APPROVED MINUTES 1/
NATIONAL SCIENCE BOARD
The National Science Foundation
May 4, 2000
||Members Absent: |
|Eamon M. Kelly, Chairman
||Robert M. Solow|
|Diana S. Natalicio, Vice Chair
||John A. White, Jr.|
|John A. Armstrong
|Pamela A. Ferguson
|Mary K. Gaillard
|Sanford D. Greenberg
|Stanley V. Jaskolski
|Anita K. Jones
|George M. Langford
|Eve L. Menger
|Joseph A. Miller, Jr.
|Claudia I. Mitchell-Kernan
|Robert C. Richardson
|Vera S. Rubin
|Bob H. Suzuki
|Warren M. Washington
|Rita R. Colwell, NSF Director
1/ The minutes of the Open Session of the 358th meeting
were approved at the 359th meeting, August 3, 2000
The National Science Board (Board) convened in Open Session
at 11:35 a.m. on Thursday, May 4, 2000, with Dr. Kelly, Chairman of
the Board, presiding (Agenda NSB-00-67). In accordance with the Government
in the Sunshine Act, this portion of the meeting was open to the public.
AGENDA ITEM 3: Presentation by Dr. Michael Turner
Dr. Kelly called on Dr. Richardson to introduce the guest
speaker. In introducing Dr. Michael Turner, Chairman of the Department
of Astronomy and Astrophysics and the Bruce V. and Diana M. Rauner Distinguished
Service Professor at the University of Chicago, Dr. Richardson commented
that recent discoveries in astronomy and astrophysics supported by the
National Science Foundation contradict arguments in a currently popular
book that the best and most exciting scientific discoveries are past.
He pointed to reports in the New York Times and Washington
Post the previous week on recently obtained detailed images of the
universe as it existed nearly 15 billion years ago. He stated that Dr.
Turner would speak on the topic of new developments in astrophysics.
Dr. Turner began his presentation by stating that the
most exciting science is being done at the boundaries of disciplines
and is fundamentally interdisciplinary. Dr. Turner discussed five recent
discoveries and how these discoveries link to an understanding of the
origin and evolution of the universe, the unification of the forces
and particles, and how objects in the universe work. He noted the following
important discoveries: (1) A recent experiment revealed that some neutrinos
have mass and that they contribute as much to the total mass of the
universe as do stars. (2) Data from telescopic observations indicate
that the expansion of the universe is accelerating despite the effects
of gravity, indicating the existence of dark energy, which has repulsive
gravity. (3) Recent analyses reveal that the mass and gravity of known
matter in the universe are insufficient to hold galaxies together. Most
of the mass in the universe is dark matter. (4) Observations using a
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) satellite detected
a cosmic microwave background, the echo of the Big Bang, from the universe
at 500,000 years of age. The intensity of the microwave background was
remarkably the same in all directions, but slight variations indicated
areas with more or less matter. (5) An experiment at the South Pole
looked at the structure of the microwave background from above the atmosphere
and determined that the curvature of the universe is basically flat,
like a piece of paper.
Dr. Turner summarized the impact that these and other
discoveries will have on research in astrophysics. The universe is approximately
one-third matter and two-thirds dark energy in a form that has not yet
been identified. In the next ten to twenty years, researchers will attempt
to determine what constitutes dark matter, how dark matter is linked
to the unifying forces and particles, where the lumpiness that seeded
the structure of the universe came from, and whether there are unseen
spatial and temporal dimensions.
b. Comments by Dr. Eileen Friel
Dr. Richardson asked Dr. Eileen Friel, Executive Officer
of the Division of Astronomical Sciences, to comment on some of the
NSF projects designed to study the areas discussed by Dr. Turner. Dr.
Friel discussed the role played by many NSF programs and facilities,
including several divisions in the Directorate for Mathematical and
Physical Sciences, as well as the Office of Polar Programs and the Directorate
for Geosciences. In addition, the Major Research Equipment (MRE) projects
and the large facilities like Gemini, Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave
Observatory (LIGO), and Alma support this kind of research. NSF activities
use such facilities as the very large array, optical infrared telescopes,
Gemini, national observatories, satellites supported by NASA, and gamma
ray and cosmic ray detectors. The NSF supports neutrino experiments
at the South Pole and gravity experiments like LIGO and has partnerships
with the Department of Energy, NASA, private organizations and industry,
and international collaborators.
After discussion, Dr. Kelly thanked Dr. Turner for his
enlightening presentation and recessed the Open Session.
At 2:21 p.m. Dr. Kelly welcomed NSF staff and guests to
the Open Session. He noted the recognition of recipients of the Alan
T. Waterman Prize, the Board's Public Service Award, and the 2000 Vannevar
Bush Award at the Annual Awards dinner of the previous evening. He thanked
Mrs. Susan Fannoney and other Board staff for their fine job in organizing
the event. In addition, Dr. Kelly acknowledged that this was the final
Board meeting for Drs. Greenberg, Mitchell-Kernan, Menger, and Solow.
He then reconvened the Open Session.
AGENDA ITEM 5: March 2000 Open Session Minutes
The Board APPROVED the Open Session minutes of the March
2000 meeting, as amended (NSB-00-69, Board Book Tab B).
AGENDA ITEM 7: Closed Session Items for August Meeting
The Board APPROVED the Closed Session items for the August
2000 Board Meeting (NSB-00-68, Board Book Tab C).
AGENDA ITEM 8: Chair's Report
a. Announcement of Honors
Dr. Kelly congratulated NSF Director Colwell on her election
to the National Academy of Sciences. He announced that Dr. Tapia received
a unique honor from Cornell University, which established the David
Blackwell and Richard Tapia Distinguished Lecturer Series in the Mathematical
and Statistical Sciences to highlight the contributions of African American,
Latino, and Native American scientists working in the mathematical and
b. Status of Board Nominations
Dr. Kelly reported that on May 1 the White House announced
its intent to nominate Dr. Mark Wrighton, Chancellor and Professor of
Chemistry at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, as the final
member of the class of 2006. Three additional current Board members
have been renominated to the class of 2006: Drs. Lubchenco, Washington,
and White. Drs. Michael G. Rossman and Daniel Simberloff, nominated
earlier, still await Senate confirmation. Each nominee will be appointed
to serve as a Board consultant after May 10, until confirmation. Dr.
Kelly congratulated each nominee for the class of 2006. [See NSB-00-69,
page 2, for other nominees for the class of 2006.]
c. 50th Anniversary Event
Dr. Kelly reported that he, Dr. Colwell, and Dr. Langford
participated in an event on April 27 celebrating the 50th anniversary
of the NSF, which received media attention. Dr. Colwell added her commendation
to the committee and the Office of Legislative and Public Affairs for
an inspirational morning with school children from Washington, DC.
d. Cosmology Prize
Dr. Kelly congratulated Dr. Rubin for her participation
in the Advisory Board of the Peter Gruber Foundation's new Cosmology
Prize to be given to an outstanding astronomer, cosmologist, physicist,
or mathematician in recognition of fundamental scientific advances that
shape the way we see and comprehend our universe. The first annual $150,000
award will be announced in August and presented in November at the Pontifical
Academy of Sciences at the Vatican.
e. Discharge of Committee
Dr. Kelly discharged the Ad Hoc Committee on the 2000
Vannevar Bush Award, with thanks to the chair, Dr. Menger, other members
Drs. Jones, Langford, Richardson, and Tien, and executive secretary
Mrs. Susan Fannoney of the Board staff.
f. Board Elections
Dr. Kelly reported his reelection as Chair for an additional
two years and the election of Dr. Jones as Vice Chair. Dr. Kelly thanked
Dr. Natalicio on behalf of the Board and personally for her service
and contributions as Vice Chair during the past two years. He announced
that two new members of the Executive Committee would be elected at
the August meeting.
AGENDA ITEM 8: Director's Report
a. Staff Introductions
Dr. Colwell introduced several recently appointed NSF
staff members: Dr. Costello Brown, interim Division Director for Educational
System Reform; Dr. Aubrey Bush, Division Director for Advanced Networking
Infrastructure and Research; Mr. Donald G. McCrory, Deputy Chief Financial
Officer and Director, Division of Financial Management; and Mr. Eric
Hamilton, interim Division Director for Research, Evaluation and Communication
in the Education and Human Resources (EHR) Directorate.
b. Congressional Update
Dr. Colwell provided an update on Congressional actions.
On March 30, Dr. Margaret Leinen, Assistant Director of the Directorate
for Geosciences, testified before the Senate Energy Committee on NSF's
role in climate change research and how the research activities of various
federal agencies are coordinated through the National Science and Technology
On April 4, Drs. Colwell and Kelly testified on NSF's
fiscal year 2001 budget request before the House Veterans Affairs, Housing
and Urban Development, and Independent Agencies Appropriation Subcommittee
and on May 4 before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee. Dr. Colwell
reported that early indications suggest the budget allocation will be
less, perhaps substantially less, than the Administration's request.
First mark-ups of the bills are expected in late May, and full committee
mark-ups in early or mid June.
Dr. Colwell reported on three bills affecting NSF. House
Science Committee Chairman Sensenbrenner introduced H.R. 3904 to prevent
the elimination of Science and Engineering Indicators and six
other NSF publications, which was passed by the House on April 4 and
referred to the Senate Committee on Government Affairs. No Senate hearings
have been scheduled. Representative Ehlers introduced H.R. 4271, the
National Science Education Act, on April 13, which would amend NSF's
organic act to authorize a number of activities, including a master
teacher program, educational software development, and professional
development in educational technology. The bill has been referred to
both the Science Committee and the Education and the Workforce Committee.
No hearings have been scheduled. Senators Frist and Rockefeller introduced
S.B. 2046, the Next Generation Internet Act, on April 13. This bill
would authorize NSF to spend $352 million over the next three years
and would require that 10 percent of appropriated amounts be spent on
research to make high-speed networks available in rural areas.
AGENDA ITEM 9: Executive Committee Annual Report
Dr. Kelly called on Dr. Colwell to present the Annual
Report of the Executive Committee, summarizing activities for the preceding
year. The Board received the report as distributed (NSB/EC-00-09, Board
Notebook Tab D).
AGENDA ITEM 10: NSB 2001 Meeting Calendar
Dr. Kelly reminded the Board of previous discussions concerning
the location and timing of the annual off-site policy meeting and retreat.
Although the 2001 retreat will be held in February, in future years
the Board may wish to consider a different month to expand the range
of locations where weather would not be a factor in travel considerations.
Suggested locations for the 2001 meeting include Tucson, in conjunction
with a visit to the National Optical Astronomy Observatories; Florida
State University, in conjunction with a visit to the National High Magnetic
Laboratory; the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech, in conjunction
with a visit to the Greenbank Observatory; and the Scripps Institute
of Oceanography in La Jolla.
During discussion, several Board members supported the
idea of considering the District of Columbia area as a retreat location
because it would increase access to speakers involved in the transition
to a new Administration. It was noted that coherence between the site
selected and the theme of the retreat is a consideration.
The Board unanimously APPROVED the meeting calendar for
2001 (NSB-00-97, Board Book Tab E).
ADENDA ITEM 11: Committee Reports
a. Audit and Oversight Committee (A&O)
Committee chair Dr. Jaskolski reported that the committee
reviewed the fiscal year 1999 report on the Merit Review System as presented
by Dr. Nathaniel G. Pitts, Director of the Office of Integrative Activities,
and discussed how goals were addressed with respect to the Government
Performance and Results Act (GPRA). During discussion, it was noted
that the diversity in approaches used by NSF programs is consistent
with the Board's recommendations in its March 1997 report on merit review.
There was considerable interest in the predictive effects on scientific
outcomes of the various approaches to merit review.
Mr. McCrory and Ms. Jannifer C. L. Jenkins, liaison to
the Office of Budget, Finance and Award Management in the Office of
the Inspector General, reported that the Congressional House Government
Reform Committee on Government Management, Information and Technology
gave NSF for the second year a grade of A for high-quality federal financial
management. Only 2 of 24 organizations received an A.
Audit plans are in place for fiscal year 2000. The current
audit contract expires this year, and preparations are being made for
a new contract.
The committee discussed the change in review criteria
for major awards, namely, that review will be based on a percent threshold
system rather than on absolute amounts. The committee discussed and
accepted the Inspector General's Semiannual Report to the Congress for
the period ending March 31, 2000. A spokesperson for the Office of the
Inspector General provided information on internal and external outreach
efforts and several active investigation and audit projects. In addition,
the committee approved its revised charge for consideration by the Board.
b. Committee on Programs and Plans (CPP)
Committee chair Dr. Armstrong asked Dr. Lubchenco, chair
of the Task Force on the Environment, to announce the just-released
study Environmental Science and Engineering for the 21st Century.
Dr. Lubchenco presented copies to the Board and thanked Board members
and NSF staff who contributed to the report. She noted that the report
has been posted on NSF's website. Dr. Armstrong reported that the committee
has asked for an update at every other meeting on this important initiative.
Dr. Armstrong reported that the committee also discussed
the draft interim guidelines that NSF will use in managing the MRE account.
The need for guidelines for MRE is driven by the evolution of infrastructure,
especially information technology, and the need to insure that the MRE
account is used for substantial steps forward. Dr. Bordogna led a discussion
of items that might appear on the MRE list in the future. Committee
discussion of the Director's report on the Merit Review system for FY
1999 focused on how to make sure that the NSF sponsors the best set
of projects and takes the right level of risk. In addition, the committee
approved its draft charge for consideration by the Board.
c. Committee on Education and Human Resources (EHR)
Committee chair Dr. Suzuki began his report with budget
issues. He stated that Dr. Judith Sunley, Interim Assistant Director
of the EHR Directorate, reviewed the directorate's fiscal year 2001
budget, explaining some of the major program expansions, including the
21st Workforce Initiative. The EHR Directorate education activities
are complemented by initiatives in other directorates that also include
education and human resource aspects. In discussions with Dr. Sunley,
the committee defined priority areas as (1) preparing the instructional
workforce, (2) attacking minority achievement gaps, (3) instructional
technology as a driver for change, (4) scientific, mathematical, engineering,
and technological education, (5) research on education, and (6) bridging
the gap between teacher education and the disciplines. Dr. Sunley will
continue to develop the framework and relate that framework to priorities
and budget allocations.
The committee heard a report from Dr. Norman Fortenberry,
Acting Division Director for Human Resource Development in the EHR Directorate,
on the NSF programs that have been developed to promote diversity; the
report will be continued at the August meeting. Dr. Toni Clewell, the
Executive Director of the Commission on the Advancement of Women and
Minorities in Science, Engineering, and Technology Development, reported
to the committee on the work of the commission. The committee revised
a draft statement on openness of science and engineering communication
for presentation to the Board (Agenda Item 11, Continued, below). In
addition, the committee discussed a plan for exploring NSF's future
role in K-16 education by convening an expert panel to review NSF programs
and materials related to K-16 education and meet with the EHR Directorate
to suggest future directions for NSF. The committee also approved its
draft charter for recommendation to the Board.
Dr. Suzuki thanked Dr. Mitchell-Kernan, chair of the Subcommittee
on Science and Engineering Indicators, for her contributions to Science
and Engineering Indicators-2000. He announced the appointment of
Dr. Tapia as the new chair of the Subcommittee.
Subcommittee on Science and Engineering Indicators (S&EI)
Subcommittee chair, Dr. Mitchell-Kernan, reported that the two-volume
Science and Engineering Indicators-2000, a "companion piece,"
and a compact disk await clearance by the White House for release, a
process that takes approximately one month. Dr. Mitchell-Kernan thanked
the Science Resources Studies (SRS) Division; Ms. Jennifer Bond, Director
of the Indicators Unit; Dr. Daryl Chubin, Senior Policy Officer in the
Board Office; Ms. Mary Poats, Executive Secretary; and subcommittee
members for their excellent work. She noted that, while Ms. Bond is
on detail as a legislative fellow, Mr. Rolf Lehming will serve as Acting
Program Director for the S&EI Program.
Dr. Mitchell-Kernan reported that Dr. Lynda Carlson,
SRS Division Director, presented five draft data cards that highlight
specific S&EI data, and the subcommittee recommended that the cards
be printed and distributed as a set. Dr. Carlson also discussed three
reports from different stakeholder groups on science and engineering
indicators. Dr. Mitchell-Kernan reflected on recent experience and offered
recommendations on future assessment of the S&EI. She further noted
that legislation to eliminate the sunset provision for Science and
Engineering Indicators has been introduced in the House, and reported
that Mr. William Noxon, Acting Section Head of the Media and Public
Information Section in the Office of Legislative and Public Affairs,
provided information on the rollout process and plans to publicize the
d. Task Force on the NSF's 50th Anniversary
Task force chair Dr. Rubin reported that the 50th anniversary
commemorative booklet should be ready for external review on May 26.
Reviewers being considered include historians, long-time employees,
and former Chairs of the NSB. The task force discussed the celebratory
event to be held on December 12 at the headquarters of the Carnegie
Institution of Washington. Dr. Rubin reported that the 24 winners of
the Jumpstart competition have been notified and will be announced in
the May 14 Parade Magazine. Winners will come to Washington on
May 17 for scheduled activities.
e. Task Force on International Issues in Science and
Task force chair Dr. Natalicio announced that Drs. Armstrong
and Lubchenco have joined the task force. Based on the Board's recommendation
at the last meeting, the task force has accepted the challenge to prepare
an interim report for Board approval at the October meeting. The goal
is to have a report ready for dissemination during the transition to
a new Administration. The interim report will focus on specific areas
of current policy interest. The task force intends to identify key issues,
present the role of science in addressing those issues, and make specific
recommendations. If possible, the task force will have a draft report
available for discussion at the Board's August meeting.
f. Committee on Science and Engineering Policy Issues
Committee chair Dr. Kelly stated that Dr. Maxine Singer,
chair of the National Academies' Committee on Science, Engineering and
Public Policy (COSEPUP), reported on the benchmarking experiments that
the committee had recently completed; the findings were published as
Experiments in International Benchmarking of U.S. Research Fields.
Former Board Vice Chair, Dr. Marye Anne Fox, also with COSEPUP, joined
the committee discussion by telephone. The discussion focused on the
utility of this methodology for priority setting across fields of scientific
research. The executive secretary of the committee, Ms. Jean Pomeroy
of the Board staff, reviewed the status of current activities and questions
remaining to be addressed. Dr. Donna Fossum, manager of the RaDiUS project
at RAND's Science and Technology Policy Institute, presented information
on the ambiguities in definitions and data measuring federally funded
research and development. The committee agreed to continue discussions
by telephone conference, with the goal of having a report ready in December
for the transition to a new Administration.
g. Committee on NSB Nominees
Committee chair Dr. Jones reported that the committee
held its first meeting on May 3 and reviewed the time-line for developing
nominations and the selection process. The intent is to provide a list
of nominations to the White House in January for consideration for the
next appointment cycle. Dr. Jones encouraged Board members and others
to submit nominations through the Board Office. Dr. Jones noted that
the current number of candidates is relatively small and there may be
a shortage of candidates in some diversity areas and disciplines.
h. Standing Committee Charges
Dr. Kelly noted that the process of reviewing committee
charges was complete. He accepted the charges as recommended by the
AGENDA ITEM 12: Director's Merit Review Report
Dr. Kelly referred Board members to the NSF Director's
FY 1999 Report on the NSF Merit Review System (NSB-00-84, Board Book
Tab F) and stated that the Board had officially received the report.
At Dr. Colwell's request, Dr. Pitts highlighted for the Board the merit
review process in the context of GPRA. The NSF is developing systems,
setting uniform guidelines, and changing committee structure in order
to increase accountability for its actions. A critical element in agency
success is a credible, efficient merit review system. Two GPRA goals
specifically focus on the merit review system: expending at least 90
percent of funds using a credible merit review system (95 percent of
NSF funds are expended in this fashion), and implementing the two merit
review criteria (What is the intellectual merit of the proposed activity?
What are the broader impacts of the proposed activity?). The NSF is
trying to improve in the second area by highlighting the criteria in
solicitations, presentations, and communications with college and university
During the past 15 years, the total number of proposals
submitted has remained fairly constant, varying from 28,000 to 31,000
proposals per year. The success rate has varied from 30 to 33 percent
per year, with slight variations among programs. Success rate profiles
by demographic characteristics reveal that the most significant difference
occurs between prior principal investigators (39 percent success rate)
and new investigators (23 percent success rate). Figures for minority
and female principal investigators are close to the average. The average
award is $93,000; the median is $73,000. An NSF goal is to increase
the average award to $108,000.
Dr. Pitts explained that NSF uses three types of review-mail
review, panel review, and a combination of mail and panel review¾and
that reviewers are all volunteers, regardless of the process used. Although
panels are more time consuming for the reviewers than mail reviews,
panels have a better completion rate than mail reviews. On the other
hand, mail reviews have the advantage of enabling broader input. The
trend during the past 10 years has been to move toward panel review.
If the trend continues at the current rate, in approximately five years
there will be no more mail review. Dr. Pitts suggested that the Board
may want to consider the implications of this trend. The goal is to
complete reviews within six months. Data show that 65 percent of proposals
reviewed by panel only and 50 percent of proposals reviewed by mail
only meet the goal. Last year there were 246,000 reviews, ranging from
excellent to poor. The relative number of declinations of excellent
proposals has remained sizable during the past several years.
Board discussion following the presentation focused on
modes of review and highlighted that the most important concern is the
quality of the decisions under any method used. Members suggested the
possibility of a combined virtual panel review by teleconferencing and
a mail review process, and also suggested that FastLane might be used
to support electronic proposal reviews. It was noted, however, that
many users complain about the FastLane proposal submission system and
that NSF is working to develop a better system by the end of the calendar
year. Members also observed that, considering the small size and short
duration of many grants, the process is inefficient: too much time is
spent writing and reviewing proposals for the money involved.
Final discussion focused on the second merit review criterion,
especially the integration of research and education, the integration
of diversity into programs, and ways to measure progress in these areas.
Dr. Suzuki noted that the primary reason for integrating research and
education and diversity is to enhance the quality of education. He observed
that the way integration aspects of proposals are measured does not
appear to enhance the quality of education, and he expressed concern
that integration aspects are evaluated in a superficial manner. Dr.
Tapia added that the criterion is problematic because it is basically
a guideline that is difficult to enforce and does not motivate change.
He requested that minority data be disaggregated by gender, ethnicity,
and other measures of diversity, not just in merit reviews but also
in any analysis NSF undertakes. Dr. Suzuki asked for data comparing
performance by institutional category, such as research institutions,
liberal arts colleges, and comprehensive universities. Dr. Kelly stated
that merit review issues would be discussed again in August.
AGENDA ITEM 13: NSB Report on Communication and Outreach (NSB-00-99, draft)
Committee chair Dr. Greenwood recalled that the committee
was established a year ago to provide guidance on the role that the
Board and the NSF should play in expanding public awareness of science
and engineering as part of the NSF mission. After reviewing a variety
of communication and outreach issues, the committee offered findings
and recommendations in three areas: (1) need for increased advocacy
for science and engineering to increase the American public's appreciation
for science, engineering, and fundamental research, (2) need for increased
collaboration among NSF communication efforts, especially the efforts
of the Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences, the
Directorate for EHR, and the Office of Legislative and Public Affairs,
and (3) need for an expanded role of Board members in communicating
science and engineering to the public. Dr. Greenwood noted that the
status, knowledge, and visibility of the board put it in a unique position
to promote the understanding and appreciation of science and engineering.
Dr. Greenwood stated that the committee will post the
report on the Board's website for comment. She asked for Board comments
by early July. Any suggested changes will be discussed during a teleconference
before the August meeting. The committee will present its final report
for approval at the August meeting. Dr. Greenwood requested that in
the same time frame the NSF indicate who will be its contact with the
Board for providing members with speaking materials. She thanked committee
members Drs. Suzuki, Tien, Menger, Savitz, and Langford and committee
staff, Executive Secretary Mary Lou Higgs and Dr. Robert Webber, for
their diligent and excellent work.
Dr. Kelly commented that this report covered a most important
issue and urged Board members to submit their comments by July 1. The
report will be formally considered for approval at the August meeting.
AGENDA ITEM 11, CONTINUED: Statement on Openness in Science
On behalf of the EHR Committee, Dr. Suzuki distributed
the statement on openness in science. After a brief discussion, the
Board APPROVED the Statement on Open Communication and Access in Science
and Engineering (NSB 00-106) as distributed, leaving final editorial
authority to the chairman of the EHR Committee.
AGENDA ITEM 14: NSF Budget and Planning
Dr. Colwell reminded Board members that they had requested
more discussion on several budget topics and noted that two-national
science and engineering infrastructure, and analysis of NSF award size
and duration goals in relation to diversity activities-would be discussed
at the August meeting.
NSF Implementation of Recommendations from the Board's
Dr. Colwell provided an update on actions taken to implement
the recommendations of Environmental Science and Engineering for
the 21st Century in three categories: (1) organization of NSF staff
to carry out a program of research, education, and knowledge assessment,
(2) resources and funding to support an expanded program of environmental
activities, and (3) the current priority areas and a means of establishing
future priority areas. With respect to organization, she reported that
Dr. Leinen coordinates the environmental portfolio across the NSF and
chairs an internal advisory group. She is assisted by Dr. Margaret Cavanaugh,
Staff Associate in the Director's Office. The NSF is in the process
of establishing a new advisory committee on environmental research and
education, expected to begin work in the fall. With regard to the second
category, resources and funding, an internal process has been initiated
to help identify interdisciplinary opportunities in environmental areas
and to shape long-term priorities. In the next few years it will be
necessary to increase the priority given to strategic enabling technologies
for the incorporation of human and societal factors in the development
of infrastructure for environmental activities. With respect to current
priorities, the NSF had strong response to its Biocomplexity in the
Environment competition this year.
The NSF Budget
21st Century Workforce Initiative: Dr. Colwell
explained that the NSF has framed the initiative around three key areas
in which it has special interest, capability, and responsibility: (1)
the instructional workforce for science, math, and engineering technology,
(2) the science and engineering workforce, and (3) the technological
workforce. Rather than focusing on programs at this point, the NSF is
delineating the strategic directions from which the programs will be
developed. These directions include (1) the science of learning, (2)
activities that link research and education from high school through
graduate studies, (3) insuring diversity through access mechanisms and
building linkages between minority and majority serving institutions,
(4) information technology, and (5) NSF partnerships with other agencies
and sectors. She noted that NSF's most important product is people and
that the agency touches 200,000 lives every year, including 80,000 teachers
and 35,000 students. The NSF provides the scientists and engineers employed
in industry, academia, and government.
Dr. Colwell noted that NSF intends to pursue an aggressive
agenda in mathematics, pure mathematics, applied mathematics, and statistics,
and cited a recent report by COSEPUP that showed the Nation faces a
dangerous situation in mathematics.
Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences:
NSF intends to expand its budget in this area during the
next several years so that by 2003 it will have a major interdisciplinary
initiative. Dr. Colwell argued that every NSF initiative must incorporate
investments in understanding the impact of human behavior on the natural
world and vice versa. Dr. Norman Bradburn, Assistant Director of the
Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences, is heading
the conceptual development for this effort and will present a timetable
for this initiative at the next Board meeting.
Grant size and duration: The agency requires an
increase of $4 billion to bring the average grant size and duration
up to the level targeted in the NSF strategic plan. The fiscal year
2002 goals are for grants of $120,000 and 3.3 years duration. The major
reason for the need to increase grant size is that the nature of research
has changed and has become progressively more expensive, at the same
time that the value of research results has grown even faster than costs.
Dr. Colwell also noted that when grant amounts are adjusted for inflation,
the grants given today are smaller than the ones awarded in 1963. The
NSF will make these points to the Office of Management and Budget, using
case studies, facts, and figures.
Administration and Management (A&M) Support: For
fiscal year 2001, NSF requests an increase for A&M of almost 14 percent,
or $215 million, over the amount for fiscal year 2000. A similar increase
will be needed for several years if the NSF is to manage significant
increases in program funding and the corresponding increases in complexity
and quantity of the workload. Three long-term objectives are guiding
NSF's development of the fiscal year 2002 A&M budget request: (1) make
the NSF totally electronic in its business operations; (2) align the
size, composition, and skill base of our workforce to future needs;
and (3) increase diversity within our workforce. Although the NSF must
continue its investments in technological infrastructure, it is also
critical that the NSF focus on workforce needs for the 21st century.
Tools: The NSF will spend about $1.24 billion on
tools in fiscal year 2001, about a quarter of the budget. The increase
proposed for tools is approximately 13 percent. New developments in
nanotechnology, information technology, and biotechnology have changed
profoundly the capabilities and even the basic concept of tools. For
example, the ability to network facilities, research platforms, high-performance
computers, and vast databases together has created both new frontiers
of investigation and an unparalleled opportunity to integrate research
and education at every level. Dr. Colwell reminded the Board that it
has received draft interim guidelines for planning and managing the
MRE account. These draft guidelines will be discussed at the August
meeting. Major topics for discussion include the definition of MRE,
the kinds of projects that should be eligible for funding, balance and
priorities within and across disciplines and directorates, and readiness
of projects to be included in the fiscal year 2002 budget request.
In summary, Dr. Colwell noted that a quarter of the NSF
budget is people, a quarter is tools, and half is ideas.
In response to questions, Dr. Colwell made the following
points. Each year the NSF gets 30,000 proposals, enlists 50,000 people
to review them, and completes 250,000 reviews. Approximately 9,000 proposals
are funded. The average grant size is less than it was 40 years ago
and the duration is only 2.8 years. The average grant is neither enough
money nor long enough to get a Ph.D. student through the Ph.D. program.
Dr. Colwell argued that this situation is wasteful of time, a fraudulent
way to do science, and abusive of the Nation's young people. She noted
that NSF has enlisted the support of 47 captains of industry who have
signed a letter to Congress in support of increased funding for NSF.
Dr. Colwell agreed with the desirability of NSF hosting
workshops to look at best practices as a way to help institutions incorporate
technologies into the classroom and laboratory. She responded to several
comments on the rising costs of overhead, noting that these costs are
real, driven in part by the need for compliance with growing regulatory
AGENDA ITEM 15: National Science and Engineering Infrastructure
Dr. Kelly noted that discussion of this topic has been
postponed until the August meeting.
AGENDA ITEM 16: Other Business
Dr. Kelly concluded the meeting by thanking and saying
farewell to Drs. Greenberg, Menger, Mitchell-Kernan, and Solow. Dr.
Kelly noted that their contributions are evident in all the Board's
recent products, and that their wisdom and creativity will be missed.
Following a standing ovation for departing members, Dr.
Kelly adjourned the Open Session at 5:07 p.m.
Attachments: NSB-00-97 NSB-00-106
Janice E. Baker
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