Friday, 19 August 1988
PRESIDENT REAGAN IS EXPECTED TO SIGN THE NEW TRADE BILL
now that Congress has removed the plant-closing provision that led to
his veto of an earlier version. Does this mean that plants will
not be required to notify workers 60 days before a closure?
Nothing of the sort. Congress just put it in a separate bill,
which the President will allow to become law without his
signature. So, the President gets his trade bill, Congress gets
its plant-closing law, and nobody loses face. Contained in the
enormous trade bill are several provisions affecting science. In
addition to the "symmetrical access" provision
(WN 15 Jul 88), it
changes NBS to NIST, the National Institute for Standards &
Technology, reflecting the laboratory's new responsibilities in
assisting American industry. Programs aimed at attracting more
young people into science and engineering are authorized at $21M.
. ENROLLMENT IN UNDERGRADUATE ENGINEERING PROGRAMS
continued to decline in the 1987-88 academic year after reaching a peak early
in this decade, according to a study just released by the
American Association of Engineering Societies. The reduction is
attributed in part to a diminished interest in technical careers.
3. A CAP OF $95,000 ON SALARIES OF NSF PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS
will be imposed in FY 89 as a result of the agreement reached by
the HUD/Independent Agencies Conference Committee two weeks ago
(WN 5 Aug 88). That is $5,000 less than the original limit set
in the Senate. Congressmen tend to be unsympathetic to persons
whose salaries exceed theirs. They should compare their fees for
speaking engagements to what we get for giving a technical paper.
4. THE NATIONAL LABORATORY COOPERATIVE RESEARCH INITIATIVES ACT
(S.1480) has been revised in markup to soften its non-disclosure
provision (WN 1 Jul 88). The bill, which is intended to
stimulate cooperation between the labs and private industry,
prohibits public disclosure of "commercially valuable technical
data" generated in the labs. The bill's broad definition of the
term "National Laboratory" includes such centers of basic
research as the Stanford Linear Accelerator, the Princeton Plasma
Physics Laboratory, the FERMI National Accelerator and the Ames
Laboratory, aroused further concern over increasing government
controls on unclassified information. To soften the prohibition
against public disclosure, "commercially valuable" was defined to
mean "...applied technology which may have near-term commercial
value or which arose under a cooperative research and development
agreement. The term does not apply to basic research." The
addition of this definition may make the bill acceptable.
5. ALLAN BROMLEY HAS BEEN NAMED TO THE NATIONAL SCIENCE BOARD.
The Yale physicist is a Fellow of the APS and is currently a
member of the White House Science Council. Also named was Daniel
Drucker, a materials engineer at the University of Florida.