APS News

Washington Dispatch

ISSUE: Science Research Budgets

Caught in a political dispute between Congress and the White House, the federal Fiscal Year 2008 budgets dealt an unexpected and damaging blow to science accounts. The budgets for NSF, NIST, and the DOE Office of Science ended up significantly lower than the levels approved by Congress earlier in the year and authorized in the America COMPETES Act. The US commitment to the international fusion project ITER was zeroed, placing at risk US credibility as an international science partner. High energy physics projects were also halted resulting in hundreds of lay-offs and furloughs. National science facilities will have to trim back their operations and several hundred more layoffs are expected at campuses and universities across the country because of the funding short falls for these three agencies.

The APS Washington Office is working hard to reverse some of the damage by advocating for funding at these three agencies in an FY08 emergency supplemental bill. Already, 4500 APS members have responded to the call by writing to Congress using the APS web site. The Washington Office urges those of you that haven’t written to do so at our Write Congress web site.

President Bush proceeded with his American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI) for Fiscal Year 2009 despite the funding shortfalls for these programs for FY08. As a result, the requested increases for the ACI agencies are very large: NSF, 13%; DOE Science 19%; and NIST Core, 5.5%. The DOD basic research (6.1) receives a 4% boost over the total FY08 appropriations, but the increase rises to 16% compared to the non-earmarked portion of the FY08 budget. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, one of the authors of the National Academies report, “Rising Above the Gathering Storm,” has made basic research a DOD priority.

Track the progress of the appropriations bills at the  American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) or APS.

ISSUE: Nuclear Forensics

The APS Panel on Public Affairs, in cooperation with the AAAS Center for Science Technology and Security Policy, has issued an unclassified report that reviews the US nuclear forensics program. The report provides a summary of the techniques and capabilities and identifies five areas for improvement.  Download Nuclear Forensics ReportFormat - PDF.

ISSUE: Campaign Education Project

The American Physical Society, in cooperation with 10 science and engineering organizations, is hosting a “Campaign School” on May 10th to be held in Washington DC. The purpose of the event is to educate members of the participating organizations on running for local elected office. If you are interested in participating, please contact Francis Slakey in the APS Washington office.

ISSUE: Washington Office Media Update

In an effort to reverse the damage done to science following the FY ’08 budget, articles appeared in the following publications: The New York Times, Reuters, MSNBC.com, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, Tech Daily, Newsweek and Newsweek On-Air (online broadcast). In addition, the February edition of Capitol Hill Quarterly led with a story about the APS initiative to push Congress for emergency funding for ITER, high-energy physics and X-ray and neutron sources.  Regarding the FY ’09 budget, a piece appeared in The New York Times touting the big boost for basic research funding in the president’s spending plan.  

Visit APS Public Affairs for more information.

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