensated at not to exceed the daily equivalent of the annual rate of basic pay in effect for a position at level IV of the Executive Schedule under section 5315 of title 5, United States Code, for each day during which that member is engaged in the actual performance of the duties of the Commission.

(b) Travel Expenses.–While away from their homes or regular places of business in the performance of services for the Commission, members of the Commission shall be allowed travel expenses, including per diem in lieu of subsistence, in the same manner as persons employed intermittently in the Government service are allowed expenses under section 5703(b) of title 5, United States Code.

SEC. XXX. <> SECURITY CLEARANCES FOR COMMISSION MEMBERS AND STAFF.

The appropriate Federal agencies or departments shall cooperate with the Commission in expeditiously providing to the Commission members and staff appropriate security clearances to the extent possible pursuant to existing procedures and requirements, except that no person shall be provided with access to classified information under this title without the appropriate security clearances.

SEC. XXX. <> REPORTS OF COMMISSION; TERMINATION.

(a) Interim Reports.–The Commission may submit to the President and Congress interim reports containing such findings, conclusions, and

recommendations for corrective measures as have been agreed to by a

majority of Commission members.

(b) Final <> Report.–Not later than 18 months

after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Commission shall submit to the President and Congress a final report containing such findings, conclusions, and recommendations for corrective measures as have been agreed to by a majority of Commission members.

(c) Termination.–

(1) In general.–The Commission, and all the authorities of this title, shall terminate 120 days after the date on which the final report is submitted under subsection (b).

(2) Administrative activities before termination.–The Commission may use the 120-day period referred to in paragraph

(1) for the purpose of concluding its activities, including providing testimony to committees of Congress concerning its reports and disseminating the final report.

SEC. XXX. <> FUNDING.

(a) Transfer From the ??????.–Of the amounts authorized to be appropriated by this Act and made available in public law  XXXXXX not to exceed $2,000,000 shall be available for transfer to the Commission for purposes of the activities of the Commission under this title.

(b) Duration of Availability.–Amounts made available to the Commission under subsection (a) shall remain available until the termination of the Commission.

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