FYI: The AIP Bulletin of Science Policy News

FYI This Month: August 2012

Richard M. Jones
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Sobering Budget Outlook for Nuclear Physics Research

The Chair of the National Research Council committee that wrote a report on the future of nuclear physics research spoke at a recent meeting of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.  Among the topics discussed were changes in the funding outlook that occurred during the preparation of the decadal review. 

Agreement to Continue Federal Funding through March 2013 (Seems) Assured

Before leaving for the summer recess, House and Senate leaders issued statements indicating their intention to craft legislation to continue the current level of federal funding for the first six months of FY 2013.  The new fiscal year starts on October 1.

Science Societies and State Department Establish a Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Expert Partnership

Ten science organizations, including the American Institute of Physics, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the US Department of State to establish the Science, Technology and Innovation Expert Partnership.  “The Science, Technology and Innovation Expert Partnership will introduce US science and technology experts to foreign audiences through US Embassy supported public diplomacy programs. The Partnership advances the [State] Department’s efforts to promote economic prosperity, democratic governance, social development, and global scientific knowledge and to share that information with foreign audiences,” explains a Department of State press statement.

White House Releases Report on Advanced Manufacturing

The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology submitted a Report to the President on Capturing Domestic Competitive Advantage in Advanced Manufacturing.  Among the report’s recommendations are the establishment of a national network of manufacturing innovation institutes; strengthening community college training; and trade, regulatory, and energy policies that would potentially benefit domestic manufacturers.

Physics Societies Call for Action to Avoid Automatic Federal Budget Cuts

Unless Congress and the Administration strike an agreement, automatic reductions of approximately 8 to 9 percent will be made to the budgets of most federal programs in early January 2013.  The Presidents of six of AIP’s Member Societies, and AIP’s Executive Director & CEO, sent a letter to President Barack Obama, the leadership of the House and Senate, and congressional appropriators stating “As leaders of professional societies representing more than 135,000 physical scientists and educators in universities, companies, hospitals and national laboratories, we are writing to urge you to resume consideration of a comprehensive deficit reduction plan. A successful strategy must not only set our nation on a long-term course of fiscal responsibility, but also promote strong economic growth by sustaining the science and technology activities that have long kept America innovative and competitive in the global marketplace.” 

House Energy and Commerce Committee Examines Nuclear Regulatory Commission Governance

A joint hearing by two House subcommittees discussed issues relating to the governance of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  Discussions focused on ongoing safety oversight and licensing activities at the commission and “lessons learned from the consequences of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident in Japan.”

FY 2013 Senate Defense Appropriations Bill: Science and Technology Programs

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a bill recommending increases in funding for basic research and advanced technology development programs, and a decrease in applied research funding.

Research and Science Education Subcommittee Discusses Business-Research University Partnerships

At a hearing of a subcommittee of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, Members heard from the business community about their partnerships and collaborations with research universities.  Witnesses suggested that there be a focus on small and medium business enterprises as well as community colleges in the discussions about improving business-university partnerships.  Because the partners do not always have all the necessary resources at their disposal, co-funded projects that include funding from private industry and the government provide significant opportunity to bring the partners together, witnesses explained.

Decadal Report on Nuclear Physics

A decadal survey issued in late June by a National Research Council committee concluded that the “nuclear physics program in the United States has been especially well managed,” and offered recommendations to guide the program in future years.  Among its findings and recommendations are strategies for the full utilization of current facilities, the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, underground science, university-based programs, forefront-computing resources, streamlining funding agencies’ management procedures, and R&D on an electron-ion collider.

Richard M. Jones
Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics