Friday, 19 April 96 Washington, DC
1. THE OUT-YEAR PROBLEM: OSTP HIRES SOMEONE NAMED ROSIE CENARIO.
An analysis released Wednesday by the American Association for
the Advancement of Science (AAAS), based on President Clinton's
seven-year balanced budget plan, was hailed by the White House
science advisor, Jack Gibbons, as proof that the President "has
made the tough decisions needed to balance the budget, while
protecting the critical research programs that are essential to
long-term economic growth, protecting the environment, improving
health care, and maintaining our national security." Meanwhile,
over at the AAAS, Al Teich, whose office conducted the analysis,
was warning that, "If these projections are actually realized,
research in universities, federal labs and industry will face a
dire situation." Could these people be talking about the same
analysis? Uhuh. Gibbons chose to look only at the end points:
FY 1997 and FY 2002. In between, nondefense R&D plunges into a
deep hole, hitting bottom in FY 2000. A sharp upturn in FY 2001
and 2002 is contingent on economic forecasts that many analysts
regard as wildly optimistic. I hate election years!
2. DOWNSIZING: NASA DECIDES THERE'S NO REASON TO WAIT TILL 2000.
Shocked employees at NASA headquarters were told on Wednesday
that half of them will be gone in 18 months. Senator Barbara
Mikulski (D-MD) is outraged and vows to fight the cuts "all the
way to the Oval Office." The staff currently numbers 1,430, down
from 2,200 in October 1993--by October 1997 only 650 will remain.
3. RESEARCH MISCONDUCT: REDEFINED BY THE "RYAN COMMISSION" REPORT
In a 1992 report, "Responsible Science," a National Academy of
Science panel narrowly defined misconduct in science in terms of
"fabrication, falsification and plagiarism." Most scientists
think that covers everything the government should be concerned
with. But the Office of Research Integrity in the Department of
Health and Human Services was still bungling cases of misconduct
and retaliation against whistleblowers, so Congress created a
Commission on Research Integrity. It has more lawyers than bench
scientists. The "Ryan commission" report calls for replacing the
old "fabrication, falsification and plagiarism" with the terms:
"misappropriation, interference and misrepresentation." But the
biologists find this overly broad. It's been suggested that all
three terms could be applied to half the people in Washington.
4. JUST BECAUSE EVERYONE KNOWS DOESN'T MEAN IT'S NOT A SECRET.
Two physicists who published classified information obtained from
public sources are seeking whistleblower protection from DOE
secrecy zealots. Hugh DeWitt at Livermore, who once helped to
expose the Star Wars X-ray laser fraud, quotes open congressional
debates. Alex DeVolpi of Argonne cleared his paper with his lab.
Dewitt was slapped with a Category A infraction; DeVolpi lost his
clearance. Both are Fellows of the American Physical Society.