WHAT'S NEW (in my opinion), Friday, 4 Feb 1994 Washington, DC 1. WHITE HOUSE CONVENES FORU

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WHAT'S NEW (in my opinion), Friday, 4 Feb 1994 Washington, DC 1. WHITE HOUSE CONVENES FORUM ON SCIENCE IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST. More than 200 leaders of science gathered in Washington this week to discuss a new framework for sustaining America's scientific preeminence in the post-Cold War world. The debate really began four months ago when a Senate appropriations subcommittee issued a controversial report directing NSF to emphasize "strategic research" (WN 17 Sep 93). In a speech that should help to reduce tensions, strategic research was defined by Sen. Barbara Mikulski as "investments in science that are focused around important national goals." She called on NSF to organize around these goals the way NIH is organized around diseases. But who will decide what is important? In what was surely the most significant talk at the 2-day meeting, Vice President Albert Gore attributed the remarkable success of American science since World War II to the policy of awarding research funds on the basis of scientific merit. The appropriators are undermining that policy, the Vice President warned, by continuing to fund "academic pork" projects. 2. AFTERSHOCK FROM THE LOS ANGELES QUAKE REAWAKENS PENNY-KASICH from a near-death experience. Congress will pass a $10B emergency appropriation. It may be decided that acts of God are off budget, but three amendments will be considered that would take the money from other programs. Among them is the Penny-Kasich rescission plan that was defeated last fall. It includes research cuts and a cap on indirect cost recovery by universities (WN 12 Nov 93). 3. THE CLINTON BUDGET INCLUDES A "PAUSE" IN OVERHEAD PAYMENTS. Indirect cost fever has been described as the herpes of research universities. You treat it and it goes away. Then-- zap! --it's back again. The new strain is described as a one-year "pause," not a cut; a university could not be reimbursed more in FY 95 than in FY 94. The Clinton budget will be released on Monday. 4. THIS BUDGET WILL BE ABOUT $30 BILLION LESS THAN LAST YEAR'S. That means a sharp reduction in discretionary spending. NASA will be cut by $250M (WN 7 Jan 94), but termination of the Advanced Solid Rocket Motor (WN 22 Oct 93) accounts for $178M of that. But with space station costs rising, the 1997 Cassini mission to Saturn is vulnerable. Of the four planetary exploration missions announced in 1983, the Comet Rendezvous and Flyby was cancelled, the Mars Observer is missing, and Cassini is in trouble. Only the Magellan radar mapping of Venus has succeeded. 5. DIRECTOR OF OSTP IS NOT ANXIOUS TO HAVE HIS POSITION ELEVATED. The "three B"s of congressional science policy, Reps. Boehlert, Boucher and Brown heard from Jack Gibbons and former Science Advisors Ed David and Guy Stever on Boucher's bill to elevate the Director of OSTP to the same level as the Director of OMB (WN 24 Dec 93). Boehlert commented that "all it takes to get a science advisor to support this idea is to have him leave office." Robert L. Park opa@aps.org The American Physical Society

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