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
NSF REAUTHORIZATION, APPROPRIATIONS: The Senate was expected to debate legislation authorizing a 5-year doubling of NSF's budget, but a hold has been placed on this bill. In related news, House appropriators would boost NSF funding by 12.8% over FY 2002 in their VA/HUD funding bill. They would also increase NASA science programs.
PCAST MEETS: The President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology met at the State Department on September 30. No mention was made of a draft letter to President Bush discussed by PCAST members in August, which urged consideration of a doubling of federal funding for physical sciences and engineering. A background report upon which the letter is based is now available on the RAND website.
ORBACH LOOKS TO FUTURE: At a recent roundtable, Ray Orbach, Director of DOE's Office of Science, discussed some of the "scientific opportunities" facing the Office, including scientific computing, S&T education and workforce issues, nanotechnology, and fusion energy.
DOD S&T INCREASE: The DOD funding bill, one of only two regular FY 2003 appropriations bills that have been signed into law, provides a 16.2% increase for DOD S&T programs over FY 2002. This is in accord with a recent Defense Science Board report reaffirming that DOD should spend 3% of its budget on S&T.
DIVERSITY IN S&T WORKFORCE: An organization entitled Building Engineering and Science Talent (BEST) warns that the nation may be facing a gap between its need for scientists and engineers and its production of them, and calls for greater efforts to increase the representation of women and minorities in S&T fields.
MARBURGER ON ACCELERATORS: "How can we best prepare for the end of the accelerator era in fundamental physics?" asked OSTP Director John Marburger at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center's 40th anniversary celebration. "In the long run, the future of particle physics lies in space-based experiments," he added.
SCIENCE AND SECURITY: While agreeing that some research results should be restricted for security reasons, witnesses at a House Science Committee hearing urged open publication of scientific results whenever possible. They supported maintaining the current classification system and expanding it as needed to the biological and health sciences. The presidents of the National Academies of Science and Engineering and the Institute of Medicine have also called for dialogue between scientists and policymakers on this issue.
CONGRESS ADJOURNS: Congress has left town until after the elections, leaving a number of key authorization and spending bills unfinished. How much progress they will be able to make at breaking legislative logjams when they return is unknown.
AIP STATE DEPARTMENT FELLOWSHIP: Each year, through its State Department Science Fellowship, AIP sponsors a scientist to spend a year working in a bureau or office of the State Department, providing S&T expertise to help inform the nation's foreign policy.