AAAS Policy Alert -- August 14, 2012
IN THIS ISSUE
President Signs Sequestration Transparency Bill. On Aug. 7 President Obama signed the Sequestration
Transparency Act, which requires the Administration to report to Congress within 30 days the details of its plan to implement sequestration and how it plans to distribute the cuts across government
programs. The bill passed both chambers of Congress overwhelmingly. Previously, the President had objected to detailing sequestration cuts, hoping that the threat of the unknown would force Congress
to replace the sequester with a bipartisan debt reduction deal. The Administration has only recently begun formal internal consultations about dealing with the cuts.
The Ryan House Budget Plan. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney announced on Aug. 11 that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), Chair of the House Budget Committee, will join the Republican ticket as
the vice presidential candidate. Ryan is the architect of the House budget resolution, certain now to come under greater public scrutiny. Last April AAAS analyzed the House-passed plan, which could
produce some substantial cuts in R&D funding, particularly on the nondefense side. The analysis is available here.
on the federal research and development budget for FY 2013, please visit the AAAS R&D Budget and Policy website.
OTHER CONGRESSIONAL NEWS
Bill to Increase Women and Minorities in STEM Fields.On Aug. 1 Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) introduced the Women and Minorities
in STEM Booster Act of 2012 (S. 3475). The act would authorize $10 million in Fiscal Years 2013, 2014, and 2015 for National Science
Foundation (NSF) grants to nonprofit organizations and university departments that carry out "activities designed to increase the participation of women and underrepresented minorities in the fields
of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics [STEM]." Such activities include online workshops, mentoring and outreach programs, and internships for undergraduate and graduate STEM students.
NIH Blog Highlights Increases in Research Grant Applications. On her blog Rock
Talk, NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research Sally Rockey posted data on NIH grant applications over the past decade-plus—specifically, competing applications for investigator-initiated
research project grants (meaning they were not submitted in response to a specific request for applications). Total direct costs requested in such applications went from $4.4 billion in FY 1998 to $13
billion in FY 2011. The amount of money awarded in that pool doubled, from $1 billion to $2 billion. Put another way, in FY 1998 the demand for research dollars was 3.6 times the supply. By FY 2011, demand
was 6.5 times the supply. The largest factor in this change is a rise in the number of applicants -- from 19,000 to 32,000.
Comment on the above item. Policy Alert blog entries are located on AAAS's MemberCentral. Once you are logged in, click on "Blogs" and
look for "Capitol Connection" in the drop-down list.
NASA to Fund Crewed Commercial Spaceflight, Biomedical Research. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has announced three
multi-million-dollar commercial contracts related to the development of human spaceflight in low-Earth orbit. Sierra Nevada Corp. was awarded $212.5 million, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) $440
million, and Boeing $460 million under Space Act Agreements set to expire on May 31, 2014. On Aug. 10 NASA also unveiled 15
experiments that will be funded under its new Space Biology Program. In total, $4 million will go to investigating the response of cells, plants, and animals to the microgravity environment of space.
Scientific Organizations Join Diversity-in-Science Amicus Brief to Supreme Court. A number of organizations have filed amicus briefs in a case scheduled
to be heard by the Supreme Court this fall - Abigail Noel Fisher, Petitioner v. University of Texas at Austin, et al. The main question before the Supreme Court is whether the Equal Protection
Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment permits the University of Texas at Austin to use race as a factor in undergraduate admissions decisions. One
of those amicus briefs (PDF), filed formally on Aug. 13, was prepared by the American Educational Research Association (AERA). It directly
addresses the quality of the science used to support the Petitioner's arguments and states that it is based on "flawed research and unreliable findings, including potentially misleading analyses." The
Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on October 10. Organizations that joined the AERA
brief include AAAS, the American Sociological Association, American Statistical Association, Association for the Study of Higher Education, Law and Society Association, Linguistic Society of America, and
the National Academy of Engineering.
NRC to Release Second Decadal Survey for Solar and Space Physics. On Aug. 15 the National Research Council is scheduled release the second Solar and Space Physics Decadal Survey at
a public briefing. The decadal survey "outlines programs, initiatives, and investments in the field that will promote fundamental advances in scientific knowledge of the space environment." The
briefing will also be webcast live by NASA Television here, and viewers may also submit questions via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Further details can be found here.
Indian Parliament Panel Recommends Restrictions on GM Research. A high-level
panel in the Indian Parliament has released the report "Cultivation of Genetically Modified Food
Crops - Prospects and Effects," in which they recommended severe restrictions, or outright bans, on research into genetically modified food crops. Additional details are available here and here.
Publishers Create Incentives for Higher Scientific Journal Standards. The China Association for Science and Technology (CAST) has issued a declaration endorsed by over 1,000 journals published
under its auspices in an effort to reduce research misconduct. The declaration states that the journal editors-in-chief commit to following the 2009 CAST guidelines identifying behaviors that constitute
misconduct in science. In concert with the CAST declaration, the Chinese Finance Ministry has begun a program to improve China's journals. It will spend US$16 million
per year to rank the country's journals into three tiers based on journal impact ratings. Those in the first and second tiers will receive financial bonuses (more details found here).
China publishes 5,300 science and technology journals, roughly one-third of all such journals in the world.
NOTE TO READERS
The Policy Alert will not publish for the next two weeks and will resume publication in early September.
Archived issues of AAAS Policy Alert can
be found at http://www.aaas.org/spp/policyalert.
Publisher: Alan I. Leshner
Editor: Steve Nelson
Contributors: Joanne Carney, Ed Derrick, Kavya Devarakonda, Mark Frankel, Erin Heath, Matt Hourihan, Gretchen Seiler, Sara Spizzirri, Brad Wible
The AAAS Policy Alert is a newsletter provided to AAAS Members to inform them of developments in science and technology policy that may be of interest. Information in the Policy Alert is gathered from published news reports, unpublished documents, and personal communications. Although the information contained in this newsletter is regarded as reliable, it is provided only for the convenience and private use of our members. Comments and suggestions regarding the Policy Alert are welcome. Please write to