NSB-03-86

APPROVED MINUTES1
PLENARY OPEN SESSION
374th MEETING
NATIONAL SCIENCE BOARD


The National Science Foundation
Arlington, Virginia
May 22, 2003

 

Members Present:

Warren M. Washington, Chair
Diana S. Natalicio, Vice Chair
Barry C. Barish
Delores M. Etter
Nina V. Fedoroff
Pamela A. Ferguson
Kenneth M. Ford
Daniel E. Hastings
Anita K. Jones
George M. Langford
Jane Lubchenco
Joseph A. Miller, Jr.
Douglas D. Randall
Robert C. Richardson
Maxine Savitz
Luis Sequeira
Daniel Simberloff
Jo Anne Vasquez
John A. White, Jr.
Mark S. Wrighton

Rita R. Colwell, NSF Director

Consultants Absent:

Steven C. Beering
Ray M. Bowen
Elizabeth Hoffman

Members Absent:

Michael G. Rossmann

The National Science Board (NSB) convened in Open Session at 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 22, 2003, with Dr. Warren M. Washington, Chair, presiding (Agenda NSB-03-44). In accordance with the Government in the Sunshine Act, this portion of the meeting was open to the public.

AGENDA ITEM 4: Board Meeting Calendar for 2004

Dr. Washington stated that the proposed calendar for Board meetings in 2004 was developed after looking at dates of other professional meetings and after polling Board members about their availability. The proposed calendar (NSB 03-68, Board Book Tab F) would give the highest potential attendance at Board meetings and would be consistent with recent annual calendars based on six meetings.

During discussion, it was proposed that the staff provide data on the number of members who have missed Board meetings throughout the past year and consider a method of minimizing the number of misses by any individual Board member.

Upon the recommendation of the Committee on Programs and Plans (CPP),

the Board APPROVED an offsite retreat to be held in February 2004 at the Louisiana LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory) facility with involvement by Xavier University.

Dr. Anita Jones, chair of CPP, reported that the committee would develop a recommendation for the next offsite meeting in early FY 2005 or possibly in late FY 2004.

AGENDA ITEM 5: Board Task Force Guidelines

Dr. Nina Fedoroff presented a set of guidelines that Board members could use in developing a proposal to recommend that a full-scale Board study be undertaken. The objective would be to improve the Board’s ability to target, develop, and deliver various new policy activities. During discussion, it was noted that to address the guidelines some interim activities, such as workshops, might be needed to gather information. The Board agreed to apply the guidelines to future suggestions for Board studies.

AGENDA ITEM 6: NSF Strategic Plan 2003-2008

Dr. Rita Colwell, National Science Foundation (NSF) Director, provided a progress report on the updating of the NSF GPRA (Government Performance and Results Act) Strategic Plan, which must be submitted to Congress by September 2003. She noted that the schedule calls for considerable interaction with the Board, especially the Committee on Strategy and Budget. Following the Board’s review of the current draft, the document will be placed on the website for comment from NSF stakeholders. She described the rationale and context for developing the plan, including the set of legal requirements and the evolving long-term issues driving science and engineering research and education.

Dr. Colwell pointed out changes from the previous plan. Although the three strategic goals have been kept (people, ideas, tools), their descriptions have been refined. A fourth goal, organization excellence, has been added. Resource-linked output goals have been linked to each strategic goal; they are in turn tied to specific budget accounts and activities.

Dr. Colwell stated that the next steps are to produce a revised draft based on Board comments; post the revised draft on the website for public comment; and solicit comments from Congress, other Federal research and development agencies, past Board members, and leaders in the science and engineering community. A final plan will be brought to the Board for approval in August.

During discussion, Board members commented that professional societies are an important source of feedback, advice, and support; and that the Office of Management and Budget suggested only a few changes to NSF’s original draft document. Dr. Colwell noted that NSF was pursuing a “green” rating for outsourcing under the President’s Management Agenda. It already has green ratings for financial management and e-government.

AGENDA ITEM 7: Director’s Merit Review Report

Dr. Nathaniel Pitts, Director of the Office of Integrative Activities, summarized the Director’s annual Merit Review Report on NSF’s key business processes. In 2002 NSF received more than 35,000 proposals and funded approximately 10,000 of them. About $1 billion worth of the declined proposals (totaling $15 billion) had the same kind of reviewer scores as the ones awarded and represent unfunded excellent research that NSF could support. As awards increase in size and duration, if appropriated dollars do not accommodate those increases, the funding rate will decrease. Members of the community may be less willing to serve as reviewers if the funding rate decreases.

Dr. Pitts pointed out that 59 percent of program officers are visiting scientists, Intergovernmental Personnel Act assignees, rotators, and other temporary categories. NSF would prefer to have 40 percent temporary staff (funded from Research and Related Activities account) and 60 percent permanent staff (funded from Salaries and Expenses account), or a 50-50 balance. The Salaries and Expenses account has not grown, however, while the workload has increased, and the result has created an imbalance in staffing. Dr. Pitts stated that in September the Booz Allen Hamilton study would deliver a report on NSF’s human capital concerns and needs.

During discussion, Board members commented that that Board must ensure that the NSF has the professional staff to do the work that needs to be done; and that the report does not seem to include data from the customer survey that NSF conducted a couple of years ago. Dr. Pitts clarified that temporary staff usually have one- to three-year appointments; the average is 1.1 years.

AGENDA ITEM (unnumbered): Long-Range Planning Goals

Dr. Colwell presented the highlights of the Long-Range Planning Book. She pointed out that the NSF Authorization Act of 2002 authorizes $7.4 billion for FY 2005 and increases to $9.8 billion for FY 2007. NSF’s investment priorities are aimed at strengthening research and education, increasing capacity within the science and engineering research community, and preparing a capable and well-educated science and engineering workforce. Funding among the disciplines must be balanced, while paying attention to emerging and multidisciplinary research areas. An important challenge is to equip the next generation of science and engineering researchers and educators with the tools they need for exploration and discovery.

Dr. Colwell stated that when long-term needs are assessed, it is evident that even at the authorized funding level there must be tradeoffs. She gave the example of increasing the size and duration of the average annual research grant. NSF’s long-term goal is to increase the average award to $250,000 per year for five years. The FY 2004 request is for an average annual award of $128,000 for three years. Each $5,000 increase in grant size costs $100 million if all other factors remain constant. A $50,000 increase for one year for all current grants would cost $1 billion. NSF must determine the appropriate balance among award size and duration, award funding rates, and infrastructure funding.

For the strategic goal of Tools, there are tradeoffs among large projects supported by the Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC) Account, facility operations and upgrades funded through the Research and Related Activities Account, and other infrastructure such as digital libraries, science research statistics, and Antarctic logistics. The recent Board report on infrastructure recommends that funding for infrastructure be at the higher end of 22 to 27 percent of the NSF budget. The FY 2004 proportion is 25 percent.

As part of the Organizational Excellence goal included in the new strategic plan, emphasis on Administration and Management (A&M) remains a priority. Program directors’ portfolios are growing in size and complexity. The trend has been for A&M to represent 5 percent of NSF’s budget. If NSF does not receive an appropriation at the authorization level, the share devoted to A&M may need to increase.

Dr. Maxine Savitz, chair of the Committee on Strategy and Budget, reported that the committee had received an in-depth presentation on the long-range planning document. Discussion focused on the priorities of A&M funding, given the workload increase; the tradeoffs related to increasing the size and duration of grants, and the impact on graduate students; and the importance of having seed money readily available for serendipitous opportunities.

AGENDA ITEM 8: Executive Committee Annual Report

Dr. Colwell, chair of the Executive Committee, presented the annual report of the committee’s activities (NSB/EC-03-06, Board Book Tab H), covering the period April 2002 through April 2003.

Dr. Colwell reported that the Executive Committee took action at the October 2002 Board meeting because of a lack of Board quorum. On behalf of the Board, the committee authorized supplements to Cooperative Agreements with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of California, San Diego, and the Mellon Pitt Carnegie Corporation for an Extensible Terascale Facility that included hardware and operations for a combined amount not to exceed $42.5 million for 12 months.

AGENDA ITEM 9: Report of the NWP Task Force

Dr. George Langford, chair of the Education and Human Resources Committee (EHR), brought to the Board the committee’s recommendation that the draft report of the Task Force on National Workforce Policies for Science and Engineering be posted on the website for 30 days for public comment, with outreach to selected stakeholders.

Dr. Joseph Miller, chair of the task force, summarized the group’s charge and the process used to develop the report, including data gathering, workshops, commissioned reports, and a comprehensive literature review. He noted the complexity of workforce issues and the lack of a model to judge influences and cause and effect. Because of global competition and domestic demographics, there was a national policy imperative: The Federal Government must step forward to ensure the adequacy of this workforce and all stakeholders must mobilize and initiate efforts to increase the number of U.S. students pursuing science and engineering studies and careers. Dr. Miller itemized the latest changes in the Executive Summary as representative of changes in the draft report. He thanked Dr. Karolyn Eisenstein, executive secretary, and Ms. Jean Pomeroy of the Board Office for their assistance to the task force.

During discussion, it was agreed that the draft report should recommend the strengthening of U.S. research universities so that they can continue to attract internationally competitive faculty and students.

Upon the recommendation of the EHR Committee,

the Board APPROVED the draft report of the NSB EHR Task Force on National Workforce Policies for Science and Engineering for public comment. Dr. Washington thanked Dr. Pitts and Dr. Norman Bradburn, Assistant Director for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences, for their participation on the task force.

AGENDA ITEM 10: OIG Semi-Annual Report

Dr. Mark Wrighton, chair of the Audit and Oversight Committee, reported that the committee had reviewed the Office of the Inspector General’s (OIG’s) Semiannual Report to the Congress covering the period October 1, 2002 through March 31, 2003, and the Management Response, and recommended approval of the draft transmittal letter to the Honorable Richard Cheney.

The Board APPROVED the transmittal letter for the OIG’s Semiannual Report to the Congress and the Management Response.

AGENDA ITEM 11: Minutes of the March 2003 Meeting

The Board APPROVED the minutes of the March 2003 meeting
(NSB-03-58, Board Book Tab I).

AGENDA ITEM 12: Closed Session Items for August 2003

The Board APPROVED the Closed Session items for the August 2003 Board Meeting (NSB-03-48, Board Book Tab J).

AGENDA ITEM 13: Chairman’s Report

a. Swearing in of New Board Members

Dr. Washington stated that he had sworn in six new Board members on May 21: Drs. Barry Barish, Delores Etter, Kenneth Ford, Daniel Hastings, Douglas Randall, and Jo Anne Vasquez.

b. Results of NSB Election

Dr. Washington reported that the Board elected Dr. Robert Richardson and Dr. Etter to two-year terms as members of the Executive Committee.

c. Annual Awards Dinner

Dr. Washington reported that at the Board’s annual Awards Dinner, held on May 21 at the Department of State, Dr. John Marburger, head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, read a greeting from the President and administered the oath of office to six newly confirmed Board members. Honorary awards were presented. Dr. Richard Atkinson, president of the University of California, received the Vannevar Bush Award.
Dr. Angelika Amon, Assistant Investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology received the Alan T. Waterman Award for her work in cell cycle control. Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, president and chief executive officer of the Center for Science and Industry in Columbus, Ohio, received the individual Public Service Award. The group Public Service Award was given to the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing, and the Earth and Sky radio series. Dr. Washington thanked Ms. Susan Fannoney, awards coordinator in the Board Office, for planning the event.

d. Discharge of Committees

Dr. Washington discharged two committees that had completed their work: the Vannevar Bush Award Committee, chaired by Dr. Langford, with members Drs. Miller, Michael Rossmann, and Savitz; and the Committee on NSB Nominations, chaired by Dr. Wrighton, with members Drs. Miller, Diana Natalicio, Richardson, and John White.

e. Movement toward a Paperless Way of Doing Business

Dr. Washington stated that he has asked the Board staff to work with Dr. George Strawn, NSF Chief Information Officer, to explore the possibility of moving toward a paperless way of doing Board business, modeled on the FastLane system.

AGENDA ITEM 14: Director’s Report

a. Personnel Changes

Dr. Colwell announced several staff appointments: Dr. John Brighton, Assistant Director for Engineering; Mr. Anthony Arnolli, Director of the Office of Information Systems; Dr. Barbara Olds, Director of Research Evaluation and Communications and EHR Director.
Dr. Colwell also introduced Dr. Mark Coles, soon to become the Deputy for Large Facility Projects.

b. Congressional Update

Dr. Colwell provided an update on congressional actions since the March Board meeting. On May 1 the Senate passed Senate Bill 196, the Digital Wireless Network Technology Program Act of 2003, with would authorize $250 million a year for five years to improve educational instruction in digital and wireless technologies and improve technology infrastructure at eligible institutions. NSF has established an advisory council on the best approaches for involving eligible institutions in supporting activities. On May 7 the House passed House Bill 766, the Nanotechnology Research and Development Act of 2003. NSF would be the lead agency.

Several hearings were held. On April 3, the Senate VA, HUD and Independent Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee heard testimony on NSF’s FY 2004 budget request. In addition to testimony from Drs. Washington and Colwell, Dr. Marburger, the President’s science adviser, also testified. Members expressed concern over the low funding levels requested for research as compared to the FY 2003 appropriated levels. On April 10, the House VA, HUD and Independent Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee held hearings on NSF’s FY 2004 budget request. On May 8 the House Science Committee, Subcommittee on Research, held a hearing on the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program;
Dr. Priscilla Nelson, senior adviser for the Directorate on Engineering, submitted written testimony for NSF. On May 15 the House Science Committee held a hearing on the Cybersecurity Research and Development Act of 2002, signed into law in November 2002. The committee was interested in how each agency planned to carry out the legislation.

The House and Senate passed a budget resolution containing spending limits for FY 2004, but allocations to the appropriations subcommittees have not yet been made.

AGENDA ITEM 15: Committee Reports

a. Audit and Oversight (A&O)

Dr. Mark Wrighton, chair, reported that the A&O Committee received a presentation on the work of the General Accounting Office (GAO) from Ms. Robin Nazarro, Director of Natural Resources and Environment at GAO. She complimented NSF on implementation of GPRA and said that NSF was a model for other agencies in the recent GAO study, “An Evaluation of Culture and Collaborative Partnerships Help Build Agency Capacity.” Dr. Montgomery Fisher, Senior Counsel to the Assistant Inspector General for Investigations, reported the final results and settlement from a case involving NYSER Net, an NSF awardee. Dr. Strawn explained efforts to improve security management for NSF’s information technology systems. Mr. Donald McCrory, Deputy Chief Financial Officer, described the government’s challenging attempt to close the FY 2003 books by November 15, 2003. NSF has been selected by the Department of the Treasury as a testbed for the new closing procedure. Dr. Gerald Barkdoll of the National Academy of Public Administration briefed the committee on a review of NSF that he will lead. A draft report is due by January 15, 2004. One of the key items to be reviewed is the role of the Board.

In a closed session, the committee received a briefing from Dr. Christine Boesz, NSF Inspector General, on the results of a recent audit, the status of an active investigation of an NSF awardee, and the results of an investigation of a hacking incident in Antarctica.

b. Committee on Programs and Plans (CPP)

In the absence of Dr. Anita Jones, chair, Dr. Daniel Simberloff reported that Dr. Joseph Bordogna, NSF Deputy Director, reviewed NSF’s FY 2004 budget request and the MREFC account. He identified some of the impacts of the FY 2003 appropriation on the FY 2004 request and reviewed the non-prioritized discussion list of future MREFC projects. Dr. John White, chair of the CPP Task Force on Science and Engineering Infrastructure, reported on the dissemination plan for the infrastructure report, which is being printed.

c. CPP Subcommittee on Polar Issues

Dr. White, chair, reported that Dr. Scott Borg is the new head of the Antarctic Science Section. The Office of Polar Programs (OPP) is planning to initiate a Polar post-doctoral program and, with the Directorate of Education and Human Resources, is entertaining proposals for a successor activity to Teachers in the Arctic. The subcommittee received briefings on the safety and security audit conducted at the South Pole, the information technology security breach, and the need to refurbish or replace icebreakers if McMurdo Station and the South Pole Station are to be occupied year round.

d. Education and Human Resources Committee (EHR)

Dr. Langford, chair, reported that the committee received several reports: Dr. Miller presented the draft report of the Task Force on National Workforce Policies for Science and Engineering, which the committee agreed to recommend to the Board. The three working groups (K-12, undergraduate, and graduate programs) provided updates, as did the Science and Engineering Indicators Subcommittee. Dr. Penelope Firth, Acting Deputy Division Director for Environmental Biology, gave a presentation on nurturing discovery in the biological sciences, addressing the recent NRC report Bio 2010, which calls for transforming the biology curriculum. Dr. Bradburn updated the committee on activities related to diversity and education in the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate. The EHR Advisory Committee provided an update on new programs related to teacher preparation and math and science partnerships.

Dr. Langford encouraged Board members to attend the Broadening Participation Workshop on August 12. The workshop will look at diversity, improvements already made, and issues for the future.

e. EHR Subcommittee on Science and Engineering Indicators

In the absence of Dr. Richardson, chair, Dr. Simberloff reported that the subcommittee discussed five draft chapters and part of another. Three of the draft chapters will be revised by staff and included in the Orange Book. The subcommittee will review revised drafts of the chapters on the science and engineering workforce, and higher education. It is anticipated that the Orange Book will be ready for Board review in July.

g. Committee on Strategy and Budget

Dr. Savitz, chair, reported that the committee discussed the Board’s new responsibility under Section 22 of the NSF Authorization Act of 2002. The Board must prepare a report to Congress, due in December 2003, to address (1) how increased funding for NSF would be used, (2) the impact of NSF budget increases on the workforce, (3) how expanded NSF-supported programs would allow institutions of higher education to expand their participation, (4) infrastructure concerns, and (5) size and duration of NSF grants. The committee discussed inviting the entire Board to the committee’s August meeting to discuss issues to be addressed in the Section 22 report. The Board will be asked to approve the draft report in November. Dr. Langford suggested that the committee also discuss how the under-funding of NSF affects the marketplace. In a closed session, the committee discussed strategies and budget areas related to NSF’s FY 2005 budget.

Dr. Washington adjourned the Open Session at 3:30 p.m.

1The minutes of the 374th meeting were approved by the Board at the August 14, 2003 meeting.

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