Friday, 02 April 93 Washington, DC
1. NSF REQUEST LOOKS PRETTY GOOD--AND IT'S BETTER THAN IT LOOKS!
It's not a good idea to base your spending plans on the budget
request the President sends to Congress; last year at this time,
Bush was calling for an 18% increase for NSF, but by September,
Congress had turned that into a 1% cut. Nevertheless, you can't
end up with a good budget if you don't start with one, and the FY
94 request for NSF looks better than expected. In his budget
message next week, President Clinton will ask for a 7.2% increase
for NSF research. Not bad in a year like this, and it's better
than it looks since the baseline appears to include the pending
FY 93 supplemental appropriation of $207M
(WN 19 Feb 93). The
Administration must be confident the supplement will pass. If it
does, FY 93 will turn out to be a pretty good year after all.
2. DOE OFFICE OF ENERGY RESEARCH STRUGGLES WITH NEW CONSTRUCTION.
The President will request $3.3B for Office of Energy Research
programs in FY 94, an 8.7% increase. Not a bad increase, but it
gets eaten alive by new construction starts, including a $20M
down payment on the Tokamak Physics Experiment at Princeton, $26M
to begin work on an Advanced Neutron Source at Oak Ridge and $36M
to initiate a B-factory someplace--even as construction is being
stretched out for the SSC, RHIC and the Fermilab Main Injector.
3. "JUNK SCIENCE" CASE WAS HEARD BY THE SUPREME COURT ON TUESDAY.
In Daubert vs. Merrell Dow, the court is asked to rule on
admissibility of "scientific" evidence that is not widely accepted by
other scientists. Several of the justices seemed confused by the
issue and observers predict the Court will toss the matter into
the lap of Congress. The growing importance of scientific issues
in court cases was illustrated the next day when dozens of people
had to be turned away from a packed House Energy and Commerce
hearing on the hazards of low-frequency electromagnetic fields--
most of them were lawyers who anticipate a litigation bonanza.
4. THE WASHINGTON SHUTTLE:
- To head NIST, President Clinton has named Arati Prabhakar.
She received a PhD in Applied Physics from Cal Tech in 1984.
Except for a year at OTA, she has been at DARPA ever since,
where she directs of the Microelectronics Technology Office.
- At NSF, Deputy Director Fred Bernthal will become Acting
Director on Monday. A nuclear chemist with a 1969 PhD from
Berkeley, Bernthal came to Washington in 1975 as an APS
Congressional Fellow. No word on who will replace Massey.
- At NASA, Michael Griffin, head of the Office of Explora-
tion, has been reassigned as NASA's "Chief Engineer," with
undefined responsibilities (in NASA they refer to it as
being "Fisked"). Exploration was absorbed into Space Science.