APS News

Washington Dispatch

A bimonthly update from the APS Office of Public Affairs

On December 30, President Bush signed into law the DOD appropriations bill, completing the FY 06 budget. Funding for DOD 6.1 (basic research) fell by 2.9 percent to $1.47 billion while funding for DOD 6.2 (applied research) rose by 6.5 percent to $5.17 billion. Over all agencies, basic research rose by a scant 1.8 percent, well below inflation.

In his State of the Union Speech, President Bush launched the American Competitiveness Initiative that includes a ten-year budget doubling for NSF, DOE’s Office of Science, and NIST’s core programs. The Fiscal Year 2007 (FY07) budget requests for these three agencies represent the first step in the Initiative. A budget summary follows.

Fiscal Year 2007 Budget Summary

For details of the FY06 and FY07 budgets, go to http://www.aaas.org/spp/rd/.

To address the US competitiveness challenges, the Senate is considering two bipartisan bills. Both of them would authorize increases for science research and education budgets and make the R&D tax credit permanent.

  • In December, Senators Ensign and Lieberman introduced "The National Innovation Act of 2005” (S. 2109) that is based heavily on the National Innovation Initiative, a report released by the Council on Competitiveness in December 2004. Among its provisions, the bill, which has 25 co-sponsors, authorizes a 75 percent increase in NSF’s budget by FY 2011, calls on DOD to support more basic research, encourages all federal agencies to support more high-risk frontier research and provides mechanisms to increase the number of qualified scientists and engineers.

  • In January, Senators Alexander, Bingaman, Domenici and Mikulski introduced a set of three bills under the umbrella, “Protecting America’s Competitive Edge (PACE),” largely based on the National Academies report, Rising above the Gathering Storm (Washington Dispatch, January 2006). The bill, which has 60 co-sponsors, would strengthen America’s K-12, undergraduate and graduate education in science and math, authorize increases for the DOE Office of Science and the NSF, establish a DARPA-like program at DOE, increase early-career research grants, create a new class of visas for science and engineering graduate students and both increase and make permanent the R&D tax credit.

  • Following President Bush’s call for the nation to address the competitiveness change, House Republicans are expected to consider similar legislation later in the session. Last December, the House Democratic Leadership embraced the Gathering Storm report, issuing its “Innovation Agenda: A Commitment to Competitiveness to Keep America #1.” Representative Bart Gordon has introduced legislation that contains its provisions.

To broaden APS grassroots efforts, March Meeting participants are encouraged to come to Washington during the meeting to advocate for science research funding. The APS Washington Office will provide a briefing on the current Washington environment and tips on how to have a successful Hill meeting. Buses will be provided. The DC office is also organizing a network of District Advocates, volunteers willing to act as Congressional district liaisons for APS Advocacy efforts. The DC Office will provide materials and talking points. Contact Kimberly Regan for more information.

The APS Panel on Public Affairs has established a new study group to examine the governance models for national laboratories. The group will produce a short paper that reviews the development and application of the GOCO governance model and will recommend steps to improve implementation of the model.

A multi-society working group has been established to address the Intelligent Design issue. Members include AAAS, ACS, AIBS, AIP, APS, ASA, ASPEC, COSSA, NAS, NSTA, and SDB. Initial activity of the group will be to analytically explore public attitudes as a means of shaping participating societies’ respective education and outreach programs.

Log on to the APS Public Affairs website
(http://www.aps.org/policy/opa/index.cfm) for more information.