Both the House and Senate have passed the fiscal year 2017 “National Defense Authorization Act." The NDAA is a bill, passed annually, that authorizes and sets policy for defense programs at the Defense and Energy Departments, including defense R&D.
NSF is currently undertaking a formal process by which it will determine whether or not to divest from the Arecibo and Green Bank Observatories, with final decisions for each facility expected within the next year and a half.
On Oct. 5 and 6, a National Academies committee studying NASA’s large strategic science missions held a meeting at which NASA officials and current and former congressional staff members presented. Committee members and presenters confronted pressing questions concerning what role the missions play in accomplishing the agency’s science goals and in sustaining broader scientific communities.
At a hearing last week, the House Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee discussed the role and health of the Defense Department’s research laboratories in the context of the department’s Third Offset Strategy to leverage innovation to preserve U.S. military superiority. Witnesses from the labs focused on administrative obstacles and aging facilities as the primary burdens preventing the labs from fully realizing their potential.
This week, the National Science Foundation issued a progress update on facility management reforms that were spurred by deficiencies revealed through turmoil at the National Ecological Observatory Network.
Last week the House passed two bills which would establish new basic energy research initiatives at the Department of Energy, as well as a bill which would update policies for certain NIST programs and direct a comprehensive National Academies review of NIST laboratories.
Among its most significant science-related provisions, the National Defense Authorization Act passed by the Senate would assign management of Department of Defense R&D to a reconstituted Under Secretary of Defense for Research & Engineering. The bill also contains multiple measures to improve DOD’s ability to hire top technical talent, and the authoring committee expresses interest in “comprehensive defense lab governance reform.”
After missing a goal for achieving a high-energy-yield fusion reaction by 2012, the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is taking a step back to determine whether fusion ignition by laser is possible by 2020.
Over the past two months, a House Science Committee bill designed to tighten the NSF’s management and financial oversight of its large research facilities has moved quickly from introduction to full House passage.