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Public Policy Report for 10/14/2003

  • White House Office of Science and Technology Policy seeking input from research community on research business models; fall workshops announced
  • ACTION ALERT: Help sustain funding for the USGS
  • Update: NRC still seeking comments on updated version of the taxonomy of the life sciences
  • New in BioScience, USGS: Science Serving Society

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].


WHITE HOUSE OFFICE OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY POLICY SEEKING INPUT
FROM RESEARCH COMMUNITY ON RESEARCH BUSINESS MODELS; FALL WORKSHOPS
ANNOUNCED

The Subcommittee on Research Business Models is undertaking a review
of policies, procedures, and plans relating to the business
relationship between federal agencies and research performers with
the goal of improving the performance and management of federally
sponsored basic and applied scientific and engineering research. As
part of that effort, the Subcommittee will hold a series of regional
workshops in the Fall of 2003 to solicit input and feedback from the
research performer community.

From the Federal Register notice
(http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/14mar20010800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/2003/03-19935.htm):
"The Committee on Science of the National Science and Technology
Council. The Committee on Science realizes that much has changed
about the practice of scientific research over the last several
years. The purpose of the Subcommittee on Research Business Models is
to advise and assist the Committee on Science and the NSTC on
policies, procedures, and plans relating to business models to
improve the efficiency, effectiveness and accountability of the
Federal research and development enterprise in a manner cognizant of
currently available resources. The Subcommittee will:

-Facilitate a strong, coordinated effort across federal agencies to
identify and address important policy implications arising from the
changing nature of basic and applied research.
-Examine the concomitant influence these changes have had or should
have on business models and business practices for the conduct of
basic and applied research sponsored by the Federal government and
carried out by academic, industrial, and government entities.
-Review the challenges to improved performance and mechanisms for
more transparent accountability of the research enterprise."

NSTC will hold three regional meetings corresponding with the three
topics they will address. Information on the regional meetings is
below and can be found at http://rbm.nih.gov/.

Workshop: Monday, October 27, 2003
Hosts: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of
California Office of the President
Location: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Building 50
Auditorium, Berkeley, CA
Pre-registration, accommodations, directions:
(http://isswprod.lbl.gov/ConferenceReg/Registration.asp?ID=33)
Objectives include the review of: Size and type of grant and contract
award; Policies that foster support for innovative approaches to
interdisciplinary science and engineering; Mix of investigators in
academia and government labs; University-Private partnership, and
associated policies and impacts; Policies for construction and
maintenance of research infrastructure

Wednesday, November 12, 2003
Host: University of Minnesota
Location, Coffman Memorial Union, 300 Washington Ave. S.E.; Minneapolis, MN
Pre-registration, accommodations, directions:
(http://www.research.umn.edu/conferences/ostp/)
Objectives include the review of :Policies and procedures among
agencies; Streamlining & unifying grants administration practices;
Impact of regulation and administrative requirements; Variation in
agency treatment of indirect costs: common and uncommon practices

Workshop: Monday, November 17, 2003
Hosts: University of North Carolina, Duke University and Research
Triangle Institute
Location: The Carolina Inn, 211 Pittsboro Street, Chapel Hill, NC
Pre-registration, accommodations, directions,
(http://research.unc.edu/workshops/)
Themes: Appropriate Costs of Research Enterprise - Determination,
Recovery, Accountability
Objectives include the review of : Changing nature of science and the
determination/recovery of costs of research; Impact of Information
Technology on the efficiency of the research enterprise; Status,
efficiency and performance of the government-university partnership;

The final workshop will be held December 9-10 in Washington, D.C., at
the Jefferson Auditorium. That meeting will bring together results
and proposals from the previous workshops as well as other public
comments.


ACTION ALERT: HELP SUSTAIN FUNDING FOR THE USGS

The U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate recently passed H.R.
2691 and S. 1391, respectively. These two measures would provide
fiscal year 2004 appropriations for the Department of Interior and
related agencies. Funding for the United States Geological Survey
(USGS) is included in these two appropriations measures. Both pieces
of legislation generally restore cuts that were proposed in the
administration's FY2004 budget request. However, because there are
differences between H.R. 2691 and S. 1391 a joint House and Senate
conference committee has been appointed to reconcile the funding
levels. Once the conference committee has reached agreement, a joint
report will be issued for final approval by the House and Senate.
Some Congress-watchers have speculated that a final FY 2004 Interior
appropriation could be ready for final approval within the next two
weeks.

The fact that the House and Senate restored cuts to USGS programs
suggests that the Survey has support among members of House and
Senate appropriations committees. However, it is always helpful for
these members to hear about the value of programs from their
constituents and other stakeholders. Thus, scientists that utilize
and value USGS data, products and resources may wish to communicate
the importance of the USGS to members of the Interior appropriations
conference committee (see list below). You can confirm your
congressional district at www.house.gov; simply enter your zip code
in the field below Find Your Representative at the top of the page.
Contact information for your members of Congress can be found in your
telephone directory or is generally available via their website which
can be accessed from www.house.gov or www.senate.gov. Because of
security-related delays in mail delivery to Capitol Hill office
buildings, you are encouraged to fax your letter.

Additional background information about USGS appropriations may be
found online at www.usgscoalition.org. Also accessible on the USGS
Coalition website are letters the coalition has sent to House and
Senate conferees.

Letters do not need to be long or particularly detailed. The most
important element of your letter is that you support funding for the
USGS.

Suggested message:
-You recognize the challenges facing Congress and appreciate their
efforts to restore USGS budget cuts that were proposed in the FY 2004
budget request
-Request that they try and provide the USGS with AT LEAST the
funding proposed in H.R. 2691, which you understand to be slightly
higher than the Senate's proposal.
-The USGS conducts science that is utilized by other Interior
Department bureaus for land and resource management decision-making
-USGS research and data is important for other areas of
biological/ecological research (try and use an example, ideally
related to your work)
-USGS plays an important role in helping train natural resource professionals
-Thank them for their efforts

House Interior Appropriations Conferees

Rep. Taylor (R-NC, 11th), Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee
on Interior
Rep. Regula (R-OH, 16th)
Rep. Kolbe (R-AZ, 8th)
Rep. Nethercutt (R-WA, 5th)
Rep. Wamp (R-TN, 3rd)
Rep. Peterson (R-PA, 5th)
Rep. Sherwood (R-PA, 10th)
Rep. Crenshaw (R-FL, 4th)
Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R-FL, 10th), Chairman of the House Committee on
Appropriations
Rep. Dicks (D-WA, 6th), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Interior
Rep. Murtha (D-PA, 12th)
Rep. Moran (D-VA, 8th)
Rep. Hinchey (D-NY, 22nd)
Rep. Olver (D-MA, 1st)
Rep. Obey (D-WI, 7th), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Appropriations

Senate Interior Appropriations Conferees
Sen. Burns (R-MT), Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee
on Interior
Sen. Stevens (R-AK), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations
Sen. Cochran (R-MS)
Sen. Domenici (R-NM)
Sen. Bennnett (R-UT)
Sen. Gregg (R-NH)
Sen. Campbell (R-CO)
Sen. Brownback (R-KS)
Sen. Harkin (D-IA) Ranking Member of the Senate Subcommittee on
Interior Appropriations
Sen. Byrd (D-WV) Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Appropriations
Sen. Leahy (D-VT)
Sen. Hollings (D-SC)
Sen. Reid (D-NV)
Sen. Feinstein (D-CA)
Sen. Mikulski (D-MD)


UPDATE: NRC DRAFT TAXONOMY OF THE LIFE SCIENCES

As regular readers of the AIBS Public Policy Report will recall, the
National Research Council's Board on Higher Education and Workforce
has been charged with conducting "a study of the quality of research
doctoral education at academic institutions in the United States.
The study will examine past studies and recommend ways to improve the
methodology of assessment. It will also consider the questions of
whether the National Research Council should undertake a new study."

As part of this process, the NRC panel charged with conducting this
assessment has been working to draft an academic taxonomy that can be
used to identify programs that should be rated. Early in 2003 the
panel released its first draft taxonomy of the life sciences. This
draft caused considerable angst among many biologists because it
linked fields such as ecology and environmental science and
identified evolutionary biology as an "emerging field," among other
issues. The concern felt by many biologists about how fields are
identified grew from the academic departmental reorganizations that
followed the NRC's last assessment. The NRC received significant
feedback on the draft, particularly from evolutionary biologists, and
has incorporated many of the suggestions into subsequent versions of
the draft taxonomy. Of note, some programs in which considerable
biological research are conducted have been organized under the
taxonomy of physical sciences, mathematics and engineering. For
example, oceanography is linked with atmospheric studies and
meteorology, freshwater studies is one of the subfields in this
category. Biomedical and biological engineering have also been
placed under the physical sciences, mathematics and engineering
disciplines. The panel continues to seek comments from scientists.
For the current version of the taxonomy or to learn more about the
panel's work, please visit
www7.nationalacademies.org/resdoc/Draft_Taxonomy.html.


NEW IN BIOSCIENCE, USGS: SCIENCE SERVING SOCIETY

The October 2003 Washington Watch column in BioScience is now available online:

"The mission and responsibilities of the US Geological Survey (USGS),
an agency once recognized almost exclusively for giving the public
information about geologic hazards, have grown over the years. Now,
as the natural resource science and mapping bureau for the US
Department of the In- terior (DOI), USGS conducts cutting- edge
research into a variety of biological, geological, and hydrological
issues, research that contributes to the public's safety and
well-being on a daily basis. However, science policy experts warn
that the USGS budget is inadequate to support its expanded mission,
which could lead to scientific stagnation if conditions do not
change..."

Continue reading at
http://www.aibs.org/washington-watch/washington_watch_2003_10.html.


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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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