Highlights on the Hill for this Week
April 11, 1997
- House Basic Research Subcommittee Chairman Schiff introduces H.R. 1273, the National Science Foundation Authorization Act of 1997 - recommends a 7% increase from FY 97 level. details
- NSF Director Neal Lane and NSB Chairman Zare discuss the FY 1998 Budget Request at a hearing of the House Appropriations VA/HUD Subcommittee. details
- NSF's new Partnerships for Advanced Computational Infrastructure program is debated at a hearing of the House Basic Research Subcommittee. NSF Director Lane, NSB Chairman Zare and NSB member Shirley Malcolm all testify. details
- NSF role in advancing fundamental knowledge of earthquakes is discussed at Senate hearing on the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program. details
INTRODUCTION OF H.R. 1273, THE NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION AUTHORIZATION ACT OF 1997
In another significant development, House Basic Research Subcommittee Chairman Schiff introduced H.R. 1273, National Science Foundation Authorization Act of 1997. This bill authorizes NSF programs for fiscal years 1998 and 1999, and recommends a 7% increase in overall NSF spending from the 1997 level and a 5% increase in 1999. In a statement, Chairman Schiff praised the investment in NSF as a key investment in the future: "This bill provides real growth and stresses the important roles that NSF and the science community play in our nation's basic research enterprise," Schiff said, "and it does so within the context of working toward a balanced budget."
Subcommittee mark-up on this bill is scheduled for next week April 16th.
LANE MAKES STRONG CASE FOR CONTINUED INVESTMENT IN SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING BEFORE HOUSE VA/HUD SUBCOMMITTEE
It was a very busy week for NSF on Capitol Hill as several key hearings were held on various NSF programs. NSF Director Neal Lane testified on two separate occasions, once before the House VA/HUD subcommittee on the FY 1998 Budget Request for NSF and again before the House Basic Research Subcommittee on the new Partnerships for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (PACI) program.
At the hearing of the VA/HUD Subcommittee, NSF Director Lane made the case for a continued strong investment in NSF. According to Lane, NSF investments "in people, ideas, and exploring the unknown will guide our future course as a nation and bring new sources of prosperity and opportunity to all Americans. Members of the subcommittee - including Subcommittee Chairman Jerry Lewis - all voiced their support of NSF and federal investments in science and technology. See also Dr. Lane's statement.
HILL REACTION TO NSF'S NEW PARTNERSHIPS FOR ADVANCED COMPUTATIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE PROGRAM (PACI)
On April 9th, the Subcommittee on Basic Research held a hearing on the NSF's Major Research Equipment Account and the new NSF Partnerships for Advanced Computational Infrastructure Program or PACI. The subcommittee's interest was guided in part by Member concerns over the future of existing supercomputing centers in their states, as well as plans for transition from the old program to its new incarnation. As it happened, however, concerns over the Board's procedures in reaching its decision dominated the hearing.
Much of the questioning of this panel focused on whether or not the lack of a quorum and the use of the Executive Committee compromised the decision process. Witnesses detailed the legal authority, precedents, and a review process that involved both confirmed Board members and those awaiting confirmation to reassure the Subcommittee that the decision would not have been different had it been postponed.
NATIONAL EARTHQUAKE HAZARDS REDUCTION ACT HEARING
Dr. M. Christina Gabriel -- Acting Deputy Assistant Director for Engineering -- testified before a hearing of Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee's, Science Subcommittee on the reauthorization of the multi-agency NEHRP. Chairing the hearing was subcommittee Chairman Senator Bill Frist of Tennessee; he was joined by Ranking Member Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia. The hearing included witnesses from FEMA, NIST and USGS, along with outside witnesses from academia and the private sector. NSF's role in advancing fundamental knowledge of earthquakes was discussed, as were issues of interagency cooperation and communication.