FYI THIS MONTH: JULY 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
GLOBALIZATION: Members of the House Science and Technology Committee have been exploring the issue of globalization and its impact on U.S. high-tech workers. Alfred P. Sloan Foundation President Ralph Gomory warned that with production capabilities mobile, the old theories of free trade no longer apply. All the witnesses agreed, however, that protectionist policies were, as one put it, "a loser's game."

MATH AND SCIENCE PARTNERSHIPS FUNDING: Senate appropriators, in their FY08 Labor-HHS-Education spending bill, recommended an almost imperceptible increase for the Education Department's Math and Science Partnership program, and their House counterparts would have provided only level funding. However, during the House floor debate Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-MI) won approval for an amendment to increase the program's budget by almost 9 percent.

NIBIB FUNDING: For the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, part of the National Institutes of Health, Senate appropriators would provide a 2.5% increase for FY08, and House appropriators would provide a 2.2% increase.

MONEY FOR TECHNOLOGY ASSESSMENT: More than 10 years after the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) was shut down, appropriators in both the House and Senate have voted to provide funding to re-establish a technology assessment capability for Congress within the Government Accountability Office. In the FY08 Legislative Branch spending bill, the House would provide $2.5 million for such a capability while the Senate would provide $750,000. The OTA had a $22 million budget when it was closed in 1995.

COMMERCE-JUSTICE-SCIENCE APPROPRIATIONS: Both Senate and House appropriators have completed their versions of the FY08 Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations bill. The Senate bill would increase NSF's budget by 10.8% over current-year funding, while the House bill would raise it by 10.0%. Senate appropriators would boost the funding for NIST by 27.5%; the House bill would provide a 15.0% increase, and both bill versions reject the Administration's attempt to terminate the Advanced Technology Program. NASA's funding would grow by 7.2% in the Senate bill and by 8.2% in the House bill. NASA's science budget would be increased by 3.4% or 4.2%, respectively.

ORBACH ON ITER: At a fusion sciences advisory panel meeting, Energy Under Secretary for Science Ray Orbach discussed the status of ITER. A joint implementation agreement for ITER has so far been ratified by five of the seven parties involved. Orbach stressed the importance of avoiding cost overruns on this and other projects.

DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS: The House Appropriations Committee recommended an 8.5% cut in total spending for DOD S&T programs, but in most cases the committee's recommended funding levels are still higher than those requested by the Administration.