Friday, 4 Feb 1994 Washington, DC
1. WHITE HOUSE CONVENES FORUM ON SCIENCE IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST.
More than 200 leaders of science gathered in Washington this week
to discuss a new framework for sustaining America's scientific
preeminence in the post-Cold War world. The debate really began
four months ago when a Senate appropriations subcommittee issued
a controversial report directing NSF to emphasize "strategic
(WN 17 Sep 93). In a speech that should help to reduce
tensions, strategic research was defined by Sen. Barbara Mikulski
as "investments in science that are focused around important
national goals." She called on NSF to organize around these goals
the way NIH is organized around diseases. But who will decide
what is important? In what was surely the most significant talk
at the 2-day meeting, Vice President Albert Gore attributed the
remarkable success of American science since World War II to the
policy of awarding research funds on the basis of scientific
merit. The appropriators are undermining that policy, the Vice
President warned, by continuing to fund "academic pork" projects.
2. AFTERSHOCK FROM THE LOS ANGELES QUAKE REAWAKENS PENNY-KASICH
from a near-death experience. Congress will pass a $10B emergency
appropriation. It may be decided that acts of God are off budget,
but three amendments will be considered that would take the money
from other programs. Among them is the Penny-Kasich rescission
plan that was defeated last fall. It includes research cuts and
a cap on indirect cost recovery by universities
(WN 12 Nov 93).
3. THE CLINTON BUDGET INCLUDES A "PAUSE" IN OVERHEAD PAYMENTS.
Indirect cost fever has been described as the herpes of research
universities. You treat it and it goes away. Then-- zap! --it's
back again. The new strain is described as a one-year "pause,"
not a cut; a university could not be reimbursed more in FY 95
than in FY 94. The Clinton budget will be released on Monday.
4. THIS BUDGET WILL BE ABOUT $30 BILLION LESS THAN LAST YEAR'S.
That means a sharp reduction in discretionary spending. NASA
will be cut by $250M (WN 7 Jan 94), but
termination of the
Advanced Solid Rocket Motor
(WN 22 Oct 93) accounts for $178M of
that. But with space station costs rising, the 1997 Cassini
mission to Saturn is vulnerable. Of the four planetary exploration
missions announced in 1983, the Comet Rendezvous and Flyby
was cancelled, the Mars Observer is missing, and Cassini is in
trouble. Only the Magellan radar mapping of Venus has succeeded.
5. DIRECTOR OF OSTP IS NOT ANXIOUS TO HAVE HIS POSITION ELEVATED.
The "three B"s of congressional science policy, Reps. Boehlert,
Boucher and Brown heard from Jack Gibbons and former Science
Advisors Ed David and Guy Stever on Boucher's bill to elevate the
Director of OSTP to the same level as the Director of OMB
(WN 24 Dec 93). Boehlert commented
that "all it takes to get a science
advisor to support this idea is to have him leave office."