APS News

Washington Dispatch

A bimonthly update from the APS Office of Public Affairs


ISSUE: Science Research Budgets

The 109th Congress adjourned last December without passing appropriations bills for most federal programs. On February 14, 2007, four and a half months into Fiscal Year 2007 and with the 110th Congress in session, the Senate finally approved a Joint Resolution that will fund federal agencies through September 30. [Nine days earlier, the President had proposed his budget for the Fiscal Year 2008 (FY 08) that will begin on October 1]. The Joint Resolution, as originally conceived, was going to freeze all federal activities at their FY 06 levels. But after intense lobbying by the science community, congressional leaders agreed to make science one of the very few priorities that received special treatment in the Joint Resolution, providing significant increases for DOE, NIST and NSF Research and Related Activities, as indicated in the table below. Earlier in the fiscal year, Congress had appropriated funds for DOD, restoring some of the cuts, mostly for earmarks, that the White House had previously recommended.

The President’s FY 08 Budget request continued the Administration’s commitment to the American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI) that proposes to double the aggregate funding for the NSF, the DOE Office of Science and NIST Scientific and Technical Research and Services (STRS) that includes the NIST laboratories and the Malcolm Baldrige Program. With FY 07 funding bills not yet having been enacted, the White House was forced to base its spending plan on the FY 07 presidential request. The three ACI accounts would grow by 7 percent compared to that request and even more compared to the appropriated levels in the Joint Resolution, as indicated in the table. The President’s proposed cuts for the DOD research account are largely the result of removing FY 07 earmarks, but even discounting the earmarks, the 6.1 (basic research) and 6.2 (applied research) still would not fare well. The FY 08 request would provide a 0.7 percent increase for the 6.1 program, significantly less than inflation, and a 2.7 percent decrease to the 6.2 program. For NASA science, the request would provide a very modest 0.9 percent relative to the FY 07 request, although comparisons are difficult to make because of re-definitions within the budget.

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For details of the FY07 budget process, go to www.aaas.org/spp/rd/fy07.htm. For details on the FY08 budget process, go to www.aaas.org/spp/rd/fy08.htm.

ISSUE: Panel on Public Affairs Update

At its February 2nd meeting, the APS Panel on Public Affairs (POPA) approved two charges for reports. One will be an assessment of nuclear forensics technology and techniques, and the second will be a study of the status of the United States nuclear workforce that will be chaired by Sekazi Mtingwa of MIT. Both report committees will hold briefing sessions later this year.

POPA is an APS standing committee that is charged with advising the Council and officers of the Society in the formulation of APS positions on public policy issues that have a technical dimension of interest to physicists. POPA also investigates the desirability of APS-sponsored expert studies on physics-related topics of importance to society and helps to organize such studies.

ISSUE: POPA Electricity Storage & Interim Nuclear Waste Storage Studies

At its February 2nd meeting, POPA approved the report on interim nuclear waste storage and a policy supplement on electricity storage. Both can be accessed on the POPA Reports website at www.aps.org/policy/reports/popa-reports.

ISSUE: APS CO2 Reduction Study

At its February meeting, the APS Executive Board approved the establishment of an APS study committee to evaluate the R&D portfolio that would best transition the US to a carbon-reduced economy.  The study would focus on end-use energy efficiency. The APS Washington Office is currently pursuing possible chairs and members for the report committee. The report is expected to be completed by early 2009.


See APS's Policy & Advocacy Website for more information.

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Editor: Alan Chodos
Contributing Editor: Jennifer Ouellette
Staff Writer: Ernie Tretkoff