FYI: Science Policy News
WEEK OF OCT 30, 2023
What’s Ahead

Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) a day after his election as speaker of the House

Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) a day after his election as speaker of the House.

(Francis Chung/POLITICO via AP Images)

Work Resumes on Spending Bills after House Speaker Elected

After electing Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) as speaker of the House on a party-line vote of 220-209 last week, the chamber has resumed work to pass spending legislation for fiscal year 2024 that stakes out conservative priorities ahead of negotiations with the Democrat-controlled Senate. The House is scheduled to vote this week on spending legislation for the Interior Department and Environmental Protection Agency, following its passage of the Department of Energy spending bill last week on a nearly party-line vote of 210-199. Among the floor amendments, the House adopted a provision that would defund the workforce diversity office in the DOE Office of Science, with all but four Republicans voting in favor.

The federal government is currently operating under a stopgap spending bill that expires Nov. 17, and Johnson has said he is willing to use another stopgap to buy more time for negotiations. Congress is also now weighing the Biden administration’s supplemental funding requests of about $100 billion for security initiatives and about $56 billion for domestic priorities. The latter request, submitted to Congress last week, includes $2.2 billion for DOE to expand domestic uranium enrichment capabilities and $278 million for DOE to address vulnerabilities in supplies of isotopes for public health, energy, and security applications. The security request includes $1.2 billion for development of Israel’s Iron Beam missile defense system, $144 million for nuclear nonproliferation initiatives in Ukraine, and $563 million for research, development, test, and evaluation projects in support of Ukraine. (Editor’s Note: Last week, FYI incorrectly reported the RDT&E amount was $172 million.)

Biden Issues Executive Order on AI Safety and Security

At a White House event on Monday afternoon, President Joe Biden will highlight a new executive order that directs federal agencies to develop standards for AI security and safety measures, such as “red-team reviews” of potential risks. According to a summary of the order posted by the White House ahead of its release, it invokes the Defense Production Act to require AI developers to notify the federal government if they are“developing any foundation model that poses a serious risk to national security, national economic security, or national public health and safety,” and to share the results of red-team reviews. The red-team standards will be developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and agencies that fund life-science research will establish standards to guard against the risks of AI being used to engineer bioweapons. The Departments of Energy and Homeland Security will also work to “address AI systems’ threats to critical infrastructure, as well as chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and cybersecurity risks.” Among the remaining provisions, the order will launch a pilot of the National AI Research Resource and direct agencies to use existing authorities to expand opportunities for immigrant and non-immigrant persons to study and work in the U.S. In announcing the order, the White House called on Congress to advance bipartisan legislation focused on AI, mentioning personal data privacy as one area it should cover. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has spearheaded work on AI legislation, which will continue this week with the latest in a series of closed-door forums.

High Energy Physics ‘Benchmarking’ Report Set for Release

The High Energy Physics Advisory Panel is meeting on Thursday to approve a “benchmarking” report that evaluates U.S. particle physics in its international context. Study co-chair Patricia McBride previewed a draft version of the report at a HEPAP meeting in August, where she noted that particle physics relies heavily on international collaboration and emphasized a need for the U.S. to remain a “partner of choice” for other nations. She observed the U.S. has not always been viewed as a reliable partner, largely due to unpredictable budgets and “inadequate communication between U.S. decision-makers and international partners,” citing as examples various project terminations that caught partners off guard. Among other topics, the report will offer recommendations aimed at improving project governance, encouraging the leadership of U.S. scientists in international projects, and attracting and retaining a diverse workforce. HEPAP plans to meet again in December to vote on a report from the Particle Physics Project Prioritization Panel (P5), the culmination of a two-year process to develop a consensus strategy for U.S. high energy physics over the next decade.

US Quantum Networking Strategy Up for Discussion

The National Quantum Initiative Advisory Committee will meet on Friday to hear updates on federal programs to develop quantum networks. A representative of the National Quantum Coordination Office will deliver a talk on “national quantum networking strategy,” followed by presentations from top officials at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, and Department of Defense. Last year, several defense research agencies, NIST, and NASA formed the Washington Metropolitan Quantum Network Research Consortium (DC-QNet) as a regional test bed. DOE has also funded work to advance quantum networking in pursuit of an eventual “quantum internet,” and NSF has funded various centers focused on quantum information science, including the Center for Quantum Networks.

In Case You Missed It

Biden Science and Tech Medals.jpg

President Biden speaks at a ceremony for winners of the National Medal of Science and the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.

(The White House)

Biden Presents National Science and Technology Medals

At a White House ceremony on Oct. 24, President Joe Biden awarded the National Medal of Science and the National Medal of Technology and Innovation to 21 recipients. Among the winners of the science medal were physicist and former LIGO Director Barry Barish, materials scientist and former National Science Foundation Director Subra Suresh, and University of California, Berkeley fluid-dynamics researcher Ashok Gadjil. City College of New York condensed-matter physicist Myriam Sarachik was awarded the medal posthumously. Winners of the technology medal included 3D-printing inventor Chuck Hull, telecommunications engineer and former Bell Labs President Jeong Kim, and optical coherence tomography inventors James Fujimoto, Eric Swanson, and David Huang.

The president has historically awarded the medals annually based on a nomination process that runs through NSF and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. However, this is the first time that either medal has been awarded since 2014. Another prestigious national science and technology award, the Enrico Fermi Presidential Award, was given last March following its own similarly long hiatus. The Presidential Medal of Freedom, the U.S. government’s highest civilian honor, has not been awarded for scientific or technological achievement since 2016.

Major Weather Research Policy Bill Introduced in House

The House Science Committee introduced bipartisan legislation last week that would provide new direction for weather and climate research programs at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. A major focus of the bill is to expand NOAA’s use of commercially acquired data as a supplement to the data collected from the agency’s own observation platforms. The bill proposes Congress provide NOAA $100 million per year over five years to acquire commercial data for use in operational models and forecasts, building on the existing Commercial Data Pilot Program. The bill also proposes NOAA expand R&D on subjects such as next-generation radar, atmospheric rivers, and storm surges. However, it proposes Congress cut total funding for the weather research programs within NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research by 7% to $155 million and hold it to a 1% annual increase for the next five years, in line with Republicans’ broader push to constrain federal spending.

NSF-Funded Report Calls for New Technology Assessment Body

The National Network for Critical Technology Assessment published a report last week that stresses the U.S. lacks the data and infrastructure needed for “timely situational awareness” of technology advances abroad. It recommends the U.S. create a “Critical Technology Assessment Program” that would inform leaders of the security and societal implications of rapidly evolving technologies. The report offers a notional structure for such a program that draws inspiration from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s use of rotating program managers. The network is funded by the National Science Foundation and its findings will inform the new $30 million program NSF is establishing to predict and assess the outcomes of R&D spending. In a press release highlighting the report, NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan stated, “Understanding where government funding in key technology areas is likely to offer the greatest impact with respect to U.S. competitiveness is essential in driving limited resources toward the most impactful opportunities.”

NSF Moves Forward With CMB-S4 Design Work

The National Science Foundation has awarded $3.7 million to the University of Chicago to design telescopes and detectors for the CMB-S4 experiment, marking the first installment of a multi-year grant that could total up to $21.4 million. CMB-S4 will search the cosmic microwave background for signs of “primordial” gravitational waves using telescopes in two locations: a large telescope and nine smaller ones at the South Pole and two large telescopes on the Atacama Plateau in Chile. The NSF and the Department of Energy plan to jointly fund the project, which is expected to cost around $800 million. The University of Chicago and Berkeley Lab respectively are leading the NSF- and DOE-funded portions of the effort, which currently involves scientists from more than 100 institutions in 20 countries. DOE has provided about $1 million for early work on the project so far and is seeking $9 million to continue design work in fiscal year 2024. The telescopes are planned to begin operations in the early 2030s.

NIH Director Nominee Advances to Senate Floor

The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee advanced the nomination of oncologist Monica Bertagnolli to lead the National Institutes of Health by a vote of 15-6 on Oct. 25. Committee Chair Bernie Sanders (I-VT) broke from the committee’s Democrats by voting against her nomination, stating that she is an “intelligent and caring person, but has not convinced me that she is prepared to take on the greed and power of the drug companies and healthcare industry.” During her nomination hearing last week, Sanders pressed Bertagnolli to commit to adding a “reasonable pricing” clause to NIH contracts that would limit the cost of drugs developed using federal funds, but she declined to commit to any specific actions. Ranking Member Bill Cassidy (R-LA), who said he opposes NIH placing restrictions on drug prices, voted in favor of her nomination, as did four other Republicans.

HHS Seeks Feedback on Draft Revisions to Research Misconduct Regulations

The Office of Research Integrity for the Department of Health and Human Services is seeking feedback on proposed updates to the research misconduct regulations and policies governing federally-funded public health research. In a blog post earlier this month, ORI director Sheila Garrity explained that the regulations were last revised in 2005 and do not reflect the current technological and research integrity landscape. The proposed updates include expanded definitions of key terms relating to research misconduct. They also clarify the role that HHS agencies, including the National Institutes of Health, should play in addressing research misconduct allegations, with details on expected requirements for tasks such as reporting, investigation, and record-keeping. The proposal also introduces requirements for subrecipients of grants to comply with the regulations. The deadline for submitting comments on the proposed changes is Dec. 5.

Australia and US Pledge to Build ‘Innovation Alliance’

During an official state visit last week, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and President Joe Biden affirmed the countries’ commitment to science and technology cooperation and outlined new directions for an “innovation alliance” focused on emerging technologies, space cooperation, and clean energy. A White House fact sheet released in conjunction with the visit outlines an array of new cooperative initiatives, such as a $6.2 million AI research partnership between the National Science Foundation and an Australian agency that will seek “responsible and ethical AI solutions to address pandemic preparedness, drought resilience, and other societal challenges.” The two nations also recently committed $16.3 million to climate and clean energy research through NSF’s Global Centers initiative, and Australia and the Department of Energy plan to jointly fund research on grid modernization technology and long-duration energy storage through the Net Zero Technology Acceleration Partnership established in 2022. In addition, Los Alamos National Lab and the Australian National University signed a memorandum of understanding to enhance cooperation in research and education between the two countries.

Upcoming Events

All times are Eastern Daylight Time, unless otherwise noted. Listings do not imply endorsement. Events beyond this week are listed on our website.

Monday, October 30

DOE: “Justice Week 2023: Equity Empowered”
(continues through Friday)

National Academies: “Committee to Assess NASA Science Activation 2.0,” kickoff meeting
(continues Tuesday)

NASA: Venus Exploration Analysis Group meeting
(continues Tuesday)

CSPO: “Patent Data and Publicly-Funded Research: Applications, Benefits, and Misuse”
9:00 - 10:00 am

NTI: “Report Launch: The Convergence of AI and the Life Sciences”
11:00 am

Belfer Center: “Taking Stock of the International Climate Effort”
12:00 - 1:15 pm

Baker Institute: “The Challenges Facing Women in Science and Technology”
5:30 - 7:30 pm

Tuesday, October 31

National Academies: Condensed Matter and Materials Research Committee fall meeting
(continues Wednesday)

Senate: “A Review of the National Security Supplemental Request”
9:30 am, Appropriations Committee

Senate: “AI and the Future of Work: Moving Forward Together”
10:00 am, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee

Senate: “Threats to the Homeland”
10:00 am, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee

DOE: 21st Century Energy Workforce Advisory Board meeting
12:00 - 1:30 pm

BIS: Sensors and Instrumentation Technical Advisory Committee meeting
1:00 pm

Wednesday, November 1

National Academies: Heliophysics Decadal Survey Steering Committee meeting
(continues through Friday)

NRC: Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards meeting
(continues through Friday)

National Academies: “The Dynamics of Climate and the Macroeconomy: A Workshop”
(continues Thursday)

National Academies: “Mentorship, Well-being, and Professional Development in STEMM — Addressing the ‘Knowing-Doing Gap’: A Workshop”
(continues Thursday)

NSF: Engineering Directorate Advisory Committee meeting
(continues Thursday)

Beyond Earth Institute: “LEO to Lunar to Living Beyond Earth: Policy Pathways to Space Migration”
(continues Thursday)

BIS: Information Systems Technical Advisory Committee meeting
9:00 am

Kalaris Intelligence Conference: “Decision Advantage: Emerging Technology Opportunities and Challenges for U.S. Intelligence”
9:00 am - 6:00 pm

Senate: “The Science of Extreme Event Attribution: How Climate Change is Fueling Severe Weather Events”
10:00 am, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee

CNAS: “Taking Stock of the U.S. Bioeconomy: What’s Working, What’s Not, and What’s Next”
11:00 am - 12:00 pm

World Resources Institute: “The Role of Hydrogen for Decarbonizing Industry in the U.S.”
12:00 - 1:15 pm

Commerce Department: National Technical Information Service Advisory Board meeting
12:30 - 4:30 pm

NRC: Meeting on proposed regulations for fusion energy systems
1:00 - 4:00 pm

JST-STM: “Open Access – Future Policy Developments in Japan and Practical Experiences from Implementation”
3:00 - 5:45 pm JST

Thursday, November 2

National Academies: “Review of Progress Toward Implementing the Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space,” meeting two
(continues Friday)

Nano4EARTH: “Nano4EARTH Roundtable Discussion on Capture of Greenhouse Gases”
9:30 am - 3:30 pm

Senate: “Opportunities and Challenges in Deploying CCUS and DAC Technologies on Federal and Non-federal Lands”
10:00 am, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee

DOE: High Energy Physics Advisory Panel meeting
12:00 - 2:30 pm

Friday, November 3

Duke University: “Taking Stock of the CHIPS & Science Act”
8:30 am - 2:00 pm

National Academies: “Development of a Plan to Promote Defense Research at HBCUs, TCUs, and HSIs,” DOD strategic engagement session one
1:00 - 3:00 pm

DOE: National Quantum Initiative Advisory Committee meeting
1:00 - 3:30 pm

Monday, November 6

National Academies: Polar Research Board fall meeting
(continues Thursday)

National Academies: “K-12 STEM Education and Workforce Development in Rural Areas,” kickoff meeting
(continues Tuesday)

Know of an upcoming science policy event either inside or outside the Beltway? Email us at


AAAS Mass Media Fellowship Applications Open

The American Association for the Advancement of Science is accepting applications for its Mass Media Science and Engineering Fellowship. The 10-week summer science journalism program places STEM students and postdocs in newsrooms across the U.S. to gain experience writing about complex scientific issues for a lay audience. Applications are due Jan. 1.

Federation of American Scientists Hiring Science Policy Associate

The Federation of American Scientists is hiring a science policy program associate to provide administrative support to its science policy team. Applicants must be comfortable working with data in Excel and have good communication skills.

NSF Geosciences Arm Hiring Division Director

The National Science Foundation’s Division of Research, Innovation, Synergies, and Education in its Geosciences Directorate is looking for a new deputy director. Responsibilities include supporting preparation of the division’s budget and representing its interests to officials in government, industry leaders, and academics. Applications close Nov. 27.

Know of an opportunity for scientists to engage in science policy? Email us at

Around the Web

News and views currently in circulation. Links do not imply endorsement.

White House

White House: Remarks by President Biden at National Medal of Science and National Medal of Technology and Innovation ceremony
White House: Remarks by President Biden on how Bidenomics and the investing in America agenda are growing the economy in every region of the country


House Committee on the CCP: Chair Mike Gallagher (R-WI) urges university presidents to be ‘clear-eyed about the threat posed by the CCP’
FedScoop: Schumer’s second AI Insight Forum covers increased R&D funding, immigration challenges, and safeguards
FedScoop: Schumer to host AI workforce forum with labor unions, big banks, and tech scholars
Senate Commerce Committee: Over 100 lawmakers call for CHIPS permitting reform in final defense bill

Science, Society, and the Economy

MIT Technology Review: How scientists are being squeezed to take sides in the conflict between Israel and Palestine
Science: Prominent journal editor fired for endorsing satirical article about Israel-Hamas conflict
Nature: ‘I’m a powder keg’: Ousted eLife editor on being fired in wake of Israel–Hamas remarks
Research Professional: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has had a damaging effect on the supply of research materials
Science: Can Indigenous knowledge and Western science work together? New center bets yes
NSF: NSF launches pilot program to enhance the potential for success of startups
Brookings: What the new Tech Hubs designations mean for boosting innovation across the US (perspective by Mark Muro, Joseph Parilla, and Francesca Ioffreda)

Education and Workforce

Nature: Falling behind: Postdocs in their thirties tire of putting life on hold
Nature: Postdocs are organizing to obtain better pay and working conditions — that can only be a good thing (editorial)
Nature: Scientists in diaspora are a powerful resource for their home countries (perspective by Rana Dajani)
Semiconductor Engineering: Chip industry talent shortage drives academic partnerships

Research Management

Science: First detailed US scientific integrity draft policies get mixed responses
AAU: Association of American Universities elects University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Chancellor Robert Jones as next chair
Issues in Science and Technology: To make science and engineering more diverse, make research socially relevant (perspective by Nilanjana Dasgupta)
Inside Higher Ed: AI can lessen peer-review woes, researchers say

Labs and Facilities

Science: Little nuclear physics lab to tackle DOE’s big data problem
Jefferson Lab: Electron-Ion Collider project gears up for next steps
Berkeley Lab: ESnet turns on 400G circuits to four DOE national labs, supercharging multi-site scientific research
ORNL: New Oak Ridge National Lab director emphasizes mission impact (interview with Stephen Streiffer)
SLAC: Energy Secretary Granholm celebrates revolutionary X-ray laser upgrade at SLAC
SLAC: Renewed support for high power laser facilities will benefit discovery science and inertial fusion energy research at SLAC
Research Professional: ITER: Low morale, eroded trust, and lost competence
CERN Courier: Pushing the intensity frontier at ECN3
Science|Business: Europe needs a CERN for artificial intelligence (perspective by Holger Hoos and Morten Irgens)

Computing and Communications

CSIS: Four lessons from historical tech regulation to aid AI policymaking (perspective by Michael Frank)
CSET: Regulating the AI frontier: Design choices and constraints (perspective by Helen Toner Timothy Fist)
Financial Times: How to tame AI’s wild frontier (editorial)
Science|Business: EU and US researchers to collaborate on integrating AI into 6G networks
The Wire China: China has raced into a strong lead in Lidar systems vital to autonomous driving
ITIF: Good and bad reasons for allocating spectrum to licensed, unlicensed, shared, and satellite uses (perspective by Joe Kane and Jessica Dine)


SpaceNews: US and Chinese officials meet to discuss space safety
SpacePolicyOnline: NASA safety panel issues clarion call for International Space Station deorbit tug
The Guardian: ‘It only makes the news when the toilets stop working’: Has the 25-year-old International Space Station been a waste of space?
SpaceNews: NASA emphasizes need for mission authorization
Space Review: ISRO develops its agenda for the future
SpaceNews: New agreement enables US launches from Australian spaceports
NASA: NASA awards NOAA’s QuickSounder spacecraft contract

Weather, Climate, and Environment

E&E News: Ozone lawsuit takes aim at controversial ban on members of EPA advisory panels
E&E News: Manchin takes aim at EPA methane rules
New York Times: The scientists watching their work disappear from climate change
New York Times: How the Israel-Hamas war imperils action against global warming
American Geophysical Union: Bitcoin mining has ‘very worrying’ impacts on land and water, not only carbon


American Nuclear Society: US requests review of circuit court’s ruling on Texas storage facility
E&E News: House panel approves several nuclear power bills
IAEA: New IAEA initiative to enhance fusion energy collaboration
E&E News: Bipartisan bill would study quantum computing for the grid
New York Times: Clean energy’s powerful momentum
Ars Technica: Radical new forecast shows how rapidly the energy economy is changing


GAO: Oversight of the DOD nuclear enterprise
SpaceNews: DOD developing strategy to tap commercial space market
Breaking Defense: Space Force, AFRL ink first non-US research agreements with Indian AI, sensor firms
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: Why the US fixation on increased nuclear capability won’t deter China but could lead to instability and nuclear war (perspective by Andrew Facini)


Science: US urges DNA synthesis firms to ramp up screening for biosecurity threats
Lawfare: Let the experts shape US biotech regulations (perspective by Gigi Kwik Gronvall)
OSTP: A stronger clinical trial infrastructure for better health outcomes
Nature: Is CRISPR safe? Genome editing gets its first FDA scrutiny
Healthcare IT news: Cleveland Clinic, IBM to lead new quantum computing for health projects
Issues in Science and Technology: Fairer returns on public investments (perspectives)
CECC: Chairs seek export controls on technology used for mass biometric data collection in Tibet

International Affairs

Reuters: G7 to agree AI code of conduct for companies
Science|Business: Europe overtakes US as biggest AI research partner with China
Washington Post: White House backs up UK decision to invite China to AI summit
South China Morning Post: Chinese science officials tour Europe in bid to strengthen ties amid growing US sanctions
Nature: China’s Belt and Road Initiative is boosting science — the West must engage, not withdraw (editorial)
South China Morning Post: Li Keqiang: former premier who gave scientific research ‘rock-star status in China’
Nature: Japanese research is no longer world class — here’s why
Research Professional: Industry leaders sound warning over European ‘irrelevance’
European Commission: Competitiveness report highlights EU potential in clean energy transition

More from FYI
An order by President Biden places new rules on developers of “dual use” AI models, proposes visa reforms to attract talent in AI and other critical technologies, and directs agencies to expand research on AI applications.
National Cancer Institute Director Monica Bertagnolli will take the helm of the National Institutes of Health. The agency has lacked a Senate-confirmed director for nearly two years.
NIST leaders say the agency is hiring more safety staff, overhauling its safety training, and pushing for facilities repairs in the wake of several high-profile incidents.
Leaders of the House Science Committee introduced legislation last week that would update the National Quantum Initiative Act of 2018.
House appropriators are backing NASA’s imperiled Mars Sample Return mission and prospective NSF large facility projects, according to a newly posted document. The appropriators also elaborate on their proposals to reinstate the Justice Department’s China Initiative and block the White House’s policy requiring immediate free access to research publications.
The 21 medal winners include LIGO Director Barry Barish and former National Science Foundation Director Subra Suresh.

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