Friday, 6 April 1990 Washington, DC
1. CONGRESS IS REQUIRED TO HAVE A BUDGET RESOLUTION BY 15 APRIL--
but it's not even close as they leave today for Easter vacation. A
budget resolution provides the blueprint that both houses must
follow in spending bills. It is broken down by budget function
with NSF, NASA and DOE's General Science Program lumped together in
Function 250. It is within the finite 250 allocation that the NSF,
the SSC and space station Freedom go head-to-head. So much for the
myth that the funding of one does not affect the other. At this
point, however, it is in everyone's interest that the 250
allocation be set as high as possible. Persons concerned about
funding for science should contact their elected representatives.
2. GUIDELINES FOR DEALING WITH FACULTY CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
in research have been issued by the Association of American Medical
Colleges. Although directed at the biomedical research community,
the report focuses on issues that are equally relevant to the
physical sciences. Federal policy initiatives aimed at bolstering
the economy and improving competitiveness have led to a sharp rise
in collaborative arrangements with industry. Such entanglements
are healthy overall, but create an environment in which scientific
judgments might be trimmed to satisfy sponsors. The report also
addresses "conflict of commitment," in which outside activities
interfere with the primary obligations of faculty. The proposed
remedy is full disclosure. Physicists have been slow to confront
these conflicts, which they tend to view as a life-science problem.
3. BUSH NEVER ISSUED AN EXECUTIVE ORDER PROTECTING CHINESE STUDENTS
from forced return. Congress upheld a veto of the Emergency Chinese
Immigration Act in January when the President said he was issuing
an Executive Order to provide the same protection. Instead, Bush
took the weaker action of a letter to the Attorney General. The
White House contends the difference is semantic, but Rep. Pelosi
(D-CA), who threatens to reintroduce her bill if an E.O. is not
issued, complains of confusion and uneven practices. An E.O. would
require publication of uniform regulations in the Federal Register.
4. NASA'S PLANS FOR THE "EARTH OBSERVING SYSTEM" AROUSE CONCERN.
Everyone seems to like the idea of "Mission to Planet Earth," but
there are misgivings about NASA's implementation of EOS. Near the
end of the decade, NASA proposes to launch two huge satellites to
monitor the changing global environment. It is just the sort of
grandiose approach that delayed and limited the Hubble Telescope.
A National Academy of Sciences panel points out that by dividing
instruments among several smaller satellites, each could be put in
an optimum orbit instead of some compromise orbit--and it would be
less risky. A hearing this week, Chaired by Sen. Albert Gore (D-
TN), focused on data management. In just five years, EOS would
accumulate some 1800 Terabites of data, as compared to a total of a
mere 100 Gigabites from Landsat. According to a GAO report, much
of NASA's existing data archive has been mishandled.