April 2, 2004
SUBJECT: Summary Report of March 24-25, 2004 Meeting
The major actions of the National Science Board (NSB, the Board)
at its 379th meeting on
March 24-25, 2004 are summarized for the information of those members absent and as a reminder to those present. In addition, a preliminary summary of the proceedings is provided.
This memorandum will be made publicly available for any other interested
parties to review. A more comprehensive set of NSB meeting minutes
will be posted on the Board’s public Web site following Board
approval at its next meeting.
1. Major Actions of the Board (not in rank order of importance)
a. The Board approved the minutes for the Open Plenary Session (http://www.nsf.gov/nsb/meetings/past.jsp#2004) and Closed Plenary Session of the February 2004 meeting of the NSB.
b. The Board elected members to a Committee on Nominations to prepare a slate of candidates for the May 2004 Board elections. The members are Drs. Bowen, Ford, Hastings and Hoffman. Dr. Michael Crosby will serve as Executive Secretary, and members will elect their own Chairman.
c. The Board approved a resolution to close portions of the upcoming May 3, 4, 2004 NSB meeting dealing with staff appointments, future budgets, pending proposals/awards for specific grants, contracts, or other arrangements, and those portions dealing with specific Office of the Inspector General (OIG) investigations and enforcement actions, or agency audit guidelines (NSB-04-30, Attachment 1).
d. The Board approved recipients for the 2004 Vannevar Bush Award, the Alan T. Waterman Award, and the Public Service Awards. Awardees will be announced after the Chairman has notified the awardees of their selection.
e. The Board approved a resolution related to National Science Foundation (NSF) support for scientists at the Smithsonian Institution (SI) calling for the NSF Acting Director to negotiate with the SI Under Secretary of Science to develop a memorandum of understanding (MOU) detailing protocol for implementing this resolution. (NSB-04-48, Attachment 2).
2. NSB Chair’s Report
Report on Senate Appropriations Hearing
The Chairman reported that on February 26 he testified before the Senate Veteran’s Administration, Housing and Urban Development, and Independent Agencies Subcommittee on the NSF budget request for FY 2005. Both Chairman Bond and Ranking Member Mikulski expressed their continued support for doubling the NSF’s budget during the next five years. They expressed disappointment in the proposed 3 percent increase in NSF’s budget and in reduced spending for programs in Education and Human Resources. They were especially disappointed in the proposed transfer of the Math and Science Partnership Program to the Department of Education. In his testimony, the Chairman provided the Board’s official statement, “In support of the Math and Science Partnership Program (MSP) at the National Science Foundation.” Concerning the Board’s proposed budget, Dr. Washington described NSB plans for enhancing contributions to national science policy discussions and strengthening oversight of NSF.
The Chairman said he had asked NSF’s Office of Legislative and Public Affairs to provide the Board with a summary of key Congressional activities since the last Board meeting. A copy of this update was provided for members’ information in the background materials for the meeting.
Update on Smithsonian Institution
The Chairman reminded members that at the November 2003 Board meeting he had asked NSF’s General Counsel and the NSB Executive Officer to work together to identify Board or Foundation policies regarding NSF funding of Federal researchers, and prepare an overview of recent legislation that may impact NSF in this regard. During the February 2004 NSB meeting, the General Counsel provided the Board with an overview of these policies, practices, and legislation. Following the February NSB meeting, the Chairman reported there have been numerous followup discussions and communication on this topic among NSB and NSF staff, Congressional staff, and representatives of the Smithsonian Institution. Dr. Washington said he believed that there is a collective assessment that progress has been made towards reaching common ground for all parties, and, as a result, it is appropriate for the Board to discuss whether it should modify existing policy.
After discussion of the many implications of the proposed changes, the Board unanimously passed a resolution instructing the Acting NSF Director to negotiate with the Smithsonian Institution and draft a MOU to permit Smithsonian Institution scientists to compete for NSF awards under specific circumstances. The draft MOU will be brought back to the Board for review and approval.
NSB Nominating Committee
The Chairman reported that in Executive Closed Session today, the Board elected a Nominating Committee charged with creating a slate of candidates for the election of Board officers in May. Members of the committee are Drs. Bowen, Ford, Hastings and Hoffman. The committee members will elect their own chairman.
Nominations for NSB Members
The Chairman reported that nominations for new NSB members are being accepted for the class of 2006 – 2012. Names should be submitted to Dr. Crosby and Susan Fannoney. He said that the final list will come back to the Board for approval before submission to the White House.
The Chairman reported that in Closed Plenary Session the Board approved recipients of the 2004 Vannevar Bush Award, the Alan T. Waterman Award, and the Public Service Awards. The names of the awardees will be made public once recipients have been contacted by the Acting Director of NSF and the NSB Chair.
Discharge of Task Force
The Chairman announced that he was discharging with thanks the EHR Task Force on National Workforce Policies for S&E. It was chaired by Dr. Miller, with Dr. Langford as Vice Chair, and members Drs. Fedoroff, Natalicio, Savitz, and Simberloff. NSF Assistant Directors Drs. Bradburn and Pitts also served as members. The Chairman expressed thanks to Karolyn Eisenstein as Executive Secretary and Jean Pomeroy of the NSB Office for their outstanding support.
3. NSF Director’s Report
The Acting Director announced changes in Senior NSF Staff - Dr. Wanda Ward has been serving as Acting Assistant Director for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences Directorate since March 14, and Dr. Thomas Windham, began his position as Senior Advisor in the Office of the Director for Science & Engineering (S&E) Workforce on February 17.
The Acting Director also provided a summary of recent Congressional
activities. He met
March 4 with Congressman Nick Stone who is interested in encouraging private sector investment in math and science education, and wishes to establish a Congressional Gold Medal to reward such private sector investments. A hearing will be held March 31 on this topic, and Dr. Ramaley will be a witness. Dr. Bement met with Mike Stevens, minority staffer of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the issues related to NSF funding of Smithsonian Institution scientists. The Senate Health and Science Committee held a hearing March 15 on the recent reports by the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) and the National Research Council. Hearings were held March 17 on green chemistry, and the Acting Director was a witness and described NSF’s $30 million portfolio in this area. He also attended a Congressional breakfast March 18 to recognize recipients of the President’s awards for excellence in math and science teaching. Since the February NSB meeting, the NSF has held briefings for Congressional staff on Cybersecurity, the FY 2005 budget request, high-end computing, and the scholarship for service program.
4. NSB Committees Summary Reports
a. Executive Committee (EC)
Board members were given an opportunity to review two proposals from NSB members that were recommended for funding by NSF program staff. No Board members expressed any concerns about NSF’s review and handling of these proposals. The Chairman also reported that the Executive Committee endorsed the response to the Sunshine Act Audit of the NSB by the Office of Inspector General prepared by the NSB Executive Officer.
b. Audit and Oversight (A&O)
Dr. Gerald Barkdoll, Project Director, provided an update on the NAPA review of NSF. Final issuance of the report is scheduled for April 22. The committee agree that they would briefly: a) reiterate to NAPA the input already provided to them (through Dr. Crosby) on the single report chapter on the NSB, b) take appropriate time to review the entire report in the context of policy issues that may require Board action, and c) address the Board’s feedback on the NAPA report to the appropriate Congressional committees.
Mr. Thomas Cooley, NSF’s Chief Financial Officer, provided an update on Grants Monitoring, fulfilling a commitment made at the November meeting. Based on feedback from audits, there is a clear sense that new and other non-traditional grantees need the most attention, and that pro-active training and communication are important to prevent poor audit results down the road.
Dr. Crosby reported on the NSB Sunshine Act Audit and the NSB’s plans for responding. He noted that overall the NSB “passed” the audit and recommended that the NSB address the recommendations for improvement by development of a handbook, training, and dedicated staffing to support Sunshine Act compliance, and having the NSB Executive Officer attend various NSF executive management, Major Research Facilities Research and Construction and Director’s Review Board meetings with approval of the NSF Director. The committee endorsed this approach.
In closed session, the OIG presented information about two ongoing investigations.
c. Education and Human Resources (EHR)
Chairman George Langford welcomed Acting Director Arden Bement to the committee, and introduced Dr. Thomas Windham, as the Senior Advisor for Science and Engineering Workforce. Dr. Windham addressed the committee briefly on his vision for his new position. .
Dr. Langford reminded the committee members of the Statement of the NSB in Support of the Math and Science Partnership (MSP) Program at the National Science Foundation to the Office of Science and Technology Policy, Office of Management and Budget, and Congress on the proposed transfer of the Math and Science Partnership Program to the Department of Education. There have been no changes to date on the status of the MSP program. The EHR Committee asked to go on record that it remains in favor of maintaining the MSP program at NSF.
Dr. Bianca Bernstein, Division Director, Graduate Education, provided the committee with an update on a Graduate Student Workshop jointly sponsored by NSF, the National Institutes of Health and the Council of Graduate Students, which is now scheduled for June 17-18, 2004 at the American Association for the Advancement of Science Building in Washington, DC.
Dr. Crosby provided an update on the manuscript on S&E Workforce prepared for the journal, Science, jointly authored by Drs. Washington, Miller, Langford, Natalicio, and Crosby with Ms Pomeroy that was submitted as a Policy Forum article. The authors felt it was important to continue to clarify the position of the Board on the topic of the S&E Workforce and initiate a broader discussion on this topic.
The committee members considered a draft executive summary with findings and recommendation that resulted from the NSB Workshop on Broadening Participation in Science and Engineering Research and Education held in August 2003. The draft will be revised, based on the committee discussion. The committee will meet by teleconference to review the revised draft for consideration by the full Board at the May NSB meeting.
Dr. Judith Ramaley, Assistant Director of the Education and Human Resources Directorate, provided a presentation on EHR priorities and 2005 budget. Dr. Ramaley discussed budget changes from FY 2003 to FY 2004, and noted that most significant changes occur when going to FY 2005 when the EHR budget requests declines by 18 percent. Dr. Ramaley noted that an $80M portion of the MPS Program funds in FY 2005 would be in the Research and Related Activities Account to be used for phasing out the existing awards.
d. EHR Subcommittee on Science and Engineering Indicators (S&EI)
The S&EI Subcommittee did not meet, but the Chairman called on Dr. Richardson to report on the status of S&E Indicators –2004. Dr. Richardson reported that the publication had been submitted January 12 to the White House, but no word has been received on its release for delivery to Congress. Dr. Washington asked the Executive Officer to look into this situation.
e. Programs and Plans (CPP)
In open session, the committee heard a status report on the planning for NSF’s role in the Academic Research Fleet. Four specific initiatives represent NSF’s role in decadal efforts to renew the fleet: Alaska Region Research Vessel; three regional class ships; a seismic vessel to replace the R/V Ewing; and a replacement for the ALVIN.
There was a status report from the NSB Task Force on Long-lived
Data Collections (LLDC). A workshop was held on March 23 with broad
representation from the scientific community. A report will be produced
that summarizes the outcomes from this workshop and the earlier
workshop with the Federal community. The report will be made available
to the Board and will inform the task force on LLDC.
The committee heard a report from the ad hoc Task Group on High Risk Research. A workshop is being organized for the fall. The Group is working on a list of invitees and a paper on this subject. Additional invitee names are being solicited, and the NSB Executive Officer will be contacting NSF staff in this regard.
The Chair of the Subcommittee on Polar Issues presented a report on their meeting.
The committee held a discussion related to the National Academies’ Report on Setting Priorities for Large Research Facilities.
f. CPP Subcommittee on Polar Issues (PI)
The Subcommittee on Polar Issues heard from the Office of Polar Programs on the following items: a meeting with the Alaska Native Science Commission in Bethel, Alaska; the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment and a gathering of stakeholders in Seward, Alaska; an Office of Polar Programs-sponsored international workshop for ice core scientists to explore the development of an international “toolbox” to be used on a shared basis; the McMurdo Infrastructure Long Range Plan; Information Technology security in the Antarctic; planning for the International Polar Year, 2007-2008; the most recent Antarctic season, which went well due to good weather; and two dinosaur discoveries made less than a week apart in Antarctica.
The subcommittee also heard presentations on: the importance of small eddies in the Arctic ocean that are thought to help disperse water in the halocline and thus prevent a sudden warming from the warmer, saltier Atlantic water that lies beneath, and environmental assessment of scientific and operational activities in Antarctica.
g. Committee on Strategy and Budget (CSB)
Dr. Maxine Savitz led the committee in a discussion of the questions raised by Office of Science and Technology Policy, Congressional Staff, and NSB Members related to the report submitted by the Board as mandated in Section 22 of the NSF Authorization Act of 2002. NSF staff prepared responses and related data to inform this discussion.
Specific areas discussed included the causes for and implications of the large increases in proposals submitted to the NSF over the past three years – from a level of about 30,000 per year through 2001 to 40,000 proposals in 2003. Suggested causes include an increase in Information Technology Research (ITR), Small Business Innovation Research, and CAREER submissions; and a reduction in funding at other Federal agencies.
The CSB discussed tradeoffs associated with changing award size and duration, including affects on funding rates and future funding opportunities (mortgages). Projections of tradeoffs in award size and duration, funding rate, and cost are issues that require careful management and monitoring. NSF is addressing mortgaging of future awards by past commitments through its use of standard and continuing grant mechanisms.
The CSB was provided information on current NSF efforts in support of about 35,000 undergraduate students. Dr. Savitz requested additional information on the effectiveness of programs to encourage education beyond undergraduate level, particularly for minority students. Dr. Savitz requested Dr. Crosby to provide a summary of the questions and requests for further information that were raised during the committee discussion. He will then discuss with Dr. Bement, and NSF will provide responses and additional input to these issues.
Dr. Savitz led a discussion on the request from Hill staff for the Board to specify strategic funding recommendations in the “Section 22” report in $100 million increments. The Committee indicated that the Board should advise on general principles and provide guidance for broader categories, rather than respond with specific dollar amounts.
Dr. Bement presented an overview of the FY 2006 budget preparation and approval process. Dr. Savitz noted that there would be further discussions to clarify CSB’s involvement in the process. Dr. Crosby will work with Dr. Bement to provide appropriate budget planning material to CSB prior to the May meeting
g. Ad hoc Committee on 2004 Vannevar Bush Award
The Vannevar Bush Award Committee selected a candidate for the 2004 award to recommend to the NSB during the Executive Closed Session on Thursday, March 25.
Attachment 1: NSB-04-30
Attachment 2: NSB-04-48
Attachment 1 to NSB-04-47
March 2, 2004
MEMORANDUM TO NATIONAL SCIENCE BOARD MEMBERS
Subject: Closed Session Agenda Items for May 3-4, 2004 Meeting
The Government in the Sunshine Act requires formal action on closing
portions of each Board meeting. The following are the Closed Session
Agenda items anticipated for the
May 3-4, 2004 meeting.
1. Staff appointments
2. Future budgets
3. Grants and contracts
4. Specific Office of Inspector General investigations and enforcement actions
A proposed resolution and the General Counsel's certification for closing these portions of the meetings are attached for your consideration.
TO CLOSE PORTIONS OF
NATIONAL SCIENCE BOARD
RESOLVED: That the following portions of the meeting of the National Science Board (NSB) scheduled for May 3, 4, 2004 shall be closed to the public.
1. Those portions having to do with discussions regarding nominees for appointments as National Science Board members and National Science Foundation (NSF) staff appointments, or with specific staffing or personnel issues involving identifiable individuals. An open meeting on these subjects would be likely to constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.
2. Those portions having to do with future budgets not yet submitted by the President to the Congress.
3. Those portions having to do with proposals and awards for specific grants, contracts, or other arrangements. An open meeting on those portions would be likely to disclose personal information and constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of privacy. It would also be likely to disclose research plans and other related information that are trade secrets, and commercial or financial information obtained from a person that are privileged or confidential. An open meeting would also prematurely disclose the position of the NSF on the proposals in question before final negotiations and any determination by the Director to make the awards and so would be likely to frustrate significantly the implementation of the proposed Foundation action.
4. Those portions having to do with specific Office of the Inspector General investigations and enforcement actions, or agency audit guidelines.
The Board finds that any public interest in an open discussion
of these items is outweighed by protection of the interests asserted
for closing the items.
It is my opinion that portions of the meeting of the National Science Board (NSB) or its subdivisions scheduled for May 3 - 4, 2004 having to do with nominees for appointments as NSB members and National Science Foundation (NSF) staff, or with specific staffing or personnel issues or actions, may properly be closed to the public under 5 U.S.C. § 552b(c) (2) and (6); those portions having to do with future budgets may properly be closed to the public under 5 U.S.C. § 552b(c) (3) and 42 U.S.C. 1863(k); those portions having to do with proposals and awards for specific grants, contracts, or other arrangements may properly be closed to the public under 5 U.S.C. § 552b(c) (4), (6), and (9) (B); those portions disclosure of which would risk the circumvention of a statute or agency regulation under 5 U.S.C. § 552b(c) (2); and those portions having to do with specific Office of the Inspector General investigations and enforcement actions may properly be closed to the public under 5 U.S.C. § 552b(c) (5), (7) and (10).
Attachment 2 to NSB-04-47
March 26, 2004
NATIONAL SCIENCE BOARD
REVISION TO NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION POLICY
ON CONSIDERING PROPOSALS FROM, AND MAKING AWARDS TO,
SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION SCIENTISTS
RESOLVED, that the National Science Board (NSB) directs that the National Science Foundation (NSF) will modify its current policy on funding other Federal agencies to acknowledge the unique status of Smithsonian Institution (SI) and its special contributions to science research and education by making all full time and post-doctoral scientists of the SI eligible to apply for NSF grants through the normal merit review process.
The NSF Director is authorized and requested to make such modifications, and to negotiate a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the SI Under Secretary for Science that will provide the specific details and protocol by which NSF will accept SI proposals and make awards to the SI. The MOU shall be submitted to the NSB for approval prior to implementation.
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