The National Science Foundation
August 14, 2003
Warren M. Washington, Chair
Rita R. Colwell, NSF Director
Daniel E. Hastings
The National Science Board (NSB) convened in Open Session at 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 14, 2003, with Dr. Warren M. Washington, Chair, presiding (Agenda NSB-03-97). In accordance with the Government in the Sunshine Act, this portion of the meeting was open to the public.
AGENDA ITEM 5: Oath of Office
Dr. Washington administered the oath of office to recently confirmed Board members: Drs. Steven Beering, Ray Bowen, and Elizabeth Hoffman.
AGENDA ITEM 6: Minutes of the May 2003 Meeting
The Board APPROVED the minutes of the May 2003 meeting
(NSB-03-86, Board Book Tab B).
AGENDA ITEM 7: Closed Session Items for October 2003
The Board APPROVED the Closed Session items for the October 2003 Board Meeting (NSB-03-93, Board Book Tab C).
AGENDA ITEM 8: Chair’s Report
a. Thank You to Director
Dr. Washington thanked Dr. Rita Colwell, National Science Foundation (NSF) Director and her husband for hosting a dinner for the Board at their home on August 13.
b. Introduction of Executive Officer
Dr. Washington introduced and welcomed Dr. Michael Crosby, the recently appointed Executive Officer of the National Science Board and Director of the National Science Board Office.
c. Interaction with NAPA
Dr. Washington reported on his productive interaction with the National Academy of Public Administration group that is reviewing the National Science Foundation’s organization and structure and role of the Board.
d. Response to Senator Lieberman
Dr. Washington reminded Board members that they had received copies of a letter from Senator Lieberman asking for the Board’s evaluation of NSF’s plans for managing the increased budget authorized in recent legislation. Dr. Washington is preparing a reply to the Senator on behalf of the Board.
e. Section 22 Report
Dr. Washington noted that the Committee on Strategy and Budget is dealing with some of the same issues raised in Senator Lieberman’s letter as part of their preparation of a report required by Congress under Section 22 of the NSF Authorization Act of 2002. That report is due to Congress in December.
f. Section 14 Report
Dr. Washington noted that the Committee on Programs and Plans is also preparing a report required by Congress under Section 14 of the NSF Authorization Act of 2002. This report, due on September 15, concerns delegations of authority related to the use of NSF’s Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction account.
g. Science and Engineering Infrastructure for the 21st Century
Dr. Washington announced the publication of Science and Engineering Infrastructure for the 21st Century, a report prepared by the Task Force on Science and Engineering Infrastructure under the leadership of the Committee on Programs and Plans. He thanked the task force chair, Dr. John White, and members Drs. Anita Jones, Jane Lubchenco, Robert Richardson, Michael Rossmann, Mark Wrighton, and Mary Clutter, NSF’s Assistant Director for Biological Sciences. Dr. White thanked Mr. Paul Herer, Senior Staff Associate, Office of the Director, who served as Executive Secretary, and NSF’s Assistant Directors and others who contributed to the report. Dr. Washington discharged the task force upon completion of their duties.
h. Legal Advice for the Board
Dr. Washington reminded Board members that at the May 22, 2003, meeting they had discussed the question of having their own legal counsel or advisor, a proposal raised by Senator Bond at the April 3 appropriations hearing. Dr. Washington called for additional discussion. After discussion by the Board, Dr. Washington recommended that he work with Board members and Board staff to draft a response to Senator Bond. The response letter would relay the Board’s general belief that a separate legal counsel is not needed. However, if a need were to be determined to seek additional legal advice, the Board would use the existing mechanisms for hiring that expert advice. The Board agreed to this recommendation.
i. Voting Protocol
As a follow-up to the Board’s agreement in May to reexamine its voting procedures and rules, Dr. Hoffman reported that she was in the process of analyzing voting procedures and rules and would make a recommendation at a later meeting. She noted that there is no best-practice voting rule.
AGENDA ITEM 9: Director’s Report
a. Personnel Changes
Dr. Colwell introduced Dr. Bianca Bernstein, recently appointed the Director of the Division of Graduate Education, Education and Human Resources Directorate.
b. Congressional Update
Dr. Colwell provided an update on congressional actions since the May Board meeting. On July 9, she testified before the House Science Committee’s Basic Research Subcommittee on the House counterpart to Senate Bill 196, the Digital Wireless Network Technology Program Act of 2003. The bill would authorize NSF to spend $250 million a year for five years to improve educational instruction in digital and wireless technologies and improve technology infrastructure at eligible institutions. On June 19, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation reported Senate bill 189, the Nanotechnology Research and Development Act of 2003. The bill authorizes funding of nanotechnology research programs at NSF, the Department of Energy, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Institute for Standards and Technology, and the Environmental Protection Agency, with NSF as the lead agency. Companion legislation has already passed the House. On June 12, Dr. Colwell testified before the House Science Committee on plant biotechnology research relevant to food crops in Africa. On June 16, Dr. Peter Freeman, Assistant Director for Computer and Information Sciences and Engineering, affirmed NSF’s commitment to high-end computing at a hearing of the House Science Committee on that topic.
On July 24, the House passed the VA, HUD and Independent Agencies Appropriations bill, which would provide NSF with $5.63 billion in FY 2004, the highest budget ever for NSF. The appropriation for FY 2004 is 6.2 percent above the FY 2003 appropriation. The Senate has not yet acted on the appropriations bill.
AGENDA ITEM 10: NSF Strategic Plan, FY 2003-2008
Dr. Colwell described the comments received from the public and NSF staff on the draft document that had been posted on the NSF web site after the Board’s May meeting. Respondents commented that the plan should better reflect NSF’s leadership within the science and engineering community, the critical role that Interagency Personnel Act staff and rotators play, and NSF’s role as an innovative organization. In response to comments, NSF revised the draft Strategic Plan, in collaboration with the Board’s Committee on Strategy and Budget.
During Board discussion, the point was made that NSF represents about 4 percent of the total Federal budget for science research and education but funds 50 percent of the basic research at universities.
The Board APPROVED the proposed NSF Strategic Plan, FY 2003-2008 (NSB-03-70), for transmittal to the Office of Management and Budget and the Congress, subject to additional editorial changes recommended by the Director and approved by the Committee on Strategy and Budget.
AGENDA ITEM 11: Report of the NWP Task Force
Dr. George Langford, chair of the Board’s Education and Human Resources Committee (EHR), brought to the Board the committee’s recommendation that the revised draft report of the Task Force on National Workforce Policies for Science and Engineering (NWP) be approved.
Dr. Diana Natalicio, reporting for the task force in the absence of the chair, Dr. Joseph Miller, stated that the draft report had been posted on the web site for 32 days. In addition, there was extensive outreach to Federal agencies, congressional staff and selected members, professional and educational societies, academic organizations, and science policy professionals and organizations. A total of 86 organizations and individuals submitted comments. On July 10 the EHR and the NWP held a teleconference to discuss the comments and appropriate revisions to the draft. A revised draft was transmitted to the full Board for comment on August 4. No additional comments have been received. Dr. Natalicio also noted the task force and committee’s recommendation for the title of the final report is The Science and Engineering Workforce/Realizing America’s Potential.
The Board APPROVED the report, The Science and Engineering Workforce/Realizing America’s Potential (NSB 03-69), for publication, subject to final edits approved by the Chairs of the Task Force on National Workforce Policies for Science and Engineering, the Committee on Education and Human Resources, and the National Science Board.
Dr. Washington thanked Dr. Joseph Miller for chairing the task force and its members, Drs. Langford, Natalicio, Nina Fedoroff, Maxine Savitz, Daniel Simberloff, Norman Bradburn, NSF’s Assistant Director for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences, and Nathaniel Pitts, NSF’s Director of the Office of Integrative Activities. He also thanked Dr. Karolyn Eisenstein, Executive Secretary, and Ms. Jean Pomeroy, Senior Policy Analyst in the Board Office, for their assistance to the task force.
AGENDA ITEM 12: Multidisciplinary Data Initiative
Dr. Fedoroff reported that a group of Board members had met informally with Dr. Clutter to discuss policy issues related to selecting and funding high-risk and multidisciplinary research. Dr. Clutter is leading an NSF activity that is collaborating with the National Institutes of Health on issues related to high-risk research. Dr. Fedoroff noted that the Board’s contribution to this effort could be outreach to the community. She and other interested Board members will consider possible activities to propose to the Board at a later time.
AGENDA ITEM 13: Wireless Connectivity Update
Dr. George Strawn, NSF Chief Information Officer, provided an update on implementation of the Wireless and Wire Line Guest Network, which will be isolated from the NSF local area network for security reasons. In addition to allowing general access to the internet, the Guest Network will allow authorized users to access the NSF local area network through a virtual private network connection. The Guest Network is expected to be operational by fall of 2003.
AGENDA ITEM 14: Committee Reports
a. Audit and Oversight (A&O)
Dr. Beering reported in the absence of Dr. Wrighton, chair, that the committee received several updates. Mr. Thomas Cooley, Chief Financial Officer, discussed outstanding issues related to audits, and Mr. Dan Kovlak of KPMG, the outside audit contractor, reported that NSF’s FY 2003 audits are progressing smoothly. Mr. Joseph Burt, acting Director of Human Resources Management, reported on the status of the General Accounting Office’s review of NSF’s business analysis plan contract. Its findings, released in July indicate that NSF is properly conducting the contractor selection process and effectively managing the contract. Ms. Jean Feldman, Head of the Policy Office, Division of Grants and Agreements, Office of Budget, Finance and Award Management, reported that the Policy Office analyzed more than a hundred funding opportunities to look for reimbursement of indirect costs and found that NSF is in compliance with the Board-approved cost-sharing policy. Mr. Cooley informed the committee that Dr. Colwell co-chairs the National Science and Technology Council’s Committee on Science. A Subcommittee on Research Business Models is examining business relationships between Federal agencies and research performers and will host several regional workshops to discuss the data gathered. Dr. Strawn gave a progress report on the Wireless and Wire Line Guest Network and discussed measures taken to protect NSF from viruses and other security threats. Dr. Christina Boesz, NSF’s Inspector General, announced that this year is the 25th anniversary of the Inspector General Act. She invited Board members to participate in a celebratory open house on October 15.
b. Education and Human Resources Committee (EHR)
Dr. Langford, chair, reported that the committee heard reports and continued its Focus on the Future discussions. The committee’s three working groups reported on NSF’s graduate, undergraduate, and K-12 programs. The graduate program group identified as key issues the impact of increased stipends for NSF fellowships and the perception of inequities in the system. The undergraduate program group is looking at the number of NSF undergraduate programs, available resources, and coordination of activities. The K-12 program group plans to invite an expert in assessment to a future meeting. Dr. Judith Ramaley, Assistant Director for Education and Human Resources, suggested that it would be helpful if the three working groups could provide guidance to NSF n how to better approach its People goal.
As part of its Focus on the Future activity, the committee discussed the National Academy of Science publication BIO 2010: Transforming Undergraduate Education for Future Research Biologists. Professor Ronald Breslow of Columbia University described the thinking behind the report. NSF is already engaged in implementing some of the recommendations.
Dr. Robert Webber, Policy Analyst, National Science Board Office, reported on the successful Workshop on Broadening Participation, held on August 12. A published report on the workshop will be issued.
Dr. Ramaley reported that NSF’s EHR Directorate is working to expand research capabilities within its activities, such as the Math and Science Partnership. Three on-going research programs are Research on Learning and Education, Interagency Education Research Initiatives, and Building Evaluation of EHR Research and Capacity.
c. EHR Subcommittee on Science and Engineering Indicators
Dr. Richardson, chair, thanked Board members for investing their time in making suggestions and comments on the “orange book” draft of Science and Engineering Indicators—2004. The draft is now ready for distribution to agencies and organizations for comment. The proposed cover art will be submitted to the Board in the near future. The subcommittee will produce a companion piece on the science and engineering workforce. During Dr. Richardson’s report to the Board, he called for action, and the Board acted as follows:
The Board APPROVED the Science and Engineering Indicators—2004, subject to final approval by the Subcommittee on Science and Engineering Indicators following agency review and final copy editing.
Dr. Jones commented that she had testified before a National Research Council group that is evaluating NSF’s Division of Science Resources Statistics and Science and Engineering Indicators. She spoke in support of the comprehensive data released in Indicators.
d. Committee on Programs and Plans (CPP)
Dr. Jones, chair, reported that the committee reviewed the draft letter to Congress that will serve as the Board’s report on delegation of authority to use the Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction account. The letter will state that no delegation of authority was used in the past fiscal year. The report is required by Section 14 of the NSF Authorization Act of 2002.
The Director discussed high-risk research, highlighting small investments with significant results and NSF activities to strengthen support for high-risk research. Dr. Clutter heads an NSF committee that is exploring mechanisms for more and better support for high-risk research. NSF Program Officers are encouraged to use 5-10 percent of their funding for high-risk, promising research.
Dr. Washington asked that the Director’s presentation be made available to all Board members.
Dr. Jones reported that Dr. Freeman presented NSF’s plans for cyberinfrastructure and noted that NSF is a primary participant in the National Science and Technology Council’s activity entitled High-End Computing Revitalization Task Force.
An ad hoc task force on long-lived data collections received presentations from three NSF directorates. At a forthcoming Board meeting, the task force plans to host a workshop on policy issues (not technical issues) affecting NSF. Drs. Richardson and Rossmann are working with Dr. Jones to develop terms of reference for the workshop.
e. Committee on Strategy and Budget
Dr. Pamela Ferguson reported in the absence of Dr. Savitz, chair. In closed session, the Director briefed the committee on NSF’s proposed budget request for FY 2005, and Dr. Crosby described the proposed budget request for the Board. In open session, Mr. Herer summarized public comments on the draft NSF Strategic Plan, FY 2003-2008.
The main topic of discussion was development of the report required by Section 22 of the NSF Authorization Act of 2002. The legislation requires that the Board address and examine NSF’s budgetary and programmatic growth authorized for the next five years. The committee and other Board members discussed five issues: (1) the impact that future budgetary increases may have on the Nation’s science and technology workforce, (2) projected science and engineering research infrastructure needed to support NSF’s increased funding, (3) the impact of budgetary increases on the size and duration of NSF grants, (4) how the proposed budget increases would enable institutions of higher education to expand their participation in NSF-funded activities, and (5) recom-mendations on how increased funding for NSF should be used. Dr. Ferguson stated that a concise discussion document covering these five areas would be distributed for the October meeting. The Board’s report is due to Congress in December.
Unnumbered item: Discussion of retreat
Dr. Crosby announced that he would meet with Dr. Barry Barish to begin making logistical arrangements for the Board meeting at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) in Livingston, Louisiana in February 2004.
Dr. Washington adjourned the Open Session at 2:35 p.m.
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