FYI THIS MONTH: NOVEMBER 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
COSTS OF SPACE EXPLORATION: A Congressional Budget Office analysis estimates that President Bush's Space Exploration Initiative might cost over $30 billion more than NASA's current projections. The CBO looked at historical program cost growth and the costs of previous analogous programs to develop its estimates.

TRENDS IN GRADUATE PHYSICS AND ASTRONOMY STUDENTS: The number of first-year physics and astronomy graduate students in total, the number who are U.S. citizens, and the number who are women all showed increases in 2003. The number of first-year physics and astronomy graduate students from China and India continued to grow, while there was a significant decline in the number of students coming from European countries.

FY 2005 APPROPRIATIONS BILLS: Congress returned to Washington in November to try to resolve lingering issues and pass the remaining nine appropriations bills for FY 2005. Those bills were combined into a single 3,000-page omnibus bill, which increased NASA funding by 4.5% and DOE Office of Science funding by 2.9% over FY 2005, while cutting NSF's budget by 1.9%. The Education Department's Math and Science Partnership program received a 19.8% increase, while NSF's identically-named Math and Science Partnership program was slashed almost in half. NIST got a 14.9% increase, but its Advanced Technology Program experienced a 17.0% cut. Funding went up by 3.3% for the NIH's National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, and remained essentially flat for the USGS. The appropriations conferees did not provide any funds for President Bush's nuclear weapons initiatives, including research on low-yield and bunker buster nuclear weapons, site selection for a plutonium pit production facility, or enhanced test readiness at the Nevada Test Site.

S&E WORKFORCE DEMOGRAPHICS: An NSF survey of the nation's science and engineering (S&E) workforce found that "individuals employed in S&E occupations with associate's degrees and high school diplomas [as the highest level of educational attainment] represent a significant portion of this workforce and account for over one-fifth of all persons employed in U.S. science and engineering occupations."

ENERGY SECRETARY ABRAHAM RESIGNS: After serving as Secretary of Energy during President Bush's first term, Spencer Abraham submitted his resignation on November 14. He will continue to serve as energy secretary until a successor is approved by the Senate.

NUCLEAR SCIENCE COMMITTEE MEETS: In a report delivered to the joint DOE/NSF Nuclear Science Advisory Committee on November 18, a subcommittee warned that the nuclear science community may not be producing enough PhDs to meet future needs. The report offered recommendations on improving diversity and enhancing experiences for undergraduate and graduate students and postdocs. The next time the committee meets, it will be reconstituted in a different form, in a decision driven by a GAO review of the federal scientific advisory process.