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
HOUSE PASSES BILL TO DOUBLE NSF BUDGET: H.R. 4664, passed by the House on June 5, would authorize increased NSF funding through FY 2005, putting the foundation on track to double its budget within five years. As an authorization bill, it provides congressional approval but not actual funding. "I think we have to have the courage to stand up and say research is a very important responsibility to the Federal Government," said Rep. Gil Gutknecht (R-MN) during the floor debate, which culminated with 397 House members voting for the bill and 25 voting against it. A Senate hearing demonstrated substantial support for NSF, but no indication of when the Senate might take up a similar doubling bill.
GUIDANCE FOR FUTURE R&D BUDGETS: A recent White House memorandum from the directors of OSTP and OMB lists the Administration's top six broad R&D priorities, as guidance to departments and agencies in preparing their FY 2004 budget requests. Also as a guide to future budget decisions, the Administration and Congress are both seeking ways to measure the performance and benefits of basic and applied research.
REPORTS ADDRESS VARIETY OF S&T ISSUES: A National Research Council report finds the intersection of physics and astronomy a particularly fertile area for research, and lays out the most important and timely questions and a strategy for investigating them. In its "U.S. Climate Action Report - 2002," the Administration acknowledges that "Greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth's atmosphere as a result of human activities." The report looks at likely impacts of warming and possible adaptations. In another report, an interagency working group finds that the demand for neutron scattering facilities as a research tool exceeds the available U.S. capacity, and makes recommendations for the fuller utilization of the nation's facilities.
NATION'S TOP PHYSICS STUDENTS VISIT DC: Students on this year's Physics Olympiad Team visited the nation's capitol during a week- long Training Camp. In conjunction with their visit, AIP, AAPT and other societies sent a statement to Congress, urging support for federal programs to improve science education.
ROLE OF SCIENCE IN HOMELAND SECURITY, FOREIGN POLICY: President Bush's proposal to establish a Department of Homeland Security states, "In the war against terrorism, America's vast science and technology base provides us with a key advantage." In a speech to the National Academy of Sciences, Secretary of State Colin Powell described the importance of science and technology not only to the nation's security, but to many other aspects of foreign policy: "Whether the mission is supporting the President's campaign against terrorism, implementing arms agreements, creating conditions for sustainable development, or stemming the global HIV/AIDS pandemic, the formulation of our foreign policy must proceed from a solid scientific foundation."
SUPPORT FOR DOD S&T: House appropriators would increase S&T within the Defense Department by 14.8 percent over current funding in their FY 2003 DOD spending bill. President Bush's request would cut the department's S&T budget; the Senate has not yet acted.