FYI This Week is a weekly newsletter, issued each Monday morning, highlighting science policy stories and events of the upcoming week and summarizing news from the past week, with a focus on the physical sciences.
(Image credit – The White House)
White House Releasing Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Outline
On Thursday, the Trump administration will release itsoutline for the discretionary portion of the fiscal year 2018 federal budgetrequest, which the White House has already said will cut over 10 percent ofnon-defense spending to pay for a $54 billion boost in defense spending.Topline requests for the federal agencies are expected in the document,although it is still unclear how much additional detail will be included. Thefull budget is expected in mid-May.
Agency Reorganization Executive Order Expected
President Trump could sign an executive order as early asthis week requiring federal agencies to develop plans within 90 days torestructure operations and streamline programs. According to CQ Roll Call, the order’sprofessed aim is to make government more efficient and effective, eliminateduplicative spending, and reduce program costs.
NASA Transition Authorization Bill Awaits Trump’s Signature
The House passed the “NASA Transition Authorization Act” onMarch 7, sendingthe first new NASA authorization since 2010 to President Trump for hissignature. The legislation would largely affirm existing NASA exploration andscience priorities but is notably silent on NASA’s Earth Science andHeliophysics programs. Trump has recently embraced pro-space explorationrhetoric, leading to speculationthat NASA may be a focus of his presidency.
Armed Services Panel to Review Nuclear Security InfrastructureNeeds
On Thursday, a subcommittee of the House Armed ServicesCommittee will welcome top National Nuclear Security Administration officialsand Los Alamos National Laboratory Director Charlie McMillan to testify at a hearingon “infrastructure needs and projectsready for immediate implementation in the nuclear security enterprise.” With President Trump having promised to boost defensespending and spur $1 trillion in new spending on the nation’s infrastructure,this hearing could touch on how the nuclear security enterprise would fit into such an initiative.
Appropriators to Hold STEM Education Hearing
On Wednesday, the Senate appropriations subcommittee responsiblefor the Department of Education and the National Institutes of Health budgets isholding a STEM education hearingfocused on “preparing students for thecareers of today and the future.” Witnesses include representativesof state and local school districts and STEM organizations.
DOE-NSF High Energy Physics Advisory Panel Meeting
The High Energy Physics Advisory Panel for theDepartment of Energy and the National Science Foundation will hold a three-hourteleconference on Monday afternoon. The agenda includes discussions of DOE’sHigh Energy Physics Program, NSF’s Elementary Particle Physics Program, anda report from the Coordinating Panel on Advanced Detectors. A full agenda anddial-in information are available here.
House Passes Defense Spending Bill with $14B for S&T
By a voteof 371 to 48 on March 8, the House passed a new version of the fiscal year 2017defense appropriations bill, which would set Defense Department funding at $578billion. The bill funds Defense S&T at $14.011 billion, which is 5..7percent over the FY16 enacted level, and within that amount Basic Research (the 6.1account) would be funded at $2.276 billion, a 1.4 percent decrease from theFY16 level. The bill conforms to federal spending caps, which minimizedDemocratic opposition, and it now heads to the Senate. Congress must also pass 10other fiscal year 2017 appropriations bills before an April 28 deadline.
New Immigration Order Draws Fresh Objections fromScientific Community
On March 6, President Trump signed a new executive orderrestricting foreign nationals from six nations from entering the U.S. Unlikethe last order, this order exempts lawful U.S. permanent residents and currentvisa holders and also provides for a case-by-case waiver process. The AmericanAssociation for the Advancement of Science, Association of AmericanUniversities, and Associationof Public and Land Grant Universities, all of which stronglyopposed the original ban, issued statements objecting to the new ban, althoughthe university groups acknowledged it is preferable to the original.
House and Senate Looking at Standards for Agency Use ofScience
On Thursday, the House Science Committee approvedtwo bills — the “HONEST Act” and “EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act” — thatreform the application of science in the rulemaking process at the EnvironmentalProtection Agency. In addition, Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) recently introducedthe “BetterEvaluation of Science and Technology Act,” which would set standards forhow agencies consider scientific findings when developing new regulations.Explaining the rationale behind the bill at a subcommittee hearinghe convened last week, he remarked,
“If past administrations’ attempts to encourage agencies to basetheir regulatory decisions on transparent sound science have failed, Congressshould consider establishing new legal requirements.”
Senators Reintroduce Weather Research Bill
On March 8, Senate Commerce, Science, and TransportationCommittee Chairman John Thune (R-SD) and committee member Brian Schatz (D-HI) reintroduceda major bill that would authorize weather research, seasonal forecasting, andcommercial weather data programs at the National Oceanic and AtmosphericAdministration. The senators’ bill is identical to a companion bill that the Housealready passedin January, but Thune and Schatz still expect changes as it moves forward inthe upper chamber. Late last week, Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) reportedly placed ahold on the bill because he would like it to include a radar infrastructure project.
Rep. Bill FosterMakes Case for Research Infrastructure Funding
In testimony before the appropriations subcommittee thatfunds the Department of Energy, Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL) advocated for robustfunding of the department’s Office of Science and the research facilities itsupports. Foster, who was a project leader at DOE’s Fermi National AcceleratorLaboratory in Illinois prior to becoming a congressman, pointed out that fundingvolatility is particularly harmful to science:
“Scientific investments are not like building a road where you cancancel it and restart it at the drop of a hat. The scientific programs have tobe built up over decades, but can be destroyed in a single budget cycle byhaving their project underfunded.”
He also specifically urged the committee to provide fullfunding for Argonne National Laboratory’s Advanced Photon Source and Fermilab’sLong-Baseline Neutrino Facility, asserting that the projects are crucial tomaintaining U.S. leadership in x-ray science and high energy physics,respectively.
NASA Leaders Discuss Vision and Priorities at Symposium
At the 55th Annual GoddardMemorial Symposium, NASA officials discussed the agency’s sciencepriorities, the ongoing transition between administrations, and the fiscal year2018 budget request. Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot highlighted the Juno,InSight, Mars 2020 Rover, Cassini, and Europa Clipper missions, as well as theJames Webb Space Telescope, which he said will soon head to Johnson SpaceCenter for testing and is on track to launch in October 2018. He also toutedNASA’s recent TRAPPIST-1 exoplanet discovery, saying “We…blew up the Internet that day as an agency, and as a science team”and that the White House noticed. A webcastof the symposium is available on the event website.
All times EasternStandard Time, unless otherwise noted.
Notice on D.C.-area events this week: Because of an impendingwinter storm, all D.C.-area events scheduled for Tuesday, and possiblyWednesday, are at risk of being cancelled. Check the web version of FYI This Week for updates.
Monday, March 13
American Physical Society:March Meeting (continues through Friday)
Ernest Morial Convention Center (New Orleans, LA)
NASA: AdHoc Task Force on STEM Education meeting
9:30 am – 3:00 pm, NASA headquarters (300 E St. SW, DC)
DOE/NSF: HighEnergy Physics Advisory Panel meeting
12:00 – 3:00 pm, Teleconference
NSF: Businessand Operations Advisory Committee meeting
1:00 – 4:00 pm, NSF headquarters (4201 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA)
Tuesday, March 14
Senate: “Opportunitiesto Improve American Energy Infrastructure”
10:00 am, Energy and Natural Resources Committee (366 DirksenOffice Building)
Wilson Center: “TheImagineers of War: The Untold Story of DARPA, the Pentagon Agency That Changedthe World”
11:00 am – 12:00 pm, Wilson Center (1300 Pennsylvania Ave.NW, DC)
University ofMaryland: “ScientificInnovation and the Energy System”
4:00 – 5:00 pm, U of Md Physical Sciences Complex (CollegePark, MD)
Former ARPA-E Director Ellen Williams is the speaker
Wednesday, March 15
House: “ModernizingEnergy Infrastructure: Challenges and Opportunities to Expanding HydropowerGeneration”
10:00 am, Energy and Commerce Committee (2123 Rayburn OfficeBuilding)
House: “DisrupterSeries: Advanced Materials and Production”
10:15 am, Energy and Commerce Committee (2322 Rayburn OfficeBuilding)
Senate: “STEMEducation: Preparing Students for the Careers of Today and the Future”
10:30 am, Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee(138 Dirksen Office Building)
AAAS: Science Policy Chat with AAAS CEO RushHolt
1:00 pm, Interactive livestream
Thursday, March 16
American PhysicalSociety: MarchMeeting
—8:00 am, “Emerging Technologies and the Futureof the Nuclear Arsenals”
—10:00 am, “PhysicsFunding and the New Administration: APS Ideas For Addressing the Issues”
—2:30 pm, “The Value of Diversity in Physics: TalkingPoints for Supreme Court Cases & Beyond”
—3:30 pm, Town Hall on National Academies Materials Research Decadal Survey
NIST: VisitingCommittee on Advanced Technology meeting
2:00 – 3:00 pm, Teleconference
New America: “What’sNext for STEM Education? Boosting Teachers and Teaching, PreK-12”
1:00 – 2:30 pm, New America (15th St. NW, DC)
House: “OversightReview of Infrastructure Needs and Projects Ready for Immediate Implementationin the Nuclear Security Enterprise”
2:00 pm, Armed Services Committee (2212 Rayburn OfficeBuilding)
Friday, March 17
Monday, March 20
Carnegie Endowment:InternationalNuclear Policy Conference (continues Tuesday)
Reagan InternationalTrade Center (Washington, DC)
Know of an upcoming science policy event? Email us at [email protected].
White House OSTP Accepting Internship Applications
The Trump administration has posted information about itsOffice of Science of Technology Policy internship program and iscurrently seeking applicants. Although applications are accepted on a rollingbasis for fall, spring, and summer terms, thesummer 2017 application deadline is this Wednesday, March 15. According tothe website, “serving as an OSTP internprovides a unique opportunity to work closely with senior White House officialsand S&T policy analysts in OSTP's policy division oron OSTP's legal team.”
AMS Washington Forum Open for Registration
The American Meteorological Society is hosting its 2017Washington Forum from May 2 to May 4 in Washington, D.C., and registration is now open.The theme this year is “Evolving ourEnterprise: Working Together with the New Administration in a New CollaborativeEra.” The event will include sessions focused on a number of policy issuesof concern to the weather, water, and climate community.
Optical Society Seeking Government/Public Relations Intern
The Optical Society is seeking acollege-level intern majoring in public relations or communications to work in itsexternal relations department for a term that runs from May to August 2017. Amongother responsibilities, the intern will research ongoing S&T policy issues,assist with Capitol Hill visits, and attend briefings.
World Technology Evaluation Center Hiring Nanotech Policy Analyst
The World Technology Evaluation Center is hiringa policy analyst with knowledge of nanotechnology standards and a Ph.D.. in ascientific discipline relevant to nanotechnology for a position based inArlington, Virginia. Among its clients, WTEC provides support to the federal NationalNanotechnology Coordination Office. The analyst will “provide high-level scientific support for office management, includinganalyzing science and technology policy issues.”
Mathematica Hiring STEM Education Policy Researcher
Mathematica Policy Research is hiringa Ph.D. senior researcher in STEM and education policy. The senior researcherwill lead research projects that focus on “policiesor programs to promote STEM education, as well as issues in higher educationaccess and completion.”
Know of an upcomingscience policy event? Email us at [email protected].
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