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FYI Number 36: March 29, 2001

President Bush Nominates PCAST Co-Chair; Discusses S&T, Budget, Education

There has been much speculation in Washington about the approach that President George Bush will take to science and technology. A meeting yesterday at the White House with 150 high technology executives provided the President with the opportunity to name one of the co-chairmen of the President's Council of Advisers on Science and Technology (PCAST), and to discuss S&T, the FY 2002 budget, education, and the R&D tax credit.

President Bush named Floyd Kvamme to be a co-chairman of PCAST. Kvamme is a venture capitalist who established a 400- member High-Tech Council that advised Bush on technology issues during the presidential campaign. PCAST, first established in 1990, consists of well-known individuals from the private and academic communities offering advice to the president. The other co-chair of PCAST will be the yet unnamed OSTP director. House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) said that he was "very pleased" with the selection of Kvamme, adding, "The scientific community will no doubt benefit from his impressive background in technology issues and close relationship with the President."

Selections from President Bush's remarks follow:


"I first want you all to know that this administration has great confidence in the future of our technology industry" ". . . the accomplishments of the industry are rock-solid. The future is incredibly bright."


"There's a lot of issues with the budget, starting with this -- that you now have a President who believes in fiscal sanity when it comes to the people's money; that we've increased discretionary spending by 4 percent in our budget. Now, that may sound like a lot to a lot of you all who are now managing your cash accounts and managing your cash flow. After all, a 4 percent increase is greater than the rate of inflation. A 4 percent increase in a budget is greater than . . . the raises working people have gotten this year.

"Except the problem is, here in Washington, it's half of . . . how the discretionary accounts increased last time. You see, they had a bidding contest, a bidding war last time. It was like, the person who bid the highest got to go home. And, therefore, the discretionary accounts increased by 8 percent. And we can't afford that kind of spending in Washington, D.C."


"Science and technology have never been more essential to the defense of the nation and the health of our economy. I will hear the best scientific and technological advice from leaders in your field. And I can think of no better coordinator than Floyd. He is an entrepreneur, he is a risk-taker, he understands risk and reward. But, more importantly, he knows the players, the people that can bring good, sound advice to this administration."


"Likewise, we want the R&D credit to be permanent, and we're working with members of the Senate to do so. A lot of us in this administration have been in the world of taking risk. We understand that one of the most important parts about government policy is that there will be certainty in the policy. And I think making the R&D credit a permanent part of the tax code is part of creating certainty, so people can more wisely make investments with cash flow in their capital accounts."


"We're making great progress in education. I know it's a subject dear to you all's hearts. It should be. Your industry thrives on not only capital, dollars and cents, but it also thrives on human capital. And our nation must do a better job of educating all children.

"The principles inherent in the reform package that we're moving through the Senate and the House are these. One, we expect there to be high standards in public education. To put it this way, every child can learn, and systems that don't believe so need to be changed.

"Secondly, I strongly believe in aligning authority and responsibility at the local level. I know full well when you disassociate the two, it provides convenient excuses for failure. A school district will say, oh, gosh, I would have done it differently, but the centralized authority made me do it this way. It's time to get rid of all the excuses for failure inherent in our school systems.

"And one way to do so is to pass power out of Washington, to trust local folks to set the path for excellence for the children in the districts in which they live, in which the local folks live. What I'm trying to say is, the government closest to the people is that which works best.

"And finally, we need to have a results-oriented system all around the country. Here's the way I'm doing it. I'm saying if you receive federal money, you've got to measure. If you receive help at the federal level, you, the local district or the state, must measure third through eighth grade. . . . "

"But the point is pretty simple. How do you know if children are learning unless you test? The accountability systems are not designed to punish folks. It's designed to make sure children just simply are -- are not simply shuffled through the system. We've got to end that practice of giving up on children early.

"And so we start early, we measure early, we provide money for remedial education. Every child counts, and every child can learn. And the whole crux of reform is accountability. And when we measure and find success, we'll praise it. But by measuring, you also -- one can also detect failure, and that becomes the catalyst for reforms at the local level. We're going to make good progress on education."

Richard M. Jones
Media and Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics
(301) 209-3095

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