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
BUDGET OUTCOMES: Almost all the federal programs tracked by FYI received increases in their FY 2001 budgets. The Department of Education Eisenhower Professional Development Program increased by almost 45%. The DOE Basic Energy Sciences budget rose by 30%, owing to the construction of the Spallation Neutron Source. The overall NIST budget declined by 6.3%, due to the completion of some facility construction.
"DOE SCIENCE FOR THE FUTURE": A six-page discussion paper was issued by prominent physicists suggesting changes in the management of science at the Department of Energy. The paper calls for maintaining the diversity of funding sources within the federal government, and proposes various internal and external changes for management of DOE's science portfolio. One alternative would "Combine DOE science and energy programs with NIST, NOAA, and possibly USGS to form the major part of a new 21st Century Department of Commerce."
NUCLEAR WEAPONS LAB MORALE: Many of Senator Pete Domenici's (R-NM) remarks to a Sandia Laboratory colloquium centered on employee morale, Domenici stating that he would seek legislation to roll back expanded polygraphing requirements. Funding for the Stockpile Stewardship Program rose by $600 million over the previous year, while caps were raised on Laboratory Directed Research and Development funding, and travel expenditures.
ABRAHAM BECOMES NEW SECRETARY OF ENERGY: Spencer Abraham's nomination hearing went smoothly, with the majority of the senators' questions about energy policy. Abraham called the DOE labs "national treasures," and called for more partnerships with industry and universities. The Senate later approved his nomination.
NEW GUIDELINES ISSUED ON GOVERNMENT-UNIVERSITY PARTNERSHIPS: The Clinton Administration released an executive order establishing goals, principles, and responsibilities to guide federal-university partnerships across the federal government.
TESTING OF NATIONAL MISSILE DEFENSE SYSTEM: Defense Secretary-designate Donald Rumsfeld was questioned at his confirmation hearing about his definition of "a system that will work." Rumsfeld said that while he "would really like to avoid setting up hurdles on this subject," he affirmed that the NMD testing criteria would evaluate whether the system would actually be able to function and be able to work.
RUMSFELD ON DEFENSE S&T FUNDING: At this same hearing, Rumsfeld supported S&T funding, saying "the country, this committee, this department simply must be willing to make those investments."