FYI THIS MONTH: AUGUST 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
APPROPRIATIONS UPDATE: Before leaving for the August recess, the House passed its FY08 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill, which would keep basic research at NSF, NIST, and DOE's Office of Science on a path to doubling over ten years. Due to the bill's total spending level, the White House Office of Management and Budget issued a warning that "if H.R. 3090 were presented to the President, he would veto the bill." While Congress tries to wrap up the FY08 appropriations, the Administration is preparing its request for FY09. A memo from the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Office of Management and Budget lays out FY09 guidance and priorities for federal R&D programs, and cites the American Competitiveness Initiative as a Presidential Priority.

COMPETITIVENESS BILL PASSED: While work on appropriations continues, Congress passed, and the President signed, a comprehensive, bipartisan bill to expand and enhance basic research and education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The bill is the result of numerous reports and much effort by the science community, warning that the U.S. is in danger of losing its global S&T leadership. In addition to authorizing funding increases for physical sciences research, the bill would also expand STEM education programs within NSF, DOE, and the Department of Education.

S&T COMMITTEE HEARINGS: Witnesses testified to a House Science and Technology subcommittee that President Bush's FY08 request and outyear projections for NASA's Earth Science programs would not be sufficient to halt the decline in number and capability of Earth observing missions and would not allow the space agency to fully implement the recommendations of the National Academies' decadal survey. Another S&T Committee hearing explored the international expansion of some U.S. universities and the possible implications for the nation's competitiveness.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR STEM EDUCATION: In August, the National Science Board released, for public comment, a draft of a "National Action Plan" for the nation's STEM education system. The draft focused on improving coordination and coherence across states and all levels of government, and through the grades, from pre-K to college.

DISAGREEMENT OVER REPLACEMENT WARHEAD: The House, Senate, and the Bush Administration have divergent positions on whether DOE should proceed with design and cost estimates for a proposed replacement nuclear warhead. Congress would like more information on the need for such a weapon.

AIP STATE DEPARTMENT FELLOWSHIP: November 1, 2007 is the application deadline for AIP's 2008-9 State Department Science Fellowship. This is a unique opportunity for a qualified scientist to contribute scientific and technical expertise to the State Department and learn about the foreign policy process. Please see www.aip.org/gov/fellowships/ for more information on available fellowship programs.