NATIONAL SCIENCE BOARD
November 20-22, 1996
|Members Present:||Members Absent:|
|Richard N. Zare, Chairman|
|Diana Natalicio, Vice Chairman|
|Charles E. Hess||F. Albert Cotton|
|Sanford D. Greenberg||James L. Powell|
|John E. Hopcroft|
|Eve L. Menger|
|Frank H.T. Rhodes|
|Ian M. Ross|
|Robert M. Solow|
|Warren M. Washington|
|John A. White, Jr.|
|Neal F. Lane, Director|
|Consultants* Present:||Consultants* Absent:|
|John A. Armstrong||Stanley Jaskolski|
|Mary K. Gaillard||Eamon Kelly|
|M.R.C. Greenwood||Jane Lubchenco|
|Bob H. Suzuki|
The National Science Board convened
in Open Session at 3:25 p.m. on Thursday, November 21, 1996 with
Dr. Richard N. Zare, Chairman, presiding (Agenda NSB-96-189). In
accordance with the Government in the Sunshine Act, this portion
of the meeting was open to the public.
AGENDA ITEM 3: Minutes, October 1996 Meeting
The Board unanimously APPROVED the Provisional Open Session Minutes of the October 1996 meeting (NSB-96-197, Board book, Tab F).
AGENDA ITEM 4: Closed Session Agenda Items - February 1997 Meeting
The Chairman reviewed the Closed Session Agenda items and presented a resolution to close portions of the February 1997 meeting (NSB-96-190, Board book, Tab G). The Board's action on the proposed resolution and certification is attached to these minutes as Appendix A.
AGENDA ITEM 5: Chairman’s Report
a. NSB Nominee Orientation
The Chairman reported on the November 20 orientation held for the NSB Nominees. Five nominees, Drs. Armstrong, Gaillard, Rubin, Suzuki and Tapia, met with senior NSF managers and Board committee liaisons to learn more about the workings of the Board and the Foundation.
b. Congressman Vernon J. Ehlers
The Board had a breakfast meeting with Congressman Ehlers, member of the Subcommittee on Basic Research, Committee on Science. He discussed his views on the questions of aggregating and disaggregating the federal science and technology budget.
c. NSB Committees
d. February 1997 NSB Retreat
The Chairman announced that the retreat would be held from noon Friday, February 21 to early afternoon on Saturday, February 22, with Board members, the NSF Deputy Director, and the NSB Executive Officer attending. A support person rom the NSB Office staff would be available, as needed. The topic of the retreat will be Board operations. The discussion will be led by a facilitator, Dr. Paul Shoemaker from Sandia National Laboratory. The Chairman called on Dr. Cehelsky, NSB Executive Officer, to provide additional information on the retreat.
Dr. Cehelsky reported that the retreat would be held in the Washington, DC area, fairly close to NSF and airports. The Board Office staff will contact all members regarding attendance and logistics for the retreat.
e. Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable (GUIRR)
The Chairman called on Dr. Cehelsky to provide an update.
Dr. Cehelsky reminded members that the first phase of the joint NSB/Roundtable project was initiated in 1993, with Dr. Roland W. Schmitt serving as NSB liaison. The NSB had approached the Roundtable to undertake the joint project following a series of discussions on the health of the research university sector. Thirteen institutions participated in the first phase, holding campus-based discussions among both faculty and administrators, separately and jointly, to examine the environment for academic science and engineering and determine what needed to be done to address stresses through campus initiatives, and what kinds of issues needed to be brought to the attention of Federal policymakers. Following campus discussions, a convocation was held at the National Academy of Sciences in December, with interchange between high level representatives of federal funding agencies and representatives of each participating campus. Both the Roundtable and NSB found that participation in the first phase discussions was useful to participating campuses, and determined to undertake a second phase. A second cadre of institutions have been participating in a parallel series of discussions from the spring to November, 1996, with a second convocation scheduled to be held February 25-26, 1997. All Board members are invited to attend. More detailed information will be provided at a later date.
AGENDA ITEM 6: Director’s Report
Budget and Congressional
The Director stated that the FY 1998 budget request was submitted to the Office of Management & Budget (OMB) in September. He has been in contact with OMB and Office of Science & Technology Policy (OSTP) concerning the budget, and expects feedback over the next several weeks.
The Director discussed the impact of the recent elections and numerous changes to the leadership in a number of U.S. House of Representative and U.S. Senate committees on NSF and science. He noted that the House meets the end of November for organizational meetings, and the Senate organizational process will occur in December.
The following changes are known at this time in the House of Representatives: Mr. Newt Gingrich is likely to be reelected as Speaker; Mr. Gephardt continues as House Minority Leader; Mr. James Sensenbrenner will be the new Chairman of the House Science Committee; Mr. George Brown continues as Ranking Minority on the House Committee on Science; Mr. Jerry Lewis and Mr. Louis Stokes are expected to retain the positions of Chairman and Ranking Minority Member, respectively, of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies. The membership of the House Appropriations Subcommittee may change slightly because Mr. Jim Chapman, Texas, was not reelected. The Director noted that he and Dr. Joseph Bordogna, Acting Deputy Director, met recently with Mr. Sensenbrenner and were encouraged that he will continue the long-standing tradition of bipartisan support of science, and NSF in particular.
On the U.S. Senate side, Senator Nancy Kassebaum retired, and Senator James Jeffords is expected to become Chairman of the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee; Senator Kennedy will remain as Ranking Minority Member. Senator John McCain is likely to become the Chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee; Senator Hatfield, the long-term Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee on VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies retired and is expected to be replaced by Senator Ted Stevens; Senators Christopher Bond and Barbara Mikulsksi are expected to remain as Chairman and Ranking Minority Member, respectively, of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on VA, HUD and Independent Agencies.
AGENDA ITEM 7: Program Approval
Dr. Malcom noted that this program provides an opportunity to build leadership in an area where NSF does not currently have postdoctoral activity. In answer to questions, she stated that the program would be open to U.S. citizens and permanent residents receiving Ph.D.’s between 1994 and 1998. Responding to a question from Dr. Solow, Dr. Williams, Assistant Director, Education & Human Resources, explained that proposal reviewers would include leaders in systemic reform at the K-12 level, individuals involved in major reform in undergraduate science and engineering education, and other specialists in education.
AGENDA ITEM 8: Reports From Committees
The Chairman called for Committee Reports.
a. Audit & Oversight Committee (A&O)
Dr. Hess, Chairman, A&O, stated that during the closed supervisory session the committee discussed the Inspector General’s Semi-Annual Report No. 15 and instructed the Director’s liaison on the preparation and contents of the NSB management letter of transmittal to the Congress. During the open session, the Committee discussed the process for handling the OSTP report proposing a standard Federal definition of scientific misconduct. There will be further discussion at the Committee’s February 1997 meeting, with possible recommendations to the Board at that time. The committee also received brief reports on the status of Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) activities and the release of the report of the NSF/NSB Merit Review Task Force.
b. Education & Human Resources Committee (EHR)
Dr. Malcom, Acting Chair, EHR, reported that in addition to the new program approval (see Agenda Item 1, above), the Committee was briefed on the results from the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS); provided an update on the Foundation’s Learning and Intelligent Systems Initiative, and had a discussion on the need to develop a media strategy for how to deal with the public, large grants and action items, including declinations and shutdowns. Dr. Malcom noted that the Committee would reconvene on Friday morning to continue discussions on the EHR portfolio.
Subcommittee on Science & Engineering Indicators (S&EI)
Dr. Mitchell-Kernan, Chair, S&EI noted that the subcommittee recommended maintaining the current structure of the S&EI volume, with an overview chapter emphasizing the global diffusion of science and technology, changes in the structure of US science and engineering, changes in graduate education, the Federal R&D budget, and industry. The committee also proposes that indicators of computer and information technologies be included in the next volume. The Committee also received an update on the graduate education initiative, to be discussed more fully at the February 1997 meeting.
c. Programs & Plans Committee (CPP)
Dr. Hopcroft, Chairman, CPP, stated that the Committee will meet at the conclusion of the Board meeting to discuss the future of science and technology centers.
d. Executive Committee
The Director reported on two actions.
The Merit Review Task Force Report. The committee approved for release a draft of the proposed criteria developed by the Task Force on Merit Review, taking into account comments received from Board members since the October meeting. The NSB Chairman and NSF Director will co-sign an accompanying letter to provide some background, and the report will be available on the NSF Home Page on the World Wide Web in early December. Comments will be requested from the scientific community and will be considered prior to approval of a final policy on the criteria in the spring of 1997.
The December 19 winter meeting of the Executive Committee will be rescheduled. The committee will have a conference call on December 23 and is looking at the possibility of meeting in January 1997.
The Director will accompany Mr. Sensenbrenner, Chairman, House Committee on Science, on the latter’s first visit to the Antarctic.
e. Task Force on Board Operations (OPS)
Dr. Diana Natalicio, Chair, stated that given the Committee’s charge, and the considerations needed for melding a reduced meeting schedule with the operational needs of the Foundation, it was premature to make any recommendations on Board operations at this time. Several issues for further discussion are the meeting calendar and how that would be interfaced with the Board’s oversight function, and the definition of the Board’s policy role. The February retreat will provide an opportunity to expand the Task Force’s discussion of the policy advisory role.
The Committee requested that the NSF Director and the standing committee chairs provide background information and recommendations regarding how the Board’s responsibilities for oversight for the Foundation might be best met. Dr. Natalicio called on the standing committee chairs to make comment at this time:
Dr. Hess, A&O, noted that a clear definition of the role of the Board in the budget process should be developed. The A&O Committee concluded that the Board’s role is in long-range planning, which should be performed in the November or February timeframe. Secondly, the overlap of subcommittees and the inability for members to attend other meetings was discussed and it is recommended that subcommittee meetings be held on Thursday morning, with standing committee and Board meetings held on Thursday afternoon and Friday morning. Overall, the A&O Committee could meet four times a year and continue to meet statutory requirements.
Dr. Hopcroft, CPP, stated that in order to accomplish the Committee’s work they would need a 4-5 hour meeting, if the number of Board meetings were reduced to four per year.
Dr. Malcom, EHR, stated that the Committee was unable to discuss the issue because of the press of business. However, she noted that consideration could be given to using other means of communication or meeting (e.g., e-mail, conference calls, videoconferencing) at times other than scheduled Board meetings in order to accomplish the Committee’s work.
Dr. Natalicio continued with comment on the changes already in place (i.e., changes in the Board meeting structure). She noted that one of the tradeoffs with fewer meetings per year is having longer meetings in order to allow for sufficient time to accomplish the appropriate oversight. She asked members to consider other changes, based on the list of issues distributed earlier and, specifically Dr. Hess’ comments on standing and task force committee organization. The issue of greater use of technology for meetings will also be considered. . Dr. Natalicio asked for continued feedback on the issues that resulted from the October 18 Task Force meeting in order to prepare for discussion at the February retreat.
f. Ad Hoc Committee on Strategic S&E Policy Issues (SPI)
Dr. Ross, Chair, SPI, reported that the Committee reviewed a revised draft statement on government funding of scientific research, but reached no agreement as to what to do with the report. Dr. Zare, NSB Chairman, asked Board members to direct comments and suggestions to him regarding strategies the Board could use to evaluate approaches for setting scientific priorities for discussion at the February 1997 meeting.
g. Ad Hoc Committee on the Public Service Award (PSA)
Dr. Natalicio, Chair, provided background on the process to date. The concept of a public service award was raised by then NSB Chairman, Dr. Rhodes, at the March 1995 Board meeting and was approved by the Board in February 1996. In March 1996 the Board voted to establish the award procedures and a selection process. The Committee held meetings with representatives from Office of Legislative & Public Affairs (OLPA) and Office of the General Counsel (OGC) to discuss legal, publicity, funding, and legislative issues.
The Committee recommended that:
Members were concerned with the medium used to present the Award in order to attract the publicity and prestige associated with the Award. Dr. Natalicio replied that already existing vehicles would be utilized - i.e., announcement of the Awardee during National Science & Technology Week and presentation at the NSB Annual Awards Dinner held in May at Department of State.
Dr. Lane stated that the Foundation would support this activity, but consideration needed to be given to the budget for such activity. He further noted that if the Board determined the need to go in a direction other than that described, which might incur significant expense, the Foundation would need to be notified.
Dr. Natalicio asked Board members to provide recommendations for committee membership to the Board Office by December 6. The NSB Chairman will appoint the first committee by early February, to be announced along with the release of the Awards solicitation material.
AGENDA ITEM 9: Presentations: Reports on STC Program
The Chairman introduced Dr. William F. Brinkman, Vice President for Physical Sciences Research, Bell Laboratories, Lucent Technologies, and Chairman of the National Academy of Sciences Committee of Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (COSEPUP) Report "An Assessment of the National Science Foundation's Science and Technology Centers Program," and Dr. Carl Lineberger, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, University of Colorado at Boulder, and Chairman of the NSF ad hoc STC Advisory Committee to present a summary of the reports of their respective committees. Dr. Brinkman reviewed the NSF charge to the COSEPUP panel: to review and interpret STC Program data and recommendations made under separate contract to Abt Associates, reach conclusions regarding the progress of the STC Program toward its goals, and make recommendations concerning NSF's future use of the STC mode of support. Dr. Brinkman focused on three topics: accomplishment of program goals, effectiveness of program design, and effectiveness of program management.
Dr. Brinkman stated that the program had accomplished its goals in research, education, and knowledge and technology transfer. Most STCs produce world class research that would not have been possible without a center structure and presence. Centers adequately include undergraduate/graduate students and some expose their graduate students to broader experiences, some have interesting, innovative, and vigorous K-12 activities, and most serve efficiently as two- way conduits between universities and industrial partners.
On the question of how well the design of the program has worked, Dr. Brinkman reported the design has produced an effective means of identifying particularly important and timely scientific problems that require a center mode of support. STCs are unique in that they are competed for across the entire NSF. STCs are most successful when they are strongly motivated by long-term important problems.
With respect to the management and evaluation of the STC Program, the success of the centers depends critically on having strong disciplinary and interdisciplinary scientific and administrative leadership. Reviews of the centers formally required by NSF are frequent, but not excessive. However, additional reviews, such as by the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA), and under the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA), seem excessive. Lastly, the STC Program fits well within NSF's overall strategic plan.
Dr. Brinkman concluded by recommending that: (1) NSF should continue the STC Program. Research and the undergraduate and graduate education linked to it should be the paramount goals of the program. (2) In future solicitations, NSF should encourage but not require that proposed STCs be multidisciplinary. (3) The level of funding for the STC Program should be maintained to ensure that it retains its strength and vigor. (4) The budget for the STC Program should retain a separate identity, and tradeoffs between this program and others should be made by the NSF Director. (5) STC solicitations should be conducted openly across all fields by NSF as a whole rather than in specific directorates, and existing STCs should be allowed to compete in this open process. (6) The duration of STC awards should be ten years, with two periodic solicitations. (7) Differing roles of the Office of Scientific and Technology Infrastructure and NSF Directorates in management of the STCs are complementary and should be continued. (8) NSF should place greater weight on scientific and administrative leadership in evaluating proposals for STCs and in the periodic review of centers. (9) NSF should establish policies allowing center directors to allocate funds and other resources (e.g., staff) both within and among participating institutions, so as to optimize progress. (10) Lastly, NSF should coordinate reviews of the centers to avoid redundant data collection.
Dr. Brinkman further recommended that advisory committees not function as review committees for an STC. He noted that early fears that centers would consume too much of the individual investigator research budget have not been supported by experience. He urged that the new centers be competed NSF-wide, which clearly conveys the point that centers cannot expect to be supported indefinitely. The committee recommends existing centers be allowed to recompete, but does not feel it likely that at a very large percentage of existing centers would be successful in a new competition.
Dr. Carl Lineberger observed that the STC Program was the most reviewed program per dollar the NSF has ever seen. He commented on the various reports starting with the 1987 Zare Report (Science and Technology Centers: Principles and Guidelines, NAS) which resulted in the creation of the STC Program in the late '80s. He stated the charge to his ad hoc STC Advisory Committee in 1996 was to evaluate the centers in the context of the NSF strategic plan, with input from the STC Program architects, research directorate advisory committees, NSF senior management, OSTI staff, STC coordinators, current STC directors, and other comprehensive studies (e.g., NAPA Report, Abt Associates Report, COSEPUP/NRC Report and Evaluation, and GPRA requirements). The charge also included a request to provide NSF with recommendations concerning the continuation of the program, and the form and scope it might take.
Dr. Lineberger recounted that the committee had submitted a letter report on August 22, 1996, to Dr. Lane. The major recommendations of the committee were: (1) The STC Program should be continued, and it requires stable funding. It is an important part of the mix of NSF programs. (2) Features of the STCs should include innovative investigations of problems with scale/complexity requiring "center mode" support. Integration of research and education; effective involvement of underrepresented groups; and industrial partnerships are a very important aspects. (3) Continue the current STC budget level. The budget should have a separate identity, and be managed centrally at the NSF. NSF should maintain incentives for directorate contributions to STC support. All evaluative groups agree with this recommendation. (4) The STC Program must operate above the directorate level. New solicitations should be Foundation-wide, and encourage science and engineering initiatives that cross disciplinary boundaries, or are of a scale not readily supported in single directorates. All evaluative groups agree with this recommendation. (5) A ten year award duration is appropriate. There should be one solicitation ever three years, with a preproposal stage, and common deadline, and approximately seven STC awards per cycle, in accord with the ABT Associates Report.
In contrast with the COSEPUP Report which recommended focusing on graduate education, Dr. Lineberger noted that the STC advisory committee believed some emphasis should be placed on K-12 education, and that about five percent of the STC budgets should be devoted to educational outreach activities. He expressed the opinion that the important issue to address is the appropriate steady state level of the program. The previous STC Program was successful because the directorates contributed funds to offset the shortfall of available STC funds. For the program to continue, Dr. Lineberger suggested STC funding should be done in such a way that encourages involvement by individual directorates.
Responding to a question from Dr. Hess, Dr. Lineberger explained that industrial involvement as a part of the total STC Program is absolutely critical, but the degree would vary among centers, and new STCs should have a significant and strong industrial component. With regard to sharing successful STC experiments linking research and education among all of the centers, Dr. Lineberger said he knew of no attempts, but stated that the staff involved in education activities at various centers shared their experiences.
Responding to a question from Dr. Lane on advantages of centers for the integration of research and education Dr. Lineberger explained that graduate education was perceived by students to be broadened by being part of centers, rather than attached to the work of an individual professor, and that almost all centers initiated K-12 educational activities, many of which were very successful. Further, aggregation of a large amount of funds into a single award makes possible educational activities which are otherwise very difficult to undertake. He noted that EHR involvement in supporting STC educational activities has been very important to the centers and should be encouraged. Dr. Lane suggested that modest supplements to existing individual grants might also encourage activities to better integrate research and education.
Dr. Rhodes, noting the expectation that, for a number of existing centers, NSF funding will be discontinued, asked the speakers to speculate on whether the centers with closer links to industry would be more likely to continue, or would end their center programs. Drs. Brinkman and Lineberger both expressed the opinion that centers would find a way to continue, regardless of NSF funding, especially those with strong ties in industry or in education.
Dr. Washington asked how the speakers reached the conclusion that the share of the NSF budget allocated to support centers was at the right level. Dr. Brinkman responded that given the current budget climate, an expansion does not seem feasible. Dr. Lineberger commented that other strategies for aggregating support for scientists should be encouraged.
Dr. Greenwood questioned how the speakers could be confident that a large number of existing centers would be eliminated in recompetition, given the experience with NIH centers. The speakers noted that the community had been told at the start that STCs were limited to11 years, and that recompetition would be open, with as many as 200 proposals, including previous centers, and only seven awards. NIH centers, in contrast, are considered for renewal on an individual basis, with a sixty-five to seventy percent renewal rate. Dr. Lineberger predicted that the survival rate for existing centers would be about twenty percent.
Responding to a question from Dr. Greenberg on whether leveraged funds received were comparable for research, education, and technology transfer activities, Dr. Brinkman commented that the four-to-one leveraging experienced by the centers included research dollars, other NSF funding, industrial funding, and other agency funding.
Dr. Tapia commented that outreach had always been an essential activity of all STCs, and noted that at least one center played a major role in promoting scientific research that would not have been embraced and supported by industry.
Dr. Malcom noted that some centers were able, with guidance, to succeed over time with regard to education and outreach. She questioned the impact on tenure of participation in centers rather than individual investigations. Responding, the presenters reported that most faculty members have some center support but also have external grants, but noted that an untenured assistant professor at a major research university, coming up for tenure, would be in a difficult position with sole support from a science and technology center.
Dr. Zare thanked Drs. Brinkman and Lineberger for their time and outstanding contributions.
AGENDA ITEM 10: Other Business/Adjourn
There being no other business, the meeting adjourned at 5:30 p.m.
|Susan E. Fannoney
Appendix A to NSB 96-223
National Science Board
November 21, 1996
The Chairman presented a list of items to be considered in Closed Session at the February 20-21, 1997 meeting (NSB-96-190). A proposed resolution and a certification from the General Counsel regarding closing these portions of the meeting were also distributed. The Board adopted the proposed resolution as follows:
The Board DETERMINED that the following portions of the meeting of the National Science Board (NSB) scheduled for February 20-21, 1997 shall be closed to the public:
|Susan E. Fannoney
|Appendix B to NSB 96-223|
As Approved by the National Science Board
at its 340th meeting, November 21, 1996
| The NSB Public Service Award will be presented to
one or more individuals, or to a company, corporation or organization.
Members of the U.S. Government are not eligible. Accomplishments in
science and engineering are helpful but not a primary consideration.
Candidates must have made contributions to public service in areas
other than research, and should meet one or more of the following
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