2010 In Review: Budget and Policy Highlights from FYI

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Publication date: 
7 January 2011

Further  information on the below highlights, categorized by the month in which the FYI  was issued, is available here.

JANUARY:      National  Science Board released “Science and Engineering Indicators 2010.”  Report issued that offered consensus  recommendations on expanding public access to scholarly articles. House Science  and Technology Committee started work on the reauthorization of the America  COMPETES legislation.  A Blue Ribbon  Commission was established to develop “a safe, long-term solution for the  management of used nuclear fuel and nuclear waste.” 

FEBRUARY:     The  Obama Administration requested significant increases in S&T funding in its  FY 2011 budget request.  There was harsh  congressional reaction to the Administration’s human space flight proposal  which included the termination of the Constellation Program.  Vice President Joe Biden declared “we will do  everything necessary to maintain our [nuclear] arsenal.”

MARCH:      Initial  congressional reaction to the Administration’s FY 2011 S&T budget request was  positive, while opposition to its human space flight proposal was deep and  bipartisan on both sides of the Capitol.   An American Physical Society report discussed how science and technology  can inform governments working toward nuclear disarmament.  A hearing found uniform agreement that  stronger federal regulation is needed of medical diagnostic and treatment  procedures.   The Administration’s plan  to reform the Elementary and Secondary Education Act was unclear about the  incentives schools will have to include science assessments in their “accountability  system.”

APRIL:      The  Administration released its “Nuclear Posture Review.”  President Obama detailed his Administration’s  new human space flight proposal.  The  House Science Committee approved its version of the America COMPETES  reauthorization bill.  Members of  Congress continued to oppose the Administration’s space proposal.

MAY:       A  hearing by a subcommittee of the House Science Committee highlighted severe  shortages of helium-3.  A House Armed  Services Committee report discussed the management of basic research at the  Department of Defense, and its concern about STEM education and the future STEM  workforce.

JUNE:       It  took three times for the House of Representatives to pass the America COMPETES  reauthorization bill.  The importance of  science and technology and STEM education was emphasized in the Administration’s  National Security Strategy.  The Senate  rejected a joint resolution that would have invalidated the Environmental  Protection Agency’s scientific findings on the danger and harmful effects of  greenhouse gases.  The outlook for the  Administration’s space proposal improved on Capitol Hill.  Subra Suresh was nominated to be the next  director of the National Science Foundation.   A JASON report concluded that important aspects of the Department of  Defense’s basic research programs are “broken.”   The Administration released its “National Space Policy.”  House appropriators recommended fully funding  the FY 2011 requests for NSF and NASA, but recommended a reduced increase for  NIST.

JULY:     A  Nuclear Regulatory Commission board denied a Department of Energy motion to  withdraw its construction authorization application for the Yucca Mountain  nuclear waste repository.  The Office of  Science and Technology Policy asked for community input on its 2010 Strategic Plan  for the National Nanotechnology Initiative.   Senate and House committee versions of a NASA reauthorization plan  incorporated major components of the Administration’s proposed policy.  House appropriators recommended an 8.2  percent increase in FY 2011 funding for Weapons Activities, and flat funding  for the Office of Science, Senate appropriators recommended somewhat higher  funding for each program.  Senate  appropriators provided a 7.0 percent increase for NSF, a 1.5 percent increase  for NASA, and a 13.0 percent increase for NIST for FY 2011.

AUGUST:     A  Senate committee approved its version of the America COMPETES reauthorization  bill. The White House sent its FY 2012 S&T priorities memo to agency and  department heads.  Senate appropriators  recommended a 2.8 increase for the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and  Bioengineering.  The House Science and  Technology Committee approved a nuclear energy R&D bill. 

SEPTEMBER:     The  DOE Office of High Energy Physics released a report summarizing the findings of  five workshops on future accelerators.   The Defense Science Board formed a Task Force to review the defense  basic research program.  A decadal survey  on astronomy and astrophysics was released.   Senate appropriators recommended a 9.3 percent increase for defense  basic research in FY 2011.  The President’s  Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) released a report on  improving K-12 STEM education.  No  agreement was reached on FY 2011 funding, and a bill was passed continuing  current levels of funding for almost all federal activities into the new fiscal  year.

OCTOBER:     Congress  passed a NASA reauthorization bill incorporating major components of the  President’s space proposal.  The Senate  confirmed Subra Suresh as the new NSF director.   A new report warned that “the outlook for America to compete for quality  jobs has further deteriorated over the past five years.”  The National Science Board released a report  on “Preparing the Next Generation of STEM Innovators.”  There was continued disagreement on Capitol  Hill about funding the production of a key isotope that powers NASA’s planetary  robotic missions.  The Government of the United  Kingdom announced it would maintain science funding at current levels for the  next four years.  A MIT study on nuclear  energy was released. 

NOVEMBER:     President  Obama and the upcoming Republican chairman of the House Science and Technology  Committee discussed S&T funding and STEM education.  An NRC report reviewed the S&T strategies  of six countries.  An independent panel  praised the technical performance of the James Webb Space Telescope program,  but criticized its management and budgeting.   The Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee urged the restart of  the process to produce a key isotope for NASA’s deep space missions. 


PCAST offered recommendations on U.S. energy transformation. The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform called for “expanding high-value research and development in energy and other critical areas.” President Obama reiterated his support for R&D, saying “our generation’s Sputnik moment is back.” A South African facility produced molybdenum-99 with low enriched uranium targets. Congress passed the America COMPETES reauthorization bill. A National Science Board task force heard presentations on issues relating to public access to research results. Congress was unable to agree on FY 2011 funding, and continued FY 2010 funding until early March.

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