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Public Policy Report for 02/17/2004

  • President proposes 17.9 percent cut to NSF Education and Human Resources Directorate
  • Colwell to leave NSF
  • STAR Grant program RFA reductions for FY 2004 and FY 2005
  • Science wins in Georgia
  • UN Secretary-General urges: Science for all nations
  • New in BioScience: Aspects of Research Policy in the European Union
  • Second NAS convocation on enhancing the postdoctoral experience

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].


PRESIDENT PROPOSES 17.9 PERCENT CUT TO NSF EDUCATION AND HUMAN RESOURCES DIRECTORATE

The administration's fiscal year 2005 budget request includes a 17.9 percent cut to the National Science Foundation's Education and Human Resources (EHR) Directorate. Overall, the directorate would lose $167.62 million, putting the FY 2005 total request for the directorate at $771.36 million. The majority of this cut (-$139.17 million) comes from the administration's proposal to eliminate NSF's Math and Science Partnership Grant Program. The President has proposed moving these funds to the Department of Education where they would be disbursed to states based on population rather than by NSF's competitive, peer review process. This proposal could stifle the development of innovative practices for improving student achievement in math and science, the purpose of the NSF program. A February 10th statement issued by the presidents of the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges, the American Association of Universities and the American Council on Education, urges House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood L. Boehlert (R-NY) "to oppose the proposal&to transfer funds for the Math-Science Partnership (MSP) program from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to the Department of Education." The presidents further state, "It is our belief that the current system, in which parallel and complementary MSP programs exist and are funded at both the NSF and the Department of Education, is the most desirable and effective approach to address our nation's math-science education needs.

Other areas of the EHR budget that will be trimmed if the Presidents budget is enacted include $10.44 million (-11.1%) less for EPSCOR, $39.51 million (-18.6%) less for Elementary, Secondary and Informal Education from the phase-out of Education System Reform, and a $7.91 million (-6.8%) cut to the Human Resources Development accounts. Three programmatic areas that would receive increased funding in FY 2005 are the Division of Undergraduate Education (+$3.35 million, or 2.2%), Graduate Education (+$17.93 million, or 11.5%), and Research, Evaluation and Communication (+$8.13 million, or 12.4%). NSF budget documents note that, "Faced with difficult choices for competing and meritorious investments, EHRs FY 2005 Budget Request emphasizes the core areas of attracting and preparing U.S. Citizens for STEM careers (including increasing support for the Integrative Graduate Education and research Traineeship, graduate Research Fellowship and Graduate Fellows in K-12 Education programs)".


COLWELL TO LEAVE NSF

National Science Foundation Director Dr. Rita R. Colwell has announced that she will leave the NSF effective February 21, 2004. Colwell will assume the position of Chairman of Canon U.S. Life Sciences, Inc., a newly created, Washington-based subsidiary of Canon U.S.A., Inc. whose goal is to identify and develop life-science solutions with potential applications in diagnostics and medical instrumentation. Dr. Colwell will also serve as a Distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland, College Park, and on the faculty of The John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, where she will help develop a new international center for the study of infectious diseases, water, and health in conjunction with scientific colleagues from Sweden, Norway, Japan, and Bangladesh. "I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to lead NSF through two Administrations and major transformational changes. During the past five and a half years, our budget has increased by 68 percent, our merit review system has been recognized throughout government as the gold standard for responsible use of public funds, and our programs have helped U.S. science and engineering evolve into the flexible, robust and diverse endeavors that they must become to keep America preeminent at the frontier of research and education,"Colwell said. Dr. Colwell was the third-longest-serving Director in NSF's 54-year history.

Some in Washington, DC believe that Colwell's successor will be Arden L. Bement, Jr., Director of the National Institute for Science and Technology. Bement, the 12th NIST Director, was sworn into that position on December 7, 2001. NIST has an annual budget of about $773 million and an onsite research and administrative staff of about 3,000, complemented by a NIST-sponsored network of 2,000 locally managed manufacturing and business specialists serving smaller manufacturers across the United States. Prior to his appointment as NIST Director, Bement served as the David A. Ross Distinguished Professor of Nuclear Engineering and head of the School of Nuclear Engineering at Purdue University.


STAR GRANT PROGRAM RFA REDUCTIONS FOR FY2004 AND FY2005

While the President's FY 2005 Budget Request would fund a number of important environmental research and development programs, funding for the Science to Achieve Results (STAR) extramural grants program will be decreased from the funding levels in previous budgets, from $100 million to about $65 million. As a result of this decision, EPA must reduce the number of STAR Requests for Applications and associated grants, beginning with the 2004 announcements currently listed on the EPA website (http://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/), which has been updated to reflect these changes.

EPA recently received its appropriation for 2004. This budget requires that EPA
support a number of programs at levels that are higher than stipulated in the President's budget request. For example, the STAR- and NIEHS-funded Centers of Excellence in Children's Environmental Health and Disease Prevention Research will be funded at levels higher than requested in the President's 2004 budget request. Other areas will be supported at levels lower than stated in the President's 2004 budget request. In total, EPA has been directed to support 62 specific activities that will affect the research they intended to support. EPA is currently analyzing the effects that the directions in the 2004 appropriation will have on the research planned for the STAR program and may need to make further adjustments after this analysis has been completed.

A webpage (http://es.epa.gov/cgi-bin/ncer_rfa.cgi) has been created to allow individuals to provide feedback or receive answers to questions concerning this process. See adjusted RFA list: (http://es.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/). See FAQ's about the reduction: (http://es.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/2004faq.html).


SCIENCE WINS IN GEORGIA

As reported in the 3 February 2004 edition of the AIBS Public Policy Report (http://www.aibs.org/public-policy-reports/public-policy-reports-2004_02_03.html) the Georgia state superintendent of education recently proposed eliminating evolution and other important science concepts from Georgia science standards. In response, a broad coalition lead by the Georgia Citizens for Integrity in Science Education (GCISE) launched an aggressive public education campaign to inform the public and decision makers about the nature of science and the importance of student understanding of these concepts to the future economic competitiveness of the state. In response to sharp and mounting public criticism, the proposal has been withdrawn. Moreover, the State Board of Education, which ultimately must adopt Georgias standards, has issued a consensus statement calling for the use of national standards in all areas of the curriculum, including science education.


UN SECRETARY-GENERAL: SCIENCE FOR ALL NATIONS

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has called for all countries to put greater emphasis on developing their capacities in science and technology, saying that building a reservoir of knowledge in these areas could help the world tackle ills ranging from extreme poverty to illiteracy. In an opinion piece published in the 13 February 2004 issue of Science magazine entitled "Science for all Nations," Annan says that no country that wants to shape informed policies and take effective action on such issues as the economy, environment and terrorism can afford to be without its own independent capacity in science and technology. The Secretary-General notes that a recent report, "Inventing a Better Future: A Strategy for Building Worldwide capacities in Science and Technology," by the InterAcademy Council (IAC) proposes new initiatives to strengthen national scientific capabilities worldwide and to foster global cooperation. The report recommends that every nation develop an S&T strategy that reflects local priorities, including support for basic science, education, and training that will allow it to achieve local competence in priority areas. Meanwhile, a second IAC report to be released this summer will contain specific recommendations for using S&T to improve agricultural productivity in Africa. "These efforts by the IAC show that the spirit of global partnership is alive and well within the scientific communities of the world,Annan says. "I hope that we will build further on that momentum and that it will spread to other spheres of human endeavour.


NEW IN BIOSCIENCE: ASPECTS OF RESEARCH POLICY IN THE EUROPEAN UNION

The February Washington Watch of BioScience is now available online:

"Public policy and business leaders worldwide increasingly recognize the economic and quality-of-life benefits that robust scientific research and development (R&D) programs can confer. Indeed, European Union (EU) leaders have made it a priority to establish a European Research Area, an array of initiatives dedicated to making the continents R&D enterprise more competitive."

Continue reading at http://www.aibs.org/washington-watch/washington_watch_2004_02.html.


SECOND NAS CONVOCATION ON ENHANCING THE POSTDOCTORAL EXPERIENCE

The National Academy of SciencesCommittee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (COSEPUP) has announced that it will convene the Second Convocation on Enhancing the Postdoctoral Experience for Scientists and Engineers on 15 April 2004 in Washington, DC. The convocation will examine the extent to which recommendations presented in COSEPUP's 2000 report "Enhancing the Postdoctoral Experience for Scientists and Engineers" have been implemented, and the extent to which barriers to the implementation of these recommendations still exist. According to COSEPUP, the goal of the meeting is to have institutions and individuals with extensive experience in postdoc issues provide guidance and advice and share best practices. For registration and meeting information, please see http://www7.nationalacademies.org/postdoc/.

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