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
NUMEROUS REPORTS ON S&T ISSUED: The past few months have seen a plethora of reports issued on various science and technology topics, from suggestions on augmenting the S&T workforce, to potential impacts to the U.S. from climate change, to the most comprehensive look yet at federal R&D across the nation.
ASTRONOMY STATEMENT AND REPORT: Prompted by the Kansas decision on teaching evolution, the American Astronomical Society's Council released a statement emphasizing "clear, compelling...evidence that astronomical objects and systems evolve." Astronomers have also come out with a report assessing their priorities for the next decade; topping the list is a Next Generation Space Telescope with 100 times greater sensitivity than Hubble.
EDUCATION FUNDING: Both the House and Senate are likely to fund FY 2001 science and math teacher professional development at least at the current level of $250 million.
DEFENSE S&T FUNDING: Signs indicate that the aggregate FY 2001 defense S&T budget will equal or surpass the current funding level.
NIF RESTRUCTURING: After management and cost problems forced reevaluation of the construction plan for DOE's National Ignition Facility, Energy Secretary Richardson submitted an interim cost and schedule estimate to Congress on June 1, with final figures in September.
DOE FUNDING: Both High Energy and Nuclear physics would receive their FY 2001 requests under the House version of the DOE spending bill. Fusion would receive more than requested, while within Basic Energy Sciences, funding would be cut for construction of the Spallation Neutron Source. Also in this bill, House appropriators withheld funding for construction of the National Ignition Facility until Congress receives the final cost and schedule baseline in September. White House comments on the DOE bill can be read in FYI #76.
NSF FUNDING: The House would provide a 5.7% increase for NSF research for FY 2001, compared to the Administration's requested increase of 19.7%. The requested budgets for research equipment and education would also be reduced. The White House, predictably, has criticized this action. Some members of Congress hope that more funds will be available before the start of the new fiscal year.
NASA FUNDING: The House would provide an overall increase of 0.8% over FY 2000, instead of the Administration's request for a 3.2% increase. Space science would receive more than current funding but less than the request, Earth science would decrease as requested, and life and microgravity sciences would receive more than requested. Again, the White House had critical comments.
NIST FUNDING: As it did last year, a House Committee zeroed out NIST's Advanced Technology Program. Past attempts to kill the program have ultimately failed. The bill would provide a slight increase for NIST's in-house labs, fund the Manufacturing Extension Partnership at its current level, and cut funding for construction and renovation.