FYI THIS MONTH: SEPTEMBER 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
S&T WORKFORCE: How will the nation recognize a shortage or surplus in the scientific and technical workforce? The proceedings of a conference on this subject highlighted the need for better and more complete data on which to base decisions.

CLIMATE CHANGE REPORT: The latest version of the Administration's annual report on its Climate Change Science Program acknowledges the human role in increasing emissions of carbon dioxide, "the largest single forcing agent of climate change." While it lays out future research directions, the report does not offer any policy recommendations.

NANOSCIENCE FOR ENERGY NEEDS: Energy is one of the many areas in which nanoscience is expected to have a great impact. A workshop held earlier this year identified nine specific research targets and six underlying research themes that need to be addressed in order to make progress.

BEMENT NOMINATION: After filling the role of Acting Director of NSF since late February, while also serving as Director of NIST, Arden Bement Jr. has been nominated to the directorship of NSF by President Bush. It is not clear whether his nomination will be considered by the Senate this year or early next year.

APPROPRIATIONS PROCESS: With the start of the 2005 fiscal year upon us, the only FY05 appropriations bill that has been signed into law is the one for the Defense Department. There are numerous obstacles to passage of the remaining appropriations bills. During September, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed bills that would: increase the NIST budget by 26.3% over FY04 funding and maintain the Advanced Technology Program; provide essentially flat funding for USGS; increase the Department of Education's Math and Science Partnership program by 34.3% but cut NSF's Partnership program by 21.0%; increase the NSF budget by 3.0%; and increase NASA funding by 1.3% while supporting a "strong, balanced science program" at the space agency. Also in September, both the full House and the Senate Appropriations Committee passed Labor-HHS-Education bills, which include funding for the National Institute of Health's Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB). The House bill would increase NIBIB funding by 3.7%, while the Senate bill would increase it by 4.8%. The appropriations bill for the Department of Homeland Security has now been passed by both the Senate and the House, and may be completed before Congress adjourns in October. The Science and Technology - Research, Development, Acquisition and Operations budget would grow by 22.4% under the House bill, and 17.0% under the Senate bill.

SHUTTLE, HUBBLE CONCERNS: With limited funds available for NASA, Members of Congress are struggling to figure out how to provide support for President Bush's bold vision for space exploration, while at the same time taking care of immediate priorities such as returning the shuttle fleet to safe operation and servicing the aging Hubble Space Telescope.