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Public Policy Report for 3/20/2000

    Expanding the AIBS Public Policy Office - At the November 1999 AIBS Presidents' Summit, strong interest in expanding the AIBS role in public policy was expressed. The most significant result of these discussions was the fundamental agreement that the member...

The AIBS Public Policy Report is distributed broadly by email every two weeks to AIBS membership leaders and contacts, including the President, President-Elect, Secretary, Treasurer, Executive Director, AIBS Council Representative, Journal Editor, Newsletter Editor, Public Policy Committee Chair, Public Policy Representative, and Education Committee Chair of all AIBS member societies and organizations (see the Membership Directories for contact information).

All material from these reports may be reproduced or forwarded. Please mention AIBS as the source; office staff appreciate receiving copies of materials used. If you have questions, comments, or suggestions, please contact the AIBS Director of Public Policy, Dr. Robert Gropp [publ...@aibs.org; 202-628-1500 x250].


Expanding the AIBS Public Policy Office - At the November 1999 AIBS Presidents' Summit, strong interest in expanding the AIBS role in public policy was expressed. The most significant result of these discussions was the fundamental agreement that the member societies and organizations can and should work together to take collective action in certain instances and should, when appropriate, speak as one through the AIBS. Having 70 organizations with a wide range of disciplines agree to one position on any topic, however, is easier said than done.

AIBS Executive Director Richard O'Grady and Public Policy Representative Ellen Paul have been researching mechanisms for the societies to express a collective voice. Together, they recently met with Sidney Golub, Executive Director of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, Howard Garrison (Director, FASEB Public Policy Office), and Peter Farnham (Public Affairs Officer for the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, a FASEB member) to learn how this coalition of 20 biomedical societies functions in the public policy arena. Valuable insights were gained into critical components of a coalition-based public policy effort, including the identification of issues, reaching consensus, preparation of written materials, and the relationship among professional public affairs staffers, the membership-based policy panels, rapid response to specific regulatory proposals, and the organizations' Boards of Directors. These ideas and others will be shared with the society presidents and other society representatives who will attend a Summit follow-up meeting on 25 March 2000; additional such meetings will be held in the future.

Another part of that discussion will focus on a feasibility assessment that examines staffing levels for the AIBS Public Policy and various funding options for increasing its staffing and therefore responsiveness to the AIBS membership's needs.

House Science Committee issues favorable report on President's budget request - House Science Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) today released the Committee's Views & Estimates for research and development (R&D) budget levels. The report, which supports the administration's requested increase of 17% for NSF, was signed by 24 of 25 Republican Committee Members and 11 of 22 Democratic Committee Members, including Ranking Minority Member Ralph Hall (D-TX).

Chairman Sensenbrenner stated, "Despite shortfalls in the overall budget, I am hopeful the R&D increases for which supporters of science in Congress and the science community at large have been fighting can be realized. I look forward to working with the Administration and my congressional colleagues this year to address our federal scientific needs, especially by focusing on basic research efforts that help replenish our scientific knowledge base. While I applaud the Administration's FY2001 science budget, I remain concerned the Administration's overall discretionary request is not affordable and is funded by new taxes and fees that will not be realized. In addition, the encouraging budget levels for next year are tempered by outyear budgets that are either flat or declining."

The report notes that non-defense R&D would increase by 6% but over the next five years, the R%D budgets would be flat or actually decline (except the NASA budget) and would therefore not meet the stable and sustainable funding criteria needed for science and technology programs
The Committee also expressed concern that, despite significant increases for basic research in FY2001, the ratio of basic research to other research remains at the same level for next year as this year (44 percent).

Coalition for National Science Funding finalizes budget recommendation for NSF - AIBS belongs to The Coalition for National Science Funding, a joint effort of approximately 80 scientific societies and universities to increase funding for scientific research through the National Science Foundation. CNSF has prepared a statement on the NSF funding for the coming year. The statement applauds the 17.3 percent increase for the National Science Foundation (NSF) proposed by the President in the FY 2001 budget and urges Congress to support an increase of at least this amount. It also urges Congress to sustain expansion of the NSF budget over the next five years in order to reach the agency's budget goal of $10 billion.

The statement quotes Norman Augustine, Chairman of the Executive Committee, Lockheed Martin Company Board of Directors, who stated: "Over the years, the National Science Foundation's public investments in basic research - across all disciplines in science, engineering, and mathematics - have laid the foundation for the most dynamic and innovative science and technology enterprise in the world."

Particular mention is made of the emergence of interdisciplinary research, the need to increase funding for core areas, which have not received significant increases in nearly a decade.

AIBS Public Policy Representative Ellen Paul participated in the development of this statement, which will be circulated to appropriations committee members and staff by CNSF members as they begin working to encourage Congress to meet or exceed the President's budget request for NSF.

Proposed Fiscal Year 2001 budget for Dept. of Agriculture research - Basic and applied research in USDA is conducted within Research, Education, and Economics (REE). The REE is funded at $2.1 billion or 3.3% of the USDA budget. The Administration requested a 3% increase over FY2000. Of this, $933 million is budgeted for the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), $1.1 billion for the Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES), $55 million for the Economic Research Service (ERS), and $101 million for the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). The Administration requested a 26% increase over FY 2000 to $150 million, for the National Research Initiative Competitive Grants Program (NRICGP). The NRICGP supports a spectrum of research ranging from basic, fundamental questions relevant to agriculture in the broad sense to research that bridges the basic and applied sciences and results in practical outcomes. The NRICGP funds competitive, peer-reviewed research that leads to improved understanding and direct applications to enhance agricultural productivity, environmental quality, human nutrition and food safety. The budget also assumes the continued availability of $120 million in mandatory funds for the Initiative for Future Agriculture and Food Systems (IFAFS) and of $20 million in mandatory funds for the Fund for Rural America (both relatively new competitive grants programs within CSREES).

Research is also conducted in the Forest Service (FS) of USDA, but FS funding is included in the Interior appropriations bill. Of the total proposed FY 2001 budget request of $231 million, $190 million is budgeted for scientific research, including vegetation management and protection; wildlife, fisheries, and air; and inventory and monitoring. The research budget in the FS has been flat for the past two years and under the proposed fiscal year 2001 budget, would remain flat.


 


The American Institute of Biological Sciences is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) scientific association headquartered in Washington DC, with a staff of approximately 30. It was founded in 1947 as a part of the National Academy of Sciences and has been an independent organization since the mid-1950s, governed by a Board of Directors elected by its membership. The AIBS membership consists of approximately 6,000 biologists and 80 professional societies and other organizations; the combined individual membership of the latter exceeds 240,000 biologists. AIBS is an umbrella organization for the biological sciences dedicated to promoting an understanding of the natural living world, including the human species and its welfare, by engaging in coalition activities with its members in research, education, public policy, and public outreach; publishing the peer-reviewed journal, BioScience; providing scientific peer review and advisory services to government agencies and other clients; convening scientific meetings; and performing administrative and other support services for its member organizations.


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