In this issue:

 

 

HOUSE SCIENCE COMMITTEE EXAMINES NASA'S FY 2013 BUDGET REQUEST

On March 7th, the full House Committee on Science, Space and Technology held a hearing to review the Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 budget request of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). NASA’s administrator, The Honorable Charles F. Bolden, Jr., was the hearing’s sole witness.

For FY 2013, NASA is requesting $17.711 billion, a decrease of $58 million from its FY 2012 appropriation. The request is $750 million less than amounts received in FY 2011, and is about $1 billion less than amounts received in FY 2009 and FY 2010. There are three initiatives in the FY 2013 request that are drawing the most attention:

  • Cuts to the Planetary Sciences budget and withdrawing from the European Space Agency’s planned 2016 and 2018 Mars missions;
  • Requesting substantially higher amounts for commercial crew (compared to current year’s funding) while constraining agency investment in a heavy-lift launch system; and,
  • Combining hypersonic and supersonic research into a single project to focus on fundamental research for high-speed flight.

Throughout the hearing, committee members expressed several concerns to Administrator Charles Bolden over funding priorities, including:

  • That NASA is not expediently developing a backup vehicle to ensure American access to the International Space Station (ISS);
  • That the proposal cuts the Planetary Sciences account by a disproportionate 20 percent, and withdraws the U.S. from participating in the European Space Agency’s (ESA) planned 2016 and 2018 Mars missions; and,
  • The development of commercial capabilities as a worthy goal, but not at the expense of ensuring a safe reliable system to get American astronauts into space.

An archived webcast of the hearing may be viewed at: http://science.house.gov/hearing/full-committee-hearing-overview-nasa-fy13-budget.

Upon the conclusion of the hearing, the Committee issued the following press release: http://science.house.gov/press-release/members-critical-president%E2%80%99s-nasa-budget-proposal

The opening statement of Committee Chair Ralph Hall (R-TX) is also available at: http://science.house.gov/sites/republicans.science.house.gov/files/documents/hearings/HHRG-112-SY-H000067-20120306.pdf

To review Dr. Bolden’s full written testimony, please visit: http://science.house.gov/sites/republicans.science.house.gov/files/documents/hearings/HHRG-112-SY-WState-CBolden-20120307.pdf

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

 

 

NIST DIRECTOR TESTIFIES ON FY 2013 BUDGET REQUEST

On March 6th, the House Science Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation held a hearing to review the fiscal year 2013 (FY13) budget request of the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST). Dr. Patrick Gallagher, Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director, testified before the Subcommittee.

The FY13 budget request for NIST is $857 million, an increase of $106.2 million or 14.1 percent from the FY12 enacted level. The budget for NIST is divided into three main accounts: Scientific and Technical Research and Services (STRS), Industrial Technology Services (ITS), and Construction of Research Facilities (CRF), which are funded at the following levels in the FY13 request:

  • $648 million for the STRS, $81 million above the FY12 appropriated amount of $567 million. The FY13 budget would also provide $572.7 million to support laboratory programs, a $54.7 million increase over the FY12 appropriated amount;
     
  • $149 million for the ITS, $20.6 million above the FY12 appropriated amount of $128.4 million.  ITS contains the following; 
    • $128 million for the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), a slight decrease from the FY12 appropriated amount of $128.4 million. 
    • $21 million for the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Consortia (AMTech) which was proposed by the Administration in FY12 but did not receive funding by Congress.  If funded, AmTech will seek to assemble a consortium of public and private stakeholders to identify, and collectively fund, long-term technical challenges to the high-technology manufacturing sector; and,
  • $60 million for the CRF, a 19 percent increase from the FY12 appropriated amount of $48.2 million. This category includes $11.8 million for the renovation of the 60-year-old Building 1 of the NIST Boulder laboratories.

The FY13 budget request also includes plans for two mandatory appropriations: the Wireless Innovation Fund (WIN), which will be provided up to $300 million from broadband spectrum auction proceeds; and, the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI), a legislative proposal for $1 billion in mandatory funding to promote the development of manufacturing technologies with broad applications.

Subcommittee Chairman Ben Quayle (R-AZ) said that, given the current national debt and levels of spending in the President’s overall FY13 budget, NIST must do a better job of prioritizing investments, noting that a 14.1 percent budget increase is “simply unrealistic in our current fiscal environment.”

Chairman Quayle praised both NIST’s role in supporting American competitiveness and Dr. Gallagher’s leadership of the Institute, but urged NIST to better prioritize programs within limited budgets stating, “I have every reason to believe that NIST will continue to conduct innovative research while seeking ways to improve the efficiency of its programs so that this research is undertaken in a fiscally responsible manner.”

Chairman Quayle’s entire opening statement may be viewed at: http://science.house.gov/sites/republicans.science.house.gov/files/documents/hearings/HHRG-112-SY19-WState-Q000024-20120306.pdf

Dr. Gallagher’s written statement is also available at: http://science.house.gov/sites/republicans.science.house.gov/files/documents/hearings/HHRG-112-SY19-WState-PGallagher-20120306.pdf

Robert Rains handles public policy-related standards issues for ASME.  He can be reached at rainsr@asme.org

 

HOUSE PANEL APPROVES PARTISAN ESEA BILLS

On February 28th, the House Education and the Workforce Committee approved the House Republican Majority’s legislation to reauthorize portions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act by a party-line vote of 23-16.

Two amendments were offered by Ranking Member Miller (D-CA) on behalf of Committee Democrats.  The first “would have required states to set their own achievement targets and expanded accountability for English-language learners and students in special education, among other provisions.” The second amendment essentially substituted Kline's teacher bill ideas with his own, i.e. requiring districts and states to craft teacher evaluation systems and authorizing funding for programs such as the arts and American History. Both amendments were defeated on party-line votes.

Related to STEM education, Representative Richard Hanna (R-NY) was planning to offer an amendment to retain science testing once in elementary, middle, and high school (retaining current law), but ultimately withdrew it.  Chairman Kline’s bills currently strip this requirement.   ASME and the STEM Education Coalition were supportive of this amendment, and anticipate that Representative Hanna will offer it on the House floor, if presented with the opportunity.

The next step in the House would be floor action, but it is far from certain due to other priorities.  Even if the bill was approved by the House, it is unclear whether the House and Senate bills would be conferenced.  This is due to the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chairman Tom Harkin’s desire to not move forward with an ESEA debate on the Senate floor unless the House produces a bipartisan bill.

For more analysis of the recent House mark-up, please visit: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2012/02/_democrats_offered_just_two.html

Melissa Carl handles public policy-related science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) issues for ASME.  She can be reached at carlm@asme.org

 

 

26 STATES PLUS D.C. APPLY FOR SECOND ROUND NCLB WAIVERS

On February 29th, twenty-six more states, plus the District of Columbia, applied for waivers under the No Child Left Behind Act.  If granted, these waivers would release the states from “many of the core tenets of the law in exchange for adopting key reforms backed by the Obama administration.” To date, this new flexibility has been granted to 11 states.

Those applying are: Arkansas, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin, along with D.C.

These second round applications will be notified of the Department of Education’s decision later this spring. Additionally, the Department expects additional states to apply for waivers by September 6, the third round of review.

To date, the following states have not applied for a waiver: Alabama, Alaska, California, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Texas, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

New Hampshire and Maine have already indicated that they would like more time to “figure out how to make the waiver requirements work in their rural states.” Other states, like California, have expressed their discontent with the waiver process, believing that the Department should offer more flexibility without having to meet these reform standards.

However, because the Education Department ended up approving all 11 requests for waivers from the first round, the vast majority of these requests will most likely be approved at some time in the future.

For more information, please visit: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2012/02/states_apply_for_waivers_in_se.html

Melissa Carl handles public policy-related science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) issues for ASME.  She can be reached at carlm@asme.org

 

 

ARPA-E ISSUES OPEN CALL FOR TRANSFORMATIONAL ENERGY TECHNOLOGIES

While Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) Director Arun Majumdar is still awaiting Senate confirmation to become the next Department of Energy Under Secretary, ARPA-E recently issued a $150 million funding opportunity open to all transformational energy technologies to support the Obama Administration’s all-of-the-above approach to solving the nation’s most pressing energy challenges. This Open Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is a call to the country’s brightest scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs to propose early-stage research projects that would not otherwise be able to attract private investment, but could lead to breakthrough energy technologies. This is the second open funding opportunity released under ARPA-E.  The first was in 2009.
 
This FOA joins ARPA-E’s other recently issued FOA, Methane Opportunities for Vehicular Energy (MOVE), which will make $30 million available to find ways to harness our abundant supplies of domestic natural gas for vehicles and was announced by President Obama last week at the University of Miami.
 
More details on all of ARPA-E’s Funding Opportunities and Requests for Information are available at: https://arpa-e-foa.energy.gov/. Individual awards under the Open FOA will range between $250,000 and $10 million.
 
Including its most recent round of selections, ARPA-E has funded a total of more than 180 projects, for $521.7 million in awards across 12 program areas. Demonstrating the success ARPA-E has already seen, the Agency announced last year that eleven of its projects that received $40 million from ARPA-E for innovative research were able to use this funding to demonstrate results, which allowed these teams to secure more than $200 million in outside private capital investment.

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

 

 

NIST ANNOUNCES UP TO $1M IN FUNDING FOR TWO NEW MANUFACTURING EXTENSION PARTNERSHIP CENTERS

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) recently announced that it is soliciting proposals to establish two new Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) centers in South Dakota and Kentucky. NIST has $1 million in funding to support the centers, which would join the existing network of more than 400 MEP centers and field offices in place nationwide and in Puerto Rico. The centers primarily help small- and medium-sized manufacturers enhance their productivity, innovative capacity, technological performance and global competitiveness.
 
MEP staff serve as trusted business advisers, focusing on solving manufacturers’ challenges and identifying opportunities for growth in five critical areas: technology acceleration, supplier development, sustainability, workforce and continuous improvement. MEP delivers a high return on investment to taxpayers: for every one dollar of federal investment, MEP generates $32 in new sales growth. For every $1,570 of federal investment, MEP helps to create or retain one manufacturing job.
 
NIST anticipates funding one proposal for an MEP Center in South Dakota at up to $400,000 for the first year and one for a center in Kentucky at up to $600,000 for the first year. Each center must identify a non-federal cost share of at least 50 percent of the total project cost for the first year of operation. Any renewal funding of an award will require non-federal cost sharing that increases to a maximum of two-thirds of the center’s budget at year five and beyond.
 
Manufacturing extension services are provided by using the most cost effective, local, leveraged resources through the coordinated efforts of a regionally based MEP center and local technology resources. The management and operational structure of each MEP center is based on the characteristics of the manufacturers in the region and locally available resources with demonstrated experience working with manufacturers.
 
U.S.-based non-profit institutions or organizations, including universities, state and local governments and existing MEP centers are eligible to submit a proposal. An eligible organization may work individually or include proposed sub-awards or contracts with others in a project proposal, effectively forming a team. All proposals must be received no later than 5 pm Eastern time on Monday, April 30, 2012.

Additional information on the application process is available in the notice of Federal Funding Opportunity posted at Grants.gov (www.grants.gov) under Funding Opportunity Number 2012-NIST-MEP-SD-AND-KY-01 and the Federal Register notice of available funding at: www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-03-01/pdf/2012-4959.pdf

NIST MEP will hold an information webinar for organizations considering applying to this opportunity on March 19, 2012 at 2 pm EST. More information is available on the NIST MEP Web site www.nist.gov/mep

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

 

 

NASA LARSS RESEARCH INTERNSHIP PROGRAM SEEKS APPLICANTS

The Langley Aerospace Research Student Scholars (LARSS) Program is one of NASA’s most prestigious and successful student research programs, having recently placed among the top ten best internships in the nation. LARSS has been providing mentorships in research to undergraduate and graduate students in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) as well as in Business, Communication, Marketing, and other areas that support NASA’s mission for the past 25 years.

LARSS is designed to bridge the gap between academic concepts and real-world experience, by creating opportunities for students to come to NASA Langley Research Center (LaRC) to conduct research and work on projects under the mentorship of NASA professionals.

To be eligible to apply for participation in LARSS, a student must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen;
  • Have full-time student status at an accredited U.S. College or University (Community College students are encouraged to apply - acceptance is dependent upon successful matriculation into an accredited four-year institution);
  • Have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale; and,
  • Be a rising undergraduate junior, senior, or graduate student.

The application for the fall 2012 session will soon be available at: http://www.nianet.org/LARSS-2012/Application.aspx

A list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) may be read at: http://www.nianet.org/LARSS-2012/FAQ-s.aspx

A listing of LARSS contact persons may be viewed at: http://www.nianet.org/LARSS-2012/Contact-Us.aspx

Melissa Carl handles public policy-related STEM issues for ASME.  She can be reached at carlm@asme.org

 

 

VOTE ON ASME'S 2013-2014 PUBLIC POLICY PRIORITIES!

Your help is needed in establishing the top six federal Public Policy Agenda issue priorities for ASME to address during the legislative session for 2013 – 2014. ASME's Public Policy Agenda is a compendium of federal issues of concern to the Society put together from the results of a survey issued every two years by ASME Government Relations. 

It may come as no surprise to you, but out of 435 members in the U.S. House of Representatives and 100 in the U.S. Senate, only 10 have engineering backgrounds. Policy decisions should be backed with sound science, engineering and economics, so the Public Policy Agenda is a very important tool for the Society, as it will drive Government Relations activities and programs at the federal level. This includes position statements issued by ASME and its various groups and divisions.

All ASME members can vote on the issues that they believe are having the biggest impact on ASME and engineers in general by completing our online policy survey at:
http://asme.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_56Ejj7v8kHEdkMY

It will only take 10 minutes to fill out the survey. 

As a thank you for taking this survey, you will be included in a drawing for one of three Amazon.com gift cards valued at $100.  Winners will be selected at random from all eligible entries. Employees and contractors of ASME and their immediate families (spouses and children) are not eligible to win. Void where prohibited.  

As a member, your participation – your vote! – is vital to ensuring that ASME’s Public Policy Agenda represents your priorities to federal policymakers. 

Thank You! And Please Forward!
Thank you in advance for completing the survey. We greatly appreciate your involvement in public policy issues that affect mechanical engineers and the engineering profession. Please share this email with other ASME members.

 

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.

ASME Government Relations
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