The House continues its attempt to craft a budget resolution that would establish a framework for discretionary spending for fiscal year 2011, as well as a defense supplemental bill, with the goal of passing both measures before the Memorial Day recess. Separately, leaders in both the House and Senate continue to work to reach a compromise on a legislative package (H.R. 4213) that would extend a number of tax benefits that have expired, including the research and development (R&D) tax credit. Due to the massive reach of the bill and the associated costs, the House-Senate conference may extend the taxes only one or two years.
For up-to-date news on the FY 2011 budget, visit the AAAS R&D Budget and Policy Program website
. R&D budget information and a wide array of other S&T policy issues will receive coverage at this week's 35th annual AAAS Forum on Science and Technology Policy
Other Congressional News
House Appropriations Chairman Obey to Retire. On May 5, Rep. David Obey (D-WI), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee and long-time chairman of the Labor-Health and Human Services-Education Subcommittee (which funds the National Institutes of Health), announced his plan to retire at the end of this session after serving in Congress for more than forty years. Rep. Norman Dicks (D-WA) is the next most senior member of the Appropriations Committee and is considered the likely successor, although other members have expressed an interest in this plum position.
America COMPETES Act Scheduled for House Vote. The America COMPETES Act (H.R. 5116), which passed the House Science and Technology Committee on April 28, is scheduled to go to the House floor for a vote this week. The House procedures will allow amendments to be considered during floor debate.
House Committee Considers USPTO Reform.
Witnesses at a May 5 House Judiciary Committee hearing testified on the need to speed up the federal patent application process, reduce the patent application backlog, and improve patent quality. Debate centered on whether the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) should have authority to set user fees and whether fees should be allocated to an operating reserve to address multi-year budget plans or become part of the Congressional authorization process. When asked if members should pursue passing a stand-alone fee-setting bill if they can't resolve key differences between the Senate (S. 515
) and House (H.R. 1260
) patent reform bills, USPTO Director David Kappos stated his preference for a comprehensive bill.
Government Panel Warns of Environmental Carcinogens. A report by the President's Cancer Panel warns of "grievous harm" from carcinogens in the environment and says the proportion of cancer cases caused by industrial chemicals, pesticides, radon gas, and other toxins has been "grossly underestimated." That conclusion drew a sharp response from Michael Thun, an American Cancer Society epidemiologist, who said it "does not represent scientific consensus." There have been estimates that environmental pollutants and occupational exposures may cause 6 percent of cancers, but the panel called such estimates "woefully out of date." LaSalle Leffall Jr., a Howard University surgical oncologist who chairs the panel, stood by the report. He told The New York Times that it "is an evenhanded approach, and an evenhanded report."
Comment on this at the Policy Alert Discussion Space
You must be a registered user to post comments.
or sign in
NSF to Require Data Management Plans from Grantees. On May 10, NSF announced that around October 2010, it will require that all grant proposals include a data management plan in the form of a two-page supplementary document that will be subject to peer review. This step is part of the agency's efforts to address how best to make government-funded research accessible to the public.
U.S. Declassifies Warhead Information. In an effort to boost support for the U.S. agenda at the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty review conference currently being held at the United Nations, the United States declassified the year-end warhead totals in its nuclear stockpile since 1962. The data for years prior to 1962 was previously declassified. The current number of 5,113 is an 84 percent reduction since the end of 1967, the peak year, when the United States possessed 31,255; it includes both active and inactive warheads, but does not include several thousand awaiting dismantlement. In addition, the number of warheads dismantled per year since 1994 was also declassified. Since 1994 a total of 8,748 warheads were dismantled.
Preparing Space Program Workers of Tomorrow. President Obama, following up on a pledge made in an April 15 speech at the Kennedy Space Center, has announced a Task Force on Space Industry Workforce and Economic Development in hopes of minimizing the impact of short-term job losses from retiring the Space Shuttle and canceling the Constellation program. The Task Force, co-chaired by the Secretary of Commerce and the NASA Administrator, will create an interagency action plan to prepare aerospace workers for new developments in America's space program and related industries.
State Department to Manage TechWomen Program.
The State Department unveiled
the TechWomen Program as the latest progress toward fulfilling the promises President Obama made in his June 2009 Cairo development speech. TechWomen will provide professional peer mentorships for women from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, the West Bank, and Gaza to spend up to six weeks with female employees in U.S. technology companies. The program
is scheduled to begin in spring 2011. While aiming to strengthen ties with the Muslim world, the program has already been criticized
for not doing enough to foster scientific entrepreneurship in the countries themselves.
VA Attorney General Investigates Climate Scientist. Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has launched an investigation into possible violations of the state's Fraud Against Taxpayers Act by former University of Virginia climate scientist Michael Mann. Cuccinelli, who believes the jury is still out on whether climate change is caused by human activity, has said he is investigating whether Mann, now at Penn State, defrauded taxpayers when seeking state grant money for his research while at UVA from 1999 to 2005. The UVA Faculty Senate Executive Council said Cuccinelli's action "directly threatens academic freedom," and faculty members have urged the school's Board of Visitors to challenge the attorney general's action in court. The American Association of University Professors, the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, The Washington Post, and academics from around the nation -- including some well-known climate skeptics -- are also criticizing the action. Mann has been a target of global warming skeptics, both for his "hockey stick" graph on global temperature trends (work upheld by a National Research Council panel) and for comments in e-mails stolen from a British climate research group. A Penn State inquiry on the e-mails found no evidence Mann had tried to falsify or suppress data.
IPCC Review Team Announced. The InterAcademy Council, which represents 15 national science academies, has announced panel members for its review of the processes and procedures of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Former Princeton University president Harold Shapiro will chair the 12-member review panel; the vice chair will be Roseanne Diab, executive officer of the Academy of Science of South Africa. The panel will hold its first meeting this week and plans to release a final report by August 30.
Judges Consider Appropriateness of fMRI Evidence in Court. A state court judge in New York has issued a ruling excluding brain scans from functional MRIs as evidence, even before a hearing was held to consider the admissibility of the evidence in a trial. In this case, the judge apparently was swayed by arguments from the attorneys opposing the scans that "juries are supposed to decide the credibility of the witness...and fMRI lie detection, even if it could be proven completely accurate, infringes on the right." On May 13, a federal judge in another trial in Tennessee is scheduled to rule on the admissibility of fMRI lie detection evidence in a criminal case.
Developing Countries Form Intellectual Property Group. Eighteen countries joined together to form the WIPO Development Agenda Group (DAG): Algeria, Brazil, Cuba, Djibouti, Ecuador, Egypt, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Uruguay, and Yemen. WIPO (the World Intellectual Property Organization) is an agency within the United Nations that promotes the protection of intellectual property. DAG aims to help WIPO better balance the needs of industrialized and developing nations through efforts such as protecting traditional knowledge and providing poor communities with access to medicine.
AAU, AUTM, APLU and BIO Launch Website on Technology Transfer. The Association of American Universities (AAU), in coordination with the Association of University Technology Managers (AUTM), the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), and the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) have launched a website on the 30th anniversary of the Bayh-Dole Act, the law that governs technology transfer of federally funded research at universities. The site includes background information on Bayh-Dole and examples of innovations that have resulted from technology transfer.
Archived issues of AAAS Policy Alert
can be found at
Publisher: Alan I. Leshner
Editor: Erin Heath
Contributors: Joanne Carney, Phillip Chalker, Patrick Clemins, Mark Frankel, Amy Fuller, Earl Lane, Steve Nelson, Gretchen Seiler, Peter Sprunger, Al Teich, Ric Weibl, Kasey White
NOTE: The AAAS Policy Alert is a newsletter provided to AAAS Members toinform them of developments in science and technology policy that maybe of interest. Information in the Policy Alert is gathered frompublished news reports, unpublished documents, and personalcommunications. Although the information contained in thisnewsletter is regarded as reliable, it is provided only for theconvenience and private use of our members. Comments andsuggestions regarding the Policy Alert are welcome. Please writeto email@example.com.