CAPITOL UPDATE
April 16, 2010
ASME News and Public Policy Updates

In this issue:

 

 

S&T SUBCOMMITTEE HOLDS HEARING TO AUTHORIZE NSF APPROPRIATIONS FOR FY 2011 THROUGH FY 2015
Earlier this week, the Research and Science Education Subcommittee of the House Committee on Science and Technology held a mark-up to authorize National Science Foundation (NSF) appropriations for FY 2011 through FY 2015. The hearing focused on the Committee Print of the National Science Foundation Authorization Act of 2010, which will become an essential component of the reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act considered by the full Committee later this month.

In his opening remarks, Subcommittee Chair Daniel Lipinski (D-IL) observed, "While many agencies fund R&D, the NSF is unique in that supporting fundamental research and education in all STEM disciplines is its only mission. Today's legislation authorizes $47.5 billion for NSF over the next 5 years, keeping the agency on a doubling path, as recommended in the National Academies' Rising Above the Gathering Storm report and set in motion in the 2007 America COMPETES Act. While the one-time investment NSF received through the Recovery Act helped keep the scientific enterprise thriving and the brightest young people in the STEM pipeline, sustained growth at NSF is necessary to maintain gains and to ensure U.S. competitiveness."

Though the meeting proceeded cordially, Chairman Lipinski and other subcommittee Democrats were forced to vote down a series of amendments offered by Representative Randy Neugebauer (R-TX), which sought to cut the funding authorization for NSF to only 3 years, to strike language directing the NSF to conduct research into various manufacturing technologies and practices, and to preserve larger matching fund requirements for certain NSF grants.  Democrats also added an 'Innovation Inducement Prize' pilot program to the legislation, a new program model for the NSF about which Committee Republicans expressed some concern.  In the end, however, the Subcommittee adopted several other amendments related to research and science education unanimously, and passed the final package out of subcommittee unopposed.

The final legislation, developed by Chairman Lipinski and other members of the Subcommittee, will:

  • Promote innovation by directing NSF to spend at least five percent of its research budget on high-risk, high-reward proposals that have the potential to transform the understanding of science and engineering;
  • Advance manufacturing in the U.S. through investments in fundamental research in manufacturing technologies, materials and processes;
  • Build stronger university-industry partnerships and ensure that researchers at institutions of all sizes and types understand how to engage successfully in knowledge transfer and innovation; and,
  • Promote the development of all of the STEM talent our Nation has to offer by increasing the collaboration and coordination of NSF-funded education projects and by supporting early career researchers through postdoctoral fellowships.

For further details about this mark-up, including a link to the Committee print, please visit: http://science.house.gov/press/PRArticle.aspx?NewsID=2799

Paul Fakes handles public policy-related research and development (R&D) issues for ASME.  He can be reached at fakesp@asme.org

 

 

 

TRILATERAL ANNOUNCEMENT BETWEEN MEXICO, THE UNITED STATES, AND CANADA ON NUCLEAR SECURITY
At the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C. earlier this week, Mexico, the United States, and Canada reached an agreement to work together, along with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to convert the fuel in Mexico's research reactor.

Mexican President Calderon expressed "the strong commitment of Mexico to prevent and suppress nuclear terrorism; with this kind of cooperation with the IAEA and our North American partners, we definitely contribute to reducing the risks associated with illicit trafficking of nuclear materials."

The three countries acknowledged that this project also provides an important step towards the replacement of the research reactor with a new low-enriched uranium fuelled reactor in support of Mexico's nuclear energy development. The conversion of the reactor's use of highly enriched uranium (HEU) to low enriched uranium (LEU) fuel will enable the elimination of all the remaining highly enriched uranium from Mexico. This effort, a specific outcome of Nuclear Security Summit, will be completed under the auspices of the IAEA, and should further strengthen nuclear security on the North American continent.

In speaking about the announcement, President Obama remarked, "I welcome this critical step forward, which is a signal of our strong trilateral partnership, and our shared commitment to nuclear security in North America."  Canadian Prime Minister Harper agreed, saying that "this nuclear security project demonstrates that collective action can deliver concrete results."

For more information related to this trilateral announcement, please visit: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/trilateral-announcement-between-mexico-united-states-and-canada-nuclear-security

Robert Rains handles public policy-related energy issues for ASME.  He can be reached at: rains@asme.org *

 

 

 

NEW TIP COMPETITION FOCUSES ON MANUFACTURING RESEARCH
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has announced a new competition related to "Manufacturing and Biomanufacturing: Material Advances and Critical Processses" under the Technology Innovation Program (TIP) program.  Offering cost-shared funding for innovative high-risk, high-reward research, this new competition will fund an expected 25 new TIP projects in its first year for a total of $25 million in available funding.   A newly released TIP white paper observes that new materials have the potential to open whole new markets for novel or dramatically-improved manufactured products, but efficiently moving new materials from the lab into production and the market remains a major challenge for manufacturers.  Improvements in critical manufacturing processes that reduce costs, save time, increase quality or reduce waste can dramatically improve the competitiveness of process-based industries, including biomanufacturing, chemical production and fuel producers, among others. To review the aforementioned TIP white paper in its entirety, please visit: http://www.nist.gov/tip/cur_comp/upload/manufacturing_biomanufacturing_matls_adv_crit_proc_04_2010_wp.pdf

The 2010 TIP competition is open to research proposals in the following three areas:

  • "Process scale-up, integration and design for materials advances- addressing how new materials are moved from the laboratory to full production;
  • Predictive modeling for materials advances and materials processing- using the power of modern analysis, modeling and computation to streamline the design and production scale-up of new materials by more accurately predicting their performance; and
  • Critical process advances- novel production technologies that dramatically improve the processing of new materials or resolve important bottlenecks and inefficiencies in the production of existing materials."

Additional details on the 2010 TIP competition, including the dates and locations of three Proposers' Conferences providing general information regarding TIP and the competition process, are available at: http://www.nist.gov/public_affairs/releases/20100413_TIP_comp_announce.html The due date for submission of proposals is 11:59 p.m. Eastern time, July 15, 2010.

Robert Rains handles public policy-related NIST issues for ASME.  He can be reached at: rains@asme.org *

 

 

 

OBAMA ADMINISTRATION SEEKS INPUT ON COMMERCIALIZATION OF UNIVERSITY RESEARCH
The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Economic Council have issued a request for information (RFI) on how best to encourage the commercialization of university research and on whether proof of concept centers are an effective tool in early-stage commercialization.  The RFI asks for models, strategies and metrics that can help universities contribute to economic development.

The Federal Register notice reads, in part: "Often transferring viable research discoveries to the marketplace can pose the greatest challenge to innovators and entrepreneurs. As a result, the Administration is interested in working with all stakeholders (including universities, companies, Federal research labs, entrepreneurs, investors, and non-profits) to identify ways in which we can increase the economic impact of Federal investment in university R&D and the innovations being fostered in Federal and private proof of concept centers (POCCs). This RFI is designed to collect input from the public on ideas for promoting the commercialization of federally funded research."

To review the full RFI, please visit: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2010-03-25/pdf/2010-6606.pdf  Responses are due back to OSTP by April 26th.

Paul Fakes handles public policy-related research and development (R&D) issues for ASME.  He can be reached at fakesp@asme.org *

 

 

 

FEDERAL AGENCIES RELEASE OPEN GOVERNMENT PLANS
In response to President Obama's Open Government Directive, federal agencies are finding ways to make their work more accessible to the general public. Among those agencies releasing their respective Open Government Directive Plans earlier this month are the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

OSTP's 56-page document describes the structure, inner workings, and open-government efforts underway at OSTP. "OSTP is bound by the Open Government Directive to write an Open Government Plan. But this is no mere box-checking exercise for us. Openness is core to the mission and culture of OSTP," said OSTP Director John P. Holdren in a written introduction to the OSTP plan.  To review the OSTP document, please visit: http://www.whitehouse.gov/ostp.  Additional information is available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/ostp-open-gov-release.pdf

DOE's plan highlights a number of initiatives including the launch of Open Energy Information (http://en.openei.org/wiki/Main_Page), a new open-source web platform that opens DOE resources and data to the public. Additional DOE open government initiatives include: http://www.scienceeducation.gov/, an interagency website and networking tool for the Science Technology Education and Math (STEM) education community; and the Energy Information Administration's (EIA) Education and Literacy Initiative. The EIA Initiative is comprised of Energy Explained, an encyclopedia of energy issues; Energy in Brief, an article series; and Energy Kids, an interactive website for students and teachers.  More information about DOE's Open Government Plan is available at: http://www.energy.gov/open/documents/DOE_OGI_Plan_07Apr2010.pdf

Through its Open Government Plan, NSF will continue to inform the public about innovative research it is funding at institutions around the country and make research results more available; improve transparency; and, better integrate public participation and collaboration into the agency's core mission. The key principle that will be applied in executing the elements of the NSF Open Government Directive Plan is to maximize data that will be made available within the constraints of confidentiality and privacy concerns.

"Unless proven otherwise, the default position will be to make data and information available in an open format," said Jose Munoz, acting director of NSF's Office of Cyberinfrastructure, who is NSF's senior accountable official for the Open Government Directive. To review NSF's Open Government Directive Plan, please visit: http://www.nsf.gov/publications/pub_summ.jsp?ods_key=nsf10049

For more information about the Obama Administration's Open Government Initiative, please visit: http://www.whitehouse.gov/open **

 

 

THE ARTICLES CONTAINED IN CAPITOL UPDATE ARE NOT POSITIONS OF ASME OR ANY OF ITS SUB-ENTITIES, UNLESS SPECIFICALLY NOTED AS SUCH. THIS PUBLICATION IS DESIGNED TO INFORM ASME MEMBERS ABOUT ISSUES OF CONCERN BEING DEBATED AND DISCUSSED IN THE HALLS OF CONGRESS, IN THE STATES, AND IN THE FEDERAL AGENCIES.

***** EDITOR: Mary James Legatski, ASME Government Relations, 1828 L Street, NW, Suite 906, Washington, DC 20036-5104.