FYI: The AIP Bulletin of Science Policy News

FYI This Month: November 2012

Richard M. Jones
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Forward Step: Senate Bill on Nuclear Waste

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing to review legislation that may serve as the framework for the storage and later permanent disposal of the nation’s civilian and defense nuclear waste. 

Subcommittee Questions National Weather Service on Management of Funding

The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology’s Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight held a hearing to examine unauthorized reprograming of funding within the National Weather Service.  

Tough Questions on Weapons Lab Security Breach at House Hearing

“Unacceptable and inexcusable” was how National Nuclear Security Administration Administrator Thomas D’Agostino described an incursion at the Y-12 National Security Complex.  The ramifications of this incident are likely to be long-lasting, going far beyond security upgrades at NNSA facilities.

President Obama on Outlook for Climate Change Action

During a recent press conference, President Obama responded to a question about what his administration will do in the next four years regarding climate change.  After citing regulatory changes and S&T investments made by his administration, the President acknowledged “we haven’t done as much as we need to,” adding “some tough political choices” will have to be made to “take on climate change in a serious way.”

Congeniality and Collaboration: Senate Hearing on New Leadership at the NRC

“I am so pleased to see the working relationship that is beginning to develop here,” said Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) at an oversight hearing on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  Boxer’s remarks came at the conclusion of a two-hour joint hearing of the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works and its Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety.

An Update on Actions Affecting Spending for Science Conferences

An Office of Management and Budget memo instructed federal agencies to spend at least 30 percent less on travel in FY 2013 than in FY 2010.  These reductions must be maintained, according to the memo, through FY 2016.  The memo requests that agencies describe their plans to reach these proposed reductions and further states that “Federal agencies and employees must exercise discretion and judgment in ensuring that conference expenses are appropriate, necessary, and managed in a manner that minimizes expenses to taxpayers.”

Update: U.S. Helium Program and U.S. Production of Molybdenum-99

An Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of the Interior report highlights the need for changes in the management of the U.S. Helium Program.  The National Nuclear Security Administration announced a cooperative agreement with a U.S. corporation for the production of the medical isotope molybdenum-99 without the use of highly-enriched uranium.

National Academies Review the Manufacturing-Related Programs at the National Institute of Standards and Technology

The National Institute of Standards and Technology recently requested that the National Research Council assess the quality of the multidisciplinary, multi-sector, and crosscutting area of the agency’s manufacturing-related programs.

New Chairman for House Science, Space, and Technology Committee

When the new Congress convenes in January, Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) will chair the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. Smith will replace Ralph Hall (R-TX) who has chaired the committee since January 2011. 

Richard M. Jones
Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics