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FYI THIS MONTH: DECEMBER 2007
HIGHLIGHTS OF DEVELOPMENTS IN WASHINGTON IMPACTING THE PHYSICS COMMUNITY FROM FYI, THE AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF PHYSICS BULLETIN OF SCIENCE POLICY NEWS

To read the cited FYIs, see the FYI archive at: http://www.aip.org/fyi/2007/

FUNDING PRESSURE AT NASA: NASA Administrator Michael Griffin told a Senate subcommittee that his agency will not have a replacement system for five years after the Space Shuttle is retired in September 2010. This five-year gap, which has been the subject of other congressional hearings, was a source of great concern to the senators. Assembling the remaining components of the International Space Station calls for a tight schedule, and senators expressed frustration that scientific payloads may be left on the ground. A lack of money is the chief constraint, with Griffin telling the subcommittee, "I don't want to leave this hearing or this committee with the impression that we are in a good position. We are not." (FYI #118)

CONGRESSIONAL DISAGREEMENT OVER ADMINISTRATION CLIMATE SCIENCE POLICY: Members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee disagreed over White House policies on federal officials speaking to the news media and the content of administration documents. Democrats charged the policies were an effort to manipulate climate change science and mislead policymakers and the public. Republicans countered that the instances cited were part of the traditional agency and interagency review process. (FYI #119)

COMPELLING REPORT ON U.S. COMPETITIVENESS: Norman Augustine released an essay highlighting threats to U.S. competitiveness, and reiterated the recommendations of the 2005 report, "Rising Above the Gathering Storm." Augustine described the importance of reforming the nation's K-12 education system, and the need for the federal government to increase its investment in basic research. (#120)

DISAPPOINTING FY 2008 BUDGET OUTCOME: After a months-long disagreement about the overall level of discretionary funding, Congress and the Administration agreed to a spending limit. The final bill increases funding for the DOE Office of Science (after removing earmarks) by 2.6 percent, for NSF by 2.5 percent, and for NIST's Scientific and Technical Research and Services by 1.4 percent. Three S&T organizations issued statements highly critical of the funding levels. Said one statement: "The President and Congress, for all their stated support this year for making basic research in the physical sciences and engineering a top budget priority ended up essentially cutting, or flat-funding, key science agencies after accounting for inflation." (FYIs #121, 122, 123, and 124.)

Richard M. Jones
Media and Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics
fyi@aip.org
301-209-3095

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