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FYI THIS MONTH: MAY 2004

HIGHLIGHTS OF DEVELOPMENTS IN WASHINGTON IMPACTING THE PHYSICS COMMUNITY FROM FYI, THE AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF PHYSICS BULLETIN OF SCIENCE POLICY NEWS
Audrey T. Leath, Richard M. Jones
fyithismonth@aip.org

HIGH ENERGY PHYSICS REPORT : A report issued by a High Energy Physics advisory group looks at key scientific questions and their relation to physics facilities. The document, intended for policymakers, does not prioritize areas of research or provide cost projections.

OUTSOURCING AND INNOVATION : At AAAS's annual S&T Policy Forum, a panel of speakers gave their views on the growing competitiveness of other nations and what it means for the U.S. A report issued by the Electronic Industries Alliance describes how the U.S. can maintain its leadership in science and innovation, with recommendations covering tax, trade, workforce, visa and immigration policies, R&D funding and the K-12 education system.

SUPPORT FOR PHYSICAL SCIENCES : Twelve S&T organizations formed a task force to seek substantial federal funding increases for basic research in the physical sciences and engineering. Congress is also demonstrating increased concern over physical sciences funding: Many more senators than in previous years signed a recent letter calling on key appropriators to increase the DOE Office of Science budget, while a letter circulating in the House would urge appropriators to provide "the highest possible level" of funding for NSF.

DIVERSITY IN S&T : Several recent reports highlight best practices and effective programs for increasing the participation of women, underrepresented minorities, and the disabled in science and engineering, from preK-12 through higher education and into the workplace.

NIST BUDGET CONCERNS : A substantial cut in this year's budget for NIST may lead to staff layoffs. Although NIST is generally highly regarded, many Members of Congress lack understanding of its R&D activities or view some of its programs as corporate welfare.

SPACE EXPLORATION, NASA CULTURE : A recent Senate hearing examined how other countries' space programs compare to that of the U.S., and an evaluation of NASA's safety culture found that while progress has been made, additional improvement is still needed.

SCIENTIFIC ADVISORY PROCESS : Several groups over the past year have charged the Bush Administration with manipulating scientific advisory committees and scientific information for political purposes; OSTP Director John Marburger has issued a rebuttal to many of the allegations. In light of this controversy, several Democratic House Members asked GAO to review federal policies for staffing scientific advisory committees.

DOD AUTHORIZATION : The House has now passed its Defense Department authorization bill for FY05, while the Senate continues to work on its version. Both bills would cut funding for DOD S&T by nearly 10% from FY04 levels. Although the authorization levels fall short of the goal that 3% of the DOD budget be devoted to S&T, both House and Senate committee reports include language supporting this goal.