2012 in Review: Highlights from FYI

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Publication date: 
4 January 2013


Changes in FY 2012 budgets for selected science programs range from a 42.7 percent increase to a 25.9 percent decrease.  Concerns are raised about troubling provisions in a House bill changing federal grant procedures. A House hearing demonstrates support for Webb Space Telescope, but occasional outrage about its growing cost.  A House hearing reviews the effectiveness of stimulus funding for S&T programs. President Obama highlights the importance of funding for basic research in his State of the Union address.


A House hearing is held on energy critical materials.  The Department of Commerce issues a competitiveness and innovation report.  The National Science Board releases “Science and Engineering Indicators 2012.”   A second White House Science Fair is held.  A Senate hearing receives recommendations from the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future.  The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology issues a report on improving STEM education, focusing on the first two years of college.  The Obama Administration sends its FY 2013 budget request to Congress.  Members of the House Science Committee question FY 2013 requests for physics, Mars exploration, climate change, STEM education, and other S&T programs.


A House Armed Services subcommittee reviews the management of national security laboratories.  Office of Science and Technology Policy Director John Holdren is questioned closely at a House appropriations subcommittee hearing, with much interest in the FY 2013 NASA request.  Key House hearings are held on the FY 2013 Department of Energy request, with many questions centering on energy prices, nuclear energy, and, to a lesser extent, DOE’s science programs.  House hearings demonstrate bipartisan support for the National Science Foundation.  National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) officials are pressed about the National Ignition Facility at a House hearing on the FY 2013 request.  A House Science subcommittee reviews request for the National Institute of Standards and Technology.  The Defense Science Board gives high marks to defense basic research programs, while cautioning about bureaucratic practices.  Many questions are raised about the formulation and composition of the FY 2013 request for the DOE Office of Science by House appropriators.  A Senate committee hearing is held on American competitiveness and public education.  Senators express support for DOE programs at a key appropriations hearing.


A Senate committee receives testimony from key Administration S&T officials.  The Government Accountability Office reviews the research prioritization process of the DOE Office of Science.  OSTP unveils Big Data R&D Initiative.  House Science committee hearing examines public access to research results.  The House Science Committee examines the research plan for the International Space Station.  Funding constraints are highlighted at hearings on NASA’s budget request.  FY 2013 appropriations bills start to be released.  A White House council issues report on public access to research results. 


Heated questions are posed at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on DOE programs.  NSF research management practices and facilities are reviewed by a House subcommittee.  Appropriations bills are considered on House floor, with successful amendments made to eliminate funding for some NSF programs.


The House reaffirms its support for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository. The Administration issues guidance on science and technology priorities in the forthcoming FY 2014 budget request.  OSTP Director Holdren defends Administration’s S&T policies before the House Science Committee.  The National Academies release a report with ten key recommendations to increase productivity and partnerships at research universities. 


Developments in efforts to improve future supply of helium, Mo-99, and critical isotopes.  DOE user facilities are praised at a House Science Committee hearing.  House committee examines challenges faced by research universities.  The NOAA weather satellite program is reviewed by a House subcommittee.  The House Armed Services Committee reviews NNSA management.   A House hearing is held on the nation’s future helium supply. 


An agreement is reached to continue federal funding through March in the new fiscal year.  The State Department and science societies establish a Science, Technology and Innovation Expert Partnership.  The White House releases a report on advanced manufacturing.  Physics societies call for action to avoid automatic federal budget cuts in 2013.  A hearing reviews the Japanese nuclear accident and governance at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  The National Research Council committee concludes the “nuclear physics program in the United States has been especially well-managed.” 


Presidential candidates respond to science policy questions.  The White House announces the national STEM master teaching corps.  The National Research Council issues reports on optical science, and solar and space physics.   The Office of Management and Budget releases a report on automatic budget cuts, warning that they would be “deeply destructive.”  A congressional committee reviews NASA’s commercial crew acquisitions strategy.  Legislation extending federal funding until March 2013 is enacted.  A House bill to modify immigration law to provide visas to highly skilled STEM workers fails. 


A senior Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee warns of impacts of budget sequestration on S&T departments and agencies.  A Senate committee reviews the America COMPETES Act.  A hearing is held on NASA’s strategy for moving beyond low earth orbit.  The House Science Committee requests report on regulatory burdens faced by research universities.  There are generally positive reviews for Senate bill to implement the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Waste.


A House subcommittee questions the National Weather Service about the management of funding. A Y-12 National Security Complex incursion is reviewed by a House subcommittee.  Congeniality and collaboration are highlighted at a Senate hearing on the new leadership at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  A new chairman is named for the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee.


A bill to increase the number of STEM visas passes in the House, but is stopped in the Senate.  Cautious optimism is expressed for inclusion of medical isotopes legislation in the FY 2012 National Defense Authorization Act.   NASA’s decision to send a new robotic rover to Mars in 2020 receives praise on Capitol Hill.  The Science committee reviews U.S. Antarctic program.  The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology releases a report on the U.S. research enterprise.

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