WHAT'S NEW (in my opinion), Friday, 19 Nov 1993 Washington, DC 1. SILENCE OVER CROP JOB SA

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WHAT'S NEW (in my opinion), Friday, 19 Nov 1993 Washington, DC 1. SILENCE OVER CROP JOB SAVES PERKIN-ELMER $62M ON HUBBLE SUIT. In May 1981, an interferogram test of the Hubble mirror showed the straight parallel lines actually curving at the ends--clear evidence of a spherical aberration. If anyone in NASA had seen the results, the mirror would never have flown. But NASA never got the full picture! A Perkin-Elmer employee cropped the shot to show only the straight part of the lines--indicating a perfect mirror. If the government had found the employee, they could sue Perkin-Elmer for "criminal intent" and get the full $87M cost for repairs. The government's general counsel explained to Congress Wednesday that since all employees claimed ignorance of the crop job, the case was settled out of court for just $25M. Meanwhile, the repair mission will be launched 1 Dec and NASA predicts a 95% chance for success. NASA acknowledges that no spacewalk task has ever gone as planned, so they intend to make "every press release convey the difficult nature of the mission." According to a program manager, "At this point, we're in the hands of fate!" 2. APPROPRIATORS PIG OUT ON ACADEMIC PORK IN THE DEFENSE BUDGET! WHAT'S NEW reported last month (10-29-93) that academic earmarks were down as much as 87% in FY 94 spending bills. Had the appro- priators been converted to democracy, we asked, or were they just planning an end run? Cynicism wins again; they were saving their earmarks for the Defense Appropriations Bill. To avoid any unpleasantness in the House, they moved the start of the session up by a half-hour and passed the $240B bill by voice vote 15 minutes later, while most members were still rubbing sleep out of their eyes. It will take time to dig it all out, but George Brown (D-CA) found $2B in earmarks in the RDT&E section alone. So what about the Technology Reinvestment Project? As you recall, the House bill was amended to require that TRP funds be awarded com- petitively (WN 10-1-93); the Senate agreed. The appropriators thumbed their noses and earmarked $221M of TRP anyway. 3. OVERHEAD ON RESEARCH IS AN EASY TARGET FOR THE BUDGET CUTTERS! Need to find a way to pay for a crime bill? Why not just cut the overhead universities charge! The Hatch/Dole crime bill proposed to pay for itself with a 10% cut. The bill went nowhere, but the screams of university presidents hadn't died out when along comes the Penny/Kasich bipartisan plan to cut federal spending (WN 11- 12-93). It calls for a "50% cap on the payment rate for overhead costs." P/K may not pass either, but the target is still there. 4. LOS ALAMOS MANAGEMENT BUNGEE JUMPS TO CREATE A "TEAM SPIRIT." Responding to demands for change, Los Alamos sent its managers to Pecos River Learning Center to climb pegboards and leap off tall poles. One exercise required the courage to balance on a "wobbly platform" and another involved blindfolding a manager and having him stumble through a maze like a mouse. They returned to Los Alamos as a "team" capable of performing many perplexing feats. Francis Slakey opa@aps.org The American Physical Society


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