NATIONAL SCIENCE BOARD
November 13-14, 1997
Richard N. Zare, Chairman
*Attended Wednesday & Thursday only.
The National Science Board (NSB) convened in Open Session at 2:55 p.m. on Thursday, November 13, 1997, with Dr. Richard N. Zare, Chairman, presiding (Agenda NSB-97-192). In accordance with the Government in the Sunshine Act, this portion of the meeting was open to the public.
AGENDA ITEM 5: Minutes, August 1997 Meeting
The Board unanimously APPROVED the Provisional Open Session Minutes of the August 20-21, 1997 meeting (NSB-97-157, Board book, Tab F).
AGENDA ITEM 6: Minutes, October 1997 Meeting
The Chairman deferred approval of the minutes of the October 1997 meeting (NSB-97-189, Board book, Tab G) until February 1998, because of the short time-span between meetings and the volume of material covered in the October meeting.
AGENDA ITEM 7: Closed Session Agenda Items for February 1998
The Chairman reviewed the Closed Session Agenda items and presented a resolution to close portions of the February 1998 meeting (NSB-97-191, Board book, Tab H). The Board’s action on the proposed resolution and certification is attached to these minutes as Appendix A.
AGENDA ITEM 8: Chairman’s Report
a. Recognition of Board Members
The Chairman took note of special recognition given to the following Board members.
(1) Dr. Natalicio was awarded the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education on September 23. The award is made to individuals who have made a significant impact related to the advancement of knowledge through education.
(2) Dr. Malcom received the Reginald H. Jones Award from the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering. This is the highest award given to an individual who has contributed to minorities in engineering efforts.
(3) Dr. Sanford Greenberg was named to head the Rural Health Care Corporation.
(4) Dr. Cotton will be presented the City of Philadelphia John Scott Award on November 21 for his seminal work in creating new paradigms for chemical bonding and synthesis in chemistry.
Dr. Natalicio, Vice Chairman, NSB, announced that Dr. Zare had been appointed a California Science and Technology (CST) Fellow. The CST Fellows represent a group of California's most distinguished scientists, engineers, technical personnel, and educators.
Dr. Zare resumed the chair and recognized Ms. Wilma Persaud for her work as secretary to the Board for the past five years. The Chairman expressed the Board’s appreciation for her outstanding service and best wishes in her new assignment as secretary to the Assistant Director for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences.
b. NSB Committees
The Chairman announced the establishment of the following committees:
(1) The Ad Hoc Committee on the Vannevar Bush Award will be chaired by Dr. Greenwood, with Drs. Cotton and Ross as members.
(2) The Task Force on the February retreat will be chaired by Dr. Suzuki, with Drs. Natalicio and White as members.
The Chairman announced the discharging of the following committees:
(1) The Ad Hoc Committee on Board Operations, chaired by Dr. Natalicio, was discharged. Members included Drs. Cotton, Hess, and Suzuki.
(2) The Committee on NSB nominees for the Class of 2004, chaired by Dr. Rhodes, was discharged. Members included Drs. Hopcroft, Malcom, and Menger.
(3) The Ad Hoc Committee on Strategic Science and Engineering Policy Issues, chaired by Dr. Ross, was discharged. Members included Drs. Gaillard, Menger, Powell, and Solow.
The Chairman announced that Dr. Washington was appointed to the Task Force on the National Science Foundation's (NSF’s) 50th Anniversary. The Task Force, chaired by Dr. Rubin, also includes Drs. Greenberg and Lubchenco as members.
c. NSB Retreat - February 1998
The Chairman announced that the Board retreat, scheduled immediately after the February 25-27 NSB meeting, will be held at a location close in to Arlington, Virginia.
d. Out-of-Town NSB Committee Meetings
The Chairman reminded the Board members that all committees are encouraged to meet between NSB meetings, as needed, to conduct business. The Chairman called on Dr. Malcom to report on the Education and Human Resource (EHR) Committee’s plans in this regard.
Dr. Malcom stated that the EHR Committee enthusiastically embraced the possibility of out-of-town meetings and is considering out-of-town hearings on three different topics: (1) informal science education, to be held in Los Angeles to benefit from the involvement of the Los Angeles Natural History Museum and the Science and Technology Center; (2) the education and human resource implications of Science and Engineering Indicators, and (3) the present array of EHR programs to be held in Puerto Rico. While the EHR Committee will be responsible for organizing these events, the Committee welcomes the Board’s input.
The Chairman noted that, as the NSB begins to take a more significant role in national science policy, it needs to meet elsewhere in the country.
AGENDA ITEM 9: Director’s Report
a. NSF Staff
The Director announced the following staff changes.
(1) Dr. Marcel Bardon to Director, Physics Division, Mathematics and Physical Sciences, (MPS) Directorate, on September 8, 1997. Dr. Bardon, who served as Director, International Programs Division, Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE) Directorate since December 1991, formerly served as Director of the Physics Division. From 1979 through 1981 he served in the U.S. Delegation to UNESCO as a Foreign Service Officer; 1983-1985 as Acting Assistant Director for MPS; and 1986-1988 as Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Science at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
(2) Dr. Pierre Perrolle to Director, Division of International Programs, SBE, on September 8, 1997, replacing Dr. Bardon. Dr. Perrolle came to the Foundation in 1980 as NSF's first manager of the U.S.-China Program. He also served as an Assistant Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy from 1991 to 1993, and as Counselor for Scientific and Technological Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing from 1986 to 1988.
(3) Dr. Adriaan De Graaf to Executive Officer, MPS, on October 26, 1997. Since June 1990 Dr. De Graaf held the position of Executive Officer, Division of Materials Research, MPS. He also served as Acting Executive Officer, MPS, from October 15, 1996, until his permanent assignment to the position on October 26.
(4) Dr. Wanda Ward to Assistant to the Deputy Director for Human Resource Development, Office of the Director, on October 26, 1997. Dr. Ward joined the Foundation in 1992 as Program Director of precollege science education, EHR Directorate. She also served as Executive Secretary to the Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science and Engineering (CEOSE) from 1992 to 1995. She received her Ph.D. in Psychology from Stanford University in 1991.
(5) Ms. Martha A. Rubenstein joined NSF on August 31, 1997, as Director, Budget Division, Budget, Finance and Award Management (BFA). Ms. Rubenstein, a Supervisory Budget Information Management Specialist at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) since 1988, previously served on the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the Department of Labor. Ms. Rubenstein received her MBA in Information Technology and Management from George Washington University in 1987, and her BS in Business Administration from the American University in 1980.
The Director announced that on October 27 the President signed the VA, HUD and Independent Agencies Appropriation for FY 1998. The Appropriation provides NSF with $3.43 billion, an increase of 5 percent, or $157 million over the FY 1997 level. This includes: research and related activities at $2.546 billion (a 5 percent increase over FY 1997); a Congressionally directed credit to NSF’s research account of $23 million from Internet domain name registration activities toward Next Generation Internet (NGI); $40 million for expansion of NSF programs in plant genome research; $1 million for participation in the U.S.-Mexico Research Foundation; $109 for the major research equipment account (MRE), which includes $70 million for rehabilitation of the South Pole Station, $9 million to begin the Millimeter Array Telescope, $6 million for Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) construction, and an additional $4 million to support construction expenses associated with the Gemini telescope project, and $632.5 million for education and human resources.
The Director noted that the Senate Commerce Committee deferred further action on the NSF bill until January 1998.
c. Other Congressional Matters
The Director stated that on November 4 Dr. George Strawn, Division Director, Advanced Networking Infrastructure and Research, Computer and Information Science and Engineering Directorate, participated in a hearing before the Senate Subcommittee on Science, Technology, and Space on the Administration’s Next Generation Internet (NGI) program. The hearing was supportive and constructive in tone.
At a hearing on November 5 before the House Government Reform Committee on the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), Dr. Bruce Alberts, President, National Academy of Sciences, testified on difficulties incurred due to a recent court mandate instructing the Academy to conduct its meetings in accordance with the requirements of FACA.
Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA)
The Director stated that the House Majority Leader's Office coordinated a review of compliance with the GPRA. NSF’s GPRA plan was ranked third among plans submitted to the Congress at the end of September by about 100 agencies.
AGENDA ITEM 10: Committee Reports
The Chairman called for committee reports.
a. Audit and Oversight (A&O)
Dr. Hess, Chair, A&O Committee, reported that at the open session the Committee (1) heard a report from Dr. White on GPRA. Dr. White stated that the response to NSF’s GPRA plan was good, with particularly high marks for the mission statement, but there is creative tension regarding use of quantitative and qualitative approaches to performance measurement. NSF is looking at various models of a report card approach to performance measures, pending OMB’s authorization for the use of alternatives to the quantitative approach; (2) reviewed the Director's delegation of authority and determined that the current size and processes for proposals not referred to the Committee on Programs and Plans (CPP) are satisfactory; and (3) heard a report from Dr. Joseph Bordogna, Acting Deputy Director, NSF, on the status of audit issues in NSF’s financial statement. Dr. Bordogna reported that one issue is how the Foundation should deal with retroactive audits of off-site property (plant and equipment) in Antarctica, at Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs), and at universities. Based on preliminary advice from the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board (FASAB), OMB, and the General Accounting Office (GAO), it seems that NSF can set aside audits of property at FFRDCs and universities. In response to a question from Dr. Menger, the need to audit property located at NSF was noted.
In the supervisory session, the Committee discussed the IG’s Semiannual Report Number 17. The management report will indicate that there were no exceptions to the IG’s report. The Committee instructed the Director’s liaison to include all statutorily required tables and transmit the Report to Congress on or before November 30, 1997. To address property in Antarctica, the Committee voted to have the Inspector General (IG) obtain a work statement and associated costs for an Antarctic Physical Plant and Equipment (PP&E) audit, and the Committee delegated the final decision on accepting the proposed work to the Committe Chairman. The Committee also began discussion of mechanisms for information flow between the IG, the Committee, and NSF management.
NSB/Staff Task Force on GPRA
Dr. White, Chair of the Task Force, indicated that there was nothing to report on GPRA beyond what was reported previously by the Chairman of the Audit and Oversight Committee (see Agenda Item 10a).
b. Education and Human Resources (EHR)
Dr. Malcom, Chair, EHR Committee, reported that the Committee (1) heard an update from Dr. Luther S. Williams, Assistant Director, EHR, on a comprehensive plan for graduate education of underrepresented minorities. The report, due in Congress by February 1, 1998, responds to the $5 million Congress provided above the President’s budget request, and (2) was briefed on efforts to look at issues related to undergraduate education and how to leverage resources and gain synergy out of the investment across the Foundation.
Dr. Malcom noted that the EHR Subcommittee on Science & Engineering Indicators-1998 report would be made as a separate item (see Agenda Item 13, below).
c. Executive Committee (EC)
Dr. Lane, Chair of the EC, reported that the next scheduled EC meeting will be by conference call in January 1998 and will focus on the NSF budget. He further reported that discussion of the policy on conflict-of-interest regarding proposals submitted to NSB members, particularly the implications of the Foundation’s increasing use of preproposals. He noted advice from NSF General Counsel that the preproposal phase does not alter or create a conflict with the Board’s conflict of interest policy and that the Executive Committee concurred.
d. 50th Anniversary Task Force
Dr. Rubin, Chair of the Task Force on NSF’s 50th Anniversary, reported that an external steering committee is being organized by the Director’s Office. The Task Force heard a report from Ms. Julia Moore, Director, Office of Legislative and Public Affairs, on the goals and strategies for the 50th Anniversary celebration, which will focus on the future, children, and education. NSF will launch a national education and information campaign on the importance of science, engineering, and mathematics. Regarding Board initiatives, the Task Force discussed several ideas, including inviting people from the science community to speak to the Board at each of its meetings from May 1998 to May 2000, connecting with the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s (AAAS) 150th anniversary in 1998, and participating in the Millennium Initiative, which is being organized by the First Lady’s Office at the White House. With regard to the latter, Dr. Rubin offered a motion and the Board acted as follows:
The Board unanimously APPROVED a motion authorizing the 50th Anniversary Task Force to investigate the opportunities offered by the White House Year 2000 Millennium Initiative in order that the Task Force may organize an appropriate event.
e. Programs Plans (CPP)
Dr. Hopcroft, Chair, CPP, stated that awards and agreements were reported in the Closed Session and the other issues will be reported in a separate item (see Agenda Item 15: NSF Recompetition Policy, below).
CPP Task Force on Polar Issues
Dr. Hess, Chair, Polar Task Force, reported that the Task Force had its first meeting with Dr. John Hunt, Acting Director, Office of Polar Programs. Dr. Hunt informed the Task Force that the South Pole Station and McMurdo have had difficulty opening this season because of bad weather. He noted that the Task Force had received excellent reports on Arctic and Antarctic research. The Task Force also voted to recommend to the CPP a request by the Office of the Director to make awards for the South Pole Modernization Project.
AGENDA ITEM 11: Important Notice 91
Dr. Hess led the discussion of Important Notice 91 (NSB-97-212, Board book, Tab I) which addresses the use of NSF funded equipment by other than the investigators responsible for the equipment. He characterized the issue as one concerning unfair competition with small businesses that have similar equipment. A revision to OMB Circular A-110 issued subsequent to NSF’s issuance of Important Notice 91, conflicts with the Notice. Dr. Hess reported that the NSB Audit and Oversight Committee, on the basis of advice from the NSF Deputy General Counsel, recommended that the Board approve use of the OMB Circular as the principal regulation for NSF supervision of such use of equipment, in that OMB Circular A-110 is more enforceable than the NSF Notice.
Resolution NSF-97-214 (attached to these minutes as Appendix B) was introduced to the Board and APPROVED unanimously.
During discussion of the resolution, the Chairman noted that adoption of the policy in the Circular brings NSF policy into conformity with that of other agencies.
AGENDA ITEM 12: NSB Report on Graduate Education
Dr. Kelly, Chair, Task Force on the NSB October 1997 Meeting, reported on Task Force efforts with respect to the request from Dr. John H. Gibbons, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, to contribute to the National Science and Technology Council’s (NSTC) response to the Presidential Review Directive on the Government-University Partnership. Dr. Kelly noted that the NSB agreed to provide a report on the "Federal Role in Graduate and Post-doctoral Education," and had, at its October 1997 meeting, identified a framework for the NSB contribution. The first three sections of the Task Force’s draft report were accepted at the October 8-10, 1997 NSB meeting (see NSB-97-189, Agenda Items 3 and 5 (Overview)), and the Board agreed on an approach for completing the report involving not only identification of issues but also approaches to resolving them. Since then the Task Force revised the draft, which has been submitted to the Board for discussion. Dr. Kelly briefly described each section of the paper and requested comments from Board members. He noted, in response to a question from Dr. Zare, that the Board might forward the report to Dr. Gibbons as an interim report, which could be further revised by the Board at a later date, because of the time constraints for the NSTC response.
In discussion, Dr. Zare requested that Dr. Mitchell-Kernan respond to a question from Dr. Armstrong concerning misuses of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) in the Board draft. Dr. Mitchell-Kernan, chair-elect of the Graduate Record Examination Board, explained that the misuses concern the predictive value of the exam, use of composite scores, cutoff scores, the "ceiling effect" at the higher score levels that limits the value of considering score variations that exceed a particular threshold, and over-reliance on this particular indicator. She added that, despite the fact that GRE itself has widely published cautions about such misuses, many admissions programs consistently do misuse it.
Responding to a comment from Dr. Solow concerning the title of the document, "The Federal Role in Graduate and Post-Doctoral Education," Dr. Kelly agreed that the point was important and that the title of the report would be changed to indicate the Board’s paper is directed toward science and engineering only.
Dr. Jaskolski raised a concern about the large percent of Ph.D.s who do not pursue research. He commended the Task Force for the way it handled the issue with regard to Ph.D.s in the academic sector and asked what percent of the total Ph.D. pool are not employed in research positions.
Dr. Armstrong inquired about the currency of information disseminated to aid career choices and further questioned the utility of available data, noting that they are four to five years out of date.
Dr. Kelly agreed with his concern, but noted that not considering the historic data would also be undesirable. Dr. White suggested that an issue for further consideration is whether the accounting system should drive the research agenda. Dr. Suzuki supported further work on the report, noting that there are many important issues the Board needs to follow up on.
Dr. Zare asked the Board to address whether the document should be transmitted to Dr. Gibbons as an interim draft and, subsequently, whether it should be polished further as a Board document.
Dr. Zare raised a point concerning the awkwardness for the NSF Director, as a member of the Board, to vote on the clearance and approval of NSB reports on national research and education policy that may affect Federal agencies. Dr. Lane, though urging the Board to tackle broad issues, agreed to abstain from the vote on transmitting the interim report to Dr. Gibbons, in view of his own membership on the NSTC, which would receive the Board’s report. The Board agreed that, as a general policy, the NSF Director should abstain from voting on such Board actions.
With the Director abstaining, the Board APPROVED a motion to make an interim report to Dr. Gibbons on "The Federal Role in Science and Engineering Graduate and Postdoctoral Education" (NSB-97-223).
Dr. Rhodes suggested that if the Board is going to address this subject, it needs to do a more comprehensive study. He articulated a number of issues that should be addressed, including the purpose of the Ph.D., the alleged over-supply of Ph.D.s, the plea to broaden the Ph.D., time-to-degree, attrition, and the balance between the master’s degree and the Ph.D. Dr. Rhodes noted the need to respond to public criticism that the time devoted to graduate education diverts attention from undergraduate education.
Responding to Dr. Rhodes’ comments, Dr. Kelly suggested that at a future meeting the questions concerning further development of the report be divided into
Comments on this discussion by Board members varied with respect to the desirable scope of a future study on intent, audience, and value added by the Board. Dr. Malcom reminded the Board that the report that the Foundation issues on graduate education for underrepresented groups will provide another venue for comment on this subject.
Dr. Zare suggested that members be sent copies of the draft interim report and that they submit any further input to Dr. Kelly.
AGENDA ITEM 13: Science and Engineering Indicators
The Chairman called on Dr. Mitchell-Kernan, Chair, EHR Subcommittee on Science and Engineering Indicators. Dr. Mitchell-Kernan reminded the Board that the 1998 volume of Science and Engineering Indicators is due to the President on January 15, 1998. She reported that the Subcommittee met to review galleys of chapters 1, 2, and 4, the last portion of chapter 5, and chapter 8. For chapters 1 and 2, which had been revised to have an international focus, the Subcommittee discussed additions, in the form of side bars, to highlight the characteristics of the U.S. system and to set the indicators in context. The Subcommittee was particularly pleased with chapter 8, a new chapter on the significance of information technology. The Subcommittee voted to recommend to the full EHR Committee that they adopt the draft report.
Dr. Mitchell-Kernan also reported that the Subcommittee continued its work on the occasional paper on "Industry Reliance on Publicly Funded Research" that grew out of the Board’s decision to use Science and Engineering Indicators as a point of departure for more interpretive pieces. The Subcommittee hopes to have this occasional paper ready for release at the same time as Science and Engineering Indicators.
As Chair of the EHR Committee, Dr. Malcom noted that the Committee received a report from the Subcommittee and the NSF staff involved in preparation of the report. She introduced a resolution recommended by the EHR Committee for Board approval to publish the report. Following discussion, the Board acted as follows:
The Board unanimously APPROVED the publication of the Science & Engineering Indicators Report-1998 and authorized the Chair of the EHR Subcommittee on Science & Engineering Indicators, and the Board Chairman, to approve the proposed modifications. A copy of the resolution (NSB-97-202) is attached to these minutes as Appendix C.
AGENDA ITEM 14: Working Paper: "Government Funding of Scientific Research"
The Chairman reported on the status of the working paper Government Funding of Scientific Research. He reminded the members that at the October meeting the Board agreed to request
Dr. Gibbon’s comments on the paper. Dr. Gibbons’ input was reflected in a revised draft circulated to the Board. The Chairman stated that, with some final revisions, the paper would be released within the next several weeks.
AGENDA ITEM 15: NSF Recompetition Policy
Dr. Hopcroft, reporting as Chair of the Committee on Programs and Plans (CPP), reminded the Board that CPP Task Force on Recompetition, chaired by Dr. Armstrong, prepared a report on the "Competition, Recompetition and Renewal of NSF Awards" (NSB-97-216). Dr. Hopcroft informed the Board that the CPP Committee accepted the report and approved a resolution for presentation to the Board. He noted that the EHR Committee concurred with the resolution. He noted that this new policy would be Foundation-wide applying to all grants and contracts, not just those that come through CPP. The Board acted on the resolution as follows:
The Board unanimously APPROVED the resolution "Competition, Recompetition and Renewal of NSF Awards," NSB-97-224 (attached to these minutes as Appendix D).
Dr. Zare asked for clarification of how exceptions would be determined and processed. Dr. Hopcroft replied that the NSF Director will report the implementation details to the Board at a future meeting. The Director stated that he reads the Board’s guidance as stating that, in the case of every expiring award, the assumption would be that the award would be recompeted. A recommendation not to recompete will be explicitly dealt with in the documentation.
At 4:35 p.m. the Chairman recessed the meeting until Friday, November 14, 1997.
* * *
Friday, November 14, 1997
The Chairman reconvened the open session at 8:35 a.m. and called on the NSF Director to discuss NSF long-range planning.
AGENDA ITEM 16: NSF Long-Range Planning Preview
The Director explained that this discussion of long-range planning would preview further discussions scheduled for February 1998 and that this schedule responds to the Board decision to address long-range planning earlier in the fiscal year. He outlined a schedule for long-range planning discussion beginning in November with background on the previous year’s appropriation, administration initiatives and priorities, and the environment in Congress, when the Board would identify critical issues for long-range and strategic planning. Following that, the February 1998 meeting would be used to analyze issues, focusing on how larger priorities are affecting agency programs. Presentations by each Directorate and the Office of Polar Programs would provide a sense of how strategic planning goals under GPRA are affecting agency programs, and there would be a report on how the Opportunity Fund is used and how the Senior Management Integration Group (SMIG) process works. At the May meeting, the Board would apply its long-range and strategic-planning work to development of the FY 2000 budget.
After May, the NSF’s planning schedule would be closely tied to the Administration’s schedule. NSF staff would work closely with the Board’s Executive Committee to prepare NSF’s September OMB submission. That activity would be reported to the Board at its August meeting.
Highlights for 1997 and 1998 Issues
Moving to the substance of his presentation, the Director reported highlights for FY 1997. NSF continues to fund approximately one in three proposals through the Recognition Awards for Integration of Research (RAIRE); initiated two Partnerships for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (PACI), and awarded about $20 million in the area of Learning and Intelligent Systems. The Director noted that all budget accounts for FY 1998 were approved at or above the requested level and that two areas were significantly higher than the request. Congress added $45 million to the request for South Pole Station redevelopment and $40 million were added to the request for the plant genome initiative. Also, the appropriation reflects NSF’s priorities regarding diversity and international cooperation.
Regarding issues for FY 1998, the Director listed funding for Next Generation Internet (NGI), delays due to elimination of funds to construct the Polar Cap Observatory, development of an evaluation and planning documentation necessary to release funds for Integrated Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT), Knowledge and Distributed Intelligence (KDI), and Life in Earth’s Environment (LEE), and planning for use of the additional plant genome funds.
Reviewing the broader outlook, the Director noted a generally positive situation for science and R&D agencies. With the exception of the Department of Energy, their requests included modest increases and Congress added to those requests. As further background, the Director noted the consistency between NSF policy and plans and guidance for preparation of the FY 1999 budget submission recently issued by the leaders of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and OMB, both with respect to the administration’s investment principles and high priority research areas.
In constant dollars, NSF’s budget declined about two percent since 1995 with projections for a flat budget for NSF for the next five years in the President’s February 1997 budget. He mentioned the extraordinary mobilization of the science and engineering community to advocate a healthy investment and several indications of bipartisan congressional support including high authorization levels for NSF, legislation to double the civilian R&D budget, and a congressional study on national science policy.
Summarizing the planning environment, in addition to budget uncertainty, the Director noted shifts in external factors including changes underway for the academic institutions and government agencies that are NSF’s partners in research. He stressed the need to stay focused on that larger Federal and national picture.
Before asking for the Board’s ideas regarding long-range planning issues, the Director reviewed key elements of NSF’s strategic plan, NSF in a Changing World, (NSF-95-24), including the five outcome goals that frame NSF’s strategic plan and the four core strategies NSF uses to address the plan. Regarding development of intellectual capital, NSF has made a good start including modifications to the merit review criteria and examination of emerging research opportunities. However, he noted the need to find the right combination of strategies to enhance diversity of the S&E workforce. Regarding strengthening the physical infrastructure, he noted the expanded definition of infrastructure (e.g., to include databases) and the importance of that expansion to KDI. Regarding integration of research and education, he expressed pleasure with the success of the RAIRE, but noted that NSF has a long way to go. Regarding promotion of partnerships, the Director stated that they should leverage resources for the benefit of all parties rather than simply shift costs.
The Director asked the Board to react to his proposed structure for the long-range planning discussion in February and to topics presented by Mr. Kull.
Dr. Menger noted the desirability of having the R&D investment principles explicitly include integration of research and education. Dr. Malcom further asked whether the concept of integration of research and education should be extended more broadly to undergraduate education, especially in K-12 teacher education. The Director agreed to the need to incorporate that concept.
Dr. Jaskolski noted productivity of research as a recurring theme during the Board’s November meeting and suggested that the issue be featured during the long-range planning section of the February 1998 meeting.
Dr. Washington, with agreement from Dr. Malcom, requested information on the effects of perceived limited grant opportunities on young people pursuing careers in science. Dr. Tapia noted his support for the Director’s comments on the need to deal with under-representation by means of mainstream activities, not just special programs.
The Chairman closed the session by noting that the Board is pleased with the intended course of action on long-range planning and that the Board would return to the topic at its February 1998 meeting.
AGENDA ITEM 17: Issues for Operating in Constrained Fiscal Environments
In his introduction, the Chairman indicated that limits on available resources affect not only how much science and engineering research and education NSF can support, but also how NSF supports them. The NSF Director introduced Mr. Joseph Kull, Director, BFA.
Mr. Kull presented the Board with an overview of the budget in current and constant dollars. With an annualized percentage increase of a little under 4 percent in constant dollars, most of the NSF total budget growth is attributable to the Education and Human Resources (EHR) account which increased annually by about 13 percent in constant dollars in comparison to research and related activities which increased by about 2.2 percent. The rapid growth experienced by EHR was necessary to build that account back up after major reductions in the early eighties.
Regarding modes of support, Mr. Kull noted a tradeoff in the percent of support for EHR (which went from 12 to 21 percent of the total) versus research projects, which went from 59 to 52 percent. He also noted that, despite fears that center support would crowd out project support, that mechanism grew from 3 to 6 percent of the budget and has remained at that level over the last decade.
With regard to facilities support, Mr. Kull indicated that once a facility or project funded by the Major Research Equipment (MRE) account becomes operational and is moved out of the MRE Acount into a particular Directorate, the funding for operations becomes a fixed cost for the Directorate. NSF annualy discusses the agreements with the Board and the percent of support going to facilities.
With regard to research project support, Mr. Kull explained that the size and duration of competitive awards shows the effects of the push in the early 1990s to increase average award size. Shifts in grant duration reflect a push in the early nineties to increase duration and a more recent movement toward more standard grants. The Director suggested that staff have the flexibility to issue standard or continuing grants because of their knowledge in a particular area of research. In response to questions, Mr. Kull noted that the principal investigator (PI) funding rate is fifty percent better than the proposal success rate. He also noted that the number of people supported is larger than the number of awards, because any given award may support more than one investigator (e.g., co-investigators, groups). Due to continuing awards, NSF supports another 10,000 to 14,000 people beyond those supported by 9,500 new grants in FY 1997.
Mr. Kull addressed the NSF "mortgage" (i.e., obligations associated with awards made in prior years). The mortgage is an important factor in terms of resources available for new activities when budgets are flat. The discretionary money available in each year has been about 40 percent of the budget. Program managers make extensive use of these data in managing their portfolios. In response to a question from Dr. Lubchenco, Mr. Kull explained that these data vary considerably by discipline.
Mr. Kull noted that "other direct costs in research grants" include computer purchases, consultants, publications, subcontracts, materials, and other costs. The Chairman expressed interest in data that would show percent increase in salary in comparison to the cost of living. Breakouts of data on the staff line-item show that "salary" covers many cost components including fringe benefits and clerical support, all of which remain a remarkably consistent percent of total awards.
Mr. Kull noted that cost sharing data are subject to audit, i.e., there must be information in the awardee’s financial system that tracks and identifies the cost. Dr. Hopcroft cautioned that while cost-sharing requirements are appropriate, they should be dealt with administratively and should not be a factor in merit review.
Turning to success rates, Mr. Kull noted that the rate has hovered in the 30 percent range for the last 10 years. The success rates for minority investigators are in the area of 30 percent, and there is a similar finding for awards with female involvement. For new PIs, the rate was just above 20 percent while the number of proposals declined slightly. For prior PIs, the number of proposals is increasing. Typically, funding rates increase as an investigator matures (measured as years since Ph.D.), but comparison of such data for new and prior PIs suggests that getting an NSF grant for the first time is what really helps an investigator’s subsequent success rate. Regarding the value of declined proposals, $1.4 billion worth of proposals with ratings of very good or better was turned down in FY 1997. Proposal processing time has improved. The goal is to processes 95 percent of proposals in six months or less.
The Director closed the presentation on issues for operating in a constrained fiscal environment by noting several issues underneath the collected data that the Board may want to discuss further. Regarding cost sharing, he said that critics in the community suggest that NSF’s approach is not uniform and that that creates problems. Also, faculty salaries is a major policy issue with implications for long-range planning. Finally, the issue of standard and continuing awards is worth focusing on. It is tied up with the issue of award length and duration that the Board discussed earlier.
Board members suggested areas where further information would be useful and several topics that should be explored in more depth at the February 1998 Board meeting. Suggestions included breakouts of the budget in finer detail, below the Foundation level, cost sharing, what monies are being put into salaries, funding rates for young investigators, numbers of first-time awards, award duration, grant size, and disaggregated data on support for post-doctorals and graduate students.
The Director suggested that in order to contain the amount of data presented in February, NSF staff should select significant variations and talk about what might be causing them.
Dr. Lubchenco added that it may be useful to invite program staff to select areas on which they would appreciate Board guidance. The Board requested that the Director develop information based upon interests expressed by the Board.
NONAGENDA ITEM: Statement on the Role of NSF in Governance of the Internet
The Chairman introduced the item (NSB-97-220 (Revised)), attached to these minutes as Appendix E) with the comment that this statement concerns NSF’s role in the business of domain names, a business stemming from NSF’s great success in developing the Internet. He reminded the Board that in previous statements and discussions the Administration and the Board have supported continued privatization of the Internet. This statement would help NSF direct its energies to its mission.
In speaking to the statement, Dr. Joseph Bordogna, Acting NSF Deputy Director, emphasized that NSF will help Internet registration transition to a new business mode. He noted that NSF’s involvement in the Internet has changed radically and that commercialization of the Internet required NSF to move on to developing the Next Generation Internet. Throughout the last ten months, NSF has made statements to this effect. Because the situation is complicated, restatement is helpful.
Board discussion focused on concerns that unintended negative implications could be read into the statement. It was suggested that several changes would protect against a misreading of the statement. Pending revisions, the Board unanimously APPROVED the statement.
AGENDA ITEM 18: NSB Occasional Paper "Publicly-Funded Research"
The Chairman called on Dr. Jaskolski to introduce the discussion of the occasional paper, "Publicly-Funded Research." Dr. Jaskolski reminded the Board that at the August 20-21, 1997 meeting Dr. Francis Narin shared his analysis of conclusions of the linkages between industry patent citations and publicly-funded research. A Board Task Force on Industry Reliance on Publicly-Funded Research was established and charged with drafting a white paper for Board consideration on this general topic to be released with Science and Engineering Indicators-1998.
Dr. Jaskolski reported that the Task Force found the topic to be more complex than anticipated. There are other indicators to account for, including Federal partnerships with Federal laboratories, universities, and industries; university-industry collaboration on research papers; and citation of university-Federal laboratory research. There are industry-specific patterns in linkages to research (including variation based on emerging versus more established industries), and there is a significant reversal in industry funding of research. It would be difficult to draw general conclusions, so the paper will contain a number of limited conclusions. Finally, there are issues of credibility to address. The Task Force was concerned that the paper not appear to be self-serving and that it be cautious about overstatement. Consequently, more study and discussion are needed as the Task Force’s initial draft is revised. A draft will be circulated to the Board for comment in December.
The Chairman applauded the Task Force for its caution and urged them to continue their efforts.
AGENDA ITEM 19: Other Business
a. U.S. Climate Forum
Dr. Lubchenco drew Board attention to the U.S. Climate Forum, an interagency, interdisciplinary effort that attempts to draw together the current knowledge about climate change, focusing specifically on the consequences of climate change for the nation, as well as in regional areas. There has been a successful series of workshops for eight different regions. An additional ten workshops are planned.
b. Rural Health Care Corporation
The Chairman asked Dr. Greenberg to report on his new responsibility as Chairman of the Rural Health Care Corporation. Dr. Greenberg explained that the Corporation is an independent not-for-profit mandated by the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to test the notion of telemedicine.
Dr. Greenberg invited the Board’s input regarding (1) institutions capable of evaluating the Corporation’s awards ($1.6 billion total) to track the Corporation’s progress; (2) technologists, willing to consult, who are expert in telemedicine; and (3) groups, in addition to the Robert Wood Johnson and Kellogg Foundations, that can assist with program outreach. The Corporation plans an education effort to inform rural medical care facilities about the program.
There was no other business and the meeting adjourned at 11:10 a.m.
Susan E. Fannoney
Appendix A to NSB-97-241
Record of Discussion
The Chairman, Executive Committee, presented a list of items to be considered in Closed Session at the February 1998 meeting (NSB-97-191). 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 Executive Committee DETERMINED that the following portions of the meeting of the National Science Board (NSB) scheduled for February 25-27, 1998 shall be closed to the public:
Susan E. Fannoney
Appendix B to NSB-97-241
RESOLUTION APPROVED BY THE
NATIONAL SCIENCE BOARD
There is a potential inconsistency between Office of Management and Budget Circular A-110 and NSF Important Notice 91. The inconsistency is a potential source of confusion for the NSF awardee community and those who obtain services from research facilities that are supported by NSF, as well as the general public. OMB Circular A-110 renders invalid inconsistent policies on the part of agencies in the Executive Branch. Accordingly, it is hereby
RESOLVED, that the last sentence in the second paragraph of Principles Related to NSF-Supported Research Instrumentation and Facilities as adopted on January 21, 1983 is hereby revised to read as follows: "It is contrary to the NSF's intent for grantees to use NSF-supported research instrumentation or facilities for a fee in competition with private companies in a manner that is prohibited by OMB Circular A-110."
Appendix C to NSB-97-241
RESOLUTION APPROVED BY THE
NATIONAL SCIENCE BOARD
WHEREAS the Board, has reviewed the draft of the NSB report Science and Engineering Indicators Report-1998
Now, therefore, be it RESOLVED that the National Science Board
Appendix D to NSB-97-241
RESOLUTION APPROVED BY THE NATIONAL SCIENCE BOARD
AT IT'S 346TH MEETING, NOVEMBER 13, 1997 CONCERNING
COMPETITION, RECOMPETITION AND RENEWAL OF NSF AWARDS
Whereas the Committee on Programs and Plans has outlined, at its meeting in November 13, 1997, the major principles and key issues in a report "Competition, Recompetition and Renewal of NSF Awards: (NSB 97-216) in the context of the various types of NSF Awards; and
Whereas the Committee on Education and Human Resources concurs in the principles articulated in the report;
Now, therefore, be it RESOLVED, that the National Science Board:
Affirms its strong support for the principle that expiring awards are to be recompeted unless it is judged to be in the best interest of U.S. science and engineering not to do so. This position is based on the conviction that peer-reviewed competition and recompetition is the process most likely to assure the best use of NSF funds for supporting research and education. And
Requests that the Director, NSF, take such steps necessary to ensure that NSF practices embody this principle.
Appendix E to NSB-97-241
STATEMENT ON THE
Whereas the National Science Foundation, along with other agencies, supported the research for and development of what is now called the Internet or World Wide Web;
Whereas the Internet has now gone from the development stage to the application stage and has become a major communications and commercial medium for the whole world;
Whereas the Foundation's Acting Deputy Director, after consultation with the Board, announced on April 23 that NSF has no plans to renew or re-compete the cooperative agreement with Network Solutions, Inc. for Internet registration;
Whereas research opportunities and technological challenges whose exploitation and solution demand the Foundation's attention and financial assistance exist with the Next Generation Internet and not with the governance and maintenance of the current Internet; and
Whereas the Foundation, while supporting the Administration policy of privatization and the efforts of the interagency policymaking group now examining ways to transition the Internet to the private sector, must focus its attention and resources on the Next Generation Internet -
Therefore, be it RESOLVED that the National Science Board believes the Foundation should not solicit proposals for or make a cooperative agreement for the purpose of funding or overseeing the domain names system.
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