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
PCAST DISCUSSES PHYSICAL SCIENCES FUNDING : After reviewing a draft report recommending greater funding for physical sciences and engineering, the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology discussed a draft letter to President Bush which stated, "we suggest that FY 2004 presents the appropriate opportunity to double federal research investments in physical sciences, and 4 major engineering fields...from the FY 2002 levels." However, this letter has not yet been sent.
FESAC MEETS : The Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee met in September to review a preliminary strategy document for the fusion program that identifies two proposed burning plasma facilities, ITER and FIRE, as "attractive options." The report urges the U.S. to "seek to join the ITER negotiations with the aim of becoming a partner in the undertaking." DOE Office of Science Director Ray Orbach's response to the document was positive.
ACADEMIC R&D EXPENDITURES : According to the National Science Board's latest "Science and Engineering Indicators" report, academic R&D in the physical sciences grew by 153.9%, after inflation, between 1973 and 1999. As a percent of total academic science and engineering, R&D in the physical sciences dropped from 11.4% in 1973 to 9.5% in 1999.
START OF THE NEW FISCAL YEAR : With Congress hoping to recess in mid-October, progress is stalled on most appropriations bills, and it is not clear how the funding situation will be resolved.
MATH AND SCIENCE PARTNERSHIPS : In its mark-up of the NSF reauthorization bill, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee included an amendment that would terminate the Education Department's Math and Science Partnership program to improve science and math education, and consolidate all such partnerships within NSF. This provision does not exist in the House version of the NSF reauthorization, and this is one of several differences in the bills that will need to be resolved.
NANOTECHNOLOGY LEGISLATION : On September 17, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced legislation that would expand upon the Administration's existing multi-agency National Nanotechnology Initiative to better address issues of management and interagency coordination, workforce training, technology transfer and commercialization, and the societal and ethical implications of this emerging technology.
HOUSE DOE FUNDING BILL: Under the House Appropriations Committee's version of the FY 2003 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill, High Energy Physics, Basic Energy Sciences, Biological and Environmental Research, and Nuclear Physics funding would grow between 1.2% and 6.1% over FY 2002 levels, while Fusion Energy Sciences funding would remain flat. Report language states that the Committee "is very supportive of the research conducted by the Department's Office of Science," and "is concerned about the growing imbalance in the Federal investment in research in the physical sciences versus the life sciences."