FUSION ADVISORY COMMITTEE BRIEFED: "BALANCE," NEXT STEPS:
Calls for balance in federal research funding "means no priorities"
cautioned Patrick Looney, Assistant Director for Physical Sciences
and Engineering at the Office of Science and Technology Policy
(OSTP). Looney's warning about the allocation of federal research
dollars came during his presentation to a Fusion Energy Sciences
Advisory Committee meeting on November 17.
Looney was commenting on a recent National Academy of Sciences report
on fusion energy sciences, and how the advisory committee could best
respond to it. "I would like to caution you about the use of the
word 'balance,'" Looney told the committee. Declaring it a "red-hot
word" that was "divisive" he urged the committee to leave
out of their response, saying that it was "just not going to help."
Judging from Looney's remarks, the Bush Administration is bullish on
fusion energy. Saying that OSTP's physical sciences group had spent
an "extraordinary amount of time" on formulating U.S. policy
regarding ITER, Looney called the proposed facility "the defining
experiment." He was particularly supportive of the NAS report on
fusion energy (http://www.nap.edu/catalog/10816.html)as
an excellent basis on which to move forward, saying "we are endorsing
the NAS report and many of the conclusions it drew."
Looney told the committee that "If ITER is going to be successful
. [we] need a common basis for dialogue." Instability is
undesirable; all interested parties must agree on the path forward.
The decision making process must be transparent, the administration
should be kept informed, and "surprises" are to be avoided.
budget resources will require program prioritization. Looney said
that "graceful transition pathways" for the fusion energy
program must be detailed, and added, "we cannot argue for funds
the absence of a plan we all agree on." Fusion program metrics
Also important as the fusion advisory committee formulates its
response to the NRC report is for it to consider its audience of
policymakers in the administration and Congress. Looney recommended
that the committee avoid multiple budget scenarios, instead
specifying what research could be expected for the stated guidance
level of funding. Regarding the timing of the advisory committee's
report, Looney said that an interim report by next summer would be
RESEARCH BUSINESS MODELS MEETING IN WASHINGTON
A subcommittee of the National Science and Technology Council is preparing
to "begin the process of prioritizing and initiating the changes
needed to improve performance and mechanisms of accountability of the
research enterprise" after a public two-day meeting in Washington
on December 9 and 10. This meeting follows four regional meetings that
were described in /fyi/2003/137.html.
Public comments sent to the Research Business Models Subcommittee have
been posted at http://rbm.nih.gov/fed_reg_20030906/index.htm
Additional comments can be sent to Michael Holland at the Office of
Science and Technology Policy at firstname.lastname@example.org
A website at http://www.masimax.com/rbms/index4.htm
has information regarding the agenda and registration for this free
meeting next week. Sessions have been scheduled for public comment.