In this issue:

 

 

ASME FELLOW NOMINATED TO HEAD NSF
President Obama has nominated Dr. Subra Suresh, Dean of Engineering and Ford Professor of Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), to become Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF). Dr. Suresh is a Fellow of ASME, the attainment of which recognizes exceptional engineering achievements and contributions to the engineering profession.

ASME President Robert T. Simmons recently sent a letter to Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN), both members of the Senate Committee on Health, Education Labor and Pensions, expressing his “enthusiastic support” for Dr. Suresh’s nomination.  “Dr. Suresh has an established record of distinguished service and extensive achievements in science and engineering. He is recognized internationally for his contributions to the areas of mechanical behavior of materials, surface engineering, nanotechnology, and cell and molecular nanomechanics with particular connections to infectious diseases and cancer. He possesses the credentials and background required to successfully fulfill the duties and responsibilities of this important position. Based on his strong qualifications, I urge you to support his nomination,” Simmons wrote.

Dr. Suresh received the degree of Bachelor of Technology from the Indian Institute of Technology, in Mechanical Engineering, his M.S. from Iowa State University, and Sc.D from MIT. He has been elected to the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Indian National Academy of Engineering, Indian Academy of Sciences, Royal Spanish Academy of Sciences, Academy of Sciences of the Developing World based in Trieste, Italy, and German National Academy of Sciences.

If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Dr. Suresh will replace Dr. Arden Bement, Jr., who resigned earlier this year. A confirmation hearing date has not been set.

Paul Fakes covers public policy NSF issues for ASME.  He can be reached at FakesP@asme.org. *

 

 

NEW U.S. NATIONAL SPACE POLICY RELEASED
On June 28th, the Obama Administration released the new National Space Policy, a document that expresses the President’s direction for U.S. space activities. In releasing the new policy, the President said “Our policy reflects the ways in which our imperatives and our obligations in space have changed in recent decades.  No longer are we racing against an adversary; in fact, one of our central goals is to promote peaceful cooperation and collaboration in space, which not only will ward off conflict, but will help to expand our capacity to operate in orbit and beyond.  In addition, this policy recognizes that as our reliance on satellites and other space-based technologies increases, so too does our responsibility to address challenges such as debris and other hazards.  No longer is space just a destination to reach; it is a place where we must be able to work in ways that are responsible, sustainable, and safe.” 

Under the new National Space Policy, the United States:

  • Remains committed to many long-standing tenets in space activities;
  • Calls on all nations to share its commitment to act responsibly in space to help prevent mishaps, misperceptions and mistrust;
  • Will engage in expanded international cooperation in space activities;
  • Is committed to a robust and competitive industrial base;
  • Recognizes the need for stability in the space environment;
  • Will advance a bold new approach to space exploration;
  • Remains committed to the use of space systems in support of its national and homeland security; and,
  • Will fully utilize space systems, and the information and applications derived from those systems, to study, monitor and support responses to global climate change and natural disasters.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Administrator Charles Bolden issued a statement regarding President Obama's new National Space Policy saying in part, "The new space policy sets our nation on a path to develop the next generation of capabilities we will need to live and work in space. Human and robotic exploration will flourish and bring a wealth of economic and scientific dividends. We will reach new horizons of discovery and expand the reach of humans throughout the solar system. NASA has a key role in achieving the goals defined in the new policy. We are committed to working with other agencies, industry, and international partners to achieve national goals in exploration - human and robotic - and technology development that will ensure a robust future for the U.S. and our friends around the world.”

To read the 14-page National Space Policy, please visit: http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/national_space_policy_6-28-10.pdf.

A fact sheet prepared by the White House is available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/fact-sheet-national-space-policy.

Paul Fakes covers public policy aerospace issues for ASME.  He can be reached at FakesP@asme.org. *

 

 

HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE HOLDS MARKUP ON FY 2011 SCIENCE BUDGETS
On June 29th, the House Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee held a markup on the FY 2011 appropriations bill for key science, agencies, including National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA.)  While Congress is unlikely to pass any spending bills until after elections in November, House appropriation markups this week demonstrated a Congressional concern about the budget deficit, with several major spending packages coming in below the President’s request. 

In his opening statement, Subcommittee Chair Alan B. Mollohan (D-WV) noted, “For investments in science, technology and innovation, the bill provides $32.8 billion, an increase of $1.6 billion over comparable levels from last year. Within this level, the Subcommittee bill provides $7.4 billion for NSF and $19 billion for NASA, both equal to the request. For NIST, the bill provides $882.9 million. The Subcommittee recommendation continues to provide resources consistent with the doubling path identified for NSF and NIST in the COMPETES Act. Within overall science funding, the bill provides $1.5 billion to support all aspects of science, technology, engineering and math – or STEM – education, from kindergarten through graduate school.”

The Subcommittee increased overall funding for NIST by approximately 3.0%, but came $36 million shy of the President’s request. However, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership and the Technology Innovation Program were fully funded.  As noted, NSF (+7.2%) and NASA (+1.5%) both received funding at the President’s requested level, but with changes to accounts within each agency’s budget.  For NASA, appropriators fully-funded the President’s new ‘Space Technology’ development portfolio, but withheld $4.2 billion for human space exploration until a broader NASA authorization measure could be enacted.  To pay for anticipated changes from the President’s initial NASA budget request, appropriators cut funds from the request for Science, Aeronautics Research, Exploration, and Space Operations accounts, instead boosting Education, Cross-Agency Support, and Construction accounts.  Likewise, NSF’s research accounts received modest cuts in order to pay for spending boosts for education and human resources.

A table summarizing the budget allocations is available at http://appropriations.house.gov/images/stories/pdf/cjs/CJS_FY_11_Top-line_Table.pdf.

To view Chairman Mollohan’s entire statement, please visit:  http://appropriations.house.gov/images/stories/pdf/cjs/Opening_Statement_for_Subcommittee_Markup.pdf.

Paul Fakes covers public policy R&D issues for ASME.  He can be reached at FakesP@asme.org. *

 

 

NRC PANEL RULES DOE MAY NOT WITHDRAW YUCCA MOUNTAIN LICENSE APPLICATION
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) Atomic Safety and Licensing Board this week ruled that the Department of Energy (DOE) may not withdraw its license application for building a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, NV. In its 47-page ruling, the three judge panel said, “We conclude that Congress directed both that DOE file the Application (as DOE concedes) and that the NRC consider the Application and issue a final, merits-based decision approving or disapproving the construction authorization application. Unless Congress directs otherwise, DOE may not single-handedly derail the legislated decision-making process by withdrawing the Application. DOE’s motion must therefore be denied.”

Reaction to the NRC’s action was predictable. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), a staunch opponent of the Yucca Mountain project stated, “While I am disappointed in the board's decision, the full commission will likely take another look at the motion to withdraw the license application and make the final decision on behalf of the NRC in the coming months.  Our country has some of the best scientific minds in the world, and I am confident they can come up with a safer solution to deal with the nation's nuclear waste.” Senator Reid’s full statement is available at:  http://reid.senate.gov/newsroom/pr_062910_yuccalicense.cfm.

Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, offered differing comments saying, "I'm glad to see that the Construction Authorization Board agrees with me that DOE does not have the authority to withdraw the application to build a repository at Yucca Mountain.”  Senator Inofe’s full statement may be read at:  http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.PressReleases&ContentRecord_id=852e0148-802a-23ad-46b2-3c95f4a18c26&Region_id=&Issue_id=

DOE has indicated that it will appeal the ruling to the full NRC. For additional information, go to http://www.globalsecuritynewswire.org/gsn/nw_20100630_9768.php.

Robert Rains covers public policy Energy issues for ASME.  He can be reached at Rainsr@asme.org. *

 

 

SENATE COMMITTEE APPROVES CYBERSECURITY BILL FOR NATION’S ELECTRIC GRID
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved major cybersecurity legislation that would fundamentally reshape the way the federal government protects public and private sector cyber networks. The “Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act of 2010” (S. 3480) would:

  • Create a White House Office of Cyberspace Policy to lead federal and private sector efforts to secure critical cyber networks and assets;
  • Create a new center within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to implement cybersecurity policies as they pertain to federal and private sector networks; and,
  • Give the President the authority to declare a cyber emergency for 30 days and to direct the affected companies to take the necessary steps to protect their infrastructure.

“Catastrophic cyber attack is no longer a fantasy or a fiction,” Committee Chair Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) said. “It is a clear and present danger. This legislation would fundamentally reshape the way the federal government defends America’s cyberspace. It takes a comprehensive, risk-based, and collaborative approach to addressing critical vulnerabilities in our own defenses.  We believe our bill would go a long way toward improving the security of our government and private critical infrastructure, and therefore the security of the American people.” For additional statements on the bill, refer to: http://hsgac.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Press.MajorityNews&ContentRecord_id=6be6b903-5056-8059-76ef-7e691cc176fd

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has indicated that he will combine S. 3480 with legislation passed by the Senate Commerce Committee, S. 773, that would provide emergency authority to the President over all ”critical infrastructure information systems,” including grid facilities.

To read the entire text of S. 3480 and S. 773, go to http://thomas.loc.gov/ and search by bill number.

Robert Rains covers public policy Energy issues for ASME.  He can be reached at Rainsr@asme.org.

 

 

NIST TO SPONSOR CYBERSECURITY AND INNOVATION SYMPOSIUM
As part of its initiative to ensure that the Internet continues to spawn growth and innovation, the Department of Commerce will hold a symposium on "Cybersecurity and Innovation in the Information Economy" on July 27, 2010, at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C. Interested stakeholders are invited to comment on the relationship between cybersecurity in the commercial space and innovation in the Internet economy, with particular emphasis on businesses that operate non-critical infrastructure.

Senior government officials scheduled to speak include Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, NIST Director Patrick Gallagher, Commerce General Counsel Cameron Kerry, U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra and White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt. Private-sector panelists include Vint Cerf, Google; Larry Clinton, Internet Security Alliance; and James Lewis, Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Planned panels will focus on "Assessing the Macro-Economic Threat and the Commercial Sector's Response," "Micro-Economic Successes and Challenges in Risk Management," "Effecting Behavioral Change" and "Roles, Responsibilities and the Global Path Forward."

The event is open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis. To register and review the agenda, see www.nist.gov/itl/cybersecurity.cfm.  The proceedings will be videotaped and available later on the web site.

Robert Rains covers public policy NIST issues for ASME.  He can be reached at Rainsr@asme.org.

 

 

PARTICIPANTS IN NAE’S 2010 U.S. FRONTIERS OF ENGINEERING SYMPOSIUM ANNOUNCED
Eighty-six of the nation's brightest young engineers have been selected to take part in the National Academy of Engineering's (NAE) 16th annual U.S. Frontiers of Engineering symposium.  The Frontiers of Engineering program brings together a select group of emerging engineering leaders from industry, academe, and government labs to discuss pioneering technical work and leading edge research in various engineering fields and industry sectors. The goal of the meetings is to introduce these outstanding engineers (ages 30-45) to each other, and through this interaction facilitate collaboration in engineering, the transfer of new techniques and approaches across fields, and establishment of contacts among the next generation of engineering leaders.

"As we face the challenges the next century brings, we will rely more than ever on innovative engineers," said NAE President Charles M. Vest.  "The U.S. Frontiers of Engineering program is an opportunity for a diverse group of this country's most promising young engineers to gather together and discuss multidisciplinary ways of leading us into the economy of tomorrow."

The symposium will be held September 23-25 at the IBM Learning Center in Armonk, N.Y., and will examine cloud computing, autonomous aerospace systems, engineering and music, and engineering inspired by biology.  A featured speaker will be Dr. Bernard S. Meyerson, IBM Fellow and vice president of innovation.

The list of selected participants may be viewed at:  http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=06252010. Additional information on the event, including speakers, may be viewed at:  http://www.nae.edu/Programs/FOE/USFOE/2010USFOE.aspx

 

 

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.