FY 2010 Appropriations Update. On September 10 the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the
Defense appropriations bill, which would provide $78.5 billion for Research, Development, Test and Evaluation (RDT&E), just under the President's request of $78.6 billion and markedly less than the House version which would provide $80.2 billion for RDT&E. The full Senate continued debate last week on the
Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies appropriations bill, and a vote is likely early this week. For an update on the current status of appropriations, see the newly updated
AAAS R&D Budget Web site.
Federal S&E Funding to Minority-Serving Institutions Declines. In FY 2007 (the most recent year for which such data are available), decreases in funding to minority-serving institutions exceeded decreases among all academic institutions, according to a new
NSF report. Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) received their lowest annual funding total since FY 2001, with a drop in funding of 8.6 percent from FY 2006 in inflation-adjusted dollars, the second year in a row that HBCUs experienced a decline. The report shows high-Hispanic-enrollment (HHE) institutions experienced a 1.6 percent decrease from totals received in FY 2006 in inflation-adjusted dollars. On the whole, federal agencies gave less money to all academic institutions in FY 2007, with the overall inflation-adjusted total dropping 0.4 percent from FY 2006 levels.
Barton Asks GAO to Analyze NIH Stimulus Funds. The ranking minority member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX), issued
a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) requesting an examination of the $10 billion in stimulus funds received by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In his September 11 letter, Barton asks GAO to examine the
"process and criteria used for awarding grants" and to discuss any differences from NIH's usual processes or criteria employed in awarding stimulus funds. He also requests data on the number of jobs created or maintained through the stimulus funds. Barton requests both an interim report before all stimulus funds are granted, and a final report after all funds are obligated.
Sunstein Confirmed as OIRA Administrator. Over the objections of some conservative organizations and commentators who had sought to brand the prominent legal scholar and political theorist as a liberal extremist on animal rights, gun control, and other issues, the U.S. Senate voted 57 to 40 to
confirm Cass R. Sunstein as head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Sunstein's confirmation followed eight months of debate over his writings as a professor of law at Harvard University and, before that, as a professor of law and political science at the University of Chicago.
House Will Stay Throughout the Fall? House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) announced last week that the House will remain in session beyond its October 30 target adjournment date and left open the possibility of extending the session even beyond Thanksgiving.
White House Calls for Review of Export Controls. The Obama Administration
issued a notice on August 13 extending the authority of the Department of Commerce to administer export controls and calling for the National Economic Council and National Security Council to conduct a thorough reexamination of existing export control regulations and to develop recommendations for appropriate reforms to the system. The U.S. export control system is currently managed through three federal departments
-- Commerce, State, and Defense -- and was criticized recently in a
National Academies report for reflecting a Cold War approach to balancing national security and economic interests.
Federal Efforts to Restore Chesapeake Bay. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, and Interior
released seven draft reports outlining efforts to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay, the largest estuary in the United States, with a watershed populated by over 16 million people. Developed in response to a May 12 Executive Order, these reports will be integrated into a coordinated strategy that will be released for public comment by November 12. The final strategy is to be completed by May 12, 2010. In related news, the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will hold a
hearing, scheduled for September 22, on the reauthorization of the Chesapeake Bay Program, a regional partnership that coordinates the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed.
NSF Requests Nominations for Two Major Awards. The National Science Foundation has issued Calls for Nominations for two of its major awards: the
2010 Vannevar Bush Award,
"honoring exceptional service to the nation in science and technology; and the
2010 National Science Board Public Service Award,
"honoring service in public understanding of science and engineering." The deadline for nominations for both awards is November 4, 2009.
People in the News. President Obama
announced his intention to nominate physicist
Patrick Gallagher as the new director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Gallagher had been serving as the NIST Deputy Director since 2008 and originally joined the Institute in 1993 as an instrument scientist at the NIST Center for Neutron Research.
Study Finds Researchers Not Registering Clinical Trials. As a condition for publishing in medical journals, the International Committee of Medical Journals requires that researchers register proposed clinical trials in a
National Institutes of Health (NIH) database. A
study published in the
Journal of American Medical Association reveals that of 323 published research articles, less than half (45.5 percent) were registered properly in the NIH database. Of the clinical trials that were not registered properly, the study found that more than half were never entered into the system.
Study Reports on "Ghostwriting" in Six Medical Journals. In another study conducted by editors of the
Journal of American Medical Association, an anonymous online survey of authors of 630 articles published in the top six medical journals found that 7.8 percent acknowledged that medical writers, often paid by a drug or medical device company, were utilized in writing the papers but not listed as authors of the publications. The study, released at an international conference of journal editors, was
The New York Times. However, it has not been formally peer-reviewed or published, and a number of journal editors have questioned its methodology.
International Climate Services Effort Advances. Attendees at the World Climate Conference-3 signed a
High-Level Declaration to begin establishing a
Global Framework for Climate Services
"to strengthen production, availability, delivery and application of science-based climate prediction and services." The World Meteorological Organization-sponsored conference in Geneva included more than 2,000 climate scientists, sectoral experts, and decision-makers.
Norman Borlaug, 1914-2009.
Norman E. Borlaug, the American plant pathologist who won a Nobel Peace in 1970 for developing more productive and hardier grains which brought about the
"Green Revolution" and saved an estimated more than one billion people from starvation, passed away at age 95 on September 13 in Dallas, TX.
Alan I. Leshner
Editor: Steve Nelson
Contributors: Joanne Carney, Patrick Clemins, Mark Frankel, Erin Heath, Barbara Jasny, Al Teich, Kasey White. Ric Weibl, Brad Wible
NOTE: The AAAS Policy Alert is a newsletter provided to AAAS Members to
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