Friday, 18 Mar 94 Washington, DC
1. ONE YEAR LATER: CONCERN HAS SHIFTED TO "STRATEGIC EMPLOYMENT."
Testifying on the NSF request for FY 95, NSF Director Neal Lane
told a Senate appropriations subcommittee that strategic planning
is underway at NSF, and 75% of the FY 95 increase would go into
strategic areas. Senator Barbara Mikulski, credited Lane with an
"astounding accomplishment--it is absolutely what the committee
wants to achieve." With research on track, Mikulski wants NSF to
help overhaul education to prepare students for the marketplace.
2. IS ACADEMIC PORK THREATENING TO BECOME A POLITICAL LIABILITY?
It's a Washington adage that voters are opposed to pork--in other
Congressional districts. In your own district, it's "bacon," and
those who bring it home enjoy long tenure. But lately, it's been
getting bad press. So bad that Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV), who
delivers more bacon than anyone else in Congress, was the target of
a "No Pork" rally on the Capitol steps--by his own constituents.
3. MEANWHILE, THE ADMINISTRATION IS BALKING AT MAKING TRP AWARDS.
In spite of the Brown Amendment requiring Technology Reinvestment
Project awards to be competitive
(WN 1 Oct 93), TRP earmarks were
inserted in the Defense Appropriations Report
(WN 26 Nov 93). The
reports are non-binding, but agencies take even the nuttiest
earmarks seriously lest their budget suffer the following year. A
face-saving deal has reportedly been offered that would fund the
earmarked projects out of Defense programs other than the TRP.
4. GEORGE BROWN POINTS OUT THAT THE PROBLEM GOES BEYOND EARMARKS!
Testifying before the Rules Subcommittee, the chair of the House
Science, Space and Technology Committee explained that report
language "written by some anonymous staffer will have more effect
than a bill dutifully debated, amended and passed by the elected
Members on authorizing committees." It was an apparent reference
to the notorious report accompanying the Senate FY 94 VA/HUD/IA
Appropriations Bill (WN 17 Sep 93).
Brown recommended changing
House Rules to preclude such abuses. A rule change requiring
earmarks to be set apart in a separate section of reports was
endorsed by Brown as a very small step in the right direction.
5. IS DOE STILL HAVING TROUBLE ESTIMATING SUPER COLLIDER COSTS?
Even in death, the SSC budget is controversial. The DOE budget
request for FY 95 includes $180M for SSC termination. Last month,
DOE submitted a termination plan to Congress putting the total
cost at $695M. But in a hearing described by one congressman as
a "shootout," Science Subcommittee chair Rick Boucher (D-VA),
observed that a $95M carryover from FY 93, added to the $640M for
FY 94, gives DOE a $40M surplus. Why is another $180M needed? If
they were expecting Martha Krebs, Director of Energy Research, to
clear things up, they got a surprise; Krebs revised the total
cost downward to $568M; add $180M and the surplus would be $347M!