Friday, 12 Nov 1993 Washington, DC
1. THE FY 1994 UNAPPROPRIATION BILL. MORE TROUBLE FOR SCIENCE?
Congress hasn't even finished all the appropriations bills for
this year, and already there are plans to take money back. The
President submitted a recision bill to Congress that would cut
$1.9B from the appropriations the President just approved. This
is stuff the President didn't want anyway, including the Integral
Fast Reactor and some academic earmarks
(WN 10-29-93), but since
Congress won't give him a line-item veto, he has to ask Congress
to unappropriate. But $1.9B is peanuts. Reps. Tim Penney (D-MN)
and John Kasich (R-OH) have an amendment that would slash $103B
over five years! Science is among their targets: magnetic fusion
would be reduced to 50% of its baseline level over 5 years; a DOE
lab closure commission would be created similar to the commission
that recommended military base closures. Their plan also calls
for consolidating science agencies into a Department of Science.
2. APPROPRIATORS WARN THAT SPACE SCIENCE WILL BE CUT NEXT YEAR!
Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), chair of the subcommittee that sets
the NASA budget, and her counterpart in the House, Louis Stokes
(D-OH), warned NASA to expect a cut of more than $500M next year.
They acknowledge that the space station, EOS and the shuttle "are
essentially fixed costs," which dumps much of the burden for the
cut on space science. As the letter admits, this inverts the
priorities of the Augustine Commission
(WN 12-14-90), which said
NASA should put space science first. The Advanced X-Ray Astrophysics
Facility and the Cassini Saturn mission, both scheduled
for launch next year, are thought to be in particular jeopardy.
In this case, a recision might help--there is a movement in the
House to amend the recision bill to chop space station Alpha.
3. HOW WIDESPREAD IS SCIENTIFIC MISCONDUCT IN ACADEMIC RESEARCH?
A lot of faculty members and graduate students think they've seen
it, according to a survey of doctoral students and faculty at 99
departments of chemistry, civil engineering, microbiology and
sociology. Half of the faculty claimed direct knowledge of misconduct
of some sort, but most of it falls in the category of
sleaze rather than fraud or plagiarism--for example, withholding
results that contradict a researcher's previous findings. The
study appears to contradict Science magazine's editorial opinion
that misconduct is extremely rare. Science, however, rejected
the paper, which is appearing in The American Scientist magazine.
4. ENERGY SECRETARY O'LEARY MEETS WITH SSC LABORATORY EMPLOYEES!
She agreed today to set up a task force on severance procedures.
Joe Cipriano, DOE's project manager for the SSC, is also said to
be in line for a pink slip. Sen. Johnston (D-LA) lashed out at
Cipriano during Martha Krebs' confirmation hearing for "undermining
the program." It was a reference to an unsigned memo from
Cipriano last summer, calling for the firing of Roy Schwitters
(WN 8-6-93). Meanwhile, Krebs has been
confirmed by voice vote.