FYI: Science Policy News
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WEEK OF MARCH 25, 2024
What’s Ahead

An aerial image of the Pentagon.jpg

Aerial image of the Pentagon.

(Air Force Staff Sgt. John Wright / DOD)

Congress Cuts DOD Research and Holds NIH Flat in Final FY24 Appropriation

The Department of Defense’s budget for basic research will drop 10% to $2.6 billion for fiscal year 2024 under the final package of appropriations legislation that Congress passed last week. Although Congress increased DOD’s total budget for Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation programs by 6% to $152 billion, it cut the portion focused on basic research, applied research, and advanced technology development by about 4% overall to $21.5 billion. The legislation also holds the National Institutes of Health’s budget about flat at $48.6 billion. That amount includes funding for the recently created Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA–H), which is also remaining flat at $1.5 billion. Congress finalized appropriations for most other science agencies in a separate package of appropriations bills enacted earlier this month. Consult FYI’s Federal Science Budget Tracker for details on these appropriations and the Biden administration’s budget request for fiscal year 2025.

Next-gen Gravitational Wave Detector Concept Study up for Review

As part of its spring meeting this week, the National Science Foundation’s Mathematical and Physical Sciences Advisory Committee will discuss a report recommending configurations for a potential future U.S. gravitational wave detection network that would have about ten times the sensitivity of NSF’s Laser Interferometric Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) by the mid-2030s. In the charge for the study, NSF noted that LIGO “was initially designed with a life span of about 20 years, although it is being incrementally extended through additional, and ever increasing, investments to refurbish or replace critical elements.” At the meeting the committee will also discuss a recent report recommending changes to the way NSF assesses proposed facility construction projects. NSF is currently weighing an increasing number of requests from across scientific disciplines for new infrastructure projects. NSF’s governing board cited this high demand in its recent announcement suggesting that NSF is unlikely to fund construction of both of two proposed giant telescopes.

CCP Committee Chair Gallagher Leaving Congress on April 19

Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), an active lawmaker on technology policy and chair of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, announced last week that he will resign from Congress on April 19. As chair, he established himself as a staunch proponent of efforts to compete with China’s technological ambitions and to enact new research security policies. In December, the committee released a bipartisan report proposing a number of such measures as part of a broader “reset” of the U.S.'s economic relationship with China. Gallagher has also been active on defense technology issues in his role as chair of a technology subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee, holding a hearing on AI in the military the same day he announced his resignation. Rep. John Moolenaar (R-MI) will replace Gallagher as chair of the CCP Committee.

In Case You Missed It

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger (center) speaks with U.S. President Joe Biden

From left: Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger, and President Joe Biden on a tour of Intel’s Ocotillo campus in Chandler, Arizona, on March 20.

(Intel Corporation)

Intel Set to Receive Huge CHIPS Manufacturing Subsidy

The White House announced last week that the Commerce Department plans to provide up to $8.5 billion to Intel to support the company’s planned projects to expand domestic semiconductor manufacturing. The funds will be split among factory construction and modernization projects in Chandler, Arizona; Rio Rancho, New Mexico; New Albany, Ohio; and Hillsboro, Oregon. The deal also gives Intel access to $11 billion in loans. Speaking at Intel’s Ocotillo Campus in Arizona last week, President Joe Biden emphasized the workforce education components of the funding award and tied it to his administration’s broader push to “on-shore” semiconductor manufacturing. The award is the latest in a series of semiconductor manufacturing awards issued in recent months by the Commerce Department and will be the largest grant provided by the CHIPS for America program. Other recent awards include $1.5 billion to GlobalFoundries in February and $162 million to Microchip Technology in January.

JASON Urges Caution in Adding New Research Security Controls

A new report from JASON, an elite science advisory panel, argues against placing broad controls on areas of fundamental research viewed as sensitive, instead proposing a project-by-project risk mitigation process. The report was commissioned by the National Science Foundation as it prepares to implement new controls on sensitive research in response to provisions in the CHIPS and Science Act. JASON reaffirms a Reagan-era- presidential policy that holds that products of fundamental research should generally be unrestricted unless they are deemed sensitive enough to warrant being classified. However, JASON does conclude that changes in the global environment since then warrant new approaches to research security, noting for instance that cutting-edge military technology increasingly originates in the civilian sector instead of the inverse. It also raises concern that stances taken by the Chinese government are undercutting the premise behind international collaboration, writing, “International collaborations with those who share the ideals of openness and transparency benefit all participants. However, recent efforts of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to preferentially direct fundamental research toward military needs, and its decision to restrict the flow of information out of the country, may severely limit the benefits of collaborations with research organizations within the PRC.” JASON suggests that instead of trying to designate specific sub-fields as sensitive, NSF should work with PIs and stakeholder institutions to tailor security requirements to specific projects deemed sensitive before they enter the peer- or panel-review phase. NSF has stated it is reviewing the recommendations and intends to implement a new security review process by the May 24 deadline set by the CHIPS and Science Act.

Overhaul of Defense R&D Budget Structure Proposed by Reform Panel

The congressionally empaneled Commission on Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Execution Reform has proposed that Congress overhaul the defense budget to reduce the stark divisions it creates between the different administrative phases of technology lifecycles: research, development, test, and evaluation; procurement; and operations and maintenance. In its nearly 400-page final report, released this month, the commission proposes the budget instead revolve around capabilities, making it easier to shift funding for particular technologies between phases. Within RDT&E, the report similarly recommends simplifying the current eight-tier “colors of money” account structure into four tiers: fundamental science, technology and development, system development, and capability support. The fundamental science category would include existing basic research budgets as well as some activities currently classified as applied research. The Defense Department is studying the commission’s recommendations and many will likely require congressional authorization to implement. The department created PPBE more than 60 years ago as a general framework for administering a vast array of activities, but the system has been widely criticized for imposing overly rigid constraints on decision-making, especially around technology development.

Upcoming Events

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

Monday, March 25

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

National Academies: “Exploring the Bidirectional Relationship Between AI and Neuroscience” (continues Tuesday)

NSF: Geosciences Advisory Committee meeting
(continues Tuesday)

Optica: Executive Forum 2024
7:30 am - 7:00 pm

NASA: Advisory Council Science Committee meeting
10:00 am - 4:30 pm

Tuesday, March 26

NSF: 2024 Research Infrastructure Workshop
(continues through Friday)

NIST: Earthquake Hazards Reduction Advisory Committee meeting
(continues Wednesday)

NSF: Mathematical and Physical Sciences Advisory Committee meeting
(continues Wednesday)

NNSA: Advisory Committee for Nuclear Security meeting
9:00 am - 5:00 pm

National Academies: “Roundtable on Capability Development Planning and Technology Transition in the Department of the Air Force,” meeting two
9:00 am - 5:00 pm

CSIS: “Scaling AI-enabled Capabilities at the DOD: Government and Industry Perspectives”
9:00 - 11:00 am

National Academies: “Briefing on Science and Engineering Indicators 2024”
10:00 - 11:00 am

National Academies: “Future State of Smallpox Medical Countermeasures,” report release webinar
2:00 - 3:00 pm

Wednesday, March 27

Bureau of Industry and Security: “Update Conference on Export Controls and Policy”
(continues through Friday)

National Academies: “Optimizing the USGS Mineral Resources Program Science Portfolio,” meeting one
(continues Thursday)

CSIS: “The DARPA Perspective on AI and Autonomy at the DOD”
10:00 - 11:00 am

USPTO: “USPTO AI/ET Partnership: Public Symposium on Artificial Intelligence and Intellectual Property”
10:00 am - 3:00 pm PT

National Academies: “Board on Science Education 20th Anniversary Monthly Celebration: Classroom Impact of the Framework”
4:00 - 5:00 pm

Thursday, March 28

CSIS: “U.S.-China Scholarly Recoupling: The Path Forward”
9:00 - 10:00 am

ANS: “Advanced Reactor Roundup”
11:00 - 12:00 pm

CSIS: “Chinese Assessments of AI Safety”
1:00 - 2:00 pm

NIH: “Breaking Barriers, Building Bridges: A Panel Discussion Celebrating NIH Women in Scientific Leadership”
3:00 - 4:00 pm

Friday, March 29

AAAS: “Listening Session on AAAS Multidisciplinary Working Group Draft Recommendations”
1:00 - 2:00 pm

Monday, April 1

NIST: “CHIPS Commercial Viability and Domestic Production Guidebook and Related Intellectual Property Protections”
2:00 pm

Know of an upcoming science policy event either inside or outside the Beltway? Email us at fyi@aip.org.

Opportunities

Deadlines indicated in parentheses.

Job Openings

AIP: Science policy reporter (ongoing)
University of Idaho: Idaho S&T Policy Fellowship (March 29)
NASA: Chief, Mission Engineering and Systems Analysis Division, Goddard Space Flight Center (March 29)
NSF: Division director, Division of Engineering Education and Centers (March 31)
NSF: Section head for Research Capacity and Competitiveness (April 1)
DOE: Deputy director for counterintelligence (April 5)
NSF: Chief Management Officer (April 8)
NIST: Supervisory program analyst for legislative affairs (April 8)
National Space Council: Fall internship (April 12)
NTIA: Director of the Institute for Telecommunications Sciences (April 12)
NIST: Technology strategy fellowship (April 15)
NSF: Deputy director, Division of Material Research (April 15)
DOE: Director, Office of Isotope R&D and Production (April 22)

Solicitations

DOE: RFI related to DOE’s responsibilities on safe, secure, and trustworthy development and use of AI (April 1)
COGR: Survey on research institutions’ experiences with DOD policy for risk-based security reviews of fundamental research (April 5)
USGS: Science Quality and Integrity Advisory Committee call for nominations (April 11)
NSF: RFI on marine carbon dioxide removal research plan (April 23)
USPTO: National Medal of Technology and Innovation call for nominations (May 3)
NSF: National Medal of Science call for nominations (May 5)
DOE: Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award call for nominations (May 9)
NOAA: Solicitation of members for NOAA’s Science Advisory Board (May 9)
USPTO: Request for comments on by translating more innovation to the marketplace (May 14)

Know of an opportunity for scientists to engage in science policy? Email us at fyi@aip.org.

Around the Web

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

White House

White House: National Bioeconomy Board launched by White House
White House: OSTP announces winners of Year of Open Science Recognition Challenge
White House: Readout of Cancer Moonshot roundtable on workforce-enabled cancer screenings to improve American health outcomes

Congress

Senate HSGAC Committee: Bipartisan investigation launched into biodefense and life science research
House Oversight Committee: Republicans launch government-wide investigation into China’s ongoing efforts to infiltrate and influence the US
South China Morning Post: Bill to put US-China science pact under new scrutiny passes a House committee
House Science Committee: Committee leaders support proposed FCC rule to protect spectrum interference
House Science Committee: Lucas calls on president to name new acting inspector general of Commerce Department

Science, Society, and the Economy

NSF: TIP celebrates its second anniversary, showcasing the impact of this last year
Science: Survey suggests Trump’s attacks boosted public trust in science
Science: West Virginia opens the door to teaching intelligent design
Science: Possible TikTok ban has US science communicators on edge
Physics in Perspective: A new literary style of science: The rise of acronyms in physics and astronomy (paper by Helge Kragh)

Education and Workforce

Physics Today: State anti-DEI laws sow uncertainty in public colleges and universities
Chronicle of Higher Education: How colleges have actually responded to DEI bans
Chronicle of Higher Education: A new Indiana law will enforce ‘intellectual diversity’ for professors. Here’s what it might mean.
Science: A false “equity versus excellence” debate over mathematics curricula has long disrupted education in the US (perspective by Alan Schoenfeld and Phil Daro)
Inside Higher Ed: Federal spending bill keeps higher ed funding flat
New York Times: Walter Massey broke barriers as the first Black physicist in nearly every role
Science: Fewer US scientists are pursuing postdoc positions, new data show
New York Times: In one key AI metric, China pulls ahead of the US: Talent

Research Management

Wall Street Journal: Superconductor scientist engaged in research misconduct, probe finds
Times Higher Education: Open access rules for trade books would hit HE impact and reputation
SPARC: Theme for Open Access Week 2024 continues call to put ‘community over commercialization’
Research Professional: ‘Platinum’ agreement makes open access sustainable (perspective by Claudia Heidrich)
Research Professional: EU publishes guidelines for using generative AI in research
Nature: ‘A landmark moment’: scientists use AI to design antibodies from scratch
Nature: Is AI ready to mass-produce lay summaries of research articles?
Scholarly Kitchen: Tracking research facilities in science: A CSIRO/CHORUS pilot sets sail (perspective by Todd Carpenter)

Labs and Facilities

JPL: Leslie livesay named deputy director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab
MIT: Nuno Loureiro to lead the Plasma Science and Fusion Center
Nature: ‘Best view ever’: observatory will map Big Bang’s afterglow in new detail
Symmetry: A trio of paths toward the discovery machine of the future
Argonne National Lab: New features available on the National Virtual Climate Lab portal
Lawrence Livermore National Lab: Science at the extremes of everything (video)

Computing and Communications

Nikkei Asia: TSMC, Intel suppliers delay US plants on surging costs, labor crunch
Financial Times: China blocks use of Intel and AMD chips in government computers
Bloomberg: Huawei tests brute-force method for making more advanced chips
AP: UN adopts resolution backing efforts to ensure AI is ‘safe, secure, and trustworthy’
New York Times: Saudi Arabia plans $40 billion push into artificial intelligence
MIT Technology Review: The tech industry can’t agree on what open source AI means. That’s a problem
Physics Today: Will AI’s growth create an explosion of energy consumption?
Physics Today: Code changes could drastically reduce bitcoin’s enormous electricity requirements
IEEE Spectrum: The green software movement is tackling the hidden environmental impact of today’s code
IEEE Spectrum: Supercomputing’s future is green and interconnected

Space

NRAO: NRAO and SpaceX coordinate to protect radio astronomy
SpaceNews: Astronomers and megaconstellations learn to get along
Scientific American: NASA slashes budget for Chandra, its greatest X-ray observatory
SpaceNews: Astronomers criticize proposed space telescope budget cuts
Science: NASA’s X-ray telescope faces a long goodbye
Nature: Is the Mars rover’s rock collection worth $11 billion?
SpaceNews: MSR highlights challenges of NASA flagship missions

Weather, Climate, and Environment

AP: EPA announces new rules to curb planet-warming tailpipe emissions
AP: SEC climate rule prompts lawsuits. Experts say companies are likely to prepare to comply anyway
E&E News: NOAA gets dire warning about solar geoengineering
Science Advances: Physical science research needed to evaluate the viability and risks of marine cloud brightening
Volts: What’s the deal with these methane satellites?
Science: Failure to share scientific data is undermining efforts to protect major Asian rivers, reports find
JPL: US, Germany partnering on mission to track Earth’s water movement
New York Times: It’s a golden age for shipwreck discoveries. Why?

Energy

New York Times: DOE awards $6 billion to cut carbon from industry
DOE: DOE announces $475 million investment to support clean energy solutions on current and former mine land
DOE: DOE’s considerations and use of data analytics (report)
American Nuclear Society: US, UK, Canada collaborate on advanced reactor licensing
Bloomberg: Europe’s nuclear revival plans are too little, too late
DOE: Simulating the fourth state of matter to harness fusion
NREL: Could a new renewable energy app help inspire future climate crusaders?

Defense

Breaking Defense: Classified tech, LongShot drone lead R&E unfunded list
Nextgov: Pentagon’s outgoing AI chief warns Congress on safety, accuracy risks of the emerging tech
Defense News: Northrop, DARPA envision moon ‘railroad’ for lunar logistics
SpaceNews: US military to boost surveillance assets in orbit
GAO: Nuclear terrorism prevention: DHS has strengthened the securing the cities program, but actions are needed to address key remaining challenges (report)

Biomedical

Science: RNA deserves its own massive counterpart to the human genome project, researchers argue
Nature: First pig liver transplanted into a person lasts for 10 days
NASA: NASA, HHS highlight Cancer Moonshot progress
European Commission: EC Communication on building the future with nature: Boosting biotechnology and biomanufacturing in the EU

International Affairs

Science|Business: South Korea joins Horizon Europe in multi-billion euro push to globalize science
Science|Business: EU may let Egypt join Horizon – but many urge caution over human rights
Science|Business: European Commission publishes guide to the next phase of EU’s R&I framework program
Nature: What Putin’s next term means for science
Reuters: Russia says CERN decision to cut science cooperation is unacceptable
Undark: Ukrainian scientific collections need protection during war (perspective by Pavel Gol’din)
Nature: A fresh start for the African Academy of Sciences (editorial)
Research Professional: South African top official says science is ‘undervalued’

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