November 22, 2002
MEMORANDUM TO NATIONAL SCIENCE BOARD MEMBERS
SUBJECT: Preliminary Report of the November 20, 21, 2002 NSB Meeting
The major actions of the Board at its 371st meeting on November 20, 21, are summarized for the information of those members absent and as a reminder to those present.
1. Board Actions
The Board approved the following award:
Division of Ocean Sciences
3. NSB Committees
(Committee summaries are provided by executive secretaries)
The Chairman discharged with thanks the Task Force on the Digital Opportunity Investment Trust.
a. Executive Committee (EC)
Dr. Colwell discussed the status of the recruitment for the Deputy Director, Large Facility Projects, indicating that a list of candidates has been compiled and the review process is underway. She reviewed changes to NSF’s congressional oversight committees as a result of the recent elections and expressed her appreciation to the Congress for such strong support for NSF as is found in the FY 03 authorization bill. She also summarized the provisions of the authorization bill.
She presented information on the Foundation’s research portfolio illustrating single investigator and multiple-investigator projects. The committee found the material extremely useful and asked that it be posted on the Foundation’s web site.
Dr. Washington delivered his report, and re-emphasized his commitment to opening the Board’s meetings to the maximum extent possible. He noted the provisions in the authorization bill that relate to this matter and indicated his wish to be fully responsive to them. Other items included in his report related to the need to discuss the NSB Trust Fund with the full Board; the 2003 retreat plans and agenda; and welcoming individuals newly nominated for Board membership.
b. Audit and Oversight (A&O)
Dr. Boesz presented the OIG Semiannual Report and Dr. Umminger provided
the NSF Management Response to same. Dr. Umminger shared copies of the
draft Congressional transmittal letter for the OIG semi-annual report.
The Committee voted to recommend that the full Board approve the letter.
The committee heard an update on cost sharing and recommended a resolution (NSB/A&O-02-28) to the full Board. Drs. Noonan and Meyers came as guests and gave a briefing on the inaugural meeting of the NSF Advisory Committee for GPRA Performance Assessment. The committee also heard NSF staff presentations on NSF external audit resolution processes, the impact of OMB policy changes on interagency funding operations by NSF, and the Federal Managers Financial Integrity Act FY2002 review cycle.
The committee heard presentations on how OIG pursues civil and criminal investigations, with details of actual cases cited as examples; on outstanding issues that remain from the last management letter report; and a progress report on the development of a new internal management information system.
c. Programs and Plans (CPP)
The committee considered the draft report from the CPP Infrastructure Task Force. CPP recommended that the draft report be forwarded to the full NSB for approval. The report will be posted on the NSB Web site for 30 days of public comment. A report was also provided by the Polar Issues Subcommittee.
The committee considered and approved the action item, “a Request For Proposal (RFP) for Proposals and Award of a Contract for Support of U.S. Participation in the International Ocean Drilling Program” (NSB/CPP-02-169).
CPP considered a recommendation from the CSB for a revision of the NSB
policy on “Guidelines for Setting Priority for Major Research Facilities”
(NSB-01-204). A joint resolution from the two NSB committees, CPP &
CSB, was forwarded to the full NSB for approval (NSB-02-189),
stating that the NSB will approve facility construction projects by rank
order, with the intent of making funding available according to that order.
The Committee also heard several reports:
d. CPP Task Force on Polar Issues (PI)
Office of Polar Programs staff reported on the status of airplanes to
be used in South Pole Station modernization; the history of and recent
developments in designing the planned Alaska regional research vessel;
research results on retreating Alaskan glaciers; and a new swath bathymetry
system that will allow scientists to study ocean floor structures and
historical evidence of ice sheet movement in the Antarctic. There was
also a video showing of Under Antarctic Ice, a film by Norbert Wu.
e. CPP Task Force on S&E Infrastructure (INF)
The Task Force reviewed a revised draft of the INF report that incorporated recent comments from NSB members and NSF senior staff. A number of editorial changes were suggested, including a complete rewording of recommendation three, dealing with education and training at major facilities.
INF members then approved the following plan of action:
f. Education and Human Resources (EHR)
Dr. James Lightbourne, EHR, provided a progress report on the activities of NSF’s internal working group on the Workforce for the 21st Century Priority Area. He asked members questions, drawing on their experiences working with the STEM workforce at all levels, about the attitudes of students, and on the changing nature of scientific investigations--which are becoming more interdisciplinary, more diverse, and more frequently involve larger collaborations. He said that accomplishing the goals of the Workforce for the 21st Century priority area will require research on the workforce, programs that impact faculty, promotion of institutional collaborations and integration of research and education.
Dr. Margaret Leinen made a presentation on education and diversity activities in the Geosciences Directorate. She described a variety of NSF-wide and Directorate initiatives and programs being undertaken to increase student exposure and diversity in the Geosciences. Dr. Judith Ramaley made a presentation on EHR goals for the STEM workforce and the strategies being employed to meet these goals. Dr. Ramaley will complete her presentation at the February meeting.
The committee also heard reports from the Subcommittee on Science and
Engineering Indicators and from the Task Force on National Workforce Policies.
g. EHR Subcommittee on Science and Engineering Indicators (SEI)
The subcommittee approved a thematic outline for the chapter on K-12 education and urged that a table of state-by-state teachers’ salaries be included. SRS indicated that state-by-state tables would be included to the extent that data are available. SRS presented an update on the status of the new chapter on State S&E, and described current work to design an innovative map-based Web site for the State chapter.
SRS presented a schedule for review and approval of the 2004 Indicators volume. The Chairman stressed the need for all NSB members to be involved as reviewers. NSB reviewers will be recruited at the February 2003 meeting, with assignments to be finalized at the March meeting. Members asked SRS and the NSB Office to contact all members about the media format they prefer for receiving review materials.
In response to a question raised at the October meeting, SRS described the treatment of the federal science and technology budget and related concepts in Indicators since 1998, and confirmed that the 2004 Indicators volume will contain a similar explanatory sidebar.
The subcommittee discussed data on S&T teachers in Indicators and the forthcoming NWP report. SRS reported plans to improve its data on S&E teachers as part of the upcoming expanded S&E workforce data collections, and said that for the 2004 volume data on teachers will be drawn from a recently released National Center for Education Statistics survey. The topic of the S&E workforce was suggested as a possible topic for the 2004 companion piece, and the chairman agreed to discuss a joint effort with the chairman of NWP.
Finally, SRS described the plan for a study of recent trends in publication of journal articles by U.S. scientists and engineers. The study will be a careful effort to understand the magnitude and origin of changes in the publication output of U.S. S&E, involving an advisory panel and allowing SRS to calibrate publication data as an important indicator of S&E activity.
h. EHR Task Force on National Workforce Policies for S&E (NWP)
The meeting of the task force was a working session on a draft of the report. The report will call for mobilizing all stakeholders in the development of the domestic workforce in science and engineering. The challenge faced by U.S. science and engineering is increased dependence on foreign-born students and workers at a time when both international competition for scientific talent and national security concerns are growing.
This is coupled to underdevelopment of our domestic human resources,
particularly of underrepresented minorities, who are a growing proportion
of our student-age population. The Task Force plans to forward a completed
report to the EHR Committee for discussion at the February Board meeting.
i. Committee on Strategy and Budget (CSB)
CSB continued discussions initiated at the October meeting on options for changing the NSB’s policies for priority setting for large facilities projects, on how the Foundation might change the way it defines large research facilities projects, and on how appropriations accounts are used to fund these facilities.
The committee voted to recommend that the NSB approve changes to the NSB’s November 15, 2001 policy entitled “Guidelines for Priority Setting for Major Research Facilities.” The principal change is that the Board will rank-order NSB-approved facility construction projects with the intent that funding will be made available to projects in accordance with the order determined by the Board.
Dr. Bordogna led a discussion of how the NSB and NSF could encourage the support of new mid-size facilities through the Foundation’s Research and Related Activities (R&RA) account. Dr. Ferguson reported that CSB strongly believes that NSF’s R&RA Account, as well as its Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction Account, should both be used to support facilities construction projects and that CSB discussed whether the NSB should establish a policy statement to express this position. There was agreement that NSF and the CSB, along with the Committee on Programs and Plans, should develop such a policy statement for consideration at the next NSB meeting.
Dr. Bordogna briefed the committee on NSF’s ongoing efforts to revise the Foundation’s GPRA Strategic Plan. The Deputy Director directed the committee’s attention to government-wide performance and accountability requirements, as well as the President’s science agenda, which the Foundation needs to keep in mind as the revised strategic plan is developed. Dr. Bordogna provided a draft outline for what the revised strategic plan might look like and a set of S&T strategic drivers that might serve as the framework for the plan. The revised plan will be further reviewed by CSB at the February NSB meeting.
CSB briefly continued a review of recently issued NSB reports to determine to what extent the recommendations have been implemented. Dr. Ferguson reported that the next CSB meeting would include a discussion on assessment tools that might be employed in connection with NSB-issued reports.
Acting Executive Officer
Attachment 1: NSB-02-188, National Science Foundation Cost Sharing Policy Revision
Attachment 2: NSB-02-189, Guidelines for Setting Priority for Major Research Facilities
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