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FYI Number 94: July 24, 2001

Senate Appropriations Report Language on Science and Technology Policy

The Senate VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies FY 2002 Appropriations bill is accompanied by a committee report. The report language is extensive and offers great insight into the thinking of the people who control the pocketbook. The House Appropriations Committee report, not yet available, will provide similar guidance. This and future FYIs will quote selected passages of interest to the physics community. The full committee report, S Rpt. 107-143, may be accessed at http://thomas.loc.gov/

There is Senate report language in the section on the Office of Science and Technology Policy that is of considerable interest regarding space station research, federal funding for physics and other disciplines, workforce issues, competitiveness, policy coordination, nanotechnology, high field nuclear magnetic resonance instrumentation, oceanographic research, and ITAR regulations. As a aid to readers, headings have been inserted in the following report language:

SPACE STATION RESEARCH

"The Committee remains concerned about the impact NASA's latest space station cost over-run will have on both NASA-supported research programs and the research capabilities of the International Space Station. The Committee believes the President's Science Advisor should play a critical role in the decision-making and re-scoping process the Administration is going through so that the International Space Station does not fall short of becoming the world class research facility it was always proposed to be."

FUNDING OF PHYSICS AND OTHER DISCIPLINES

"Similarly, the Committee believes the President's Science Advisor should play an integral role in advising the President on the appropriate balance among and between disciplines and agencies in the Federal R&D portfolio. The Committee expects the Science Advisor will conduct effective outreach to the science and engineering community and become an active and influential advisor to the President on important public policy issues grounded in science and technology.

"The Committee notes that the government share for R&D funding has declined substantially over the last 15 years. According to a recent report by the Council on Competitiveness, in real terms, the total Federal contribution to the Nation's R&D portfolio dropped from 46 percent in 1985 to 27 percent in 1999. However, industry's dependence on public R&D for innovation remains very high. Over 73 percent of U.S. industry patents cite publicly funded science as the basis for the invention. The Committee is concerned that further reductions in public funding for science and engineering could result in a decrease in the private sector's capacity to innovate.

"The Committee is similarly concerned with recent funding trends for Federal R&D which have led to significant shifts within the balance of the Nation's research portfolio. A recent report by the National Academies' Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy concluded that between 1993 and 1999 support for such fields as the geological sciences, chemical, electrical, and mechanical engineering, chemistry and physics are down by as much as 20 percent or more. The decline in research funding has contributed to a decline in enrollment of graduate students in these disciplines. These trends concern the Committee because the affected fields generate knowledge and trained personnel that are critically important for economic performance, national defense, and the health and well being of our citizens. The Committee directs the Office of Science and Technology Policy to assess the impact of these reductions on these public policy objectives. Based on this assessment, OSTP should develop an action plan to address these issues in the fiscal year 2003 budget request."

WORKFORCE

"The Committee is also concerned about the adequacy of this Nation's scientific and technical workforce, the Nation's dependency on foreign workers to meet our own scientific and technical workforce needs, and the efforts needed to boost the participation of women and minorities in the science and engineering workforce.

"The Committee urges OSTP to work with the relevant agencies on the development of policies and in the allocation of resources to address these issues effectively."

POLICY COORDINATION

"The Committee reiterates its long standing interest in improving coordination and cooperation among the various R&D agencies under the auspices of OSTP and the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC). The Committee expects the President's Science Advisor will quickly re-invigorate the NSTC process by defining a key set of strategic issues and establishing a small number of effectively led interagency committees to move these issues through the policy and budget processes."

NANOTECHNOLOGY

"The Committee is strongly supportive of the interagency nanoscience and technology initiative and urges OSTP and the interagency working group to continue to refine and strengthen the emerging research, education and training objectives. As a supplement to the fiscal year 2001 request, the Administration produced a nanotechnology management and implementation plan. The report highlighted the key themes and management objectives as well as the various agencies' roles and responsibilities. The Committee directs OSTP and the National Science and Technology Council's nanotechnology working group to update that report as a supplement to the fiscal year 2003 budget request. The Committee is particularly interested in the efforts to transfer nanotechnology research results into applications and urges OSTP to ensure that the fiscal year 2003 report address this issue in detail."

MAGNETIC RESONANCE INSTRUMENTATION

"For the past several years, the Committee has followed with interest the progress that has been made in high field nuclear magnetic resonance instrumentation and has requested OSTP to assess the future needs in this field. At present, the greatest impediment in this area is the lack of an available NMR with capabilities at 900Mz and higher. Several companies and the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory will soon test and possibly make available such an instrument. The Committee encourages OSTP and other agencies interested in this new technology to monitor the progress of these efforts closely. As these instruments become operative and available to the research community, it is expected that OSTP will move forward on an interagency initiative that will allow U.S. scientists to take full advantage of these new instruments. The Committee encourages novel linkages and collaborations among leading academic institutions and national laboratories to respond to these new opportunities."

OCEANOGRAPHY

"The Committee maintains significant interest in an integrated interagency ocean observing system. Such a system would bring together Federal, academic, State institutions, and industry into a coordinated system for monitoring U.S. marine waters. A coordinated national approach, linked effectively with similar programs in other nations, is an essential prerequisite for effective use and management of the oceans. The nation cannot realize the economic, social and security benefits of the oceans in a responsible, sustainable manner without such a program. A number of agencies including OSTP, NOAA, NSF, and the Office of Naval Research have varying interests and responsibilities in this area. The Committee directs OSTP, working through the National Science and Technology Council and with the external oceans community, to develop an interagency plan for the research, technology demonstration and ultimately, the implementation of an ocean observing system and submit this report to the Committee at the time the President's fiscal year 2003 budget is released."

ITAR REGULATIONS

"In the conference report that accompanied the Fiscal Year 2001 Appropriations Act, the Committee directed OSTP to work with the National Security Council, NASA, and the Department of State to issue a clarification of the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR) to ensure that university collaborations and personnel exchanges are allowed to continue as they had under the long-standing fundamental research exception in the Export Administration Regulations. This clarification was to be issued within 120 days of enactment of the fiscal year 2001 Act. Regrettably this clarification has not yet been issued. The Committee directs OSTP to complete the interagency consultation process and issue this clarification immediately."

Richard M. Jones
Public Information Division
American Institute of Physics
fyi@aip.org
(301) 209-3095


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