Looking Back: Major Science Policy and Budget Developments of 2005

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Publication date: 
5 January 2006

There were many science policy and budget developments affecting the physical sciences community in 2005. The following is a brief review of these events, sorted by the month in which the FYI was released. Readers wishing further information should consult the 2005 FYI archive at http://www.aip.org/fyi/2005/by the FYI number cited.

JANUARY: A National Research Council committee concluded that only a "small percentage" of defense basic research funding had been redirected toward non-basic S&T programs; it urged the Defense Department to support more "unfettered exploration" in its basic research program (#9). Energy Secretary-Designate Samuel Bodman told senators at his confirmation hearing that he hoped to be viewed as a strong supporter of physical sciences in the Administration (#10).

FEBRUARY: President Bush requested almost flat funding for R&D in his FY 2006 budget request (#15). Office of Science Director Ray Orbach warned that budget constraints "are not going to go away in 2007 [and] it's going to be a difficult four years" (#25).

MARCH: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called science a great diplomatic tool, and spoke of ITER as "an important project" that needed to achieve a negotiations breakthrough in the location of the facility (#26). Senate appropriations subcommittee chairman Christopher Bond (R-MO) criticized the federal government for not adequately supporting the physical sciences (#27). A senior level innovation task force warned that America's S&T leadership was at risk (#32). The first hearing of the newly-established House Science, State, Justice and Commerce Appropriations Subcommittee demonstrated strong support for S&T (#36). The House Science Committee criticized the Administration's FY 2006 R&D request and proposed program changes (#45).

APRIL: House Science Committee members raised many questions about NASA's vision for space exploration (#46). National Academy of Sciences President Bruce Alberts urged support for the teaching of evolution (#49). Michael Griffin was confirmed as the new NASA Administrator (#57).

MAY: More than 2/3s of senators signed a letter in support of a 3.2% increase for the DOE Office of Science (#63). House appropriations subcommittee chairman Frank Wolf (R-VA) urged President Bush to triple federal basic research and development funding over the next decade (#64). In the House, 167 Members signed a letter supporting higher NSF funding than that which President Bush requested (#66). This action was followed by a letter signed by 121 representatives supporting significantly higher funding for the DOE Office of Science (#68). Senate appropriators and new NASA Administrator Michael Griffin found common ground on the agency's current agenda and future vision (#69). House appropriators took issue with the Administration's nuclear weapons initiatives (#73). The Science Committee challenged NASA's Earth Science program plans (#79). A fall S&T conference in Washington was announced (#80). The House approved plans for interim civilian nuclear waste storage and reprocessing (#82).

JUNE: The National Research council released a report on likely civilian casualties from the use of a "bunker buster" nuclear weapon (#83). The House rejected a move to cut NSF funding in the proposed FY 2006 appropriations bill (#92). Senate appropriators drafted a bill that was more favorable to Administration's nuclear weapons initiatives (#99), but provided no construction funding for National Ignition Facility (#100). A decision was made to locate ITER in France (#101). Senate appropriators took a different approach to nuclear waste reprocessing, setting the stage for a confrontation with the House (#102).

JULY NASA reauthorization bills moved (#108 and #113). The Administration released a planning document on FY 2007 R&D priorities (#111). Unprecedented congressional controversy about global climate change research made headlines (#112). A shift occurred in Senate thinking about global climate change with the passage of a sense-of-the-Senate resolution (#114).

AUGUST: A fusion advisory committee questioned the impact of ITER funding on the domestic fusion program (#117). Hearings demonstrated little enthusiasm for nuclear fuel reprocessing (#118). President Bush signed major energy policy legislation (#119). William Jeffrey was confirmed as the new NIST director (#123). A task force report was released on the consolidation of the nuclear weapons complex (#127).

SEPTEMBER: DOE officials took steps to lessen the impact of Hurricane Katrina on the work of affected scientists (#130). The Senate voted overwhelmingly to support the Advanced Technology Program (#136). NASA Administrator Griffin described NASA's Exploration Architecture; congressional reaction was guardedly supportive (#138).

OCTOBER: A Senate hearing demonstrated wide disagreement about climate change (#142). A trial on Intelligent Design in public schools began in Pennsylvania (#143). A manufacturing R&D authorization bill passed House, excluding ATP (#147). Public comment was sought on an Administration strategic report to reduce greenhouse gases (#150). NSF released a facility plan (#151). Congress refused to fund "bunker buster" nuclear weapon research (#152).

NOVEMBER: Two major science organizations disputed Kansas science education standards relating to the teaching of evolution (#154). A major report released by the National Academies on U.S. competitiveness attracted considerable attention on Capitol Hill (#155 and #164). Congress completed work on NSF, NASA and DOE funding bills (#159, #160 and #163). A DOE funding bill was completed with a new direction taken on future nuclear fuel recycling (#161). The same DOE bill provided construction funding for the National Ignition Facility and no funding for a modern pit facility (#162). The NIST funding bill was completed which provided ATP money (#165). House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) warned of the need for an ITER funding plan and threatened to kill the project without such a plan (#167). Senators expressed concern about the impact of funding cuts on the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider and Jefferson Laboratory (#168).

DECEMBER: The National Summit on Competitiveness was held in Washington (#172). A National Research Council report was released on science in the context of space exploration (#173). The FY 2006 DOD appropriations bill was completed (#175). A federal judge ruled that Intelligent Design should not offered as an alternative to evolution in a Pennsylvania school district (#177).

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