The National Science Foundation
March 13, 2003
Warren M. Washington, Chair
Rita R. Colwell, NSF Director
Steven C. Beering
Diana S. Natalicio, Vice Chair
Barry C. Barish
The National Science Board (NSB) convened in plenary session at 11:15 a.m. on Thursday, March 13, 2003, with Dr. Warren M. Washington, NSB Chair, presiding (agenda NSB-03-32). In accordance with the Government in the Sunshine Act, Agenda Item 1 was closed to the public.
AGENDA ITEM 1: Honorary Award Recommendations
The Board approved recipients of the 2003 Alan T. Waterman Award, Vannevar Bush Award, and Public Service Award. The Chair stated that the selections would remain confidential until the Director and the Chair notified the recipients.
[Soon after the Board meeting, the award winners were announced: Dr. Angelika Amon, assistant professor at the Center for Cancer Research and assistant investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Alan T. Waterman Award; Dr. Richard C. Atkinson, president of the University of California, the Vannevar Bush Award; Dr. Kathryn D. Sullivan, president and chief executive officer of the Center of Science and Industry, individual Public Service Award; and The Council for the Advancement of Science Writing and also Earth and Sky radio series, the group Public Service Award.]
[recess for lunch, 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.]
The NSB reconvened at 12:30 p.m., Dr. Washington presiding. In accordance with the Government in the Sunshine Act, the remainder of the plenary session was open to the public.
AGENDA ITEM 2: Science Presentations
Dr. Knute Nadelhoffer, Program Director for Ecosystem Studies, Directorate for Biological Sciences, discussed the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) from a potential user's perspective. He explained how NEON could help researchers understand the process of CO2 accumulation in the atmosphere, microbial activity in the soil and the storage of organic carbon, redistribution of organisms around the world and the effect on the carbon balance of forests. Sensors yet to be developed could detect and quantify processes occurring at the microbial scale that affect ecosystems such as global carbon cycling and global warming. NEON would offer a systematic approach to understanding the carbon balance in the atmosphere and soil, and would enable the collaboration of global biochemists, microbiologists, engineers, mathematicians, and modelers.
Dr. James Whitcomb, Section Head for Special Projects in the Division of Earth Sciences, Geosciences Directorate, briefed the Board on the plate boundary observatory element of EarthScope. He gave examples of Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) stations being used as a long-period seismometer to measure ground motion and tsunamis, enabling predictions of plate slippage and earthquakes. GPS data on changes in the ionic content of the ionosphere could be used to map Rayleigh wave velocities over the ocean, enabling scientists to predict which earthquakes in the open ocean would be likely to produce tsunamis.
AGENDA ITEM 3: Minutes of the February 2003 Meeting
The Board APPROVED the minutes of the February 2003 meeting (NSB-03-25, Board Book Tab A).
AGENDA ITEM 4: Closed Session Items for May 2003
The Board APPROVED the closed agenda items for the May 2003 Board Meeting (NSB-03-26, Board Book Tab B).
AGENDA ITEM 5: Chair's Report
a. Relationship with Congress
Dr. Washington reported that the Board continues to have productive interactions with congressional staff, and he recently visited with staff of the House Science Committee. He noted that Mr. Frank Cushing had retired from his position of Majority Clerk of the House Appropriations Subcommittee. Dr. Washington thanked the National Science Foundation's (NSF's) Office of Legislative and Public Affairs for keeping the Board informed about congressional actions and issues.
b. NSB Budget
Dr. Washington reminded the Board that the NSF appropriations act for fiscal year 2003 provides a separate budget for the Board. He is in the process of deciding how to allocate those funds, and updates will be forthcoming.
c. Annual Awards Dinner
Dr. Washington reminded the Board that the annual Awards Dinner would be held at the State Department on Tuesday, May 20, before the Board meeting on May 21-22.
[After the Board meeting, the dinner was changed to Wednesday evening, May 21.]
AGENDA ITEM 6: Director's Report
a. Introduction of Staff
Dr. Rita Colwell, NSF Director, introduced newly appointed NSF staff: Dr. William Frascella, Director of the Division of Elementary, Secondary and Informal Education in the Education and Human Resources (EHR) Directorate.
b. Congressional Update
FY 2003 Appropriation:
Dr. Colwell reported that on February 20 the Consolidated Appropriations Resolution of 2003 became law. NSF received an appropriation of $5.3 billion or 5.6 percent more than the FY 2003 request and approximately 11 percent more than the FY 2002 appropriation. In general, Congress gave priority to core activities, with specific increases for polar research, plant genome research, cybersecurity, astronomy observatories, advanced broadband research, Major Research Instrumentation, and the Climate Change Research Initiative. The priority areas of Information Technology Research, Nanoscale Science and Engineering, and the Mathematical Sciences each received their requested levels.
Appropriations for education and human resource activities emphasized programs to broaden participation. Congress added funding to the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Undergraduate Program and the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program, and increased support for a new programmatic activity under the Centers for Research Excellence in Science and Technology. The Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), Informal Science Education, and the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Talent Expansion Program (STEP) also received increases. Congress increased the stipend levels for graduate students in the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeships (IGERT), Graduate Teaching Fellowships in K-12 Education (GK-12), and Graduate Research Fellowships GRF) programs to $27,500 or $2,500 more than the requested level. The Math and Science Partnership Program was funded at $127 million, considerably below the request of $200 million.
The Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction account was funded at $149 million, or 17.6 percent above the FY 2003 request. Congress provided funds for two projects, IceCube and HIAPER (High-performance, Instrumented, Airborne Platform for Environmental Research), that NSF had not intended to fund until FY 2004. Funding for terascale computing systems and EarthScope was less than the requested amounts, and NEON was not funded for FY 2003.
The Salaries and Expenses account received an increase of 11 percent, for a total of $189 million. Dr. Colwell noted that this amount includes only half of the new 50 full-time equivalents requested for FY 2003 and that the increase and complexity of the workload as well as demands for new accountability and tighter security were straining internal operations.
Funding for the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) was set at $9 million, 10 percent more than requested and 36 percent more than the FY 2002 appropriation. The NSB received a separate budget of $3.5 million for FY 2003.
Dr. Colwell concluded that the FY 2003 budget reflects strong support for NSF and for science and engineering in general, and also for the role of research and education in homeland security and the economy.
On February 13 the House Science Committee held a hearing on FY 2004 budget requests, and the Director testified for NSF. Members of the committee expressed concern over the generally low funding levels that were requested for research compared to the FY 2003 appropriation. On February 13, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee held a hearing on Senate bill 196, the Digital and Wireless Network Technology Program Act of 2003. The bill would authorize NSF to provide $250 million in each of the next five years for digital and wireless network technologies to minority-serving institutions.
Hearings on the FY 2004 budget request are scheduled for April 3 before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee and April 10 before the House Appropriations Subcommittee.
Congressional Staff Changes:
Dr. Colwell announced that Mr. Tim Peterson will take over Mr. Cushing's position as clerk of the House Appropriations Subcommittee and Ms. Dena Baron will assume responsibilities for NSF. Mr. Allen Cutler joins the Senate VA, HUD and Independent Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee staff and, along with Mr. Cheh Kim, will be responsible for NSF. Mr. Peter Rooney has been named Staff Director of the Research Subcommittee of the House Science Committee, replacing Ms. Sharon Hays who has moved to the Office of Science and Technology Policy.
AGENDA ITEM 7: Report on the Retreat
Dr. Washington stated that the Board held its retreat on February 7 in Washington, DC, and discussed a range of operational issues, including issues raised by the NSF Authorization Act and methods for selecting policy areas for in-depth study.
Dr. Colwell commented that she was pleased at the Board members' interest in identifying NSF's unmet needs and their offers to direct support where it would be most useful.
a. Multidisciplinary and Paradigm-Shifting Research
As follow-up to a discussion at the retreat, Dr. Nina Fedoroff presented a proposal for a task force on the evaluation of multidisciplinary and paradigm-shifting proposals that are outside the mainstream and have difficulty getting funded. She noted that this issue concerns all agencies that fund fundamental research, such as the National Institutes of Health, and the Board should involve other agencies in the evaluation. Drs. Daniel Simberloff, Michael Rossmann, Kenneth Ford, Douglas Randall, and Daniel Hastings are working with her on the draft proposal.
During Board discussion, it was noted that having a mechanism to deal with paradigm-shifting proposals could mean major steps forward for science; that the Department of Energy should be involved in any evaluation; and that the Board's focus might be broadened to interdisciplinary research in general.
Dr. Washington asked Dr. Fedoroff to work with staff to develop the idea further for the May Board meeting.
b. Policy Voice
As follow-up to a discussion at the retreat, Dr. Fedoroff introduced her draft concept paper on the Board's policy voice. She reminded the Board that this topic had developed from the Board's retreat two years ago and had been studied by the Audit and Oversight Committee last year. The intent was to determine the cost and impact of Board policy studies and recommend ways to improve both processes and outcomes. Dr. Fedoroff suggested that a group be put together to develop the proposed process and guidelines. She noted that such an activity could help maximize the impact of task force reports that are in the final stages of preparation and could help the Board determine topics for future Board studies.
Dr. Washington asked Dr. Fedoroff to work with staff to develop the idea further. He offered to solicit additional Board member participation to work with her and staff.
At Dr. Washington's request, Dr. Robert Richardson reported on
concerns raised at the retreat about the large number of science
students and visitors from friendly countries who are unable to
get into the United States because of delays in receiving visas.
Dr. Richardson stated that he did not recommend any Board action at this time. He noted that it was difficult to get accurate data and that other organizations, such as the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences, were studying the issue. Dr. Washington assured Board members that he would keep them informed about any developments concerning visas.
AGENDA ITEM 8: Committee Reports
a. Committee on Audit and Oversight (A&O)
Dr. Luis Sequeira reported on behalf of Dr. Mark Wrighton, chair. The committee heard several presentations. Mr. Tim Cross, Deputy Inspector General, presented his evaluation of the FY 2002 OIG Performance Plan. Dr. Deborah Cureton, Associate Inspector General for Audit, presented the results of the most recent peer review of the OIG's audit group; the group was found to be in substantial compliance with government auditing standards. Dr. Christine Boesz, Inspector General, reported on the OIG budgets for FY 2003 and FY 2004. Mr. Thomas Cooley, Chief Financial Officer and Director of the Office of Budget, Finance and Award Management (BFA), discussed looming problems in the administration and management budget as research budgets increase. Ms. Jean Feldman, Head of the Policy Office in the Division of Grants and Agreements, BFA, gave a progress report on implementing changes to the cost-sharing policy. Dr. George Strawn, Chief Information Officer, Office of Information and Resource Management described security concerns and plans. Mr. Joseph Burt, Acting Director, Division of Human Resource Management, provided an update on the business analysis contract with Booz Allen Hamilton, and Mr. Michael Sieverts, Senior Policy Analyst in the Budget Division, BFA, described the contract with the National Academy of Public Administration to review NSF organizational and programmatic structure.
b. Committee on Education and Human Resources (EHR)
Dr. George Langford, chair, reported that the committee discussed initial plans for a workshop on "Broadening Participation in Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology Fields" scheduled for August 12. The workshop is intended to identify new ways to diversify faculty and students in science and engineering fields and help the committee develop recommendations for the Board.
Each of the three working groups (K-12, undergraduate, and graduate education) reported on data gathering, which will form the basis for their future review of NSF educational programs and funding levels and eventual guidance to the full committee.
Dr. Deborah Bell, professor at the University of Michigan, presented her research on ways of preparing math teachers. She noted that math preparation of teachers is not aligned with professional demands placed on teachers in the classroom.
The committee continued its review of NSF's EHR portfolio. Dr. Judith Ramaley, Assistant Director of the EHR Directorate, has put together a panel to review the portfolio. Panel member Dr. Joan Ferrini-Mundy of Michigan State University and Dr. Janice Earle, Senior Program Director of Instructional Materials Development at NSF, presented an innovative thematic portfolio review process for math education, to determine relevance, quality, and performance.
Dr. Langford reported that the Department of Defense will contribute $4.5 million over a three-year period to support Research Experiences for Undergraduates sites. NSF spends approximately $30 million a year on these sites.
Dr. Langford announced that he expects to bring 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.
Dr. Jo Anne Vasquez commented that she had attended the Secretary of Education's Math Summit, with participation by more than 180 organizations, for discussions on ways to improve mathematics and science education.
c. Science and Engineering Indicators Subcommittee (S&EI)
Dr. Richardson, chair, stated that review of Science and Engineering Indicators 2004 chapters is on schedule, and the Board can expect to receive the complete draft for review (known as the "orange book") by the August Board meeting.
d. EHR Task Force on National Workforce Policies for Science and Engineering (NWP)
Dr. Joseph Miller, chair, reported that during the past two and a half years the task force has assessed long-term national workforce trends and needs in science and engineering and the relationship to existing national policy. At this meeting, task force members concurred on recommendations and will soon forward the draft report to the EHR Committee for review.
e. Committee on Programs and Plans
Dr. Anita Jones, chair, reported that the committee heard a presentation from Dr. Peter Freeman, Assistant Director for the Computer and Information Science and Engineering Directorate, on NSF's initial response to the Atkins Committee report on high-performance computing. Consistent with that committee's recommendations, NSF will phase down the Partnerships for Advanced Computational Infrastructure centers, increase the number of partners participating in the Enhanced Terascale Facility, and work with the community to determine the best governance for the facility.
The committee also discussed the communications and distribution plan for releasing the final report of the Task Force on Science and Engineering Infrastructure. The report, which was approved by the Board at the February meeting, will be placed on the Board's website on April 9, and printed copies will be available in July. Dr. Jones urged Board members to look for opportunities that would allow them to raise infrastructure issues and discuss Board recommendations.
Dr. Jones reported that Dr. Bruce Malfait, head of the Marine Geosciences Section in the Division of Ocean Sciences, provided a status report on U.S. participation in the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program. The shallow drilling vessel approved by the Board in 2001 has not yet appeared in the Foundation's budget. Therefore, the Geosciences Directorate has arranged for short-term services of a drilling vessel to reduce the hiatus in researchers' ability to study sediment and coastal rocks.
In response to a discussion at the Board retreat, the committee suggested that the Board hold an annual field site meeting in conjunction with its retreat and that February and October be considered as possible months for this event. During Board discussion, it was noted that most potential field sites are well networked and teleconference participation by staff would be possible. It was suggested that candidate sites for the next three years be proposed at the next Board meeting, along with a recommendation for the timing of the retreat.
The committee also received reports from Dr. Margaret Leinen, Assistant Director for Geosciences, on strategy planning in the environmental science area and from Dr. John Lightbody, Executive Officer, Division of Physics, on public comments received on the Major Facilities Management and Oversight Guide.
The committee discussed the terms of reference involved in examining the complex set of issues related to long-lived data collections, especially digital data collections. The committee proposed that the Board focus on this issue because of the Foundation's increasing investment in data collection, manipulation, and archiving; increasing accessibility through improved computers capability and storage; and rising demands for NSF to fund collections for long periods. Dr. Jones suggested that an ad hoc group be authorized to become more educated about the issues, possibly through a workshop, and subsequently recommend actions to the Board. Dr. Washington agreed that the issue was important and deserved further development.
f. Committee on Strategy and Budget (CSB)
Dr. Maxine Savitz, chair, reported that the committee met in a brief closed session to discuss the FY 2005 budget, major strategic areas, and various options.
In open session, Dr. Joseph Bordogna, NSF Deputy Director, reviewed the revised draft Five Year Strategic Plan, covering 2003 through 2008, and reported that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) had received a draft for comment. After addressing any concerns of OMB, NSF will place the draft plan on its website for public comment. The intent is to bring the completed plan to the Board for approval in August.
Dr. Bordogna led a discussion of NSF's "opportunity fund," which no longer exists. The fund was used to invest in testing nascent community-driven ideas that would have been difficult to fund otherwise.
Mr. David Stonner, head of the Office of Legislative and Public Affairs, described the development of Section 22 in the NSF Authorization Act. The section requires the Board to submit an annual report to Congress on NSF's strategic and programmatic areas.
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.
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