The National Science Foundation
March 24-25, 2004
Warren M. Washington, Chair
Pamela A. Ferguson
The National Science Board (NSB, the Board) convened in Open Session at 12:50 p.m. on Thursday, March 25, 2004, with Dr. Washington, NSB Chair, presiding (NSB-04-31). In accordance with the Government in the Sunshine Act, the remainder of this session was open to the public.
[There was no Agenda Item 5.]
AGENDA ITEM 6: Open Session Minutes for February 2004
The Board approved the minutes of the February 2004 meeting (NSB-04-28,
AGENDA ITEM 7: Closed Session Items for May 2004
The Board approved the Closed Session agenda items for the May
2004 Board Meeting
(NSB-04-30, Board Book Tab10C).
AGENDA ITEM 8: Chairman’s Report
a. Report on Senate Appropriations Hearing
Dr. Washington reported that on February 26 he testified before the Senate Veterans’ Administration, Housing and Urban Development (VA-HUD), and Independent Agencies Subcommittee on the NSF budget request for FY 2005. Both Chairman Christopher Bond and Ranking Member Barbara Mikulski expressed their continued support for doubling the NSF’s budget during the next five years. They expressed disappointment in the proposed 3 percent increase in NSF’s budget and in reduced spending for programs in the Education and Human Resources (EHR) Directorate. They were especially disappointed in the proposed transfer of the Math and Science Partnership (MSP) program to the Department of Education. With his testimony concerning the proposed NSF budget for FY 2005, the Chairman provided the Board’s official statement, In Support of the Math and Science Partnership Program at the National Science Foundation (NSB-04-42). Dr. Washington described NSB plans for enhancing contributions to national science policy discussions and strengthening oversight of NSF.
b. Legislative Update
Dr. Washington stated that he had asked NSF’s Office of Legislative and Public Affairs to provide the Board with a summary of key Congressional activities since the last Board meeting. A copy of this update was provided for members’ information in the background materials for the meeting.
c. Update on Smithsonian Institution Funding
Dr. Washington reminded members that at the November 2003 Board meeting he had asked NSF’s General Counsel, Mr. Lawrence Rudolph, and the NSB Executive Officer, Dr. Michael Crosby, to work together to identify Board or Foundation policies regarding NSF funding of Federal researchers, and to prepare an overview of recent legislation that may impact NSF in this regard. During the February 2004 NSB meeting, Mr. Rudolph provided the Board with an overview of these policies, practices, and legislation. The issues in this regard were inconsistencies in NSF program staff application of existing policies regarding grant applications from Smithsonian Institution researchers and language in recent legislation pertaining to Smithsonian Institution researchers’ eligibility for NSF grant funds.
Following the February NSB meeting, Dr. Washington reported there have been numerous followup discussions and communications on this topic among NSB and NSF staff, Congressional staff, and representatives of the Smithsonian Institution. Dr. Washington stated that there was a collective assessment that progress had been made towards reaching common ground for all parties, and, as a result, it is appropriate for the Board to discuss whether to modify existing policy.
As a starting point for the Board’s discussion, Dr. Washington
reported that he had asked
Dr. Crosby to provide Board members with an overview of the principal issues that are the basis of the ongoing discussions on this topic, along with draft options for resolutions that could be reviewed, discussed, and potentially acted upon by the Board if it would like to change existing policy. He reminded members that they might also decide to make no change to existing policy. The Chairman asked Dr. Crosby to provide an overview of the draft options sent to members. After discussion of the many implications of the proposed changes, the Board authorized and requested the NSF Acting Director to negotiate with the Smithsonian Institution and draft a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that would explicitly detail the procedures that would permit Smithsonian Institution scientists to compete for NSF awards under specific circumstances. The MOU could be experimental in nature with a 2 - 3 year sunset provision. Members expressed concern about potentially setting a precedent that Federal agencies or their Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs) may attempt to exploit. Therefore, the Board stated that the MOU must be clear in defining the arrangement with the Smithsonian in such a way that it could not be duplicated by Federal agencies or FFRDCs. Members also emphasized the importance of Smithsonian investment to any potential NSF grants. The draft MOU must be brought back to the Board for review and approval, contingent on being able to appropriately address these Board concerns.
d. NSB Nominating Committee
Dr. Washington reported that, in Executive Closed Session today, the Board elected a Nominating Committee charged with creating a slate of candidates for the election of Board officers in May. Members of the committee are Drs. Bowen, Ford, Hastings, and Hoffman. The committee members will elect their own chairman.
e. Nominations for NSB Members
Dr. Washington reported that nominations for new NSB members are being accepted for the class of 2006 - 2012. Names should be submitted to Dr. Crosby or Mrs. Susan Fannoney, Staff Assistant, NSB Office. He said that the list will be presented to the Board for approval at the December meeting before submission to the White House.
f. Honorary Awards
Dr. Washington reported that, in Executive Closed Session, the Board approved recipients of the 2004 Vannevar Bush Award, the Alan T. Waterman Award, and the NSB Public Service Awards. The names of the awardees would be made public after they have been contacted by the NSF Acting Director and the NSB Chair.
[Soon after the Board meeting, the award winners were notified: Dr. Kristi S. Anseth, Tisone Professor and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Assistant Investigator, University of Colorado - the Alan T. Waterman Award; Dr. Mary L. Good, Dean for the Donaghey College of Information Science and Systems Engineering, University of Arkansas at Little Rock - the Vannevar Bush Award; Dr. Oliver W. Sacks, Clinical Professor of Neurology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and author - individual NSB Public Service Award; and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation - group NSB Public Service Award.]
g. Discharge of Task Force
Dr. Washington announced that he was discharging with thanks the EHR Task Force on National Workforce Policies for Science and Engineering. It was chaired by Dr. Miller, with Dr. Langford as Vice Chair, and members Drs. Fedoroff, Natalicio, Savitz, and Simberloff. Dr. Norman Bradburn, Assistant Director, Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences and Dr. Nathaniel Pitts, Director, Office of Integrative Activities also served as members. The Chairman expressed thanks to Dr. Karolyn Eisenstein as Executive Secretary and Ms. Jean Pomeroy of the NSB Office for their outstanding support.
AGENDA ITEM 9: NSF Director’s Report
a. Introduction of NSF Staff
The NSF Acting Director, Dr. Bement, announced changes in senior NSF Staff. Dr. Wanda Ward who has been serving as Acting Assistant Director for the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences since March 14, and Dr. Thomas Windham, Senior Advisor for the Science and Engineering (S&E) Workforce in the Office of the Director since February 17.
b. Congressional Update
The NSF Acting Director provided a summary of recent Congressional
activities. He met
March 4 with Congressman Nick Stone who is interested in encouraging private sector investment in math and science education, and would like to establish a Congressional Partners in Education Gold Medal to reward such private sector investments. A hearing will be held March 31 on this topic, and Dr. Judith Ramaley, Assistant Director, EHR, will be a witness.
Dr. Bement met with Mr. Michael Stevens, minority staff assistant of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on VA-HUD and Independent Agencies, to discuss the issues related to NSF funding of Smithsonian Institution scientists. He also met with senior House Science Committee staff on March 15 and discussed the recent reports by the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) on NSF organizational and operational issues.
A hearing was held March 17 on Green Chemistry. The NSF Acting Director testified concerning NSF’s $30 million portfolio in this area. He also attended a Congressional breakfast March 18 to recognize recipients of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching (PAEMSE). Dr. George Strawn, NSF’s Chief Information Officer, was a witness March 24 at a hearing on the NSF contributions to e-government.
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on VA-HUD and Independent Agencies will hold a hearing April 1, and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will hold hearings April 6 on near-earth objects as well as U.S. competitiveness and innovation. Since the February NSB meeting, the NSF has given briefings for Congressional staff on Cybersecurity, the FY 2005 budget request, high-end computing, and the Scholarship for Service program.
AGENDA ITEM 10: Committee Reports
a. Executive Committee (EC)
Dr. Bement, Chairman of the Executive Committee, reported that the committee endorsed the Government in the Sunshine Act audit response plan, prepared by the NSB Executive Officer, to transmit to the Office of Inspector General.
b. Audit and Oversight (A&O)
Dr. Beering, Chairman, reported that Dr. Gerald Barkdoll, the Project Director, provided an update on NAPA’s review of NSF. Final issuance of the report is scheduled for April 22. Dr. Barkdoll described NAPA’s process for developing the report, including the role of the expert panel. He noted that NAPA tried to make the process open and participatory. In keeping with Congress’s intent in seeking the report, the report looked at four areas: NSB roles and responsibilities, use of rotators at NSF, interdisciplinary and innovative research support at NSF, and the balance between investigator-initiated and NSF-solicited research.
Mr. Thomas Cooley, NSF’s Chief Financial Officer, provided the committee with an update on grants monitoring. He discussed how NSF addressed the findings in the audit reportable condition. Based on feedback from audits, there is a clear sense that new and other non-traditional grantees need the most attention, and that pro-active training and communication are important to prevent poor audit results in the future. The committee also heard from Dr. Crosby who reported on the NSB Sunshine Act Audit and the NSB’s plans for responding. He noted that overall the NSB “passed” the audit and they were examining how best to address the recommendations for improvement by development of a handbook, training, and dedicated staffing to support Sunshine Act compliance.
c. Education and Human Resources (EHR)
Dr. Langford, Chairman, reported for the committee. He welcomed
NSF Acting Director,
Dr. Bement, and introduced Dr. Thomas Windham, the Senior Advisor for the S&E Workforce. Dr. Windham addressed the committee briefly on his vision in his new position.
Dr. Langford reported that a Statement of the National Science Board, In Support of the Math and Science Partnership Program at the National Science Foundation (NSB-04-42) has been submitted to the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), Office of Management and Budget, and Congress opposing transfer of the MSP program to the Department of Education. There have been no changes to date on the status of the MSP program. The EHR Committee asked to go on record that it remains in favor of maintaining the MSP program.
Dr. Bianca Bernstein, Division Director, Graduate Education, EHR, provided the committee with an update on the Graduate Student Workshop jointly sponsored by NSF, the National Institutes of Health, and the Council of Graduate Students, which is now scheduled for June 17 - 18, 2004 at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C. Dr. Crosby reported that a manuscript, jointly authored by Drs. Washington, Miller, Langford, Natalicio, and Crosby with Ms. Pomeroy was submitted to Science as a Policy Forum article. The article outlines the position of the NSB on the issue of the supply of science and engineering human resources. The authors felt it was important to continue to clarify the position of the Board on the topic of the S&E Workforce.
The committee members considered a draft executive summary with findings and recommendation that resulted from the NSB Workshop on Broadening Participation in Science and Engineering Research and Education held in August 2003. The committee will meet by teleconference to review the revised draft, based on committee discussion, for consideration by the full Board at the May NSB meeting.
Dr. Ramaley provided a presentation on EHR priorities and FY 2005 budget to the committee, and reviewed the vision and mission of the EHR Directorate, and the goals of the EHR portfolio. Dr. Ramaley discussed budget changes from FY 2003 to FY 2004, and noted that most significant changes occur when going to FY 2005, when the EHR budget request declines by 18 percent. Dr. Ramaley noted that an $80 million portion of the MSP funds in FY 2005 would be in the Research and Related Activities Account to be used for phasing out the existing awards.
d. EHR Subcommittee on Science and Engineering Indicators (S&EI)
The S&EI Subcommittee did not meet, but Dr. Washington called on Dr. Richardson to report on the status of S&E Indicators - 2004. Dr. Richardson reported that the publication had been submitted January 12 to the White House, but no word had been received on its release for delivery to Congress. Dr. Washington asked the NSB Executive Officer to look into this situation.
e. Programs and Plans (CPP)
Dr. Jones, Chair, reported that in open session the committee heard a status report on the planning for NSF’s role in the Academic Research Fleet. Four specific initiatives represent NSF’s role in decadal efforts to renew the fleet: Alaska Region Research Vessel, three regional class ships, a seismic vessel to replace the R/V Ewing, and a replacement for the ALVIN.
There was a status report from the NSB Task Force on Long-lived
Data Collections (LLDC). A workshop was held on March 23 with broad
representation from the scientific community. A report will be produced
that summarizes the outcomes from this workshop and the earlier
workshop with the Federal community. The report will be made available
to NSB and will inform the Task Force on LLDC.
The committee heard a report from the ad hoc working group on High Risk Research. The group is working on a list of invitees and a paper on this subject. The NSB Executive Officer will solicit additional invitee names.
The committee held a discussion related to the National Academy’s Report on setting priorities for large research facilities.
f. CPP Subcommittee on Polar Issues (PI)
Dr. White, Chairman, stated that the Subcommittee on Polar Issues had a report from the Office of Polar Programs, which covered a wide range of interesting topics. Dr. White reported on three: the long range planning effort on McMurdo Station, the near completion on the South Pole Station, and the International Polar Year in 2007 and 2008.
The subcommittee also heard presentations on the importance of small eddies in the Arctic Ocean and on the environmental assessment of scientific and operational activities in Antarctica. Dr. White noted that there were two dinosaur discoveries made less than a week apart in the Antarctic. [The Board viewed videotape presentations.]
g. Committee on Strategy and Budget (CSB)
Dr. Savitz, Chair, led the committee in a discussion of the questions raised by OSTP, Congressional staff, and NSB members related to the report submitted by the Board as mandated in Section 22 of the NSF Authorization Act of 2002. NSF staff prepared responses and related data to inform this discussion.
Specific areas discussed included the causes for and implications of the large increases in proposals submitted to the NSF over the past three years – from a level of about 30,000 per year through 2001 to 40,000 proposals in 2003. Suggested causes include an increase in Information Technology Research, Small Business Innovation Research, Faculty Early Career Development Program submissions, and a reduction in funding at other Federal agencies.
The committee discussed tradeoffs associated with changing award size and duration, including affects on funding rates and future funding opportunities (mortgages). Projections of tradeoffs in award size and duration, funding rate, and cost are issues that require careful management and monitoring. NSF is addressing mortgaging of future awards by past commitments through its use of standard and continuing grant mechanisms.
The CSB was provided information on current NSF efforts in support of about 35,000 undergraduate students. Dr. Savitz requested additional information on the effectiveness of programs to encourage education beyond the undergraduate level, particularly for minority students.
Dr. Bement provided information on the NSF Innovation Fund, which is proposed at a $5 million level initially. He detailed the general criteria to be used in evaluation of investments and stressed that the merit review process would be applied in the decisions.
Dr. Savitz led a discussion on the request from Congressional staff for the Board to specify strategic funding recommendations in $100 million increments for the Section 22 Report to Congress, Fulfilling the Promise, A Report to Congress on the Budgetary and Programmatic Expansion of the National Science Foundation. The committee indicated that the Board should advise on general principles and provide guidance for broader categories, rather than respond with specific dollar amounts.
Dr. Bement presented an overview of the FY 2006 budget preparation and approval process to the committee. Dr. Savitz noted that there would be further discussions to clarify CSB’s involvement in the process. Dr. Crosby will work with Dr. Bement to provide appropriate budget planning material to CSB prior to the May meeting.
h. Ad hoc Committee on 2004 Vannevar Bush Award
The Vannevar Bush Award Committee selected a candidate for the 2004 Award to recommend to the NSB during the Executive Closed Session on Thursday, March 25.
Dr. Washington adjourned the Plenary Open Session at 2:30 p.m.
Ann A. Ferrante
Writer-Editor, National Science Board Office
1 The minutes of the 379th meeting were approved by the Board at the May, 2004 meeting.
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