FYI THIS MONTH: MARCH 2006
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
MIXED OUTLOOK AT DOE: On February 28, DOE Office of Science Director Ray Orbach gave a presentation to the Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee in which he was generally upbeat about the FY07 request for fusion. But on the other hand, DOE's Office of Nuclear Physics recently submitted to Congress a report stating that DOE has concluded "it is not prudent to proceed" with design and construction of the Rare Isotope Accelerator at this time.

DEAR COLLEAGUE LETTERS: One way for Members of Congress to advocate for their funding priorities is by trying to get as many Members as possible to sign onto letters to key appropriators, highlighting those priorities. Such "Dear Colleague" letters have been circulating in support of strong funding for S&T programs, including DOD basic research, DOE's Office of Science, science and math education, and NSF.

NASA BUDGET REQUEST, OPENNESS: In two hearings, House Science Committee members and experts from the science community questioned the Administration's emphasis on human spaceflight over science, and on large science missions over research grants, in NASA's FY07 request. Members were pleased, however, that NASA Administrator Michael Griffin has promised to revisit the agency's policies to ensure that statements by NASA scientists about their work are not censored.

SCIENCE COMMITTEE OPINIONS ON REQUEST FOR S&T: Republicans and Democrats on the House Science Committee issued separate comments on the FY07 request for programs under the committee's jurisdiction. Predictably, the majority's "Views and Estimates" was more favorable to the request than the minority's statement.

SCIENCE, MATH EDUCATION: Another topic explored by the Science Committee in March was undergraduate science and math instruction. Witnesses described the lack of incentives for reform, but said that improving science and math education at the college level was necessary to improve the teaching of those subjects in K-12 classrooms. The National Science Board released a brief report decrying the state of the nation's science and math education in conjunction with its "Science and Engineering Indicators: 2006."

CONGRESSIONAL, ADMINISTRATIVE ACTION ON COMPETITIVENESS: There are numerous indications on Capitol Hill that many Members agree with President Bush's FY07 request for science programs and the emphasis on improving American competitiveness. Competitiveness-related bills have been introduced in both the House and Senate, and Senators passed a budget resolution that supports the Administration's request for NSF, DOE's Office of Science, and math and science education initiatives. Speaking to the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), OSTP Director John Marburger (who is also the PCAST co-chair) and Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman discussed the proposed American Competitiveness Initiative. Marburger stated that funding priority would be placed on research areas that are closely aligned with competitiveness.