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FYI THIS MONTH: APRIL 2000

HIGHLIGHTS OF DEVELOPMENTS IN WASHINGTON IMPACTING THE PHYSICS COMMUNITY FROM FYI, THE AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF PHYSICS BULLETIN OF SCIENCE POLICY NEWS

Richard M. Jones, Audrey T. Leath
fyithismonth@aip.org

DOE ADDRESSES NIF OVERRUNS: Energy Secretary Bill Richardson announced that he has made a number of management changes to address the cost and schedule overruns experienced by the National Ignition Facility, under construction at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. By June 1, DOE will send to Congress "a detailed rebaselining plan which will include a budget and key project milestones." /fyi/2000/fyi00.037.htm

COLWELL TESTIFIES ON NSF FY 2001 REQUEST: NSF Director Rita Colwell and her staff presented her agency's request, for an increase of 17.3 percent, to House appropriators in April. VA/HUD subcommittee chairman James Walsh (R-NY) called the request "very robust" and warned that his subcommittee might not be able to fund it fully. Subcommittee members raised questions about proposed new initiatives and what other programs would be cut to fund them. /fyi/2000/fyi00.038.htm

EHLERS INTRODUCES SCIENCE EDUCATION BILLS: After a series of hearings in the past year, Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-MI) has introduced three bills intended to improve the state of the nation's science education, focusing largely on the professional development of teachers. The bills would create new programs and enhance existing ones within NSF and the Department of Education, and expand provisions in the tax code. /fyi/2000/fyi00.039.htm and /fyi/2000/fyi00.041.htm

BUDGET RESOLUTION REACHED: Congress reached agreement on a Budget Resolution on April 13; this document sets overall limits for how much Congress can spend for the FY 2001 budget. While specific funding allocations for each of the appropriations subcommittees have yet to be determined, House VA/HUD chairman Walsh warned that providing sufficient funding for his subcommittee's programs "will be virtually impossible." /fyi/2000/fyi00.040.htm Constituent input can affect appropriations, and now is the time to express your views to your Members of Congress; AIP's Science Policy web site has information and tips at http://www.aip.org/gov

NASA SCRUTINIZED AT HEARINGS: NASA continues to undergo scrutiny of its budget request and its management approach under Director Dan Goldin of "faster, better, cheaper." In front of House and Senate appropriators, Goldin accepted responsibility for recent failures, saying he "pushed too hard." /fyi/2000/fyi00.042.htm Before the House Science Committee, leaders of several task forces that have investigated the NASA failures continued to support the concept of "faster, better, cheaper," but criticized its implementation. /fyi/2000/fyi00.043.htm

NANOTECHNOLOGY RESEARCH EXTOLLED: At a recent roundtable held by the Senate S&T Caucus, several distinguished scientists advocated a strong federal investment in the field of nanotechnology. Nobel Laureate Richard Smalley called for "a big boost" in physical sciences funding as the core of nanotechnology, and IBM Fellow Don Eigler added that "the federal government is the primary source of funds for university-based fundamental research.... This is NOT research that will get done in the private sector." /fyi/2000/fyi00.044.htm