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Preliminary Report of the November 19, 1999 Meeting

November 22, 1999


SUBJECT:   Preliminary Report of the November 19, 1999 Meeting

The major actions of the Board at its 355th meeting on November 19, 1999, are summarized for the information of those members and consultants absent and as a reminder to those present.

1. Board Actions

a. The Chairman announced the selection of Christine C. Boesz as NSF Inspector General. Ms. Boesz comes to NSF from Aetna U.S. Healthcare, where she served as head of regulatory accountability.

b. The Chairman established an Ad Hoc Committee on the 2000 Vannevar Bush Award. Dr. Eve Menger is Chair, and Drs. Jones, Langford, Richardson and Tien are members. The Committee will present recommendations at the March 16, 2000 NSB meeting. Ms. Susan Fannoney will serve as Executive Secretary.

c. The Board adopted the following resolution on delegation of authority:

RESOLVED, that the National Science Board adopts the delegation of award-approving authority contained in Attachment A to NSB-99-158, reaffirms the delegation of authority to the Executive Committee contained in Attachment B to NSB-99-158, and authorizes its Executive Officer to publish the award-approval authority delegation in the Federal Register and report it to the Foundation's House and Senate authorizing committees.

[Attachment A]

d. The Board approved the NSB EHR Committee workplan, NSB-99-5.

e. The Board authorized the Executive Committee to approve Science & Engineering Indicators, 2000 and an NSB companion piece. Board members are asked to submit comments on the draft report ("orange book") by December 1, 1999.

f. The Board asked NSF to pursue all avenues to restore the Congressional mandate to the Science & Engineering Indicators publication.

g. The Board approved plans for the February 2000 policy meeting in Irvine, California, on the topic of communication and outreach. The meeting will begin Wednesday morning, February 2. Following routine Board business, a luncheon speaker will begin the policy symposium, which will run through midday Thursday, February 3. In connection with this activity, Board members may convey to the Board Office information about significant business and civic groups with which they are involved.

h. The Board authorized Dr. Vera Rubin, Chair, Task Force on the NSB 50th Anniversary, to forward three suggested names to Dr. Carolyn Shoemaker for an asteroid: Scientia, L. Scientia, and Scienstar 50.

i. The Chairman asked Board members to send any additional comments on the revised NSF Strategic Plan (NSB-99-173) to the Board Office as soon as possible.

2. Awards

The Board approved the following award:

Amount not to exceed

Geosciences Division of Ocean Sciences U.S. Science Support Associated with the Ocean Drilling Program Joint Oceanographic Institutions,Inc., (NSB-99-159) $23,900,000 for 72 months

3. NSB Committees

(Committee summaries are provided by executive secretaries.)

a. Executive Committee

The Executive Committee heard a report from the Director on the status of the FY 2000 and FY 2001 NSF budgets, was informed about several personnel issues, and received a report from the Executive Secretary on the status, under the Board's Conflict of Interest Rules, of a proposal to NSF by an NSB member. The committee also previewed reports to be presented to the Board on calendar and videoconferencing issues.

b. Audit & Oversight (A&O)


Mr. Kull reported on NSF participation in a national assessment of customer satisfaction. The details are currently embargoed but the Board will be provided with copies when it is released by the White House in December. Mr. Herer, Dr. Pitts, and Dr. Hopkins provided a GPRA Update. Mr. Kull and Mr. Blansitt gave an update on the status of the FY99 NSF Financial Statement and Audit . Mr. Kull also gave a briefing on the NSF Management Controls Committee. Ms. Feldman gave a briefing on the revisions to OMB Circular A-110 related to the sharing of research data as required by recent legislation. The NSB had issued a public statement of concern about the impact of the legislation in February. The final implementation by OMB was sensitive to those concerns and as a result the effect on NSF is expected to be minimal. Ms. Eisenstadt and Dr. Fischer provided an update on Research Misconduct Policy. A draft policy acceptable to NSF has been published in the Federal Register for comment.


The Committee discussed the Inspector General's semiannual Report for the period ending September 30, 1999. The Committee took no exception to the IG's report and agreed on the contents of the NSB Management Letter, which will transmit the report to the Congress by December 1, 1999. Mr. Sunshine also provided information that the Committee had requested comparing the IG's staffing, budget and functions to those of other Federal agency IG's.

c. Programs and Plans (CPP)

The Committee discussed comments received on the interim report of the Task Force on the Environment. A wide range of respondents have provided comments, including individuals, scientific and professional societies, and other federal agencies. Overall, the comments are very supportive of the report. There are also questions on some items. The Committee discussed ways to modify and edit the report. No major changes to the findings and recommendations are anticipated, but there will be clarifications. A final report is expected to be available for approval by the NSB at its next meeting.

The Committee received a report from the Polar Issues Task Force, including: the visit of the President to US Antarctic facilities in New Zealand, discussions of support for Antarctic and for Arctic logistics, an update on construction activities at South Pole, an overview of the Interagency Arctic Research Program, and discussion of the international Arctic Climate Impact Assessment.

The Committee reviewed and approved one action item for consideration by the NSB: U.S. Science Support Associated with the Ocean Drilling Program; Joint Oceanographic Institutions, Inc. (NSB-99-159).

The Committee heard a presentation on the initiative on Information Technology Research (ITR), covering the research agenda for software, human-computer interaction and information management, high-end computing, scalable information infrastructure, and socioeconomic, ethical, legal and workforce implications. The status of the ITR competition was provided, including plans for management of the initiative. A brief update was provided on plans for the competition for terascale computing.

The Committee received a brief update on facilities, covering the FY 2000 appropriation and the FY 2001 budget request to OMB for Major Research Equipment.

d. CPP Task Force on the Environment (TFE)

The Chair reviewed the status of the Interim Report: It is now a Board report, having received interim approval from the Board on 29 July 1999. The Task Force anticipates that the completed report will be transmitted to the Board for final approval at the February 2000 meeting.

The Task Force reviewed the responses to the Interim Report that have been received, and discussed the schedule for the Final Report. The feedback has been almost uniformly positive and has included many helpful suggestions for improving the Report. The Task Force is in the process of responding to these suggestions. Substantive changes in the report's recommendations are not anticipated.

Dr. Colwell reported to the Task Force on the interagency meeting she convened in early November. The meeting went well and the other agencies are pleased that NSF is making the effort to keep them informed. The participants affirmed that the topic of the report is timely and important, that NSF has a key role to play, and that cooperation with other agencies will enhance the response to the report.

The remainder of the meeting was spent discussing the relationship between the terms "Environmental Science and Engineering"-as covered in the Task Force report-and "Biocomplexity in the Environment."

The Task Force meeting concluded with an announcement that several teleconferences will be scheduled in the coming months to review report revisions and finalize the report.

e. CPP Task Force on Polar Issues

Dr. Colwell and OPP staff briefed the task force on President Clinton's visit to USAP facilities in New Zealand in September.

OPP staff reviewed activities of recent workshops on Lake Vostok research and progress of the South Pole Safety and Environment and Modernization projects. Mr. Rudolph, NSF General Counsel, briefed the task force on the recent award of a new Antarctic Logistics and Support contract.

OPP staff briefed the task force on activities of the Arctic Research Commission and the Interagency Arctic Research Committee, including Arctic Research Program planning; the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment being developed by the Arctic Council; and progress of Arctic Science and Logistics activities including competition for a new Arctic logistics support contract and the recent commissioning of the Coast Guard icebreaker Healy.

f. Education and Human Resources (EHR)

The Committee was given a preliminary plan for the reorganization of the Education and Human Resources Directorate. The Committee was briefed on FY2000 Implications of FY 1999 Activities in NSF Graduate Teaching Fellows in K-12 Education; Interagency Education Research Initiative (IERI); and the National SMETE Digital Library. It was also reported that a scholarship program (CSEMS) was being developed that will be supported by the monies garnered from H-1B Visa fees. A summary of NSF-Smithsonian Institutioninteractions was presented and the Committee expressed interest in a briefing on further NSF Informal Education activities at the next meeting.

The Science and Engineering Indicators Subcommittee reported on the progress of Indicators-2000 and the Committee was briefed on the Federal Reports Elimination and Sunset Act of 1995 (P.L. 104-66, 109 Stat. 734) which, on December 21, 1999, ends the statutory requirement for the preparation of Science Indicators. The Committee recommended that NSF seek to reestablish the requirement. The Committee recommended that an edited version of the current Committee Workplan be submitted to the full Board for approval. For the next Meeting, the Committee requested a review of EHR Programs related to Workplan issues. Based on this review, plans for a symposium will be considered. In Executive Session, the Committee discussed future formatting for Indicators and the content of the NSF Strategic Plan.

g. EHR Subcommittee on Science and Engineering Indicators (SEI)

The Subcommittee meeting was chaired by John White on behalf of Claudia Mitchell-Kernan. A discussion of the "Orange Book" of the S&E Indicators-2000 took place with Dr. White reminding the members that comments on the report must be provided to the SRS staff by December 1.

The cover design prospectus for S&E Indicators-2000 was discussed and the members voiced their approval of the concept. The subcommittee recommended that a companion piece to S&E Indicator-2000s be written that would include highlights of changes made in science and technology over the past 50 years, enduring themes, and a look forward to the future. The proposed topic of this companion piece is very appropriate for NSF's 50th Anniversary celebration.

Mr. Lawrence Rudolph, NSF General Counsel briefed the subcommittee on the background of the Federal Reports Elimination and Sunset Act of 1995 which included a section which provided that most requirements for annual, seminannual or other periodic reports (including S&E Indicators) identified in a 1993 listing of statutorily required reports to Congress would cease to be effective on December 21, 1999. Subcommittee members discussed the importance of Indicators to many communities including Congress and were in unanimous agreement that all steps necessary to ensure that the statutory requirement for S&E Indicators be reinstated in congressional legislation be pursued at the earliest possible time. h. Task Force on International Issues in S&E (ISE)

The Task Force reviewed recommendations from past reports related to international activities of NSF. The Task Force reviewed a partial summary of issues raised at the three hearings it has convened and discussed points to be covered in its report. Dr. Bennett Bertenthal made a presentation on previous recommendations made to enhance international activities throughout NSF and on his perspectives. The Task Force reviewed draft questions to be submitted to the Director's office, after consultation by the Task Force chair. The responses will be factored into the outline of the Task Force's draft report. The Task Force approved the framework for its interim status report to the NSB. i. Committee on Strategic S&E Policy Issues (SPI)

The committee was briefed by the two consultants currently undertaking literature reviews on R&D budget coordination and priority setting methodologies for the Committee. Representatives of RAND's Science and Technology Policy Institute discussed with the committee the organizing strategy and content of the report on the Federal system, due at the end of the year. SRI staff summarized R&D budget coordination and priority setting methodologies used by governments participating in the joint SPI/ISE Symposium taking place November 19 and 20. The Chairman briefed members on a meeting between Office of Management and Budget (OMB) staff and the NSB Chair and Vice Chair, where priority setting methods for the Federal R&D budget were discussed

j. Task Force on NSB 50th Anniversary (NSB50)

The Committee heard a report from Deborah Shapley on the format for the NSB commemorative brochure, which will be easy to navigate via graphics and a national timeline, authoritative about the Board's statutory powers, and will explain the self-governing nature of U.S. basic research. The schedule calls for approval of the design and final outline in January, and distribution of the first draft for the Board's review and comment in May.

The response to the Jumpstart 2000 competition has been tremendous, with almost one million 'hits'on the Web page. The competition and the Web page have received numerous mentions in articles and links from other Web sites, and six entries have already been received. The committee reviewed a preliminary agenda for the Jumpstart 2000 celebratory events in Washington, DC on May 15-18, 2000 and agreed to ask the full Board for approval.

The task force agreed to ask the Board for approval to forward the three top entries: Scientia, L. Scientia, and Scienstar 50, to Carolyn Shoemaker, astronomer at Lowell Observatory, who will submit one of them to the International Astronomical Union for approval. The task force hopes final approval and notification will be made by May 2000 in order to announce the asteroid name and winner during the NSF 50th celebration.

The task force discussed the NSB 50th anniversary celebration event, which will be held at the Carnegie Institution of Washington on Tuesday, December 12th. The task force will bring a plan to the Board in March 2000 for approval.

k. Communication and Outreach (CCO)

Members reviewed their workplan and agreed to schedule the interim report to the NSB for February 2000, with a final report due at the May 2000 meeting. The committee agreed on a structure for the February policy symposium, "Communicating Science and Technology in the Public Interest" for recommendation to the Board.

Marta Cehelsky
Executive Officer
Attachments: NSB-99-158

Attachment A to NSB-99-189

(1) The Director of the National Science Foundation may make no award involving an anticipated average annual amount of one percent or more of the awarding Directorate's or Office's prior year current plan without the prior approval of the National Science Board, except for any continuing project, facility, or logistics-support arrangement for which the Board has waived review.

(2) The Director may make no award under any program of the Foundation that has not been approved by the Board when that program - (A) is expected to involve annual expenditure of more than three percent of the awarding Directorate's or Office's prior year current plan, (B) involves sensitive political or policy issues, or (C) will be funded as an ongoing Foundation-wide activity.

(3) Except as provided in paragraphs (1) and (2) or by special resolution of the Board, the Board delegates to the Director authority to make any award within the authority of the Foundation.

(4) When the Board approves the award of a specific amount of funds, the Director may subsequently amend the award to commit additional sums, not to exceed twenty percent of the amount specified or ten million dollars, whichever is less, or to change the expiration date of the award.

(5) This delegation supersedes and replaces that adopted by the Board in 1994 (NSB-94-95).

Attachment A to NSB-99-189, cont. ATTACHMENT B TO NSB-99-158


The Executive Committee of the National Science Board may approve awards where Board approval is required or otherwise act for the Board in those rare instances when immediate decision is required between Board meetings and when the necessary action is not within the authority of the Director of the National Science Foundation.


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