Friday, 23 June 95 Washington, DC
1. THE MANHATTAN PROJECT IS NOT A PRECOLLEGE PROGRAM IN NEW YORK.
The Office of Science Education Programs has been zeroed out of the House Energy and Water Appropriations Bill. Zealous budget cutters were apparently unaware that OSEP brings more than 10,000 college students and faculty to DOE laboratories each year to work with lab scientists. In FY 95, 73% of OSEP dollars went for that purpose; but it was probably precollege programs, which make up the other 27% of OSEP's $55M budget, that ax wielders thought they were cutting. This is not the end of university researchers at the labs--most of the money comes from research divisions--but it would reduce the number, as divisions are forced to administer their own programs. Will the Senate will act more prudently?
2. CLINTON PICKS MONIZ AS ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR FOR SCIENCE AT OSTP.
Ernest Moniz, head of the Physics Department at MIT, is President Clinton's nominee to replace M.R.C. Greenwood at the Office of Science and Technology Policy. Greenwood left OSTP on May 1 (WN 3 Mar 95). Moniz, who is currently chair of the DOE/NSF Nuclear Science Advisory Committee, must now await Senate confirmation.
3. HOUSE SPARES THE OFFICE OF TECHNOLOGY ASSESSMENT--UH, SORT OF.
A compromise offered by Amo Houghton (R-NY) cuts the OTA budget from $22M to $15M and puts it under the Library of Congress as part of the Congressional Research Service. The CRS provides Congress with quick studies on all sorts of issues, including science and technology. CRS studies are carried out by staff, with little review. OTA, by contrast, relies on outside experts to oversee its studies, but comes under criticism for being too slow. The Houghton amendment is OTA's last hope for survival, but it had a near-death experience on Wednesday when the roll call was cut off 15 seconds early, as two Democrats scrambled to vote before the 17-minute deadline. At that point, the vote was 214-213 against. The Democrats cried foul, and yesterday another vote was taken. It passed 220-204. The question now is whether the Senate will be satisfied with Houghton's compromise.
4. DOE: HOUSE SCIENCE COMMITTEE INCREASES ENERGY AUTHORIZATION.
Having trouble keeping score by this time? As far as I can tell, here is where we are: On 8 June, the Energy Subcommittee authorized a budget that was OK for High-Energy Physics ($674M) and Basic Energy Sciences ($765M), but bad for Nuclear and Fusion (WN 9 June 95). On 15 June, the Appropriations Subcommittee increased HEP to $677M, BES to $803M, and put back half the money taken from five university accelerators. More than authorized, but who cares? The Senate is not likely to pass an authorization anyway. But even if it never becomes law, it would send a bad signal to the full Appropriations Committee. That led to a flurry of activity, and yesterday the Science Committee fattened the energy authorization, raising HEP to $680M, BES to $828M and Nuclear to $317M.
THE AMERICAN PHYSICAL SOCIETY (Note: Opinions are the author's and are not necessarily shared by the APS, but they should be.)