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FYI THIS MONTH: May 2002

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

COMMENTS ON THE FEDERAL R&D PORTFOLIO: "The Administration's request for both civilian and defense research can be kindly described as - disappointing," stated House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) at a defense conference. He concurred with the Administration's R&D priorities, but questioned the balance in the R&D portfolio and flat funding for DOD's basic and applied research. "It would be surprising if this [appropriations] system produced an ideal balance of funding among the different areas of science that support each other," OSTP Director John Marburger noted at another recent meeting. He hopes to develop a "science based science policy" to guide funding decisions.

MEMBERS OF CONGRESS SEEK TO DOUBLE NSF BUDGET: In a letter to leading House appropriators, a number of concerned representatives declared, "We believe that Congress' long-term goal should be to at least double the resources currently available to NSF." A bill to achieve this doubling in five years has been introduced by House Research Subcommittee Chairman Nick Smith (R-MI) (FYIs #56, #60). Key Senate appropriators have also expressed their desire to double NSF's budget.

O'KEEFE WELCOMED BY SENATORS: Both appropriators and authorizers in the Senate had encouraging words for new NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe. Although concerned with Space Station costs and cancellation of a mission to Pluto, the senators generally were very supportive of the space agency's programs.

NUCLEAR TESTING PROVISION: Representatives John Spratt, Jr. (D-SC) and Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) tried to include, in the House DOD authorization bill, an amendment requiring presidential notification to Congress if the U.S. intended to resume nuclear testing. Their effort did not succeed.

FOCUS ON SCIENCE EDUCATION PROGRAMS: Speaking to the National Science Teachers Association, Marburger shared his views on science teaching and responded to questions about federal programs to improve science education. In Congress, Members have initiated several efforts to encourage appropriators to increase funding for the Education Department's Math and Science Partnership program.

IMPENDING YUCCA MOUNTAIN VOTE: In order for the government to proceed with its plan to construct a permanent nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, Congress has to override a veto by the Nevada governor. The House has already done so. In preparation for a Senate vote, a series of hearings gave both opponents and proponents of the repository a chance to air their views.

DOD S&T AUTHORIZATION LEVELS: Both House and Senate authorizers have completed their bills, which offer guidance on FY 2003 funding levels for DOD funding. Both bills would increase advanced technology development and decrease applied research; the House bill would cut basic research while the Senate bill would raise it. The differences in the two bills must now be resolved in conference.