FYI: The AIP Bulletin of Science Policy News

FYI This Month: December 2008

Highlights of developments in Washington impacting the physics communbity from FYI, The American Institute of Physics Bulletin of Science Policy News

Richard M. Jones

FY 2009 Appropriations Cycle:

House and Senate Appropriators and their staffs are readying the nine unfinished funding bills so that they can be combined into an omnibus bill to be presented to President-Elect Barack Obama after his January 20 inauguration. (#113)

AIP Congressional Fellowship Program:

With the support of two of our Member Societies - The Acoustical Society of America, and AVS: Science and Technology of Materials, Interfaces and Processing - the American Institute of Physics will have a second congressional fellow starting in the fall of 2009. The application deadline for this program is January 15. Information on the fellowships is available at (#114)

Obama's Science, Technology, STEM Education Agenda:

Technology is one of the Obama Administration's 23 major agenda items on its website One of the objectives under this agenda item, "Improve American Competitiveness" is of particular significance for the science community. The new Administration proposes to "double federal funding for basic research over ten years," and "invest in university-based research." (#115)

Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey:

An NRC committee has started a study to survey and then prioritize space- and ground-based astronomy and astrophysics activities for the period 2010-2020. The report will be released in the summer of 2010. (#116)

House Appropriators on DOE Science Funding:

The House Appropriations Committee released its report accompanying its version of the FY 2009 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill. Of note: "The Committee . . . supports the projected doubling of this area of research and development [Office of Science] funding over the decade 2006 to 2016." (#117)

Steven Chu to be Next Secretary of Energy:

President-Elect Obama announced his selection of Steven Chu, the current director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, to be his Energy Secretary. The announcement drew quick praise from Capitol Hill, Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman, and others. (#118)

House FY 2009 NSF Funding Bill:

House appropriators fully funded the 13.0 percent requested increase for the National Science Foundation. In doing so, they shifted requested funding from Research and Related Activities to Education and Human Resources. (#119)

House FY 2009 NIST Bill:

House Appropriators recommended an 8.1 percent increase in the NIST budget. They rejected the Bush Administration's request to cut funding for Industrial Technology Services from $154.8 million to $4.0 million. Instead, appropriators recommended $187.2 million in FY 2009 funding. (#120)

Math and Science Student Assessment:

The average math test scores of US students have increased from 1995 levels, while average science test scores have stagnated. American fourth and eighth grade students were compared to students in other countries, with the scores reported in the 2007 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study. (#121)

Report on Nanotechnology Safety:

The National Research Council released a generally negative report on the current research plan for assessing nanotechnology safety, calling it insufficient. (#122)

John Holdren Selected as Obama's Assistant to the President for Science and Technology:

John Holdren of Harvard and the Woods Hole Research Center was named by Obama to be his cabinet-level science advisor, director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and one of three co-chairs of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. Obama spoke of his support for science and protecting free and open inquiry. Holdren's selection was quickly praised on Capitol Hill and by an academic organization. (#123)

House Science Committee Agenda:

Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN) outlined an ambitious agenda for 2009 and commented on S&T funding, ARPA-E, NASA, and the Administration's energy and environment team. "A team is in place that will help us move further," he said. (#124)

Richard M. Jones
Media and Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics