In this issue:

 

 

THIRD TIME IS A CHARM: HOUSE PASSES COMPETES REAUTHORIZATION BEFORE RECESS
Staring down a Memorial Day recess next week, lawmakers finally garnered sufficient support to pass the bipartisan legislation, H.R. 5116, "The America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010" by a vote of 262-150.  This landmark legislation, originally passed in 2007, was based on the 2005 National Academies' report Rising Above the Gathering Storm. The report found that the scientific and technological building blocks critical to our economic leadership are eroding at a time when many other nations are gathering strength. COMPETES incorporated the science and technology recommendations from the report and was signed into law with broad bipartisan support in 2007. It expires at the end of this fiscal year.

The bill will double authorized funding for our basic research programs-the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy Office of Science, and the labs at the National Institute of Standards and Technology-over ten years, based on the 2007 appropriated levels. But it also goes further then the original legislation by providing $3.14 billion for the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), a new DOE program which rewards funding for high risk/high reward research concepts.  The bill would also authorize the creation of a Department of Commerce Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, as well as make loan guarantees available for high-technology manufacturing.  This is a five-year reauthorization bill with funding through fiscal year (FY) 2015.

Departing Science Committee Chairman Bart Gordon spoke of the need for this legislation upon its passage.  "The path is simple. Research and education lead to innovation. Innovation leads to economic development and good paying jobs and the revenue to pay for more research. And as private firms under-invest in research and development because the returns are too far off in the future, there is a clear and necessary role of government to help our nation keep pace with the rest of the world."

In short, this bill would:

  • Support short-term programs like Innovative Technology Federal Loan Guarantees to address the immediate need of small- and medium-sized manufacturers to access capital to make necessary updates to become more efficient and stay competitive;
  • Support mid-term programs like Regional Innovation Clusters to strengthen regional economies and advance the work done in a given field by leveraging collaboration and communication between businesses and other entities;
  • Invest in basic research through reauthorization of the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science and the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST);
  • Reauthorize the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E) to pursue high-risk, high-reward energy technology development; and,
  • Authorize Energy Innovation Hubs to help advance the U.S.'s transition to a clean energy economy.

The bill would also expand, strengthen and align Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education programs at all levels of education by:

  • Providing grants to increase the number and quality of students receiving undergraduate degrees in STEM and to improve the STEM learning outcomes for all undergraduate students.
  • Providing grants to implement or expand research-based reforms in master's and doctoral level STEM education that emphasize preparation for diverse careers in the STEM workforce
  • Establishing fellowships to provide recent doctoral degree graduates in STEM fields with the necessary skills to assume leadership roles in STEM education research, program development, and evaluation of education programs.
  • Ensuring greater coordination of STEM education programs across federal agencies.
  • Increasing participation by women and minorities in STEM fields to strengthen and diversify the STEM workforce
  • Providing institutional integration grants to help colleges and universities increase retention, recruitment and degree attainment of underrepresented groups in STEM by looking for synergies across scattered campus efforts.
  • Ensuring that smaller institutions, including minority serving institutions, are integrated more fully into research partnerships with research universities

To learn more about the America COMPETES Act please click here http://www.science.house.gov/press/PRArticle.aspx?NewsID=2853

Recently, ASME President Amos E. Holt partnered with the presidents of 26 other professional engineering societies to endorse a reauthorization for the America COMPETES Act.  To read this letter please click here /getmedia/08975000-6ED6-44F0-A06A-8E0611A451BF/PS1019.aspx

 

 

ADMINISTRATION RELEASES NATIONAL SECURITY STRATEGY DOCUMENT
Recently the Obama Administration released a report entitled "National Security Strategy" which was divided into four sections: Overview of National Security Strategy, Strategic Approach, Advancing Our Interests, and a Conclusion.  The document makes several recommendations and pronouncements regarding STEM education, federal research and development, and energy independence.

Although these reports are required annually by a law passed in 1986, submissions by Administrations have become infrequent in recent years. The report defines national security broadly, to encompass work on domestic issues such as education, the economy, climate change, and energy independence. It lays out broad goals related to foreign policy, space exploration, and fiscal policy.  Part of the document focuses on promoting national security through global health and related efforts. The security report is required by Congress but the language is not binding to it. Lawmakers will no doubt pay careful attention to the material for hints at current and future initiatives by the Administration.

The report contains language pertaining to STEM education.  In part it states that:

"America's long-term leadership depends on educating and producing future scientists and innovators. We will invest more in STEM education so students can learn to think critically in science, math, engineering, and technology; improve the quality of math and science teaching so American students are no longer outperformed by those in other nations; and expand STEM education and career opportunities for underrepresented groups, including women and girls."   Under the following heading, "Enhance Science, Technology and Innovation," the Strategy explains:

"Reaffirming America's role as the global engine of scientific discovery and technological innovation has never been more critical. Challenges like climate change, pandemic disease, and resource scarcity demand new innovation. Meanwhile, the nation that leads the world in building a clean energy economy will enjoy a substantial economic and security advantage. That is why the Administration is investing heavily in research, improving education in science and math, promoting developments in energy, and expanding international cooperation.

Regarding energy policy, the report states:

"The United States has a window of opportunity to lead in the development of clean energy technology. If successful, the United States will lead in this new Industrial Revolution in clean energy that will be a major contributor to our economic prosperity. If we do not develop the policies that encourage the private sector to seize the opportunity, the United States will fall behind and increasingly become an importer of these new energy technologies.

Regarding research and development the report states:

"We are reversing the decades-long decline in federal funding for research, including the single largest infusion to basic science research in American history. Research and innovation is not something government can do on its own, which is why we will support and create incentives to encourage private initiatives. The United States has always excelled in our ability to turn science and technology into engineering and products, and we must continue to do so in the future."

The full National Security Strategy report may be read here http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/rss_viewer/national_security_strategy.pdf

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

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

Melissa Carl covers public policy STEM issues for ASME.  She can be reached at CarlM@asme.org.

 

 

OAK RIDGE LAB TO LEAD NUCLEAR ENERGY INNOVATION HUB
U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman has announced the selection of a team led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) for an award of up to $122 million over five years to establish and operate a new Nuclear Energy Modeling and Simulation Energy Innovation Hub. The Hub, which includes partners from universities, industry and other national labs, will use advanced capabilities of the world's most powerful computers to make significant leaps forward in nuclear reactor design and engineering.

"The Nuclear Energy Innovation Hub is a critical element in our efforts to re-establish American leadership in nuclear energy research and development," said Deputy Secretary Poneman. "We need to rev up the great American innovation machine to find solutions to our energy challenges and promote American competitiveness. With the Hubs, we are taking a page from America's great industrial laboratories in their heyday and building creative, highly-integrated research teams that can accomplish more, faster, than researchers working separately."

Specifically, the Nuclear Energy Innovation Hub will allow engineers to create a simulation of a currently operating reactor that will act as a "virtual model" of that reactor. They will then use the "virtual model" to address important questions about reactor operations and safety. This will be used to address issues such as reactor power production increases and reactor life and license extensions. The combination of data gained from the "virtual model" and the physical reactor will be used to resolve technology issues confronting nuclear energy development in the near, mid, and long terms.

For the (fiscal year) FY 2010 budget, Energy Secretary Steven Chu proposed $280 million to fund eight innovation hubs, at $35 million apiece; however, Congressional appropriators chose to fund only three: Fuels from sunlight, Energy efficiency in buildings, and Modeling and Simulation for Nuclear Reactors at $22 million apiece.  For FY 2011, Secretary Chu requested $107 million for the Innovation Hubs, including a fourth hub devoted to batteries and electrical storage.  For more information about the DOE FY 2011 budget please see the February 5th, 2010 Edition of Capitol Update.

For more information about the DOE Innovation Hubs and the three Hubs to be funded in FY 10, please click here http://www.energy.gov/hubs/

For a complete list of partner organizations, visit http://www.energy.gov/news/9011.htm.

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

 

 

NSF RELEASES NEW DATA ON U.S. INDUSTRY'S GLOBAL R&D
Companies located in the United States reported worldwide sales of $11 trillion in calendar year 2008 and spent $330 billion on research and development (R&D). Nearly $234 billion of the R&D expense was for R&D conducted in company facilities located in the United States. This is according to new figures from NSF's first ever Business R&D and Innovation Survey (BRDIS) developed jointly with the U.S. Census Bureau.

Specifically, BRDIS will allow policymakers and industry officials to gain information about worldwide R&D expenses, R&D employee headcount by occupation category, R&D expenses by detailed business segments, and share of R&D devoted to new business areas and new science or technology activities. According to initial BRDIS survey results, companies with R&D activity reported that 68 percent of their worldwide sales came from domestic business operations. The pharmaceuticals and medicines industry reported that 67 percent of their worldwide sales came from domestic operations.

Other industries reported similarly high domestic-to-worldwide sales ratios. Data from scientific R&D services industries revealed that 85 percent of their sales came from domestic operations; computer system design and related services reported 79 percent; aerospace products and parts reported 74 percent; motor vehicles, trailers, and parts reported 62 percent; software publishers reported 58 percent and semiconductor and electronic components reported 53 percent.

In other statistics on sales, BRDIS survey results found that worldwide R&D expense and worldwide R&D costs funded by companies with five to 499 employees accounted for $1 trillion of the total worldwide sales. These companies had worldwide R&D expenses of $64 billion, or 19 percent, of the total expenses for R&D worldwide. Small businesses also performed $63 billion worth of business R&D in the United States and $5 billion abroad. They paid others $11 billion to perform R&D.

Data from the survey can be found on NSF's website (refer to http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/srvyindustry/about/brdis/.

To view a webcast featuring NSF Director Arden Bement and Deputy Director of the U.S. Census Bureau Tom Mesenbourg in which they discuss the new survey, go to http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_videos.jsp?cntn_id=117022&media_id=66892&org=NSF

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

 

 

RECOVERY ACT FUNDING BOOSTED FY 2009 FEDERAL R&D BY 12 PERCENT
A recent "Info Brief" (NSF10-313) published by NSF found that federal agencies have reported a preliminary total budget authority of $157 billion for federally funded research and development in FY 2009, an increase of 12.2 percent  in current dollars over FY 2008 actual appropriations of $140 billion. This total represents $142.5 billion for FY 2009 R&D budget authority and $14.7 billion for FY 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds (ARRA, public law 111-5), the economic stimulus package enacted by Congress in February 2009. ARRA funds were appropriated in FY 2009 but may be obligated in FY 2009 and later years. More information on the FY 2009 budget can be found in the February 13th 2009 Edition of Capitol Update.

With almost all (98 percent) of the ARRA funds scheduled for nondefense functions, nondefense R&D is up by 29.3 percent and defense R&D by 1.0 percent. In constant FY 2000 dollars, federally supported R&D increased 10.0 percent overall in FY 2009, with defense R&D decreasing by 1.0 percent and nondefense R&D growing by an estimated 26.7 percent. Fiscal year 2010 proposed R&D budget authority is $143 billion, of which $83.7 billion is for defense R&D and $59.2 billion is for nondefense R&D.

The preliminary defense component of federal R&D budget authority for FY 2009 is $85.6 billion (including $300 million in ARRA support), an increase of $882 million over the actual FY 2008 amount. The defense share of the FY 2009 preliminary R&D budget is 54.4 percent, down from its FY 2008 share of 60.5 percent. Despite a proposed decrease in FY 2010 national defense R&D, defense is expected to be 58.6 percent of total federal R&D in FY 2010.

The great majority of federal defense R&D (90 percent in FY 2010) is allocated for development, whereas the nondefense portion of the federal R&D budget is directed mostly toward funding research (85 percent in FY 2010).

Total nondefense R&D budget authority is up by $16.2 billion (29.3 percent) in FY 2009, with ARRA funding accounting for much of the increase. The estimated nondefense share of federal R&D budget authority is 45.6 percent in FY 2009 but drops to 41.4 percent in FY 2010 with the absence of ARRA funds. The six functions that account for most of the federal budget for nondefense-related R&D activities are health, general science, space research and technology, natural resources and environment, energy and agriculture.

A summary of the "Info Brief" is available at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/infbrief/nsf10313/.

The entire report may be found at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/infbrief/nsf10313/nsf10313.pdf

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

 

 

NIST RELEASES SUCCESSOR TO VENERABLE HANDBOOK OF MATH FUNCTIONS
After a decade of preparation, the U.S. Commerce Department's NIST has released the Digital Library of Mathematical Functions (DLMF) and its printed companion, the "NIST Handbook of Mathematical Functions," the much-anticipated successors to the agency's most widely cited publication of all time. These modernized reference works contain a comprehensive set of mathematical tools useful for any and all specialists who work with mathematical modeling and computation.

The works comprise a complete update and expansion of the 1964 "Handbook of Mathematical Functions" and differ from the 1964 publication in several respects. It includes information about additional special functions that have more recently come to prominence in applied mathematics, the physical sciences and engineering, as well as in other fields. It has also been subjected to a more rigorous editorial process, complete with independent validation of all technical material. Perhaps the greatest difference, however, is its transformation into a Web-based resource.

The online DLMF, freely available on the Web, includes visual aids that provide qualitative information on the behavior of mathematical functions, such as interactive tools for rotating and zooming in on three-dimensional representations. These visualizations can be explored with free browsers and plugins for PC, Mac and Linux systems. Confused about the symbols in an equation? Just click on the symbol to be led to its definition. The DLMF also provides references to or hints for the proofs of all mathematical statements, offers advice on methods for computing mathematical functions, and provides active links to available software and references. It also features a powerful search engine.

The DLMF is available at http://dlmf.nist.gov/. Its 967-page printed companion, the "NIST Handbook of Mathematical Functions" (ISBN 9780521192255), is published by Cambridge University Press. For additional information, go to http://www.nist.gov/itl/math/math_051110.cfm

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

 

 

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.