November 23, 1998

MEMORANDUM TO:   Members and Consultants of the National Science Board

SUBJECT:   Preliminary Report of the November 18-20, 1998

1.   Board Actions

a.   Approval of Minutes

The Board approved the Closed and Open Session minutes of the August 1998 NSB meeting.

b.   Awards:


A Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation in FY 2000 NSF MRE Account (NSB-98-187, Board Book, Tab C)

c.   Science & Engineering Indicators-2000

The Board approved a special historical theme for Indicators-2000 that would highlight and contrast the current status of the Nation's science and engineering enterprise with that during the time of the founding of the NSB and NSF.

d.   Federal Partnerships

The Board passed a resolution that endorsed the concept of a Federal partnership to address critical national needs and opportunities in Information Technology and in Advanced Scientific and Engineering Computation. These needs have been compellingly described in the recent interim report from the President'' Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC), and the report from the DOE/NSF Workshop on Advanced Scientific Computation. The Foundation is prepared, in full consultation with its other Federal partners, to provide leadership for these important activities.

e.   NSB Strategic Plan

The Board approved the NSB Strategic Plan, "Toward the 21st Century: The Age of Science and Engineering" (NSB-98-206), and requested Web and paper distribution of the document as soon as possible.

f.   NSB Policy Meeting and Retreat

The Chairman announced that the policy meeting and retreat would be held on February 17-20, 1999 at the Getty Center, Los Angeles, California, and the Kellogg Conference Center on the campus of the California State Polytechnic University in Pomona, respectively. The meeting will include discussion of environmental issues.

g.   NSB 50th Anniversary

The Board approved four recommendations by the Task Force on the NSB 50th Anniversary.

(1)   The concept for a NSB-sponsored competition in partnership with PARADE magazine for a national science, engineering and technology essay contest for children 18 years old and younger, to culminate with an event in September 2000 in Washington, DC.

(2)   The addition of one day to the May 2000 NSB meeting schedule [tentatively scheduled for May 3-5] to afford members the opportunity to participate in the NSF 50th anniversary celebratory events.

(3)   Moving the November 2000 meeting to the second week in December to celebrate the anniversary of the first NSB meeting.

(4)   Contacting the White House to request a meeting with the President on or about December 12, 2000 to commemorate the first meeting of the Board with President Truman on December 12, 1950.

h.   Office of Inspector General

The Board received the report of the Inspector General's Semi-annual Report for the period ending September 30, 1998, to which it took no exceptions. A management report will be prepared for the Chairman's signature that will transmit the report to the Congress on or before November 30, 1998.

i.   Committees Established

The Chairman established (1) the Task Force on Methodologies for Priority Setting, chaired by Dr. Kelly; and (2) the Task Force on International Issues, chaired by Dr. Natalicio.

2.   NSB Committees

Committee Meeting Summaries

(Reports are provided by the executive secretaries of the respective committees.)

a.   Audit and Oversight (A&O)

During the Open Session Dr. Sunley outlined recent Government & Performance Results Act (GPRA) developments and noted that the October Congressional feedback on the NSF Performance Plan offered the opportunity for NSF to make format changes and develop additional information. The Committee discussed how the NSB could most effectively fulfill its role in the process. Specific recommendations/options will be presented at the March 1999 NSB meeting.

Dr. Sunley also provided an update on the development of the Federal Research Misconduct Policy. Informal revisions based on last rounds of comments to OSTP are currently under review. The policy will be published in the Federal Register for public comment before final enactment.

Mr. Muhlbauer, NSF's Deputy Chief Financial Officer, and Mr. Blansitt, Acting Deputy Inspector General, provided an update on the NSF Financial Statements and Audit. An audit coordination committee has been established and has helped improve communications. Audit of the Antarctic Property, Plant and Equipment is underway, including a site visit next month.

Mr. Sunshine, Acting Inspector General, reported on the OIG's active pursuit of an outreach program that will eventually reach all of NSF staff. The program emphasizes OIG's interest in establishing effective partnerships and open communication and problem solving. NSF staff feedback has been positive.

In closed session the Committee discussed the IG's semiannual report for the period ending September 30, 1998 with the IG, the Deputy Director and the Director's Liaison to the Committee. It took no exception to the IG's report and agreed on the contents of the NSB Management letter which will transmit the semiannual report to the Congress on or before November 30, 1998. The Committee also discussed and commented on the OIG's strategic plan and the IG's descriptions of NSF's serious management challenges.

b.   Education and Human Resources (EHR)

The Committee was briefed on progress being made on the preparation of a White paper by the TIMMS Task Force and then instructed the Task Force to present a table of contents and five recommendations to the full Board for its consideration. The Committee was given a draft outline of the summary report on the series of hearings held in Los Angeles, Chicago and San Juan.

The Committee heard an information item on the SBE area of emphasis in child learning and development. The Committee discussed the EHR strategic plan in relation to the NSB strategic plan and was briefed on reform activities in K-12 education and on current and potential NSF/EHR collaborations with external entities. The role of SAT and GRE examinations, the impact of diversity on K-12 and higher education, and the interplay between domestic and foreign students were discussed.

c.   EHR Subcommittee on Science and Engineering Indicators (S&EI)

The Subcommittee reviewed the detailed outlines of the proposed chapters for Science & Engineering Indicators-2000. NSF staff gave short presentations on the major points of the chapter outlines and received useful suggestions and comments from the Subcommittee members. Dr. Mitchell-Kernan welcomed the participation of the new Board members and consultants and explained that the Subcommittee had agreed to have a special historic volume for the S&E Indicators-2000. Dr. MitchellKernan noted that the last teleconference was productive and that the Subcommittee will need more such meetings between full Board meetings in order to get the report to the White House in a timely manner. She hopes to get the report to the White House in December 1999. She noted that new NSB style manual guidelines have been developed which will facilitate the review of drafts in teleconference meetings.

d.   EHR Task Force on Mathematics and Science Achievement (TIMSS)

The Chair of the EHR Committee joined the Task Force meeting. The Task Force Chair, Dr. Gaillard, reviewed the process that led to the current draft report on Mathematics and Science Achievement. She expressed concern that the next regular Board meeting is not until late March 1999 and the report would get stale. Her hope is for Board approval of the document at the February 1999 off-site meeting. Teleconferences with the Task Force to discuss Board member comments between now and the February meeting would make that timetable realistic.

The EHR Chair and NSF staff representing the Director's Office reviewed their criticisms and concerns of the last version, then the Task Force conducted a page-by-page review and edit of the document.

The Task Force recommended that the Executive Secretary produce a new table of contents and recommendations page that could be distributed to the full NSB in the next day's open session. Copies of the revised paper, based on the Task Force discussion, would also be available.

e.   Executive Committee (EC)

The Executive Committee heard a report from the Director on the status of the FY 2000 budget and discussed preparations for the next budget cycle. The committee also discussed the final draft of the NSB Strategic Plan.

f.   Programs and Plans (CPP)

The Committee received an overview of NSF support for infrastructure projects, and was also provided with a long-range view covering a preliminary list of sixteen potential future projects. The potential projects included possible new approaches to infrastructure, through virtual facilities and research resources enabled by new information technologies. The Committee discussed planning for facilities and infrastructure, and issues regarding facilities management.

Reports were received from two task forces. The Environment Task Force reported on analysis and synthesis of two decades of reports on environmental research. The Task Force has also developed a list of questions outlining areas of possible focus for its work. Plans were described for analysis of program histories to identify what has worked and why. In addition, the task force plans a panel or hearings, and a web site. The Polar Issues Task Force reported on staff briefings on several topics: plans for additional funds appropriated for Arctic logistics and research; current activities in Arctic and Antarctic research; and progress on two South Pole Station construction projects (safety and modernization). There was also a brief report on a recent mishap in Antarctica involving an Air National Guard (ANG) LC-130. There were no injuries, and the ANG is deploying another aircraft to provide continued logistics support.

The Committee reviewed and approved the proposed Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation as being ready for consideration in a future budget request. The Committee requested that the mechanisms and schedules for reviews of the project be made clear. The Committee also endorsed a resolution, for consideration by the NSB, supporting NSF leadership in a Federal partnership for information technology in advanced science and engineering computation.

The Committee received two written information items: Plant Genome Research Program Activities, and Planning for Scientific Ocean Drilling Post-200, and asked that the latter item be rescheduled.

g.   CPP Task Force on Polar Issues (PI)

Dr. Erb, Director, Office of Polar Programs (OPP), discussed the increase in appropriation for FY 1999 for Arctic logistics and research noting the addition of $12 million from the request. He noted that the U.S. has agreed to lead the Arctic Council for the next two years and that Dr. Maryellen Cameron will be the NSF contact. He also reported on an incident involving one of the LC-130s in the Antarctic. Over the past weekend one of the aircraft slid off a landing area into a crevasse.

The Committee heard staff reports on the delay of the completion of the ice breaker Healy until late Spring of 1999; the success of the SCICEX cruise and current plans to emphasize environmental observatories to support the Life in Extreme Environments program at NSF with a portion of the additional appropriation; proposals recently submitted for upgrading the LC-130 aircraft; the South Pole Modernization program; the South Pole Safety and Environmental Project; and science developments including the continued expansion of the ozone hole over the Antarctic; current findings and progress from the drilling program including Lake Vostock, Cape Roberts and Siple Dome; and AMANDA, the program for detecting neutrinos.

h.   CPP Task Force on the Environment (ENV)

The meeting opened with a review of the charge by the Chair, Dr. Lubchenco. She noted that at the first meeting of the Task Force in August, an initial list of environmental reports was generated and assignment was made to NSF staff to begin assembling these reports and policy documents, identifying others, and considering their recommendations.

The Task Force heard a staff member report on this action. A preliminary listing of ~100 reports was compiled with a number of similar recommendations involving interdisciplinary research, appropriate temporal and physical scale, human components of environment, connections to decision making, educational elements, coordination among programs, predictive capabilities, and priority setting.

The Task Force discussed the interim objectives of hearing from multiple invested communities and gathering information to inform the Task Force deliberations. This discussion resulted in consensus on an approach involving four parallel streams of activity: A continued examination of the current NSF environment portfolio; a continuation of the analysis of reports described above; an analysis of program histories to determine what worked or did not work and why; and several approaches to getting input and feedback from invested communities (panel discussions, hearings, and an interactive web site).

i.   Task Force on NSF's 50th Anniversary

The Committee heard a report from Ms. Julia Moore, Director, Office of Legislative & Public Affairs concerning the final concept of the Board sponsored competition in partnership with PARADE magazine for a national science, engineering and technology essay contest for children 18 years old and younger. The competition will begin with a formal announcement in PARADE in September 1999 and conclude with celebratory events for the top 3-5 team winners in Washington, DC in October 2000.

The Committee was provided an update by Ms. Moore on the NSF 50th Anniversary Advisory Committee activities. At the first meeting, the committee discussed events such as outreach to schools, symposium at NSF blending former and current NSF-supported grantees, an ABC sponsored 90 second science information spot on Saturday mornings over the course of a year, highlighting the NSF fellows who went on to receive the Nobel, to name a few. Ms. Moore invited Task Force members to provide additional ideas for NSF events.

The committee discussed other NSB celebratory events to be held in the year 2000. They were:

(1)   written history of the National Science Board for completion and distribution in May 2000.

(2)   contacting the White House for a meeting with the President on December 12, 2000 to commemorate the first meeting of the Board held with President Truman on December 12, 1950; and

(3)   holding a Board event during the second week of December 2000 to commemorate the first Board meeting.

Marta Cehelsky
Executive Officer

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