DOD FUNDING: The FY07 DOD appropriations bill was signed into law one day before the start of the new fiscal year. In spite of the Bush Administration's request to cut 16.3% from the combined funding for basic and applied research and advanced technology development, Congress increased total funding for DOD S&T by 0.7% over FY06. Basic Research funding rose 5.6% and Applied Research funding rose 2.2%, while Advanced Technology Development declined 1.7%.
WOMEN IN ACADEMIA: A 200-plus page report from a National Academies Committee finds that "seemingly neutral practices, based as they are on the life experiences and characteristics of men, can create barriers to the careers of women in science and engineering." The report offers recommendations to university leaders, department heads and faculty, professional societies, educational organizations, federal R&D agencies, and Congress, and disputes some common myths about women's advancement in academic careers.
CLIMATE CHANGE: Speaking at a summit on climate stabilization, retiring House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) noted that many House members "still question whether climate change is a genuine phenomenon." Climate change was the topic of two House hearings, White House and Congressional Budget Office reports, and concern over possible suppression of a NOAA statement on hurricane intensity. In both hearings, the view was expressed that the White House's strategic planning did not go far enough in addressing prioritization and deployment of technologies and setting emissions goals.
NASA CEV: A Science Committee hearing revealed disagreements between NASA and the Government Accountability Office on the space agency's plans for development and acquisition of a Crew Exploration Vehicle to replace the space shuttle.
COMPETITIVENESS BILL: Republicans and Democrats in the Senate, including the majority and minority leaders, have joined together to introduce the National Competitiveness Investment Act (S. 3936), a wide-ranging bipartisan bill that encompasses many of the provisions of previously-introduced competitiveness bills. While the bill is unlikely to make it to President Bush's desk this year, it may serve as a basis for new legislation next year. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) noted that "this is a subject matter which many Senators have been working on for a long time." But Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) cautioned that "it is not going to be an easy job...to appropriate these new moneys we are here authorizing" without taking funds from other important programs.