FYI: The AIP Bulletin of Science Policy News

2010 In Review: Budget and Policy Highlights from FYI

Richard M. Jones
Number 2 - January 7, 2011  |  Search FYI  |   FYI Archives  |   Subscribe to FYI

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Further information on the below highlights, categorized by the month in which the FYI was issued, is available here.

JANUARY: 
National Science Board released “Science and Engineering Indicators 2010.”  Report issued that offered consensus recommendations on expanding public access to scholarly articles. House Science and Technology Committee started work on the reauthorization of the America COMPETES legislation.  A Blue Ribbon Commission was established to develop “a safe, long-term solution for the management of used nuclear fuel and nuclear waste.”  

FEBRUARY:
The Obama Administration requested significant increases in S&T funding in its FY 2011 budget request.  There was harsh congressional reaction to the Administration’s human space flight proposal which included the termination of the Constellation Program.  Vice President Joe Biden declared “we will do everything necessary to maintain our [nuclear] arsenal.”

MARCH: 
Initial congressional reaction to the Administration’s FY 2011 S&T budget request was positive, while opposition to its human space flight proposal was deep and bipartisan on both sides of the Capitol.  An American Physical Society report discussed how science and technology can inform governments working toward nuclear disarmament.  A hearing found uniform agreement that stronger federal regulation is needed of medical diagnostic and treatment procedures.   The Administration’s plan to reform the Elementary and Secondary Education Act was unclear about the incentives schools will have to include science assessments in their “accountability system.”

APRIL: 
The Administration released its “Nuclear Posture Review.”  President Obama detailed his Administration’s new human space flight proposal.  The House Science Committee approved its version of the America COMPETES reauthorization bill.  Members of Congress continued to oppose the Administration’s space proposal.

MAY:  
A hearing by a subcommittee of the House Science Committee highlighted severe shortages of helium-3.  A House Armed Services Committee report discussed the management of basic research at the Department of Defense, and its concern about STEM education and the future STEM workforce.

JUNE:   
It took three times for the House of Representatives to pass the America COMPETES reauthorization bill.  The importance of science and technology and STEM education was emphasized in the Administration’s National Security Strategy.  The Senate rejected a joint resolution that would have invalidated the Environmental Protection Agency’s scientific findings on the danger and harmful effects of greenhouse gases.  The outlook for the Administration’s space proposal improved on Capitol Hill.  Subra Suresh was nominated to be the next director of the National Science Foundation.  A JASON report concluded that important aspects of the Department of Defense’s basic research programs are “broken.”  The Administration released its “National Space Policy.”  House appropriators recommended fully funding the FY 2011 requests for NSF and NASA, but recommended a reduced increase for NIST.

JULY:
A Nuclear Regulatory Commission board denied a Department of Energy motion to withdraw its construction authorization application for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository.  The Office of Science and Technology Policy asked for community input on its 2010 Strategic Plan for the National Nanotechnology Initiative.  Senate and House committee versions of a NASA reauthorization plan incorporated major components of the Administration’s proposed policy.  House appropriators recommended an 8.2 percent increase in FY 2011 funding for Weapons Activities, and flat funding for the Office of Science, Senate appropriators recommended somewhat higher funding for each program.  Senate appropriators provided a 7.0 percent increase for NSF, a 1.5 percent increase for NASA, and a 13.0 percent increase for NIST for FY 2011.

AUGUST:
A Senate committee approved its version of the America COMPETES reauthorization bill. The White House sent its FY 2012 S&T priorities memo to agency and department heads.  Senate appropriators recommended a 2.8 increase for the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering.  The House Science and Technology Committee approved a nuclear energy R&D bill. 

SEPTEMBER:
The DOE Office of High Energy Physics released a report summarizing the findings of five workshops on future accelerators.  The Defense Science Board formed a Task Force to review the defense basic research program.  A decadal survey on astronomy and astrophysics was released.  Senate appropriators recommended a 9.3 percent increase for defense basic research in FY 2011.  The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) released a report on improving K-12 STEM education.  No agreement was reached on FY 2011 funding, and a bill was passed continuing current levels of funding for almost all federal activities into the new fiscal year.

OCTOBER:
Congress passed a NASA reauthorization bill incorporating major components of the President’s space proposal.  The Senate confirmed Subra Suresh as the new NSF director.  A new report warned that “the outlook for America to compete for quality jobs has further deteriorated over the past five years.”  The National Science Board released a report on “Preparing the Next Generation of STEM Innovators.”  There was continued disagreement on Capitol Hill about funding the production of a key isotope that powers NASA’s planetary robotic missions.  The Government of the United Kingdom announced it would maintain science funding at current levels for the next four years.  A MIT study on nuclear energy was released. 

NOVEMBER:
President Obama and the upcoming Republican chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee discussed S&T funding and STEM education.  An NRC report reviewed the S&T strategies of six countries.  An independent panel praised the technical performance of the James Webb Space Telescope program, but criticized its management and budgeting.  The Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee urged the restart of the process to produce a key isotope for NASA’s deep space missions. 

DECEMBER:

PCAST offered recommendations on U.S. energy transformation. The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform called for “expanding high-value research and development in energy and other critical areas.” President Obama reiterated his support for R&D, saying “our generation’s Sputnik moment is back.” A South African facility produced molybdenum-99 with low enriched uranium targets. Congress passed the America COMPETES reauthorization bill. A National Science Board task force heard presentations on issues relating to public access to research results. Congress was unable to agree on FY 2011 funding, and continued FY 2010 funding until early March.

Richard M. Jones
Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics
rjones@aip.org
301-209-3095