FYI THIS MONTH: MARCH 2007
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
SENATE SUPPORT FOR OFFICE OF SCIENCE, NSF: At this time of year there is a buzz of activity on Capitol Hill as Congress receives testimony on the budget requests for federal departments and agencies, and Representatives and Senators try to secure robust funding for favored programs. In a "Dear Colleague" letter, a Member seeks signatures of other senators or representatives on a letter to the relevant appropriators, extolling the virtues of a particular agency or program. Senators Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and Christopher Bond (R-MO) requested signatures on a letter urging appropriators to "uphold the President's budget request for the National Science Foundation," which, the letter says, "is critical for our nation's universities." Another letter, initiated by Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN), supports the FY08 request for DOE's Office of Science. The letter states, "The President's requested funding for the Office of Science is justified as our nation's ability to sustain a growing economy and create good jobs at home increasingly depends upon our achievements in science and technology."

HOUSE SUPPORT FOR DoED MSPS, NSF: In the House, Representatives Vern Ehlers (R-MI) and Rush Holt (D-NJ) sought colleagues' support for funding the Education Department's Math and Science Partnership program at the originally-authorized level of $450 million. The partnerships, the letter says, "provide necessary professional development enabling effective math and science teaching and strengthening our students' math and science skills." Ehlers, Holt and Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC) also circulated a letter asking appropriators to support NSF "by upholding the Administration's budget request" and urging "that if additional funds become available that you devote at least $200 million above the request for the Education and Human Resources [EHR] Directorate." Funding for the EHR Directorate has been cut by nearly 20 percent in real terms since 2004.

HEARINGS ON AGENCY BUDGETS: Federal agency officials have been on Capitol Hill frequently of late, explaining their budget requests to both the authorizers who oversee their programs and the appropriators who provide the funding. House and Senate hearings on the DOE Office of Science request elicited praise for Under Secretary for Science Ray Orbach and the office. Members had questions about the proposed International Linear Collider and the status of the Rare Isotope Accelerator, and the uses of earmarked funds. A House appropriations hearing on the NSF budget request revealed broad concern that the Foundation's education programs are not being supported adequately in the request, while at a Senate NSF hearing subcommittee chair Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) warned that "we are facing a very tight budget, with many competing demands." At a hearing of the House Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, Members questioned the Administration's priorities in proposing to cut or eliminate a number of valued USGS programs.

DOE FY07 OPERATING PLAN: DOE's F Y07 Operating Plan, which outlines how DOE intends to spend its current-year appropriation, has now been submitted to Congress.