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
HOMELAND SECURITY S&T : At a recent briefing, the Department of Homeland Security's Under Secretary for Science and Technology, Charles McQueary, identified systems engineering as "the key issue" for the Science and Technology Directorate in the coming year.
APPROPRIATIONS BILLS : House efforts to eliminate funding for NIST's Advanced Technology Program and slash the budget of the Manufacturing Extension Partnerships in the FY04 Commerce-Justice-State appropriations bill were reversed by Senate appropriators in their bill. House and Senate conferees have agreed on an Interior appropriations bill that would provide a 3.3% increase over FY03 for USGS.
ROADMAP FOR NIH : Declaring that disciplinary "silos" need to be dismantled, NIH Director Elias Zerhouni released a new roadmap for the institutes that emphasizes interdisciplinary research. The "NIH Roadmap for Medical Research" has three major themes: New Pathways to Discovery; Research Teams of the Future; and Re-engineering the Clinical Research Enterprise.
PHYSICS ADVISORY COMMITTEES MEET : Assuming essentially flat budgets in the near term, a subpanel of the High Energy Physics Advisory Panel concluded that not all the projects planned for particle physics within DOE's Office of Science should go forward. Panel members also discussed how, in the future, to better make the case to policymakers for high energy physics facilities. At a meeting of the Basic Energy Sciences Advisory Committee, Office of Science Director Ray Orbach called a recent hydrogen energy workshop report a "tremendous success," and described the status of authorization and appropriations bills for his office and his efforts to develop a 20-year facilities plan.
HIGH-LEVEL COUNCILS ADDRESS S&T ISSUES : Items on the agenda at a recent meeting of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology included information technology, the science and engineering workforce, and nanotechnology. Another high-level advisory council, the cabinet-level National Science and Technology Council, is seeking input from the science community on improving the management of federal research grants by holding a series of public workshops around the country.
NASA PROGRAMS DISCUSSED : Congressional staffers were recently briefed on a new NASA space science initiative intended to gain greater understanding of the Big Bang, black holes, and dark energy, while at an October hearing, members of Congress and witnesses grappled with questions about the relative importance of space science and manned space exploration.
OFFICE OF SCIENCE BUDGET : If passed, the national energy policy bill now in conference would authorize a substantial increase over the next four years for DOE's Office of Science. The stagnant funding situation experienced by the Office of Science, and the importance of enhancing funding for the physical sciences, are described in a draft report, now open for public comment, by a task force of the Secretary of Energy's Advisory Board.
SCIENCE EDUCATION REPORTS : With support from AIP and several Member Societies, a team conducted university physics department site visits to determine what made some more successful at attracting undergraduate students. The conclusions are available in a project report, "Strategic Programs for Innovations in Undergraduate Physics." Another recent report compiles information on projects funded through NSF's Program for Women and Girls. New, innovative approaches to encouraging females into science and engineering are highlighted.