Friday, 5 August 1988
FLASH! AN FY 89 BUDGET FOR NSF WAS AGREED TO IN CONFERENCE
Tuesday night. The $9.8% increase brings the total to $1885M.
Research will get $1583M, which is $5M more than the House
figure, but still $20M below the request. Moreover, since the
separate line for Science and Technology Centers got zip, any
centers that are funded will have to come out of research. The
big winner is education, which got a 23% increase over last year.
2. THE "NATIONAL LABORATORY COMPETITIVENESS ACT OF 1988"
underwent fission in the House Subcommittee on Energy Research
and Development (WN 29 Jul 88).
The superconductivity portion
was split off as the "National High Temperature Superconductivity
Act of 1988." The Superconductivity bill would establish a
5-year program in high-Tc R&D, but does not specify a funding
level. It also calls for international cooperation in the
exchange of basic information and the development of standards.
But, while it worries about how to spread information, the
Competitiveness bill focuses on protecting intellectual property.
Although the Freedom of Information Act is not mentioned by name,
the Competitiveness bill makes technical data and software
"exempt from any law otherwise requiring their public disclosure
for a period of up to two years," if the data or software is (a)
commercially valuable and (b) its disclosure is likely to inhibit
its commercial application. These conditions are also in the
Senate bill (S.1408) (WN 1 Jul 88);
the difference is that the
House bill has a flexible (and finite) non-disclosure period.
3. THE "VIDEO AND LIBRARY PRIVACY PROTECTION ACT OF 1988"
(S.2361 and H.R.4947) enjoyed strong bi-partisan support in joint
hearings on Wednesday. The legislation began as protection just
against the disclosure of video rental lists, after a reporter
revealed a list of video tapes rented by Judge Bork, who was
being considered for the Supreme Court. The bill was expanded to
include library records after the FBI was caught soliciting
science library employees to snitch on who was reading what
(WN 15 Jul 88).
Library records are already protected in 38 states.
4. THE FBI RELEASED 22 HEAVILY-EXCISED DOCUMENTS ON ITS "LIBRARY
in response to a lawsuit filed by the National
Security Archive and People for the American Way
(WN 3 Jun 88).
By the FBI's definition, the program is confined to the New York
area. The documents, which were initially requested under the
Freedom of Information Act a year ago, had all been classified
"secret." Entire pages were deleted by the FBI and the remaining
pages were heavily censored. There is no hint in what survives
that the program uncovered anything but angry librarians.
5. AT OVERSIGHT HEARINGS ON THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT
this week Sen. Leahy (D-VT) said government secrecy can be a shield to
hide failed policies, waste of public resources and corruption.