FYI: The AIP Bulletin of Science Policy News

FYI This Month: March 2012

Richard M. Jones
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House Armed Services Subcommittee Examines Management of National Security Labs

A House Armed Services Committee subcommittee received testimony from witnesses on the management of Los Alamos, Sandia, and Lawrence Livermore laboratories by the National Nuclear Security Administration.  There was uniform agreement that changes are needed, with one senior laboratory official describing “a system that is truly broken,” later adding “the micromanagement is killing us.” 

AIP Endorses STEM Education Coalition Letter Regarding Science Education in the Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act

The American Institute of Physics joined over 40 organizations in signing a letter to Rep. John Kline (R-MN), Chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.  The letter expressed concerns with HR 3989, the Student Success Act and HR 3990, the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act.  

House Education and Workforce Committee Holds Hearing and Markup on Bills Reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act

The Committee on Education and the Workforce held a hearing HR 3989, the Student Success Act and HR 3990, the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act.  Chairman John Kline (R-MN) introduced both bills in an effort to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. 

OSTP Director Holdren Testifies Before Key House Appropriators

Office of Science and Technology Policy Director John Holdren met with key House appropriators to discuss the Obama Administration’s FY 2013 request for research and development programs.  While there were occasional sharp questions about NASA and China, it was largely an amicable hearing. 

House Appropriators and Authorizers Review FY 2013 DOE Request

Energy Secretary Steven Chu testified before two important panels on the FY 2013 budget request.  As expected, most questions centered on energy prices and nuclear waste disposal, and to a lesser degree, DOE’s science programs.

House Science Subcommittee Holds Hearing on a Review of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy

The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology’s Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight held a hearing to review the performance of the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy, and to evaluate the recent Government Accountability Office and Department of Energy Inspector General reports on the agency’s activities. 

House Hearings on FY 2013 National Science Foundation Budget Request

Almost without exception, members of the House appropriations and authorization committees expressed strong bipartisan support for the FY 2013 request for the National Science Foundation.  As has been true in previous years, NSF’s budget for next year will likely be shaped more by overall funding constraints than by the particulars of the foundation’s request.

“Burning Platform”: NNSA Administrator Thomas D’Agostino on FY 2013 Budget Request

National Nuclear Security Administration Administrator Thomas D’Agostino had been testifying for only a few minutes before House appropriators when he spoke of the austere budget environment as creating what he called a “burning platform” to “dramatically change the way we do business.” 

House Science Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation Reviews NIST FY 2013 Budget Request

National Institute of Standards and Technology Director Patrick Gallagher testified before the House Science, Space, and Technology’s Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation on the fiscal year 2013 budget request for NIST.  Since Members from both parties were supportive of NIST’s role in research and development, much of the discussion during the hearing was focused on whether the budget request for NIST was too high with respect to the current US economic climate. 

Defense Basic Research Program: Report from Defense Science Board and House Hearing

A task force was charged with examining the quality of DOD’s 6.1 basic research program and offering strategies and recommendations to improve it.  Its findings were quite positive, with the co-chairs commenting “overall, the task force found the current DOD basic research program to be a very good one, comparable to other basic research programs in the government and well-suited to DoD needs.” 

NSF Major Research Equipment and Facilities Management Discussed in House Science Committee Hearing

Ensuring fiscal responsibility and accountability in the management and operation of National Science Foundation’s Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction program was the subject of a recent hearing in the House Science, Space and Technology’s Subcommittee on Research and Science Education. 

Skeptical Appropriators Question FY 2013 DOE Office of Science Budget Request

A hearing of the House Energy and Water Development Appropriations’ Subcommittee on the FY 2013 request for the Office of Science had a mixed outcome.  While the subcommittee has traditionally been a strong supporter of the Office of Science, with Members reaffirming their support at this hearing, they raised many questions about the formulation and composition of the budget request. 

Senate Committee Holds Hearing on American Competitiveness and Public Education

A hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee opened with expressions of bi-partisan concern regarding the importance of improving the number of high school graduates who reach, and graduate from, an undergraduate institution. 

Energy Secretary Chu Appears Before Senate Appropriators

Appropriators were generally receptive to the FY 2013 request for the Department of Energy, and in many cases spoke of their desire to see it play a more active role in several areas.

Richard M. Jones
Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics