NATIONAL SCIENCE BOARD
The National Science Foundation
March 15, 2001
Eamon M. Kelly, Chairman
Anita K. Jones, Vice Chair
John A. Armstrong
Nina V. Fedoroff
Pamela A. Ferguson
Mary K. Gaillard
Stanley V. Jaskolski
George M. Langford
Joseph A. Miller, Jr.
Diana S. Natalicio
Robert C. Richardson
Bob H. Suzuki
Warren M. Washington
Mark S. Wrighton
Rita R. Colwell, NSF Director
Michael G. Rossmann
John A. White, Jr.
The National Science Board (NSB) convened in Open Session at 2:30
p.m. on Thursday, March 15, 2001, with Dr. Eamon Kelly, Chairman of
the Board, presiding (Agenda NSB-01-32). In accordance with the Government
in the Sunshine Act, this portion of the meeting was open to the public.
AGENDA ITEM 8: Oath of Office to Mark Wrighton
| Dr. Kelly administered the oath of office to Dr.
Mark Wrighton, Chancellor of the Washington University in St. Louis.
AGENDA ITEM 13: Polar Programs Recognition
With the permission of the Board and in respect to the time constraints
for special guests, Dr. Kelly moved to Agenda Item 13.
Dr. Kelly reported that he, Dr. Pamela Ferguson, Dr. Jane Lubchenco,
and Dr. Marta Cehelsky had visited the Antarctic in January to observe
the National Science Foundation's (NSF's) research operation on behalf
of the Federal government. He noted that the operation requires close
collaboration with other Federal agencies, especially the Air National
Guard, which has taken over logistical support from the Navy during the
past two years. Dr. Kelly introduced six distinguished guests from the
Air National Guard, including Colonel Richard Saburro, Commander of Operation
Dr. Rita Colwell, NSF Director, recognized Colonel Saburro as the
key person in the successful transition of air support for the U.S.
Antarctica Program. After noting his many accomplishments, Dr. Colwell
presented Colonel Saburro with the United States Antarctic Program
Medallion, the highest award given by the program.
AGENDA ITEM 9: Open Session Minutes, December 2000
The Board APPROVED the Open Session minutes of the December 2000 meeting
(NSB-00-222, Board Book Tab C).
AGENDA ITEM 10: Closed Session Items for May 2001
| The Board APPROVED the Closed Session items for
the May 2001 Board Meeting (NSB-01-21, Board Book Tab D).
AGENDA ITEM 11: Chairman's Report
a. Dr. Rossmann's Prize
| Dr. Kelly announced that Dr. Michael Rossmann was
not present because he was in Germany receiving the Paul Ehrlich and
Ludwig Darmstaedter Prize, Germany's most distinguished award in scientific
b. Board Retreat
Dr. Kelly reported that the Board had a productive retreat in February,
led by the Retreat Committee chaired by Dr. Anita Jones. He asked Dr.
Jones to comment on the committee's reflections and conclusions since
Dr. Jones commented on three areas identified for action: outreach, use
of resources, and strategy and budget.
Outreach: Dr. Jones, in consultation with recent committee chairs,
will evaluate recent Board experience in producing reports and their related
outreach activities and will report to the Board at the next meeting.
In response to the Board's expressed interest in having direct contact
with programs and people, Board members have received copies of the various
directorate advisory committee reports. In the future, meeting with chairs
of advisory committees may be set up, and some Board meetings may be held
outside the Foundation at major sites.
Use of resources: The Retreat Committee has asked the Audit and
Oversight Committee to take a thoughtful look at resources available to
the Board¾Board members' own time, the time of Board Office staff,
the time of a number of NSF staff who help the Board do its work, and
funding. The A&O Committee will begin by looking at Board member time
allocation and how that time may be used more effectively.
Strategy and budget: Dr. Jones called attention to the draft charter
for the creation of a new standing committee, the Committee on Strategy
and Budget, that was distributed to the Board for comment. The new committee
would analyze NSF's budget to ensure progress and consistency against
strategic direction for NSF and would identify strategic (typically long-term)
issues critical to NSF's future. In response to Dr. Mary K. Gaillard's
comment, a sentence will be added to the draft charter, stating that in
reviewing the budget from a strategic point of view, the committee will
take care to make a balance between investments in strategy and investments
in the core program.
Dr. Kelly opened discussion of the draft charter. In response to questions,
he clarified the relationship of the new committee to the Executive Committee.
On matters of budget, the new committee would relieve the Executive Committee
of its current budget responsibility and would report directly to the
Board. The Board would either approve the entire annual budget as it is
required to do, or it could delegate that approval to the Executive Committee,
operating on behalf of the Board in the full Board's absence. The new
committee would work directly with NSF senior management on budget matters.
It is expected that the new committee would be able to devote more time
to budget work than has been possible for the Executive Committee.
In response to questions about committee membership and workload, Dr.
Kelly replied that if the establishment of the new committee were approved,
it would be necessary to reassess the assignment of committees and the
priority activities of the Board. Current Board member responsibilities
would be reallocated to ensure efficiency. The membership of the new committee
would be representational, including members from the other three standing
committees and other key task forces.
The Board APPROVED the motion to establish the Committee on Strategy
and Budget as a standing committee.
c. Dr. Chubin's Departure
Dr. Kelly reported that Dr. Daryl Chubin, Senior Policy Officer, was
leaving NSF to join the staff of the National Action Council for Minorities
in Engineering, a nonprofit corporation led by Dr. John Slaughter, a former
NSF Director. He summarized Dr. Chubin's contributions in support of the
Board's policy work in education and human resources. Dr. Colwell offered
her congratulations, expressing thanks to Dr. Chubin for his contributions
to NSF, especially in the areas of education and workforce research.|
AGENDA ITEM 12: Director's Report
a. Staff Introductions
Dr. Colwell introduced several recently appointed staff: Dr. Frank C.
Greene, Director of the Division of Integrative Biology, Directorate for
Biological Sciences; Mr. Thomas C. Cross, Deputy Inspector General; Mr.
John H. Mitchell, Senior Advisor, Office of the Director; and Mr. Terence
Schaff, Senior Advisor for Legislative Activities in the Office of Legislative
and Public Affairs.|
b. Congressional Update
Dr. Colwell reported that the House Science Committee held a hearing
on K-12 Math and Science Education: The View from the Blackboard on March
7. Witnesses included three winners of the Presidential Awards for Excellence
in Math and Science Teaching. The NSF continues to receive requests for
staff briefings on a wide variety of NSF programs, with specific interest
in NSF's K-12 education programs.|
The House Veterans Affairs-Housing and Urban Development (VA-HUD) Appropriations
Subcommittee has set March 21 and 22 for hearings to receive testimony
from outside witnesses on agencies within the subcommittee's jurisdiction,
including NSF. The House VA-HUD hearing on NSF's budget request is scheduled
for April 3. June 6 is the date set for the Senate VA-HUD hearing.
Two bills that specifically address NSF programs have been introduced.
Senate bill 430, the Broadband Rural Research Investment Act of 2001,
authorizes $25 million to NSF for the purpose of promoting research to
enhance the availability of the Internet in rural areas. House bill 932,
the Science Teacher Scholarships for Scientists and Engineers Act, authorizes
$20 million for NSF to provide scholarships ($7,500) for scientists and
engineers to become certified as science, math, and technology teachers
in elementary and secondary schools.
NON-AGENDA ITEM: Draft Statement
Dr. Kelly noted that several Board members had requested that the Board
make a statement concerning the importance of investments in science generally,
adding the Board's voice to many others that are trying to raise this
issue in the public consciousness. He called the Board's attention to
a draft statement, "Strengthening the Federal Commitment to Science
and Technology," and explained that the Committee on Strategic Science
and Engineering Policy Issues had reviewed and commented on the draft.
Dr. Kelly asked for the Board's views on issuing such a statement at this
time and whether the draft statement included the appropriate themes.|
After discussion, Dr. Kelly summarized the sense of the Board that while
the draft statement expresses the position of the Board, considerations
of timing and defining the appropriate target audience suggest holding
it in reserve and rewriting, as needed, for another occasion. Alternative
suggestions included making the statement in a cover letter accompanying
the budget proposal, or submitting the statement as an op-ed article or
AGENDA ITEM 14: Report: Allocating Federal Resources for S&T
Dr. Kelly referred the Board to the draft report on allocating Federal
resources for science and technology. He summarized the process that had
brought the document to this point and asked if there were additional
comments on the draft and if the Board were ready to release the draft
as a discussion document for a stakeholder symposium in May.|
The Board ACCEPTED the draft report, "The Scientific Allocation
of Scientific Resource," NSB-01-39, and the proposal to hold a symposium
Dr. Kelly announced that the one-and-a-half day symposium would precede
the May Board meeting, beginning in the afternoon of May 21.
AGENDA ITEM 15: Director's Merit Review Report
Dr. Colwell introduced Dr. Nathaniel Pitts, Director of the Office of
Integrative Activities, to present the report.|
Dr. Pitts stated that for the last ten years NSF has received approximately
30,000 proposals per year and has made approximately 10,000 awards per
year. This year the overall funding rate was 33 percent. The average award
size was $105,000.
After a brief summary of the contents of the Merit Review Report, Dr.
Pitts focused on two areas: the use of merit review criteria and the time
to decision, or dwell time.
The first full year using the merit criteria was FY 1999. NSF's GPRA
goal states that NSF is successful when reviewers and program officers
address both criteria in proposal reviews. The GPRA results for FY 2000
show that NSF did not achieve that goal. Only 20 of 58 Committee of Visitors
reports rated NSF's performance as successful. An evaluation by the National
Association for Public Administrators, mandated by the Senate, determined
that it was too soon to evaluate how well NSF is implementing its merit
review criteria. In FY 2000, NSF issued guidance to the community, stressing
the importance of addressing both criteria in proposals and reviews; changed
FastLane to show separate screens for the two criteria; and required program
officers to address both criteria in internal documents that justify or
decline awards. In FY 2001, NSF intends to develop guidelines to clarify
the criteria, provide examples to show proposers and reviewers how to
address each criterion successfully, and strengthen program officer training
on the use of merit review criteria.
For dwell time, the GPRA goal is that 70 percent of proposers receive
an answer from NSF within six months. This year NSF provided responses
within six months to 54 percent of the proposers. At the seventh month
mark, 71 percent had received responses. NSF intends to track the stages
of the process, look for bottlenecks, make incremental changes, use electronic
means to speed up the process, look at workforce allocation, and improve
training of NSF staff.
Discussion: In response to questions, Dr. Pitts stated that the
performance plan for FY 2002 may be modified once the budget for that
year is determined.
During discussion of criterion two, Board members noted that implementation
requires more than providing information; the criterion must influence
funding decisions. In many cases, researchers may be carrying out criterion
two but are not stating these activities to their advantage in the proposal
or review. Dr. Warren Washington noted that the advisory group of the
Office on Polar Programs had provided concrete examples to assist proposers
and reviewers with criterion two. In response to the question of how many
proposals are sent back because criterion two was not addressed, Dr. Joseph
Bordogna, Deputy Director, replied that rejecting a proposal for failure
to address criterion two would be harsh when the criterion has been in
effect for only a year and a half. NSF is trying to raise consciousness
among its own staff as well as institutions, proposers, and reviewers.
Board members pointed out that criterion two and the diversity issue
need to be considered together. In the future, more and more scientists
will not be white males, which is a rationale for proposers to address
criterion two. Dr. Bob Suzuki noted that the EHR Committee intends to
examine criterion two and the diversity issue in the near future. Dr.
Washington suggested that in view of CPP's interest, the topic might be
a joint item for the EHR and CPP committees. Dr. Bordogna added that it
would be useful if the committees could develop advice on how best to
implement criterion two, similar to the guidance prepared by the Office
of Polar Programs.
Dr. Kelly remarked that in implementing criterion two, NSF is attempting
a cultural change among proposers and reviewers, and a culture change
takes time to become effective.
Dr. Bordogna responded to questions about FastLane, saying that recent
comments from users tend to be more widely distributed, like a bell-shaped
curve, than the bipolar responses received earlier. A SWAT team assists
users having difficulty with FastLane.
ADENDA ITEM 16: Committee Reports
a. Audit and Oversight (A&O)
Dr. Daniel Simberloff reported for Dr. Stan Jaskolski, committee chair,
that the committee heard reports on GPRA for FY 2000 and performance plans
for FY 2001 and 2002. They also heard the Director's Merit Review Report
and received an update on customer service survey data; concerns focused
on dwell time and criterion two. Other reports dealt with NSF financial
statements and audits, and the work of the NSF Management Controls Committee.
It was noted that NSF is required to submit an administrative and management
strategic plan to the Office of Management and Budget this summer. |
In closed session, the committee discussed and concurred with the Inspector
General's budget request for FY 2002, established a schedule for reviewing
the next Semi-Annual Report and approving the agency Management Response,
heard a presentation by Mr. Thomas Cooley, Director of the Office of Budget,
Finance and Award Management, on systematic corrective actions to deal
with problems identified in the Gemini audit, and received briefings on
active investigations and audits.
b. Committee on Programs and Plans (CPP)
Dr. Robert Richardson, reporting for Dr. John Armstrong, committee chair,
stated that the committee considered a proposed award for the operation
of the International Gemini Observatory and recommended its approval to
the full Board in Closed Session. Staff were requested to provide follow-up
information at future meetings.|
The committee continued its discussion of planning for cyber-infrastructure
and research. A strategic plan is being developed to include a broad vision
for all users, as well as more specific rationales for subsets of users,
including the needs of high-end users.
The Polar Issues Subcommittee reported on updates of Arctic and Antarctic
activities and on the strong positive response to plans for an Antarctic
proposal workshop to reach out to young investigators and underrepresented
The Task Force on Science and Engineering Infrastructure reported on
its continuing discussions to define its tasks and identify areas where
NSF can make a significant impact. The task force will explore ways to
get information from NSF programs, other agencies, and the community in
preparing a report.
The committee also received an update on Major Research Equipment, facilities
management, and budget issues. Management of large projects was discussed,
including unique features of NSF facilities management. The committee
was briefed on new management procedures.
c. Education and Human Resources Committee (EHR)
Dr. Richard Tapia reported for Dr. Bob Suzuki, committee chair, that
the committee reviewed an outline for the content of a draft report on
NSF's Leadership Role in K-16 SMET Education. It is anticipated that a
draft report will be ready for review at the May meeting. |
The committee discussed the development and applications of the science
of learning. Several committee members shared their impressions of a recent
conference entitled "Applying the Science of Learning to the University
and Beyond," held at California Polytechnic-Pomona.
The committee also reviewed a draft statement on education and human
resource development for the 21st century, which is being developed as
a briefing document for the Administration.
EHR Subcommittee on Science and Engineering Indicators (S&EI)
Dr. Tapia, subcommittee chair, reported that Mr. Rolf Lehming, Program
Director, Integrated Studies Program, Science Resources Studies Division
(SRS), discussed a draft review schedule for Indicators-2002 chapters,
including suggested assignments of Board members as reviewers. The review
schedule was distributed to all Board members. The complete draft version
of Indicators-2002 will be submitted to the Board in August. |
Mr. Bill Noxon, Senior Public Affairs Specialist, Office of Legislative
and Public Affairs (OLPA), presented options for disseminating Indicators-2002.
The subcommittee suggested that the Board, in consultation with OLPA,
consider retaining a public relations firm to assist in the rollout process.
It was also suggested that reviewers forward exciting and interesting
"nuggets" to OLPA for possible highlighting during the rollout.
In response to a question about the timing of the release of Indicators,
Dr. Lynda Carlson, Division Director, SRS, stated that SRS would develop
timing options for release of future Indicators and discuss them
with the subcommittee after the release of Indicators-2002.
Mr. Lehming submitted and the subcommittee approved a workplan for exploring
the production of an environmental chapter for Indicators-2004.
The subcommittee also approved Mr. Lehming's proposal for a procedure
for handling issues on which the Board has taken a position. The Board
description of the issues will be presented in text boxes, and the URL
will be included as a source of additional information. SRS will not attempt
to summarize the Board's conclusions or recommendations.
On behalf of the subcommittee, Dr. Tapia expressed deep appreciation
to SRS staff for their excellent work over many years.
EHR Task Force on National Workforce Policies for Science and
Dr. George Langford, reporting for Dr. Joseph Miller, committee chair,
stated that the task force welcomed Dr. Karolyn Eisenstein as Executive
Secretary. In January the task force had a briefing on data related to
immigration and data on the acquisition of skills and knowledge by individuals
who enter the science and technology workforce. At the meeting on the
previous day, the task force covered data on the preparation of math and
science teachers and heard reports from Dr. Jane Kahle, Division Director,
Division of Elementary, Secondary and Informal Education, and Dr. Tom
Smith , Senior Analyst, SRS. The main messages of the two reports were
the need for an overhaul of teacher preparation and the fact that the
type and range of national data on teachers do not get at how content
and pedagogic skills are actually used in a classroom context to improve
The task force is close to awarding a contract for data on foreign talent
flows, which calls for a report to the task force by May 1. The data will
be discussed at the May meeting. A contract for data on non-degree education
is under consideration. The task force agreed that a workforce project
being conducted by the California Council on Science and Technology could
provide important input on issues and analyses directly related to the
task force's workplan. Arrangements are being made for the Council to
share its findings with the task force.
In executive session, the task force discussed policy challenges shaping
its report and the timetable for its activities.
d. Task Force on International Issues in Science and Engineering
Dr. Pamela Ferguson, on behalf of Dr. Diana Natalicio, committee chair,
reminded the Board that the task force's original objective was to produce
a comprehensive report on international science and engineering issues.
Due to the transition between Administrations and the Director's request
for guidance in this area for budget planning, the task force produced
two smaller interim reports. The task force discussed how best to accomplish
its original objective and agreed to prepare a primarily educational report,
providing a model of how the United States is addressing international
issues. The report would be aimed at a general audience in the United
States. There has not been such a comprehensive report on international
issues in science and engineering within the last ten years.|
e. Committee on Science and Engineering Policy Issues (SPI)
Dr. Kelly, committee chair, reported that the committee discussed three
(1) the draft statement, "Strengthening the Federal Commitment to
Science and Technology," (2) the draft paper, "Scientific Allocation
of Scientific Resources," and
(3) a draft agenda and possible guest list for the stakeholders' symposium
f. Task Force on the NSB's 50th Anniversary
Dr. Vera Rubin, task force chair, reported that the task force discussed
the distribution of the 50th Anniversary commemorative brochure to the
science community, Federal officials, university leaders, and the media.
The Board Office will coordinate with OLPA to include the brochure in
the current distribution of the Nifty 50 and NSF's America's Investment
in the Future: NSF Celebrating 50 Years. The task force also discussed
whether to produce a scholarly, historical volume on the Board. There
being considerable interest expressed by the task force, it was suggested
that the issue be brought to the full Board. Dr. Rubin suggested that,
because of the late hour, discussion of this issue be deferred until a
Dr. Kelly and the Board thanked Dr. Rubin for her skillful leaderships
of the task force.
AGENDA ITEM 17: Other Business
After thanking the many NSF staff members who helped prepare for the
Dr. Kelly adjourned the Open Session at 4:35 p.m.
Janice E. Baker
1 The minutes of the 362nd meeting were approved by
the Board at the May 24, 2001 meeting.
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