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356th MEETING 1

Arnold & Mabel Beckman Center
Irvine, California
February 2-3, 2000
Members Present: Members Absent:
Eamon M. Kelly, Chairman Diana S. Natalicio, Vice Chair
  Sanford D. Greenberg
John A. Armstrong Eve L. Menger
Pamela A. Ferguson Robert M. Solow
Mary K. Gaillard John White
M.R.C. Greenwood  
Stanley V. Jaskolski  
Anita K. Jones  
George M. Langford  
Jane Lubchenco  
Joseph A. Miller, Jr.  
Claudia I. Mitchell-Kernan  
Robert C. Richardson  
Vera S. Rubin  
Maxine Savitz  
Luis Sequeira  
Bob H. Suzuki  
Richard Tapia  
Chang-Lin Tien  
Warren M. Washington  
Rita R. Colwell, Director  

1 The Board approved these minutes at the 357th meeting, March 16, 2000


The National Science Board (NSB) convened in Open Session at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, February 2, 2000, with Dr. Eamon M. Kelly, Chairman of the NSB, presiding (Agenda NSB-00-02). In accordance with the Government in the Sunshine Act, this portion of the meeting was open to the public.

AGENDA ITEM 1: Chairman's Report

Dr. Kelly started his report by congratulating Dr. Jane Lubchenco on her recent election as president-elect of the International Council for Science.

NSB Committees

The Chairman established an ad hoc NSB Nominations Committee with Dr. Jones as Chair and Drs. Greenwood, Miller, Richardson, Tapia, and Tien as members. The NSB Chair and NSF directors serve as ex officio members. Susan Fannoney will serve as executive secretary.

AGENDA ITEM 2: Director's Report

A. Staff Appointments

Dr. Rita Colwell, NSF Director, announced several staff appointments: Dr. Christine Boesz as Inspector General as of January 18, 2000; Dr. Margaret Leinen as Assistant Director for the Directorate for Geosciences as of January 10, 2000; and Dr. Norman Bradburn as Assistant Director for the Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences as of March 13, 2000.

b. Congressional Update

The Director reported that the proposed FY 2001 budget was sent to Congress and included a request for a 17 percent increase for NSF that, if approved, would represent the largest increase in NSF's history. The boost would support funding for core activities as well as several key initiatives, including nanotechnology and 21st Century workforce activities.

To make the case for a budget increase, the Director announced that NSF officials would testify before Congress in a number of hearings. On February 3, Dr. Judith Sunley, Director of the Directorate for Education and Human Resources, is scheduled to testify on NSF's systemic reform and curricula development activities before the House Education and Workforce Committee. The House Science Committee is scheduled to hear testimony about NSF's FY 2001 budget request on February 16 and about NSF's K-12 education programs on February 29. The Senate VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee will hear testimony from NSF on March 8th and April 4th, respectively.

The Director also reported that an effort is underway to enact another three-year NSF authorization bill to succeed the current authorization bill, which ends this year.

c. Antarctic Logistics Award

The Director expressed appreciation for NSF's legal team in the wake of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims' determination that NSF did not err when it awarded Raytheon Polar Services the contract to manage logistics for the U.S. Antarctic Program.

AGENDA ITEM 3: The NSF Strategic Plan

The Director presented the revised NSF FY 2000-2005 GPRA Strategic Plan (NSB-00-16, version 3.0), which is due to Congress in March, and recommended it to the Board for approval. She reported that the new draft includes revisions suggested by Board members at their November, 1999 meeting, as well as suggestions provided by Directorate Advisory Committees. Among the topics receiving greater emphasis in the revision were: 1) NSF's role as the lead agency for IT research and basic research in IT to support all fields of science and engineering; 2) K-12 education and the diversity of the workforce; 3) international activities, including providing the science and technology workforce with a global perspective; and 4) more information on unmet opportunities in science and engineering. The revision also clarified the relationship between the Strategic Plan and the Board report on Environmental Science and Engineering for the 21st Century.

Board Discussion

In addition to urging a careful copy edit before printing, several Board members offered suggestions for final changes. Dr. Lubchenco said she would provide some editorial suggestions for clarifying the connection between the strategic plan and the environmental task force recommendations.

Dr. Langford suggested that the goals for increasing the size and duration of grants to an average $150,000 would not be sufficient to support a well-equipped laboratory or research assistants. Dr. Colwell agreed that $175,000 might be a more reasonable goal.

Dr. Miller asked if the scope of existing NSF educational programs should be clarified, and the Director agreed that the Foundation needs to communicate better the magnitude and importance of its educational efforts in all Directorates to the U.S. public.

At Dr. Kelly's suggestion, Dr. Colwell called for any further suggestions to be sent to the NSB Office no later than Tuesday, February 8. In a resolution (NSB-00-18, Appendix A), the Board unanimously approved the NSF FY 2000-2005 GPRA Strategic Plan and delegated approval of any final changes to the Executive Committee.

Presentation: Progress on the FY 1999 GPRA Performance Report

Dr. Loretta Hopkins presented a status report on NSF's response to the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) of 1993. GPRA requires all Federal agencies as of FY 1999 to provide Congress with an annual strategic plan and performance report citing measurable goals and achievement outcomes. The report for FY 1999 is due to Congress in March. Dr. Hopkins said that NSF's performance report is currently organized into three areas: long-term "outcome" goals (activity related to NSF-funded programs); "investment process" goals (how awards are made, how reviews are conducted); and "management" goals (administration and staff issues).

Taken as a whole, NSF has reached 80 percent of its benchmarks for 1999. The Foundation also met virtually all of its outcome goals, but was less successful with the other two sets of goals. Areas of needed improvement include: ensuring a commitment to high risk research; achieving greater participation of underrepresented groups; lengthening the time between new program announcements and proposal due dates; use of the new merit review criteria; and addressing problems with FastLane training. Dr. Hopkins said that the goals themselves will be reassessed for FY 2000 to ensure their rigor and applicability. The next step is development of a draft performance report and adjustments to the policies and mechanisms by which future GPRA data are gathered.

Board Discussion

Discussion followed on improving performance measures and analyzing results related to the customer satisfaction survey. Dr. Tapia raised questions about the definitions used in measuring trends related to underrepresented populations, and urged the Foundation not to use inappropriate population aggregates, especially for Hispanics. Dr. Hopkins responded that an NSF staff working group is examining data and measurement issues related to GPRA reporting.

Regarding measures of customer satisfaction, members urged the Foundation to conduct further studies to determine whether satisfaction varies with proposal success, suggested reviewing customer satisfaction measures at comparable agencies, and proposed that data on discouragement of young or entry-level scientists might be especially useful in program planning.

The Director stated that the results of the customer satisfaction survey were further evidence of the need for increases in both research funding and administrative funding for the Foundation. Dr. Jaskolski complimented NSF management and staff for progress made since 1993 to meet GPRA requirements and use them as a strategic planning tool.

AGENDA ITEM 4: NSB Report on Environmental Science and Engineering for the 21st Century.

Dr. Lubchenco provided a summary of activities since the Board's November meeting. She reported that Dr. Kelly made a presentation about the report to the President's Council on Science and Technology (PCAST) and to the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources (CENR) of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). The report received praise from these and other reviewers. She said the final revisions did not affect the substance of the report. In response to reviewers' questions some sections had been clarified, and details added.

She thanked the NSF Director and Deputy for their contributions, along with members of the Task Force on the Environment, the Committee on Programs and Plans, and NSF staff who assisted, especially the Task Force Executive Secretary, Penny Firth.

Members complimented the Task Force on the report and approved the resolution (NSB-00-19, Appendix B) to approve the report on Environmental Science and Engineering for the 21st Century (NSB-00-22), delegating any final changes to the Executive Committee.

The Chairman thanked the members of the Task Force and Dr. Firth, and the Director and Deputy for their support.

AGENDA ITEM 5: Interim Report from the Committee on Communication and Outreach

Dr. Greenwood, chair of the Communication and Outreach Committee, requested comments from the Board on the Committee's interim report (NSB-00-01) and described the purpose of the Symposium, which the Committee organized. The Committee is charged with developing recommendations for better communication of science and engineering to policymakers and government leaders. The Committee also seeks to define the role that NSF should play in generating public awareness of (a) NSF's mission and (b) science and engineering overall. Science literacy, while related to the matter of the public's understanding of science, will not be a primary focus of the Committee. Dr. Greenwood said the Committee will support and build on outreach efforts already underway by the Director, and work to expand the concept of the "civic scientist" as one who establishes a dialogue with the public about the importance of science. With regard to the latter, Dr. Greenwood again requested that Board members provide the Committee with a list of their associations and other opportunities they might have for public speaking. The Committee plans to deliver a final report to the Board at the May 2000 meeting.

At the request of Dr. Colwell, Ms. Julia Moore of NSF's public affairs office gave a brief report on NSF's Public Affairs Advisory Group (PAAG), whose first meeting is scheduled for February 16. PAAG will be chaired by Mr. Frank Mankiewicz (Hill and Knowlton). Other members include: Mr. Norman Augustine (Lockheed Martin); Mr. Al Berkeley (NASDAQ); Ms. Kathy Bushkin (America Online); Mr. Paul Hoffman (Encyclopedia Britannica); Ms. Edie Magnus (Dateline NBC); Dr. Cora Marrett (University of Massachusetts-Amherst); Mr. Phill Merrill (Washingtonian); Mr. Jody Powell (Powell Tate); Mr. Bill Schneider (CNN); Dr. E.O. Wilson (Harvard University); Mr. Richard Thornburgh (Kirkpatrick & Lockhart); and Dr. Richard Tapia (Rice University, NSB). Ms. Moore said that PAAG will make a full report to the Director by the end of the year, including a full review of NSF's strategies, goals, programs, and resources with regard to public outreach.

AGENDA ITEM 6: Symposium on Communicating Science and Technology in the Public Interest

Note: Copies of materials presented at the Symposium (described below) are available from the NSB Office and at the Committee web site www.nsf.gov/nsb/cco>.

The Symposium on Communicating Science and Technology in the Public Interest was opened by Dr. Eamon Kelly, Chair, National Science Board.

Dr. M.R.C. Greenwood, Chair of the National Science Board's Communication and Outreach Committee, gave an overview of the symposium and Dr. Robert Suzuki introduced the keynote speaker.

The keynote address on Public Advocacy and Polling was presented by Ms. Mary Woolley, president of Research! America, a nonprofit membership organization supporting grassroots public education and advocacy in the area of health-related research. Ms. Woolley reviewed polling data showing that people tend to regard basic science as important and prestigious work that deserves significantly more public funding than it is getting. Translating public support into actual funding increases, however, requires a greater willingness among scientists to act as advocates and communicators, both to the public and to policymakers and opinion leaders in government. To be more effective in this regard, said Woolley, scientists should be more accessible and more accountable; they should be vocally passionate about their work and the good it is doing for society; and they should be willing to lead or participate in orchestrated advocacy campaigns in a wide variety of public arenas, from schools to the media.

The first panel on Public Affairs featured three speakers: Dr. Mary Good (Venture Capital Investors); Dr. Jon D. Miller (Northwestern University); and Mr. Skip Stiles (science policy consultant). The panelists reiterated the importance of scientists overcoming their aversion to participating in public outreach and advocacy activities, and urged that the Board do more to change the culture of university-based science so that such activities will be rewarded rather than discouraged. The speakers noted several disturbing U.S. trends that necessitate greater advocacy for basic science: the shortage of technically skilled workers; the dwindling number of science and engineering students; the greater proportion of R&D carried out by industry (which tends to be more applied than basic); and the flat rate of growth for physical and engineering research funding as compared to the life sciences. As citizens and policymakers become better informed about how science is done and how it benefits daily life, public support for basic science should grow, the panelists said. The National Science Board is in a particularly good position to advocate, they said, given its status, knowledge, and visibility.

The second group of panelists discussed the Entertainment Industry and News Media, and featured Mr. Dave Yarnold (San Jose Mercury News); Ms. Joanne Rodgers (Johns Hopkins University); and Mr. Ira Flatow (National Public Radio). The speakers shared their views of how the public's understanding of science is arbitrated by popular media. Scientists should do more to reach out to print and broadcast journalists, the speakers agreed, and to fashion their messages in simple, clear ways that appeal to the story-telling needs of the media. Science institutions should also think about marketing themselves more directly to the public without journalists as a conduit; for example, through the development of new Web sites or through branding campaigns. And everyone agreed with the first set of panelists that universities need to find a way to reward scientists for participating in public outreach.

At 5:00 p.m., the Open Session was recessed.

* * * *

Thursday, February 3, 2000

The Open Session was reconvened at 8:30 a.m. by Dr. M.R.C. Greenwood. The symposium on Communicating Science and Technology in the Public Interest continued.

Four speakers participated in the third panel on New Technologies: Dr. David Baltimore (California Institute of Technology); Dr. Anita Borg (Institute for Women and Technology; Xerox); Ms. Judy Estrin (Cisco); and Dr. Jim Mitchell (Sun Microsystems). The Internet and related technologies have changed virtually every aspect of life, the speakers noted, and more change is imminent, including bigger bandwidth, more pervasive wireless communications, and more collaborative, interactive classrooms and labs. Dr. Borg warned that the computer "elite" should not only reach out to the public but should also be ready to listen, thereby ensuring that new technology developments will be informed by the concerns and participation of the many rather than the few. Ms. Estrin and others stressed that new technologies change how we think as much as what we do: we still need to plan long-term but with much greater flexibility and agility in the here and now. Questions about privacy and regulation on the Web occupied the speakers and several members of the audience, with concern expressed that the commercial need to withhold information conflicts with the academic and Internet traditions of openness.

The final session featured Mr. Rick Borchelt (NASA Marshall; Vanderbilt University). Mr. Borchelt is Chair of NASA's Research Roadmap for Communication of Science and Technology for the 21st Century Working Group, a 15-member blue-ribbon panel of journalists, scientists, and public relations professionals that is undertaking a three-year study of how science can best be communicated to the public. In addition to collecting "best practices" from the Nation's research institutions, Mr. Borchelt's working group is investigating what research has been done, or should be done, in the area of science communication. So far, the committee has identified at least five areas that deserve further research: (1) the relationship, if any, among science communication, science literacy, and science advocacy; (2) how audiences actually consume scientific information; (3) how public information officers serve as brokers between researchers and reporters; and reviews of the research literatures on (4) health communications and (5) diffusion of innovations, to see what may already be known about effective science communications.

Among the committee's interim conclusions are that there is no such thing as the "general public"-especially with the advent of new media, target audiences have become diffuse and lack the kind of shared assumptions that make mass communication possible. Another finding is that, when designing programs for public communication, it is important to distinguish whether the goal is greater understanding of science or simply a greater appreciation of science's benefits. In addition, said Mr. Borchelt, scientists and engineers are themselves the best communicators of their work and should be integrated into the mix, as is done on Science@nasa.gov (www.science.nasa.gov), the award-winning Web site maintained by NASA Marshall and written entirely by scientists. Mr. Borchelt urged the National Science Foundation to fund more research into science communications, including the prototyping of new communications technologies.

Dr. Kelly adjourned the Open Session at 12:25 p.m.
Catherine J. Hines
Operations Officer

Appendix A: Resolution NSB-00-18
Appendix B: Resolution NSB-00-19


Appendix A to NSB-00-39
NSB 00-18

January 21, 2000

Adopted by the National Science Board
February 2, 2000
RESOLVED, that the National Science Board approves the National Science Foundation's FY 2000-2005 GPRA Strategic Plan, NSB-00-16, version 3.0, and its submission to the Administration and to the Congress in March 2000. The Board also delegates approval of any final changes to the Executive Committee

Appendix B to NSB-00-39
NSB 00-19
January 21, 2000

Adopted by the National Science Board
February 2, 2000
RESOLVED, that the National Science Board approves the report, Environmental Science and Engineering for the 21st Century, NSB-99-133, and delegates approval of any final changes to the Executive Committee

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