At the August National Science Board meeting, the National Science Foundation presented an analysis of its extensive use of rotating scientific personnel and suggested that the foundation might seek new hiring authorities from Congress in order to reduce its reliance on rotators for executive-level positions.
The National Academies has released its midterm assessment of the 2010 decadal survey of astronomy and astrophysics. A key theme is that increasingly expensive top-priority projects are responsible for outstanding breakthroughs, but are also putting pressure on high-priority medium-scale projects.
At the August National Science Board meeting, leadership of the board and the National Science Foundation outlined plans for both organizations to become more proactive in their engagement with stakeholders and presented further details on the “big ideas” for future investment the foundation unveiled at the last board meeting.
In two recent rulings against the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, federal judges have expanded the reach of critics of the mainstream scientific consensus on climate change into government records.
A group of industry, higher education, and scientific organizations has reissued a statement calling for Congress to increase federal support of basic research, streamline research regulations, and reaffirm merit-based review, among other actions.
The Obama Administration has released two reports on the state of quantum computing and related R&D projects. Among other issues addressed, the reports call attention to the organizational difficulties the field is facing as it grows and as other countries ramp up counterpart efforts.
With all 12 appropriations bills now drafted, the outcome of funding for the federal science agencies in fiscal year 2017 is coming into focus, with appropriations on track in many cases to diverge from the president’s discretionary funding requests.
Sen. Lamar Alexander has introduced a bill that, if enacted, would authorize a multibillion-dollar increase in energy research funding while eliminating the wind production tax credit. These provisions reflect the senator’s longstanding priorities in the development of new clean energy options.
If history is any guide, Congress will almost certainly pass one or more stopgap spending measures before reaching a final agreement on funding for fiscal year 2017. The question now becomes whether the current Congress and outgoing president will finalize an agreement in the lame-duck session or instead hand off responsibility for the final negotiations to the 115th Congress and the incoming administration.
NSF’s education programs would see steady funding under current spending bills, while the Department of Education’s STEM programs are undergoing major statutory realignment, leading to disagreement between the president, House, and Senate on the best level of support.