February 10, 2003
MEMORANDUM TO MEMBERS AND CONSULTANTS OF THE NATIONAL SCIENCE BOARD
SUBJECT: Preliminary Report of the February 5-7 2003 Meeting
The major actions of the Board at its 372nd meeting on February 5-7, 2003 are summarized for the information of those members and consultants absent and as a reminder to those present.
1. Board Actions
a. The Board approved the minutes of the November 2002 meeting.
b. The Board approved the report Science & Engineering Infrastructure for the 21st Century, NSB-02-190, for final editing and publication.
c. The Board approved NSB-03-23, Statement on Infrastructure Support, attached.
d. The Chairman announced formation of an Ad Hoc Committee on the FY 2003 Vannevar Bush Award. Dr. Langford will chair, with members Drs. Miller, Rossmann and Savitz. The Committee will report to the Board at the March, 2003 meeting.
e. The Board met in retreat on February 7. No actions were taken on that date.
2. Awards and Agreements
The Board approved the following award: Amount not
Mathematical and Physical Sciences
Division of Physics
Cornell Electron Storage Ring
(NSB-02-196) $99,000,000 60 Months
3. Committee Reports
(Committee summaries are provided by executive secretaries.)
a. Executive Committee (EC)
The Executive Committee of the National Science Board met at 2:00 PM. The committee's first action was to approve the minutes of the November 20, 2002 meeting of the Executive Committee.
Mr. Rudolph, the NSF General Counsel, gave a presentation on the implications of the FY2002 NSF Authorization Act provisions that call for changes in how the Board determines whether it has a quorum. He noted that a quorum is now reached when one half plus one of the confirmed members of the Board are present. He noted that this re-definition is a welcome change, and it is anticipated to reduce the necessity for the Executive Committee to act on behalf of the full Board.
Following his presentation, some members raised general questions seeking clarification of issues related to the Government in the Sunshine Act and Mr. Rudolph provided relevant background information.
At approximately 2:40 PM the Executive Committee convened in closed session to discuss specific personnel matters and issues related to future NSF budgets.
b. Audit & Oversight (A&O)
The committee was provided with an overview of the process and contents underlying the FY02 Performance and Accountability Report, including a discussion of the Financial Statements, the Federal Managers Financial Integrity Act (FMFIA) 2002 cycle and Management Challenges and Performance reporting. The OIG and their contract auditors discussed the FY2002 Financial Statement Audit process and results. NSF staff then discussed the NSF response to audit findings and follow up actions, including discussions about grant monitoring and security considerations.
c. Education and Human Resources (EHR)
Dr. Langford discussed a "Broadening Participation" workshop
directed to Board members and NSF program officers. The workshop
would take place immediately before or after the August Board meeting.
In addition, three groups were formed to investigate funding parameters
in three student populations: K-12; undergraduate, and graduate-post
doctoral. Preliminary findings will be presented at the next meeting.
Dr. Ramaly described an innovative "mapping" tool for program portfolio analysis, EHR methods of enhancing research programs, and the uses of "e-business" methods. The implications of FY 04 budget requests were reviewed.
A new series of presentations, "Focus on the Future" has been established. Dr. Lee Zia of EHR gave the first talk on "Virtual Laboratories." Policies to address the development and realization of such technologies are of interest to this committee.
Dr. Peter Freeman presented a report on education and diversity activities in the CISE Directorate, suggesting that gender and underrepresented minority issues for IT students, faculty and workers are serious and are being addressed by many programs, but adoption is spotty.
The committee also heard reports from the Subcommittee on Science and Engineering Indicators and from the Task Force on National Workforce Policies.
d. Science and Engineering Indicators (SEI)
SRS staff reported on progress in preparing the chapters on State S&E and on K-12 Education. A contractor with experience writing a report on State science and technology indicators for the Department of Commerce was selected to write the chapter on State S&E. The contractor, Teratech, provided a chapter outline and sample materials for review.
Discussion focused on how to handle the substantial number of states with missing data for selected indicators. Members recommended using quartiles and a "missing" category instead of quintiles; they encouraged SRS to include the District of Columbia in comparisons; and they asked SRS to develop text to explain sources of state data and to discuss the significance of differences between state scores and change over time.
SRS agreed to provide an example of a methodological write-up for a state indicator for discussion at the March meeting and to send the sample materials to Dr. White and Dr. Natalicio for comments. SRS also described current plans for a Web site for state S&E data.
A contract has been signed with SRI/MPR-Berkeley to write the chapter on K-12 Education. SRS reported on progress in developing a table comparing teacher salaries by State. They have found two data sources that are not in agreement. SRS will investigate the methods that underlie the two data sets and will report back to the subcommittee at the March meeting or earlier.
To complete assignment of reviewers, Dr. Richardson reported he
would circulate the list of chapters during the full Board's open
session and ask all the members present to select chapters to review.
Based on discussion with Dr. Langford, Vice Chair of the NWP Task
Dr. Richardson reported that the NWP is enthusiastic about cooperating in a Companion Piece based on the NWP report. NWP will provide an extract of the completed report to the S&EI members, from which the Companion Piece will be developed. NWP members present expressed their agreement with this plan.
e. EHR Task Force on National Policies for the S&E Workforce (NWP)
The meeting was a working session on a draft of the Task Force report. The draft had been revised following teleconferences on December 17, 2002, and January 30, 2003. The draft is approaching final form; however, an additional revision and teleconference are scheduled for late February. Members are honing findings and recommendations in four areas: higher education to develop our domestic S&E workforce; preparation for higher education; US engagement in the international S&E workforce; and the knowledge base on the S&E workforce. The Task Force plans to complete the report at its March meeting and forward it to the EHR Committee of the Board.
f. Programs and Plans (CPP)
The committee recommended the action item, "The Cornell Electron Storage Ring (CESR)" for full Board approval. Information was also provided to the committee on the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source (CHESS).
The committee considered a final report from the CPP Infrastructure Task Force. A draft report had been posted on the web for public comment and numerous comments were received from the public and scientific community. INF Report revisions were recommended in response to the comments. Following discussion of those changes, the committee recommended the final report be transmitted to the full NSB for approval.
CPP considered a Statement on Infrastructure forwarded by CSB that affirms NSB policy regarding support for infrastructure. CPP reaffirmed the statement and recommended that it be forwarded to the full NSB for approval.
The Committee also heard reports on the George E Brown Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES) and on the Science of Learning Centers and a report from the Polar Issues Subcommittee.
g. CPP Task Force on S&E Infrastructure (INF)
An analysis of public comments received in response to the INF
draft report (posted on the NSF/NSB website last month) was discussed.
The NSB received 45 responses, all of them by email. About half
of the responses were from academic institutions; the rest were
from professional associations, non-profit institutions, and other
groups. About two thirds of the respondents expressed very favorable
views of the report. Significant numbers of respondents were concerned
that the first INF recommendation would negatively impact the Foundation's
support for individual investigator research. Other issues included
the priority order of items in the second recommendation, and the
need to include predominantly undergraduate institutions in the
third recommendation. In light of these comments, the INF reviewed
the Principal Findings and Recommendations section, making a number
of substantive changes. Finally, the INF agreed to recommend approval
of the draft report, with changes noted, to the CPP and the full
Board. A plan for the roll-out and dissemination of the final report
will be discussed at the next INF meeting.
h. Polar Issues (PI)
The Office of Polar Programs reported on recent coverage of NSF-supported polar research in Geotimes and Nature; the current sea ice conditions in the Antarctic region; plans for moving cargo to South Pole Station via an overland route; an interdisciplinary science program for studying environmental changes in the Arctic; safety issues surrounding aviation in the Antarctic; and results from the International Trans-Antarctic Scientific Expedition, the U.S. portion of which was funded as a contribution to the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) program.
i. Committee on Strategy and Budget (CSB)
Dr. Maxine Savitz, CSB Chair, reviewed the committee's its charter, focusing on development of NSF's budget strategy and how to provide effective input to NSF without micromanaging the Foundation.
The committee discussed the NSF Authorization Act, Section 22, which calls for the Board to "prepare a report to address and examine the Foundation's budgetary and programmatic growth provided for by this Act" and planned to continue discussion of implementation of Section 22 at the March Board meeting.
Dr. Bordogna led a discussion on a draft Board statement on infrastructure support and the committee approved it for recommendation to the full Board. .
Dr. Savitz reminded CSB, and the public in attendance, that a draft Facilities Management and Oversight Guide is currently posted on the NSF website for public comment. (http://www.nsf.gov/bfa/lfp/document/facilities.pdf)
Dr. Rita Colwell discussed NSF's draft GPRA Strategic Plan for FY 2003-2008. She assured the committee that the plan is consistent with the NSF Authorization Act. The committee offered suggestions for improving the plan. NSB comments will be incorporated into the plan and copies will be distributed to CSB for discussion at the March meeting before a draft is submitted to OMB later in March. NSF will solicit public comments on the plan in the March - May timeframe and the plan will be submitted to Congress in September 2003.
Dr. Bradburn, (AD for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences), presented an overview of ways to evaluate the impacts of NSB reports and activities.
The committee raised questions about NSF contracts to study NSF
business practices and organizational issues and asked to be more
fully informed about the contracts at the March meeting.
Dr. Marge Cavanaugh, O/D Staff Associate, told CSB about the recent
public unveiling of the report of the Advisory Committee for Environmental
Research and Education, Complex Environmental Systems. The committee
noted that the NSB Environment report and NSF's responses to it
have been a model of best practices for achieving impacts.
Acting Executive Officer
Attachment 1: NSB-03-23 Statement on Infrastructure Support
Attachment 1 to NSB-03-21
February 6, 2003
Statement by the National Science Board
on Infrastructure Support
Approved on February 6, 2003
Modern and effective research and education infrastructure is critical to maintaining US leadership in science and engineering. Among federal agencies, NSF is a leader providing the academic community with access to a diverse set of forefront instrumentation, platforms, and facilities across the spectrum of science and engineering. Advances in information technology are making possible ever-new kinds of tools and distributed systems. Rapidly changing technologies, expanding research opportunities, and an increasing number of users call for continuous investment in infrastructure and for implementation using best practices suitable for the scale of each project.
Infrastructure procurement and construction costs range from the thousands, to hundreds and thousands, to tens and hundreds of millions of dollars. To span this broad scope and carry out its infrastructure tasks responsibly, the Foundation will normally fund through the MREFC account infrastructure projects submitted by directorates the exceed 10% of the sponsoring directorate's budget in the year that the project is proposed by the Foundation, and will fund through the R&RA account infrastructure projects whose estimated costs are below that level.
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