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FYI THIS MONTH: MARCH 2004 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

VISA PROCESSING: A House Research Subcommittee hearing demonstrated that while Members want to "eliminate bureaucratic inefficiencies" in the visa-processing system, no one wants to return to the pre-9/11 process.

OFFICE OF SCIENCE FUNDING: Appropriators in the Senate and House, as well as House authorizers, expressed their desire to increase funding for DOE's Office of Science in FY05 but warned that budget constraints might not allow it. The hearings were informed by the release of a new Office of Science strategic plan, which lays out seven overarching goals for the next two decades.

CONGRESSIONAL VIEWS ON S&T REQUEST: In its review of S&T funding in the President's FY05 request, the House Science Committee declared the proposed funding for basic research "insufficient." Committee Democrats also released their own analysis. Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-MI) called on House Budget Committee members to make R&D funding a top priority in their budget resolution and, during consideration of the Senate budget resolution, Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) argued for stronger funding of basic research.

SCIENCE FUNDING IN DHS, DOD: Appearing before committees in the Senate and the House, Homeland Security's UnderSecretary for Science and Technology, Charles McQueary, explained his Directorate's request for a 13.9% increase, but acknowledged that basic research funding would drop from 15.0% to 8.4% of the S&T Directorate's total budget. In the Department of Defense request, Senate authorizers pointed out, defense science and technology programs would drop from 2.68% to 2.61% of DOD spending.

NASA BUDGET: The President's Moon/Mars initiative, retirement of the shuttle, and cancellation of the final Hubble servicing mission were all issues raised at a Senate appropriations hearing on NASA's FY05 budget request.

ADVICE FROM REP. BOEHLERT: Science funding is not the only federal investment that has long-term benefits for the nation; "so are education and road building and defense spending and human space flight," Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) told a group of Brookhaven National Laboratory scientists. "All that sets you apart," he said, "is that scientists are the only group that thinks they're making a unique argument" to Congress.

K-12 SCIENCE EDUCATION: Attendees at two recent science education conferences questioned how the upcoming federal requirement for science assessments in K-12 schools will impact curricula, especially when so little research exists on effective science teaching and testing. AIP and several of its Member Societies continued their efforts to support peer-reviewed science in science classrooms by sending a letter to the Ohio Board of Education opposing any weakening of the teaching of evolution.

HYDROGEN INITIATIVE: Recommendations from a recent APS report on implementing the President's Hydrogen Initiative were reviewed in a House Science Committee hearing.