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Public Policy Report for 4/12/2001

  • Bush budget request not kind to science
  • Smithsonian to close Conservation and Research Center; AIBS registers strong protest and urges members to do likewise
  • AIBS Ethics statement, briefing book from 3/27/01 annual AIBS Council meeting, online

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].


BUSH BUDGET REQUEST NOT KIND TO SCIENCE; CONGRESS IS LIKELY TO EXCEED REQUEST IN SOME CASES - The week of April 9th has been a time of FY2002 budget roll-outs across Washington D.C. The proposed 1.3% increase for the National Science Foundation, which, adjusted for inflation is actually a 3% decrease, is about the closest we can come to good news this year. Research and related activities would drop by 0.5%, while Education and Human Resources would receive a 6% increase, most of it for the Math and Science Partnership Initiative that is the cornerstone of the President's "no child left behind" education plan. Meanwhile, the Major Research Equipment account would drop by 21%.

The specifics for biology are as follows:

- An overall decrease of $483.11 million (0.5% from FY2001)

- An increase of $16.9 million for the Biocomplexity Initiative (BE); although none of this new funding is in the Biology Directorate, the BE competition is open to all disciplines

- An increase of 1.7% for environmental biology

- Molecular and cellular biosciences would decrease by 2.4%

- The 2010 project to determine the functions of the 25,000 genes of Arabidopsis could receive an increase of $5 million (total $20 million for FY2002)

- No funding for the National Ecological Observatory Network

The USGS budget proposal is as follows:

- An overall decrease of $70 million - ostensibly an 8% decrease, but closer to 14% when adjusted for inflation. The Bush administration notes that the decrease returns USGS to FY2000 levels, but the 7% increase in FY2001 actually just compensated for years of stagnant budgets at USGS.

- The Biological Resources Division loses close to 9%, which is discouraging because the FY2001 increase of 15% brought BRD back to its 1994 funding level (adjusted for inflation). In addition, the true loss is 10.7%, because the cost of uncontrollables (salary increases and other administrative costs) would be taken from research funding.

- The National Biological Information Infrastructure would be eliminated.

- GAP (Gap Analysis Program) reverts to FY2000 levels, which would result in a slowing of the completion of the terrestrial analysis and elimination of the aquatic GAP.

- Research on the treatment of ballast water to prevent the spread of non-native invasive species would be jeopardized

- The Center for Biological Informatics, which supports such websites as www.invasivespecies.gov and frogweb.gov and the development of geospatial technologies, would close.

BRD was allowed to retain some of its FY2001 increases. The not-so-bad news includes:

- Full funding for the Cooperative Research Study Units continues

- The BRD Science Centers retain the $8 million increase from FY2001

- Amphibian research and monitoring can keep the additional $0.5 million increase it received last year

In the Geological Resources Division, a 5.1% decrease is in store. Geologic mapping is particularly hard hit: the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping program would be cut by $6 million. Other cuts include a $3 million reduction in global change research and elimination of the international minerals information program ($2 million). The Water Resources Division faces a 21.6 percent reduction from $203.5 million in FY2001 to $159.5 million in FY 2002. The Bush Administration wants to eliminate the Toxic Substances Hydrology program and reduce the National Water-Quality Assessment (NAWQA) program by $20 million, halting its next phase. These programs are being cut because they primarily benefit entities outside the Department -- including other federal agencies, state and local government, and foreign governments. USGS is expected to seek funding from these partners who "rely on USGS to provide information to help them fulfill their own mission-critical responsibilities."

EPA, then, would be expected to pay USGS for the cost of NAWQA and the Toxic Substances Hydrology program, but the request for EPA is 6.4% below the FY2001 funding level for that agency. The Bush administration asks EPA to reach its goal of sound science, improved understanding of environmental risk, and greater innovation to address environmental problems with $27 million fewer research dollars (-0.8%). At the same time, research for ecosystem assessment and restoration would lose $3.3 million, environmental systems management drops $13.1 million, and innovative approaches takes a hit of $3.25 million. Endocrine disruptor research loses $1.5 million. The STAR Fellowships program remains stable at $9.7 million.

NOAA would drop nearly $70 million (2.2%) overall. Specifics include:

- Oceanic and Atmospheric Research decreases by $9.6 million (2.7%)

- Sea Grant would increase very slightly, to $62.4 million (from $62.25 million)

- Oceans and Great Lakes Program drops by $2.5 million (2%)

The Department of Agriculture research programs are a mixed bag. The National Research Initiative remains stable at $106 million, but the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service total drops by 12.7%, to $994 million. Decreases are in what is characterized as Congressional earmarks for specific projects and locations. The Initiative for Future Agriculture remains funded at the authorized $120 million for the third of its five years.

For 2002, the Forest Research budget is proposed at $235 million, which is the 2001 enacted level plus uncontrollables.

The House Science Committee Democrats criticized the President's FY2002 budget request for R&D programs, saying:

- The trend toward parity between defense and non-defense R&D, nearly achieved in FY 2001, has ended;

- The existing imbalance between biomedical R&D and R&D in the physical sciences has become much more pronounced;

- The budget request stops in its tracks a growing consensus that the NSF budget should grow by at least at the same rate as the NIH budget; and

- Cooperative Federal-industry R&D programs fare poorly in the budget submission.


SMITHSONIAN TO CLOSE CONSERVATION AND RESEARCH CENTER - The Smithsonian has announced that it plans to close its Conservation and Research Center (CRC), in Front Royal, Virginia. CRC is a world-renowned facility whose outstanding research and training programs in reproductive biology, ecology, and conservation methodology are regarded as invaluable by the scientific, conservation, and zoo communities. In fact, CRC pioneered many of the commonly-used techniques in reproductive biology and small population management critical tools for endangered species management. The stated reason for the closing, scheduled to be completed by the end of the year, is fiscal. Smithsonian Secretary Lawrence Small stated that the Smithsonian wants to "maintain and increase spending on scientific research, and I just want to make sure it is focused on those things we can do very well." AIBS wrote a strong letter of protest, pointing out that the CRC is doing the things that the Smithsonian can do very well. That letter, which was sent to the Secretary, the Smithsonian Board of Regents, and key Congressional offices, follows.

AIBS member societies are urged to write letters protesting the closure of CRC; they are also urged to encourage their members to write. Addresses follow the text of the AIBS letter, below.

AIBS LETTER PROTESTING CLOSING OF CONSERVATION AND RESEARCH CENTER

The American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) opposes the planned closing of the Smithsonian's Conservation and Research Center, which will also result in the closing of the Migratory Bird Center and the reduction of other scientific research programs conducted at the National Zoo's Department of Zoological Research, as these programs were consolidated under CRC last year. Closing this world-class research facility will seriously undermine the Smithsonian's research program and reputation for leadership in conservation. AIBS comprises 79 scientific societies with a collective membership of over 190,000 scientists in disciplines spanning all of biology from basic to applied, from molecular to organismal, from agronomy to zoology. We consider the CRC to be a stellar research facility in all regards. Closing CRC will result in the loss of highly-regarded programs in marine mammal biology, molecular genetics, small population genetic management, migratory birds (including the Migratory Bird Center), field ecology, GIS and remote sensing, animal behavior, monitoring and assessment of biodiversity programs (MAB), and conservation biology (including long-term ecological field studies in the US and abroad). We are, in fact, incredulous that the Smithsonian could even consider closing CRC.

There is no doubt about the quality and value of CRC research. In its 26 years, CRC staff have published 2,000 publications in peer-reviewed literature, including the leading scientific journals NATURE and SCIENCE, and in PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCE. Competitive research grants in excess of $20 million extramural funding and $2 million from intramural competitive awards have funded much of this work. This research has produced breakthroughs in endangered species conservation, the conservation of neotropical migratory birds, and conservation methodology. CRC scientists are integral to the captive breeding and recovery programs for the Bali Mynah, Guam Rail, Micronesian Kingfisher, Snow Leopard, Prewzwalski's Horse, and dozens of other species. These programs have been widely documented in the scientific and popular press. In fact, the National Zoo is as known for these programs as it is for its pandas! Closer to home, CRC's research on the impact of white-tailed deer on Eastern woodlands and the other species that share this habitat is widely recognized as the authoritative information on this subject.

Perhaps the greatest loss resulting from the closure of CRC will be the inevitable reduction in the training programs offered by this facility. Countless students and natural resource management professionals from around the world have been trained at CRC and in their own countries. These programs are made possible in part by the availability of inexpensive housing at the CRC site but more so by access to the necessary research facilities. In 1981, CRC pioneered zoo-based professional conservation training when it undertook a contracted with the National Institutes of Health to train developing country nationals in primate conservation. In that first course, seven trainees from India, Thailand, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, and Peru came to Front Royal for an intensive four-week course in basic field conservation techniques. In 1984, the Wildlife Conservation and Management Training Program was formally inaugurated. CRC also hosts scientists who come to the facility for training in the veterinary care of exotic animals and reproductive physiology. These scientists often stay at CRC for several months. In addition, CRC conducts in-country training programs for scientists and natural resource managers. These programs allow these countries to become valuable partners of the United States in the effort to conserve biodiversity.

The Migratory Bird Center, which was launched in 1991 with a Congressional appropriation, is the only research center focusing entirely on migratory birds. Its leadership in research into the effects of sun-grown coffee and sun-grown cacao on bird populations has been the basis of conservation efforts throughout the world. Through its Bridging the Americas education program, initiated in 1993, students in the U.S. and Central and South America and the Caribbean exchange artwork and letters about the birds that spend part of the year in North America and return south for the winter.

The Smithsonian and the nation receive an enormous return from the Conservation and Research Center - many times greater than the $5.2 million CRC budget. Closing the Conservation and Research Center will save the Smithsonian a few dollars, but will cause irreparable and incalculable harm to the Smithsonian's status as a world leader in research.

We urge the Smithsonian [the Congress] to take such measures as are necessary to keep CRC open and its research programs fully staffed and funded.

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Send letters, NOT E-mails!, as e-mail is routinely ignored by Congressional offices that are overwhelmed with e-mail. Send letters to:

Smithsonian Institution
Lawrence Small
Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution
Smithsonian Institution
100 Jefferson Dr., SW
Washington, DC 20560

Dennis O'Connor
Undersecretary for Science
Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution
Smithsonian Institution
100 Jefferson Dr., SW
Washington, DC 20560

Lucy Spelman
Director
National Zoological Park
3001 Connecticut Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20008

Virginia Congressional delegation
The Honorable Frank Wolf
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable John Warner
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable George Allen
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and Related Agencies
The Honorable Joe Skeen, Chair
United States House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Norman Dicks, Ranking Member
United States House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and Related Agencies
The Honorable Conrad Burns, Chair
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Robert C. Byrd, Ranking Member
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

House Committee on House Administration
The Honorable Robert Ney, Chair
United States House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Steny Hoyer, Ranking Member
United States House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

Senate Committee on Rules and Administration
The Honorable Mitch McConnell, Chair
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

Senator Christopher Dodd, Ranking Member
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

Smithsonian Institution Board of Regents
The Honorable William H. Rehnquist
Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
1 1st St., NE
Washington, D.C.

Anne D'harnoncourt
Smithsonian Regents Citizen Representative
Director
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Benjamin Franklin Parkway and 26th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19130

The Honorable Richard Cheney
Vice President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington, D.C. 20500

The Honorable Robert Matsue
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515-0505

The Honorable Ralph Regula
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Sam Johnson
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Thad Cochran
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Bill Frist
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Patrick Leahy
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Manual Inbanez
7737 Starnberg Lake Dr,
Corpus Christi TX 78413-5288

Dr. Walter Massey
President
Morehouse College
830 Westview Drive SW
Atlanta, GA 30314

Homer A. Neal
Director, ATLAS Project
Physics Dept.
375 West Hall
2477 Randall Lab
Univ. of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1120

Howard H. Baker, Jr.
801 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20090

Alan G. Spoon
7300 Loch Edin Ct,
Potomac MD 20854-4835

Hanna Gray
SS Box 109
Harry Pratt Judson Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus,
Dept. of History
The University of Chicago
501 South Ellis Ave.
Chicago, IL 60637

Barber B. Conable, Jr
The World Bank
1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433 U.S.A.

Wesley S. Williams, Jr. 7706 Ga Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20090

TO LOCATE YOUR U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES MEMBER
http://www.house.gov/

TO LOCATE YOUR U.S. SENATE REPRESENTATIVES
http://www.senate.gov/


AIBS ETHICS STATEMENT, BRIEFING BOOK FROM 3/27/01 ANNUAL AIBS COUNCIL MEETING, ONLINE - The "Board, Committees, Council" section of www.aibs.org , which can be accessed via both the pull-down menu and the "About AIBS" section on the opening page, now includes the new Board-approved AIBS Ethics Statement and a .pdf posting of the briefing book from the recent Council meeting. Presidents, Executive Directors, and other representatives from more than 34 of AIBS's 79 member societies and organizations attended the annual event in Washington DC, which took place the day after the AIBS Annual meeting. Both meetings included agenda items and guest speakers to inform the membership and promote collaboration on public policy actions.

The Council meeting included an update on the funding initiative, launched last fall, to expand the staffing of the AIBS Public Policy Office so as to provide the membership with more comprehensive services (see the proposal online at the AIBS website). The funding level is now almost half way to its goal.

AIBS members who attended the Council meeting are invited to contact Richard O'Grady at rogr...@aibs.org with comments on the meeting's program content and suggestions for next year's Council meeting.

The "Board, Committees, Council" section of www.aibs.org also has online the following other AIBS documents: Board listing, Committee listings, Council listings, Constitution, By-Laws, Mission Statement, and Duties Handbook for Officers, Board Members, and Committee Chairs.


 


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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