FYI: The AIP Bulletin of Science Policy News

FYI This Month: February 2013

Richard M. Jones
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HIGHLIGHTS OF DEVELOPMENTS IN WASHINGTON IMPACTING THE PHYSICS COMMUNITY FROM FYI, THE AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF PHYSICS BULLETIN OF SCIENCE POLICY NEWS

STEM Education: An Update and Overview of Policy Discussions

Recent reports have generated momentum and an increased desire among decision makers to take action to improve US STEM education. 

Energy Secretary Chu Announces His Return to Academia

Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced his plan to return to “an academic life of teaching and research.”  

President Awards Medals for Science, and Technology and Innovation; Stresses Importance of Encouraging New Researchers

At an impressive East Room ceremony in the White House, President Obama presented the federal government’s highest awards given to scientists, engineers and inventors. 

FY 2013 Sequestration Remains on Track, Budget for Rest of Year Stymied, FY 2014 Budget Request Delayed

No significant progress has been made in averting the automatic reductions that are scheduled to occur to almost all federal department and agency program budgets on March 1.  There is no firm information about when the Obama Administration’s FY 2014 budget request will be released.  Also unknown is what will be done when short term funding for government operations expires at the end of March. 

Stressing Bipartisanship, House Science Committee Looks Ahead

“It’s my hope that we will be considered a bipartisan committee, working together for the best interests of our country,” declared Lamar Smith (R-TX), the new chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee.  Smith’s comments came at the outset of the first meeting of the committee to introduce its new members, adopt committee rules, and, of note, to agree to an expansive oversight plan for the next two years.    

House Science Committee Discusses American Competitiveness and the Role of Research and Development

The first hearing of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee in the 113th Congress focused on the impacts of research and development as well as the outlook for America’s science and technology enterprise. 

Update Report on Benchmarks of US Innovation and the Knowledge Economy

The “America Exceptionalism, American Decline?” report, published by the Task Force on American Innovation, provides an update of two previous Task Force reports that focused on key benchmarks and economic competitiveness. 

Directors of the National Science Foundation, U.S. Geological Survey, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Resigning Their Positions

National Science Foundation Director Subra Suresh, U.S. Geological Survey Director Marcia McNutt and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Administrator Jane Lubchenco are leaving their positions. 

State of the Union: R&D Funding, Climate Change, STEM Education, Immigration Reform

The State of the Union address and a follow-up event held by the Office of Science and Technology Policy demonstrate the Obama Administration’s continued emphasis on the importance of research and development and related policy matters. 

Mechanics of Sequestration

Controller of the Office of Management and Budget Danny Werfel spoke about the mechanics of sequestration, including the about the amount of the sequester, its application, and compliance. 

“The Wolf is at the Door”: Likely Impacts of Sequestration

“My testimony today makes clear that sequestration, especially if accompanied by a year-long CR [continuing resolution], would be devastating to DoD -- just as it would to every other affected Federal agency. The difference is that, today, these devastating events are no longer distant problems. The wolf is at the door.”  So warned Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter at a recent Senate Appropriations Committee hearing focusing on the impacts of automatic budget reductions on civilian and defense departments and agencies. 

Senior House Leader Questions Federal Funding of Social Science Research

Echoing House action taken last year to eliminate funding for political science research and the climate change education program at the National Science Foundation, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) said in a speech that “Funds currently spent by the government on social science – including on politics of all things – would be better spent helping find cures to diseases.” 

Important Appropriations Hearing on the National Nuclear Security Administration

A hearing by the House Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee reaffirmed its bipartisanship, both in its support of the NNSA and in shared concerns about the aging of the weapons stockpile, the need to modernize the complex, and cost overruns. 

Recent Developments Regarding FY 2013 Funding

House Republicans appear poised to bring a bill to the floor to provide flat funding for the rest of this fiscal year.  The Office of Management and Budget has prepared a list of recommended funding adjustments in this legislation.  National Science Foundation Director Subra Suresh issued a notice about how the foundation will prioritize funding following an expected 5 percent reduction that will automatically occur in the agency’s budget. 

Richard M. Jones
Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics
rjones@aip.org
301-209-3095