The National Science Foundation
November 19-20, 2003
Warren M. Washington (Chair)
Joseph A. Miller, Jr.
The National Science Board (NSB) convened in Open Session at 12:20 p.m. on Thursday, November 20, 2003, with Dr. Warren M. Washington, Chair, presiding (Agenda NSB-03-143). In accordance with the Government in the Sunshine Act, this portion of the meeting was open to the public.
AGENDA ITEM 3: Open Session Minutes, October 2003
The Board approved the Open Session minutes of the October 2003
(NSB-03-138, Board Book Tab D).
AGENDA ITEM 4: Closed Session Items for February 2004
The Board approved the Closed Session items for the February 2004 Board Meeting (NSB-03-150, Board Book Tab E).
AGENDA ITEM 5: Chair’s Report
a. Response to Senator Bond
Dr. Washington reported that, following the Board’s October meeting, he had sent a letter to Senator Bond, responding to his suggestion that the Board consider hiring its own legal counsel, separate from the National Science Foundation (NSF) counsel. In his letter, Dr. Washington stated the sense of the Board that a separate legal counsel was not needed at this time, that the Executive Officer was identifying areas in which he needed to recruit staff. If the Board decided at a later time that it needed independent legal advice, it would use existing mechanisms to obtain that advice. Dr. Washington added that he would consult with Senator Bond to see if he had additional concerns. (Dr. Washington’s letter to Senator Bond is attached as Appendix A.)
b. NWP Report Rollout
Dr. Washington congratulated the Task Force on National Workforce Policies for Science and Engineering and the Committee on Education and Human Resources on the successful completion and rollout of the workforce report, The Science and Engineering Workforce/Realizing America’s Potential.
c. Participation in Workshop on Peer Review Standards
Dr. Washington announced that he had participated in the National Academies’ workshop on the Office of Management and Budget’s proposed “Guidelines on Peer Review and Information Quality.” In his remarks at the workshop, Dr. Washington stressed the importance of a clear and open peer review process that would give the public confidence in the integrity and the credibility of regulatory decisions. He also noted that the scientific community had to be careful not to stretch reviewers’ energy and goodwill to the breaking point.
d. NSB Retreat, February 4-5, 2004
Dr. Washington announced that the February 2004 Board meeting would focus on four activities: a visit to the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO); an opportunity to learn about unique and mutually beneficial partnerships between small Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and large research-intensive universities; Board committee meetings and plenary sessions; and a short Board retreat. He reminded Board members to submit ideas for retreat topics. Dr. Jo Anne Vasquez suggested the topic of gender equity. A summary of LIGO activities and future outlook will be distributed to the Board before the February meeting.
e. Nominations for NSB Class of 2012
Dr. Washington urged Board members to notify him or the Executive Officer if they were interested in serving on the Nominations Committee to develop a list of candidates for the Board class of 2012, to be appointed in 2006. Dr. Washington stated that he would appoint the Nominations Committee in the near future.
f. Vannevar Bush Award Committee
Dr. Washington announced that in the near future he would establish a committee to review nominations and recommend the recipient for the 2004 Vannevar Bush Award. Members interested in serving on the committee were asked to notify the Chair or Executive Officer.
g. OIG Audit of NSB Compliance
Dr. Washington reminded Board members that the NSF Authorization Act of 2002 requires the Office of Inspector General to audit the Board’s compliance with the Government in the Sunshine Act. The Executive Officer and his staff are working with the Inspector General’s staff to ensure that the audit will be completed in a timely manner. Dr. Washington added that the Board looks forward to receiving audit results in the spring of 2004.
h. NSB Suite Now Wireless
Dr. Washington announced that the Board Suite was now equipped for wireless computing. He thanked Dr. George Strawn, NSF’s Chief Information Officer, and the Division of Information Services for implementing this improvement ahead of schedule. The Executive Officer has arranged for a dedicated information technology support person for the Board, Mr. Chad Turner, Computer Specialist with the HELP Desk.
i. Recognition of Mr. Herer
Dr. Washington recognized and thanked Mr. Paul Herer, Senior Staff Associate in the Office of Integrative Activities, for his service to the Board in many capacities, including his service as Executive Secretary to the Task Force on Merit Review, the Task Force on Science and Engineering Infrastructure, and the Committee on Strategy and Budget. Mr. Herer will retire in December 2003 after 33 years of Federal service.
AGENDA ITEM 6: Director’s Report
a. Congressional Update
Dr. Rita Colwell, NSF Director, provided an update of congressional actions since the October Board meeting. She reported that the omnibus appropriations bill was expected to be passed by both the House and Senate in the near future. The House appropriations bill would provide NSF with a budget increase of 6.2 percent, and the Senate bill would provide an increase of 5.2 percent.
On October 30 the Research Subcommittee of the House Science Committee held a hearing on improving K-12 math and science education. Witnesses were principal investigators on the NSF Math and Science Partnership awards and teachers from schools involved in the partnerships. Chairman Boehlert subsequently noted that the program was on the right course for improving math and science education.
On November 18, the Senate passed Senate bill 189, the Nanotechnology Research and Development Act. The House is expected to pass this version of the bill at any time. The bill would authorize NSF funding of nanoscale research at $385 million for FY 2005, growing to $476 million in FY 2008.
b. NSF Ranked a Best Place to Work
Dr. Colwell reported that the Partnership for Public Service and American University’s Institute for the Study of Public Policy had announced the best places to work in the Federal government, based on a survey of more than 100,000 Federal employees. NSF placed second in the ranking. Dr. Colwell noted that NSF scored high in providing a healthy work/life balance, ongoing training and development, support for diversity, matching employee skills to the agency mission, and promoting teamwork. She added that the General Accounting Office had cited NSF as one of five Federal agencies committed to self-examination.
c. NSF Management Scores
Dr. Colwell announced that the Office of Management and Budget had raised NSF’s score for budget and performance integration from a “red” to a “yellow.” Staff from the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Commerce, and the National Institutes of Health had visited NSF to learn more about NSF’s processes.
AGENDA ITEM 7: Committee Reports
a. Executive Committee
Dr. Colwell stated that the committee report had been covered in Closed Session.
b. Audit and Oversight (A&O)
Dr. Mark Wrighton, chair, read the draft NSF Management Response to the Inspector General’s Semiannual Report to the Congress and the transmittal letter from the Board to the President of the Senate. During discussion, a question was asked about a threshold for when an investigation is taken forward or, if the amount to be recovered is de minimis, stopped. It was suggested that the transmittal letter address cost/benefit tradeoffs. The Board discussed audit requirements and resources, the consequence to universities of being a “pass-through” organization, and the need for training in handling grant transactions. After discussion, the Board agreed not to change the transmittal letter because it was accompanied by the semiannual report that included substantially more information.
The Board approved the management response transmittal letter as presented.
Dr. Wrighton reported that the committee met briefly in Closed Session to receive an update from the Office of Inspector General on three current investigations.
In Open Session, the committee spent considerable time on the FY 2003 audit performed by KPMG, external auditors. NSF received its sixth consecutive unqualified clean opinion. No material weaknesses or instances of noncompliance were found. Two reportable conditions from the previous year have been resolved. Two issues presented for continuing attention were (1) a reportable condition related to post-award grant monitoring and the need for more site visits to look at high-risk programs, and (2) the on-going effort to integrate budget and costs and performance.
Mr. Thomas Cooley, NSF’s Chief Financial Officer, informed the committee about requirements of the Improper Payments Act of 2002. NSF has submitted an implementation proposal to the Office and Management and Budget, which is being considered a model for other agencies to follow.
Dr. Geoffrey Grant, Deputy Director for Management, Operations and Policy in the Office of Budget, Finance and Award Management, reported on the work of the National Science and Technology Council’s Committee on Science Research Business Models. A subgroup of the committee is examining issues related to reimbursement of indirect costs and support for compliance issues in the universities.
c. Committee on Programs and Plans (CPP)
On behalf of Dr. Anita Jones, CPP chair, Dr. Robert Richardson commented that the committee had heard an update on the status of the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) by Dr. Robert Dickman, NSF Staff Associate for the ALMA Project. For that information item, Drs. Barry Barish, Joseph Bordogna, and Anita Jones did not participate in discussion to avoid any potential conflict of interest.
Dr. Jones continued the committee report. She reminded the Board that they had asked NSF to approach the National Research Council (NRC) about undertaking a review of NSF’s support for the atmospheric sciences. The NRC has agreed to create an ad hoc expert committee and to engage the broad atmospheric community in a discussion of issues and funding support.
Dr. Jones reported that the ad hoc task force on long-lived data
collections held a productive workshop on November 18, bringing
together NSF staff and representatives of other agencies to develop
a list of policy issues. The ad hoc task force would like to move
forward by (1) bringing to the Board the terms of reference for
the establishment of a formal Board task force, and
(2) holding a second workshop that focuses on the NSF user community, followed by a small workshop that focuses on policy issues from the users’ point of view.
Dr. Nina Fedoroff introduced a proposal from an ad hoc working group to hold a workshop on high-risk, innovative research, with participation from the research community and representatives from Federal agencies. Dr. Jones stated that CPP recommended the workshop proposal. The working group, led by Dr. Fedoroff, would serve as the organizing and steering committee for the workshop, under the aegis of CPP. After this discussion, the Board took the following action.
The Board approved the proposal for an NSB Workshop on New Approaches to NSF Support for Innovative Research, under the aegis of the Committee on Programs and Plans.
d. CPP Subcommittee on Polar Issues
Dr. John White, chair, stated that Dr. Karb Erb, director of the Office of Polar Programs, had reported on a meeting in Seattle in October of more than 400 researchers to discuss the Study of Environmental Arctic Change, or SEARCH, a research program supported by NSF and other Federal agencies. The program may become the nucleus for the International Polar Year Science Program in 2007 and 2008. Dr. Erb also reported on his meeting with the European Polar Board’s Executive Committee to plan for coordinated use of research vessels in polar research programs, development of second- and third-generation ice core drilling devices, and activities for the International Polar Year. Dr. Erb informed the subcommittee that all was going well with the opening of the field season in the Antarctic.
e. Education and Human Resources Committee (EHR)
Dr. George Langford, chair, reported that the rollout of the workforce report at the National Press Club was well attended by the press and interested members of the public. Drs. Washington, Miller, Natalicio, and Langford made formal presentations, and Dr. Colwell offered additional comments. A question and answer period lasted 1.5 hours. Dr. Langford acknowledged Mr. William Noxon’s (Senior Public Affairs Specialist, Office of Legislative and Public Affairs) assistance in getting press coverage of the rollout event. Favorable articles have already appeared in the national press. Dr. Colwell commented that the rollout was extraordinarily successful, with representation of press from professional societies and national press. Dr. Nina Fedoroff expressed her hope that the Board would track the impact of this report as part of the effort to assess the impact of Board policy activities.
The committee spent most of its time discussing NSF’s Workforce for the 21st Century Initiative and hearing presentations on how NSF coordinates among administrative units to develop and manage educational programs, and an update on the first set of programs to be supported in FY 2004 as part of the Initiative. The committee also discussed (1) the House Science Subcommittee on Research hearing on the Math and Science Partnership Program; (2) the forthcoming report on the Broadening Participation Workshop; and (3) a graduate student support workshop being planned by NSF’s Division of Graduate Education in conjunction with the National Institutes of Health and the Council of Graduate Schools. The committee received a presentation on the activities of the Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science and Engineering (CEOSE), an advisory committee to NSF.
f. Science and Engineering Indicators Subcommittee (S&EI)
Dr. Robert Richardson, chair, thanked all Board members who had
helped prepare Science and Engineering Indicators 2004, which is
nearing completion. He presented the proposed cover design, based
on the work of Dr. Rod MacKinnon, The Rockefeller University, a
Nobel prize winner in chemistry this year. Dr. Richardson noted
that the cover is an icon for the type of multidisciplinary research
that NSF seeks to encourage. He also explained that the Board’s
companion (opinion) piece would focus on workforce issues and relevant
data in Indicators. He reported that Indicators 2004 would include
a state chapter, an interactive chapter that includes data for each
state on the performance in the schools, the number of Ph.D.s, the
economic vitality of the states, teacher salaries, and other data.
Maps will present comparative data for the states.
g. Committee on Strategy and Budget (CSB)
Dr. Maxine Savitz, chair, reported that the main agenda item was consideration of the Board’s draft report pursuant to Section 22 of the NSF Authorization Act of 2002. She described the changes in the most recent draft and additional changes to be made, and noted that the report was due to Congress on December 22. Because some of the changes to be made were substantive, Dr. Savitz agreed to send the revised draft to all Board members for review and comment before the committee’s teleconference on December 5. After discussion, the Board took the following action.
The Board approved Fulfilling the Promise: A Report to the Congress on the Budgetary and Programmatic Expansion of the National Science Foundation (NSB-03-151), subject to final edits approved by the Committee on Strategy and Budget, and the Chair of the National Science Board, in response to the Congressional directive to the Board outlined in the NSF Authorization Act of 2002. (NSB-03-153)
Dr. Savitz reported that the rest of the committee meeting focused on future agenda items that the committee might consider in addition to the budget. Among possible topics were the appropriate budget strategy to obtain funding for unmet needs; issues related to graduate students and postdoctoral appointments; and ways to encourage synergy among science and engineering fields.
AGENDA ITEM 8: NSB Election Protocol Discussion
Pursuant to the Chair’s request at the October Board meeting, Dr. Elizabeth Hoffman offered her suggestion for changing the Board’s election protocol. Dr. Hoffman reminded the Board that there is no perfect voting rule, that voting rules are arbitrary, and that the choice of a voting rule could influence the outcome of an election. She summarized the current Board protocol and explained her suggestion for future Board elections. Under her proposal, each Board member would vote for a top candidate. If a candidate receives more than 50 percent of the votes cast, that person is elected. If no one receives more than 50 percent of the votes cast and there is not a three or more way tie, the top two vote getters are in a runoff vote. If there is a three or more way tie, the top three or more are in a runoff vote, and the top two are taken for a final vote. Dr. Hoffman noted that both the current and her proposed protocols meet the statutory requirement that the successful Board candidate must receive a majority of votes cast. After discussion, the Board took the following action.
The Board accepted the voting protocol proposed by Dr. Hoffman
(NSB-03-161, see Appendix C).
After thanking Board members, NSF staff, and others who helped prepare for and who participated in the meeting, Dr. Washington adjourned the Open Session at 1:55 p.m.
Janice E. Baker
Policy Writer/Editor, Contractor
Appendix A: Dr. Washington’s letter to Senator Bond, October 17, 2003
Appendix B: NSB-03-153, Resolution to transmit report to Congress pursuant to
Section 22 of the NSF Authorization Act of 2002
Appendix C: NSB-03-161, Voting Protocol
Appendix A to NSB-03-164
[scanned PDF file of Dr. W’s letter to Senator Bond on this
Appendix B to NSB-03-164
November 19, 2003
NATIONAL SCIENCE BOARD
REPORT TO THE CONGRESS
IN RESPONSE TO DIRECTIVE OUTLINED IN SECTION 22,
NSF AUTHORIZATION ACT of 2002 (P.L. 107-368)
RESOLVED, that the National Science Board approves Fulfilling the Promise: A Report to the Congress on the Budgetary and Programmatic Expansion of the National Science Foundation (NSB-03-151), subject to final edits approved by the Committee on Strategy and Budget, and the Chair of the National Science Board, in response to the Congressional directive to the Board outlined in the NSF Authorization Act of 2002.
Warren M. Washington
Appendix C to NSB-03-164
November 20,. 2003
Voting Procedure for National Science Board Elections
Approved by the National Science Board
November 20, 2003
Existing NSB Nomination and Election Protocol (NSB-01-49, revised February 20, 2002) is revised such that upon completion of the nomination procedures, election to each office will proceed as follows:
1. Each Board member votes for one person (Plurality Voting). If one person receives more than 50% of the votes, that person wins. If not, go to Step 2. If there is a three or more-way tie, repeat Step 1 with only the tied candidates running.
2. The top two vote getters in Step 1 will compete in a run-off election. Each Board member votes for one person from the top two vote getters. If one person gets more than 50% of the votes, that person wins. If there is a tie, repeat Step 2 until one person gets more than 50% of the votes.
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