August 25, 1997
MEMORANDUM TO: Members of the National Science Board
SUBJECT: Preliminary Report of the August 20, 21 1997 Meeting
The major actions of the Board at its 344th meeting on August 20, 21, l997 are summarized here for the advance information of those members absent and as a reminder to those present.
1. Board Actions
a. Approval of Minutes
The Board approved the Open and Closed Session Minutes from the May 7, 8, 1997 meeting.
b. Fiscal Year 1999 Budget
The Executive Committee approved the proposed NSF FY l999 Budget in accordance with the following resolution, NSB/EC-97-29:
c. Office of Inspector General (OIG) FY 1999 Budget
The Board approved the FY 1999 budget for the Office of the Inspector General that was recommended by the Audit and Oversight Committee as contained in NSB/A&O-97-29.
d. Office of Inspector General (OIG) Budget Process
The Board passed the following resolution on the OIG budget process as contained in NSB-97-159:
e. Electronic Participation by NSB Members at Board Meetings
The Board passed the resolution on electronic participation by National Science Board members at Board meetings as contained in NSB-97-158:
f. Annual NSB Contribution to NSF Trust Fund
The Board approved the recommendation forwarded by the Executive Committee regarding the level of NSB members' contribution to the Trust Fund for FY l998.
g. Concept Paper for the Companion Piece
The Board approved the concept for the companion piece to Science and Engineering Indicators 1998 consistent with the NSB resolution.
h. October 1997 NSB Meeting
The Board approved the plan for the October 1997 NSB Meeting.
2. Proposed Award Review Exemption:
The Board approved the award exemption on Graduate Research Fellowships Support Grants as contained in NSB-97-142, Board Book, Tab B.
3. Awards and Agreements:
The Board approved resolutions for the following project development plans:
4. Establishment of Four NSB Task Forces
The Chairman established four new task forces: 1) the Task Force on the NSF 50th Anniversary (Chair, Dr. Rubin, members Drs. Greenberg and Lubchenco); 2) the Science and Engineering Indicators Task Force on Industry Reliance on Publicly-Funded Research (Chair, Dr. Jaskolski, members Drs. Armstrong, and Mitchell-Kernan, ex-officio; 3) the CPP Task Force on Recompetition (members: Drs. Armstrong and Powell and NSF staff, Drs. Hartmanis and Hunt); and 4) the Task Force on the NSB October l997 Meeting (Chair, Dr. Kelly, members Drs. Cotton, Greenwood, Natalicio, and Tapia).
5. &nbps; Appointment of NSB Committee and Task Force Vice Chairs
The Chairman appointed vice-chairs for the three standing committees and for the Task Force on Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) as follows:
6. Committee Meeting Summaries
a. Audit and Oversight (A&O)
The Committee discussed the proposed Office of the Inspector General (OIG) FY-1999 budget and agreed unanimously to recommend the OIG budget as presented.
It learned that, as followup to the May meeting, the Inspector General (IG) and the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) have made submissions to the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board seeking clarifications on the treatment of the assets in NSF's Physical Plant and Equipment (PP&E) Account. However, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has not yet provided its interpretation of how NSF's PP&E account can be treated.
It was reported that OMB has favorably received and plans to implement the views of the House Majority Leader, Richard K. Armey, and the Chairman of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, Dan Burton, that IG's should be called upon to "assess agencies" technical compliance with the Results Act as well as their capacity to comply from a data and systems perspective."
The Committee received brief reports on three items:
Dr. White reported on the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) Task Force discussion of the Strategic Plan and Performance Plan. The Task Force was complimentary of the progress that NSF has made on the draft plans. They found it especially useful and informative to consider the Strategic Plan in conjunction with the Performance Plan and with specific requirements of the Act. Dr. White noted that NSF's plans are better than other Federal agencies. He commended NSF for using GPRA as an opportunity for taking action and improving overall management systems.
Dr. Cozzens summarized a recent article in Nature that found sexual bias in peer review of applications for a biomedical postdoctoral program in Sweden. Characterizing the
Swedish researchers as following "smoke" to fire, Dr. Cozzens observed that an examination of NSF funding rates indicates that there is no such "smoke" at NSF.
Dr. Sunley reported on the status of the development of a Federal definition of research misconduct.
b. Education and Human Resources (EHR)
In an action item, the Committee gave a unanimous positive recommendation for the request for waivers for Graduate Research Fellowship grants. A description of the Grants for the Vertical Integration of Research and Education in the Mathematical Sciences (VIGRE) was presented. The Committee was given a framework for the discussion of minority graduate education and SMET as an integral part of the White House Dialogue on Race, and Dr. Chubin gave the Committee a brief account of OSTP activities in this area.
Finally, the Committee received a progress report from the Subcommittee on Science and Engineering Indicators.
c. Executive Committee (EC)
The Executive Committee devoted the majority of its time to the discussion of the NSF budget. Consistent with the responsibility conferred by the Board at its 342nd meeting in March 1997 to the Executive Committee for the review and approval of the NSF budget submission to the Office of Management and Budget, the committee approved the FY 1999 budget submission in accordance with resolution NSB/EC-97-29.
The Executive Committee also reviewed and concurred on forwarding to the Board the staff recommendation for the level of the annual contribution of Board members to the NSF Trust Fund for FY l998.
d. Programs and Plans (CPP)
The Committee on Programs and Plans reviewed Project Development Plans for a National Network for High Performance Seismic Simulation and a High Performance Instrumented Airborne Platform for Environmental Research. Both development plans were unanimously recommended to the full Board for approval.
The Committee received information on the proposed competition for the management of the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center. The solicitation is expected in early fall, leading to an award decision in the spring of 1998.
The Committee received updates on the status of the Gemini and Greenbank telescopes projects. The Gemini project is proceeding on schedule. The Gemini Board has concluded that some additional funding for technical enhancements and contingency is necessary; the U.S. is asked to pick up half of the projected $8M cost. The Chilean default on April 1st creates a potential $9.2M shortfall. However, Australia has offered to "buy out" the Chilean share of the project and to provide the corresponding funding. Chilean legislation is pending, which could bring forth the Chilean share.
The Greenbank Telescope is now scheduled for delivery by late 1998. Design and other technical difficulties have caused this date to slip from late 1994 to late 1998. The contractor is seeking an additional $28M, due to these technical problems. This matter is being discussed by Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI), National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), and the contractor, COMSAT-RSI. The contract calls for arbitration in the event that no agreement is reached.
Finally, the Committee had an extensive discussion of recompetition issues, based upon a draft discussion paper prepared by the joint NSF/NSB Task Force on Recompetition. The Committee discussed the need for more consistency across the Foundation regarding recompetition practices, while recognizing that some flexibility is also necessary. It was noted that the draft policy statement specifically addresses research activities rather than education and human resources awards, and that differences exist between the activities. It was also noted that NSF and NSB had recently conducted an extensive review of the merit review criteria and there was discussion about how to incorporate conclusions from that review into the recompetition policy statement. It was agreed that staff would revise the paper, based upon suggested comments, and would place the recompetition discussion on the NSB agenda for November.
e. Science and Engineering Indicators (S&EI)
The S&E Indicators Committee had a lengthy and productive review of the draft chapters of S&E Indicators 1998. Each chapter had lead Board reviewers who provided useful comments and suggestions. Quite a bit of discussion was held on the new chapter that is being prepared on the significance of information technology.
In general, the chapters are on target and in fairly good shape. They will be revised with the Board's comments and additional technical review comments before being submitted for final review by the Board in the fall.
The Subcommittee also had a report from the Task Force on Industry Reliance on Publicly-Funded Research, and after discussion agreed that this is a promising theme around which a companion piece for the S&E Indicators--1998 could be developed.
f. Ad Hoc Committee on Board Operations (OPS)
The Committee on NSB Operations discussed the status of its recommendations to the Board, and agreed that much progress has been made. The committee concurred that after another six months the Board should revisit the question of the new Board calendar and schedule and reflect on how the new arrangements are working. The committee heard a report from the Board Office on the progress being made in automating procedures and decreasing reliance on paper in the conduct of Board business. Noting the success of videoconferencing experiments conducted by some NSB committees in the last months, the committee concluded that this practice should be continued. Consistent with this recommendation, the committee forwarded to the Board a resolution (NSB-97-158)amending existing NSB policy on electronic participation in Board meetings to exempt committees from the requirement of physical meetings, and to allow the chairs of committees to conduct meetings electronically, as well as face to face, when appropriate.
g. Task Force on Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA)
Dr. Joseph Bordogna described how the draft NSF GPRA strategic plan had been revised to produce a more direct, slimmer, action-oriented document (plus appendices) in response to diverse comments received from OMB, the House, the Senate, the public comment process, and NSF management and staff. The Task Force discussed the extent to which it would be appropriate and feasible to provide measures of results, especially for research outcomes, given existing measurement methods. Dr. Bordogna described how the new draft performance plan (distributed at the meeting) called for quantitative measures where feasible, as well as balance between measurement and expert judgment where strictly quantitative measures are difficult. The Task Force indicated that they were encouraged by the draft performance plan and discussed possible next steps. The meeting concluded with updates on the Project Reporting System redesign by Mr. Charles H. Herz and on the Committee of Visitors redesign by Dr. Robert E. Webber from the Office of Policy Support.
h. Task Force on the NSB October l997 Meeting
The Task Force discussed the framework for the October meeting, being held at the University of Houston and focusing on Graduate Education. The meeting will solicit input from the science and engineering and other concerned communities outside of Washington, and will develop a response to NSTC for the Presidential Review Directive on the Government-University Partnership (GUPPRD). The Task Force heard a report from Drs. Lane and Cehelsky on the request by John H. Gibbons, the President's Science Adviser, for Board input for the GUPPRD. The hope is that the Board can provide an assessment of graduate education or provide a plan for how the issue might be approached and how the Board would address it. The Task Force also heard a report from staff on NSF efforts in response to the Task Force on Graduate and Postdoctoral Education recommendations. The Task Force determined that the agenda will focus broadly on identifying the questions in research and education in graduate and undergraduate education and the Federal government role in graduate education and that the focus should be on hearing from constituents. Outreach groups were discussed, and several constituencies, groups and individuals were suggested. A number of policy and administrative issues that might be addressed within the framework of the meeting were identified. The Board's initial contribution to the GUPPRD would be to define the issues involved in the Federal-university partnership in graduate education. The Committee will work with staff and meet electronically to prepare the agenda for the meeting.
i. Task Force on Industry Reliance on Publicly-funded Research (IRPR)
The Task Force discussed the Narin report on The Increasing Linkage between U.S. Technology and Public Science and the use of the data contained within the report for a "companion piece" to the 1998 Science & Engineering Indicators. The Task Force will recommend to the Subcommittee on Science & Engineering Indicators that the study be used to delineate the convergence of evidence that industrial innovation relies to a significant extent on publicly-funded support. The Narin report will be used as one of several indicators, including: (1) partnerships between industries and university/Federal laboratories; (2) patent citations; (3) industry-university collaboration on research papers; (4) citation of university research papers by industrial research papers; (5) accumulation of additional data on industrial specific results of the Narin report or highlight industry-specific results; and (6) possible examination of data for emerging industries. The Task Force concluded that the "companion piece" will be developed with careful consideration to its credibility, will not be self-serving, or overstate the case of industry reliance on publicly-funded research. The Task Force will develop a draft paper to distribute to the Board in October for review. A final version of the paper will be presented at the Board's November meeting.
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