NSB-03-25

APPROVED MINUTES
PLENARY SESSION
373rd MEETING
NATIONAL SCIENCE BOARD

The National Science Foundation
Arlington, Virginia
February 6, 2003

 

Members Present:

Warren M. Washington, Chair r
Nina V. Fedoroff
Pamela A. Ferguson
Anita K. Jones
George M. Langford
Jane Lubchenco
Robert C. Richardson
Michael G. Rossmann
Maxine Savitz
Luis Sequeira
Daniel Simberloff
Mark S. Wrighton

Rita R. Colwell, NSF Director


Consultants Present:

Barry C. Barish
Ray M. Bowen
Delores M. Etter
Daniel E. Hastings
Elizabeth Hoffman
Kenneth M. Ford
Douglas D. Randall
JoAnne Vasquez


Members Absent:

Diana S. Natalicio, Vice Chai
Joseph A. Miller, Jr.
John A. White, Jr

 

 

 

 

 

 

Consultants Absent:

Steven C. Beering

The National Science Board (NSB) convened in Plenary Session at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, February 6, 2003, with Dr. Anita Jones presiding in the absence of the Chair and Vice Chair (agenda NSB-03-09 revised). In accordance with the Government in the Sunshine Act, this meeting was open to the public.

NON-AGENDA ITEM: Remembrance of Columbia Crew

Dr. Jones requested a moment of silence in remembrance of the Space Shuttle crew who died during reentry of the Columbia.

NON-AGENDA ITEM: Request for Reviewers of Science and Engineering Indicators Chapters

Dr. Robert Richardson, chair of the Science and Engineering Indicators Subcommittee, asked Board members to volunteer to serve as reviewers for the draft chapters of their choice. A list of chapters was circulated and members signed up for their choices.

AGENDA ITEM 1: Polar Research

Dr. Karl Erb, director of the Office of Polar Programs (OPP), described the importance of the polar regions to global climate. He discussed research in Greenland and Antarctica that uses ice cores to study climate history and correlations among changes in air temperature, carbon dioxide levels, sea level, size of the ice sheet, Earth’s orbit and orientation, and ocean circulation. He noted that a partnership program between OPP and the Education and Human Resources (EHR) Directorate sponsors K-12 teachers to work as part of research teams in the polar regions.

Dr. Neil Swanberg, program officer for Arctic Systems Science, OPP, described the Arctic oscillation, a statistical characterization of the distribution of low-pressure regions around the Arctic Basin, and the effect of the oscillation on global climate and ecosystems. The SEARCH (Study of Environmental Arctic Change) program seeks to relate the physics driving the changes in the Arctic to ecological changes seen throughout the global ecosystem.

Dr. Dennis Peacock, head of the Antarctic Science Program, OPP, described research at the South Pole focusing on the origin of the universe and the origin and evolution of life. Astronomers observe cosmic microwave background radiation and study the evolution of the universe. It may be possible to probe back to within a few seconds after the Big Bang. Scientists can observe neutrinos using photodetectors placed in holes drilled into the ice. Building on studies of ancient bacteria taken from the Dry Valley, scientists plan to study ecosystems in subglacial lakes, a laboratory for the study of evolution in the absence of light over millions of years.


[recess for lunch, 11:45 a.m. to 12:50 p.m.]

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The National Science Board reconvened at 12:50 p.m., Dr. Warren Washington, NSB Chair, presiding. In accordance with the Government in the Sunshine Act, Agenda Items 2 and 3 were closed to the public.

AGENDA ITEM 2: Awards and Agreements

Dr. Jones, chair of the Committee on Programs and Plans (CPP), presented the following item for Board consideration and action.

Mathematical and Physical Sciences

Division of Physics

Support of the Cornell Electron Storage Ring (CESR) Facility, Cornell University (NSB-02-196)

Dr. Jones reported that CPP considered this proposal and recommended that the Board authorize the proposed funding for CESR. Upon this recommendation, the Board took the following action:

The National Science Board authorized the Director at her discretion to make an award to Cornell University for the operation of the Cornell Electron Storage Ring Facility for an amount not to exceed $99,000,000 for sixty months.

AGENDA ITEM 3: Executive Officer Search

Dr. Washington and Dr. Mark Wrighton, chair of the ad hoc search committee, updated the Board on recent progress and the next steps in the process for selecting the Board’s Executive Officer.

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In accordance with the Government in the Sunshine Act, the remainder of the meeting was open to the public.

Dr. Washington noted that Dr. Daniel Hastings had represented the Board and Dr. Mary Clutter, assistant director for Biological Sciences, had represented the National Science Foundation (NSF) at the memorial service held for the Columbia astronauts the same morning at the National Cathedral.

AGENDA ITEM 4: Minutes, November 2002

The Board APPROVED the minutes of the November 2002 meeting
(NSB-02-193 and NSB-02-194, Board Book Tab B).

AGENDA ITEM 5: Closed Session Items for March 2003

The Board APPROVED the closed agenda items for the March 2003 Board Meeting (NSB-03-03, Board Book Tab C).

AGENDA ITEM 6: Chair’s Report

a. Congressional Visit

Dr. Washington reported that he and the newly nominated Board members had met with staff of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee and the Senate Commerce Committee on February 5 for a “get acquainted” discussion of Board-related issues. He will work with the Executive Officer to continue to improve Board communication with congressional staff.

b. Presidential Summit on Education

Dr. Washington reported that during the morning he, Dr. Rita Colwell, NSF Director, and Drs. JoAnne Vasquez and George Langford had participated in the President’s Summit on Education, part of the “No Child Left Behind” initiative. The summit focused on improving math and science teaching. Dr. Vasquez commented on the importance of thinking about pedagogical approaches to teaching math and the constant monitoring and adjusting that teachers must do to reach individual students. Dr. Langford commented on the strong partnership between NSF and the Department of Education and the need to pay attention to different approaches to teaching math.

c. Vannevar Bush 2003 Award Committee

Dr. Washington announced that he had established the Vannevar Bush 2003 Award Committee to review nominations received and to recommend a recipient to the Board at its March meeting. Dr. Langford serves as chair, with committee members Drs. Joseph Miller, Michael Rossmann and Maxine Savitz.

d. Membership of Board Committees

Dr. Washington announced that he has restructured the membership of standing Board committees in order to place new members on committees and to accommodate other changes. He thanked all Board members for their willingness to serve.

AGENDA ITEM 7: Director’s Report

a. Introduction of Staff

Dr. Colwell introduced newly appointed NSF staff: Dr. Deborah Crawford, deputy assistant director for Computer and Information Science and Engineering; and Dr. Galip Ulsoy, director of the Division of Civil and Mechanical Systems, Engineering Directorate. Dr. Colwell also introduced Dr. David Trinkle, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) examiner for NSF.

b. Congressional Update

Dr. Colwell reported that two hearings were scheduled: February 13, before the House Science Committee, on Federal research priorities and interagency coordination; and April 3, before the Senate VA, HUD and Independent Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee.

Dr. Colwell commented on two pieces of legislation that had been signed into law since the last Board meeting. HR. 3394, the Cyber-Security Research and Development Act signed on November 27, authorizes NSF and the National Institute of Standards and Technology to undertake research on network security, to build research capacity, and to establish network security centers. Legislation authorizing NSF for the next five years was signed on December 19. The Act increases NSF’s funding level to $9.84 billion by the year 2007. In the omnibus appropriation bill that is still pending, NSF’s proposed funding is approximately $5.2 billion for FY 2003, or 8.1 percent above FY 2002 levels.

Dr. Colwell reported that she had accompanied Chairman Sherwood Boehlert and six other members of the House Science Committee on a visit to McMurdo Station and the South Pole Station. The Congressmen were impressed by the quality of science being conducted. Dr. Colwell thanked the NSF team that arranged the trip.

c. NSF Budget for FY 2004

Dr. Colwell presented the President’s FY 2004 budget submission for NSF: $5.48 billion, or 9 percent more than last year’s request. She noted that 95 percent of NSF’s budget goes directly to research and education. Each of NSF’s strategic goal (people, ideas, tools) receives increased funds. NSF’s highest priority is to maintain the quality of the U.S. workforce. Highlights of the 2004 budget submission include $200 million for the Math and Science Partnerships Program; funds to raise the annual stipend for graduate fellows to $30,000 and add 350 more fellowships; and $20 million for three new Science of Leaning Centers. In addition, funding is included for research and education in six emerging areas of exceptional promise: $303 million for high-end computation and large-scale networking; $249 million to expand basic research in nanotechnology; $100 million for biocomplexity in the environment; $90 million for mathematical sciences and statistics to advance multidisciplinary science and engineering; $24 million to launch a human and social dynamics priority area that will investigate the impact of change on humans and institutions; and $8.5 million to help attract U.S. students to science and engineering fields.

Dr. Colwell noted that the Nation faces significant challenges in security, the economy, the environment, and the workforce, and that NSF programs address each of these areas. In addition, NSF supports research to reduce uncertainty in climate change knowledge and to provide timely information for policy decisions.

Dr. Colwell pointed out that the largest dollar increase in the FY 2004 budget is in tools, with a total investment of $1.34 billion. This sum includes an increase of $220 million to meet the growing needs for small- and medium-size equipment as well as large construction projects. It is distributed across all NSF programs. In the Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction account, one new start (Scientific Ocean Drilling) is planned for FY 2005 and two new starts for FY 2006 (Rare Symmetry Violating Processes and Ocean Observatories).

In response to Dr. Washington’s questions concerning the funds needed to hire staff to help implement management of these increases, and funds to allow program managers to visit sites, Mr. Thomas Cooley, director of the Office of Budget, Finance, and Award Management, reminded the Board that the FY 2003 budget included a request for 50 additional Full Time Equivalent employees. That number was retained in the FY 2004 budget proposal along with an increase of 30 Intergovernmental Personnel Act positions.

In response to Board members’ concern that there would be little difference between the dollar amount of a graduate student stipend and a postdoctoral salary, Dr. Colwell replied that postdoctoral issues would be part of the FY 2005 budget planning. She also noted that anecdotal information indicated that Primary Investigator-funded graduate student stipends were rising, as the fellowship level rose.

d. Working Relationships with OMB and OSTP

Dr. Colwell commented that NSF has an excellent working relationship with OMB staff and with the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

ADENDA ITEM 8: Committee Reports

a. Audit and Oversight (A&O)

Dr. Wrighton, chair, reported that the committee meeting was devoted to discussion of NSF’s FY2002 Performance and Accountability Report, which is available on the NSF website and on CD-ROM. The committee heard presentations on the audited financial statements and their importance, the management challenges process in the Federal Managers Financial Integrity Act of 2002, and NSF’s success in meeting its Government Performance and Results Act goals. The Office of Inspector General and their contract auditors discussed the audit process and results. It was noted that NSF received its fifth consecutive clean audit opinion, although there were two reportable conditions: post-award management and monitoring of NSF-owned physical assets located at other institutions; and information technology security. Dr. Wrighton reported that progress was being made to correct both conditions and that no material adverse consequences had resulted during the audit year.


b. Committee on Education and Human Resources Committee (EHR)

Dr. Langford, chair, reported that the committee has started a new set of activities. The committee is planning a workshop, to be held in conjunction with the August Board meeting, on broadening participation in science and engineering education. The workshop will celebrate NSF’s accomplishments in including underrepresented minorities, women, and the disabled in the workforce and student bodies. Speakers will debate the issues and current situation surrounding the need for more diversity among faculty. A second activity is to examine the current levels of funding in the EHR Directorate for different stages of the educational pipeline. Heading the three parts of the activity are Dr. Vasquez for K-12, Dr. Pamela Ferguson for undergraduates, and Dr. Luis Sequeira for graduate students and postdoctoral appointees.

The committee has begun “The Focus on the Future” series of activities, designed to look at innovative ideas in education. The committee heard a presentation from Dr. Lee Zia, the head of the National Science Digital Library, on the use of web-enabled laboratories at universities across the country.

Dr. Langford reported that Dr. Judith Ramaley, assistant director of EHR, is continuing her analysis of EHR’s portfolio, using innovative “mapping” tools. She informed the committee that EHR is expanding its focus on integrating more research into education and is moving toward an e-business environment.

As part of an ongoing effort to learn more about education in directorates other than EHR, the committee heard a presentation by Dr. Peter Freeman, assistant director for Computer and Information Science and Engineering.

Dr. Langford announced that he expects to present the draft report of the Task Force on National Workforce Policies for Science and Engineering to the Board for approval in May, and that the companion piece for Science and Engineering Indicators 2004 will focus on the task force’s report.

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

Dr. Richardson, chair, stated that contractors had been selected to assist with two chapters: K-12 education and state science and engineering data. All draft chapters will be available for review in April in several formats, including CDs. He reminded members that the Board’s intent is to present the data as clearly as possible and to indicate trends but not to editorialize about the meaning of the data.

d. EHR Task Force on National Workforce Policies for Science and Engineering (NWP)

Dr. Daniel Simberloff reported on behalf of Dr. Miller, chair. Dr. Simberloff stated that the main thrust of the task force’s report will be an imperative statement: The Federal Government must ensure the adequacy of the U.S. science and engineering workforce. This requires mobilizing all stakeholders to initiate efforts that increase the number of U.S. citizens in science and engineering studies and careers. The imperative is based on findings in four areas: higher education, pre-college teaching, U.S. engagement in the international workforce, and the knowledge base needed to guide national policy on workforce issues. The task force intends to provide a draft report to the EHR Committee at the March meeting.

e. Committee on Programs and Plans

Dr. Jones, chair, reported that the committee had discussed and recommended a proposed award to CESR, which the Board approved earlier in this meeting. She presented for Board approval the draft report of the Task Force on Science and Engineering Infrastructure that incorporates changes based on public comments. She highlighted three changes: (1) a recommendation to increase the share of NSF’s budget devoted to infrastructure to “closer to the higher end of the historic range” which is 22-27 percent, (2) a recommendation to emphasize four categories “in no priority order” as the budget share increases, and (3) a recommendation concerning “outreach to primarily undergraduate colleges and universities.”

The Board APPROVED the report Science and Engineering Infrastructure for the 21st Century (NSB-02-190) for final editing and publication.

Dr. Jones presented a Statement on Infrastructure Support prepared by CPP and the Committee on Strategy and Budget. The statement reaffirms existing Board policy that NSF will fund through the Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction account those infrastructure projects that exceed 10 percent of the sponsoring directorate or office’s budget in the year of proposal, and through the Research and Related Activities account those infrastructure projects whose estimated costs are below that threshold level.

The Board APPROVED the Statement on Infrastructure Support (NSB-03-23).

Dr. Jones reported that the committee received briefings on the George E. Brown Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation, the Science of Learning Centers, and the Polar Issues Subcommittee.

f. CPP Subcommittee on Polar Issues

Dr. Rossmann reported on behalf of Dr. John White, chair. Dr. Rossmann reported that the subcommittee received briefings on recent publicity about polar science and plans for moving cargo to the South Pole Station by an overland route. The committee received a report on SEARCH, which is studying the speed-up of the North Polar vortex and its effects around the globe; a report on aircraft safety in the Antarctic region; and a report on the International Trans-Antarctic Scientific Expedition.


g. Committee on Strategy and Budget (CSB)

Dr. Savitz reported that the committee reviewed its charter, especially the section concerning Board involvement in the development of NSF budget strategy, and discussed how to provide effective input without micromanaging. She called attention to “A Facilities Management and Oversight Guide” posted on the NSF website for public comment and urged Board members to submit comments by March 6. Dr. Colwell briefed the committee on the draft GPRA (Government Performance and Results Act) Strategic Plan for FY2003-2008. The committee made suggestions in several areas, including discussion of the drivers and strategic factors that permeate the document. A revised draft is anticipated for the March meeting, public comments will be solicited through May, and in August the Board will be asked to approve the document for submittal to Congress in September. Dr. Norman Bradburn, assistant director for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences, led a discussion on ways to assess the impact of Board reports and recommendations. Dr. Margaret Cavanaugh, staff associate in the Office of the Director, informed the committee about the recent release of the Advisory Committee for Environmental Research and Education’s report, Complex Environmental Systems, a 10-year plan for NSF’s research agenda.

NON-AGENDA ITEM: Other Business

After thanking the many NSF staff members who helped prepare for and who participated in the meeting, Dr. Washington adjourned the Plenary Session at 2:45 p.m.


_______________________
Janice E. Baker
Policy Writer/Editor


Attachments:
Appendix A: NSB-03-23

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