Computing Research Policy Blog

More Rumors on Rita Colwell’s Departure from NSF

Science News has more detail on the rumors surrounding Rita Colwell’s imminent departure as director of NSF. Maybe most interestingly, they suggest Arden Bement, currently head of NIST, would take over NSF as interim director. Here’s a bit of the scoop:

Rumors were circulating in Washington, D.C., last week that Colwell planned to announce her departure as early as this week, shortly before the president’s 2005 budget is unveiled, and that it was tied to her frustration with a succession of stingy White House budget requests for the agency. Arden Bement, the current director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, Maryland, was said to have accepted the job as interim NSF director and was preparing to testify in that capacity at an 11 February hearing of the House Science Committee.
But those rumors appear to have been wrong. Science Committee staff say Colwell accepted their invitation in late December and hasn’t notified them of any change of plans. NIST spokesperson Matthew Heyman says that Bement “doesn’t have 11 February on his calendar.” And NSF’s William Noxon says that Colwell plans to both unveil the president’s 2005 budget for NSF on 2 February and represent NSF at the committee hearing. Last week Colwell told Science that she was not leaving anytime soon.

Our best info is that some members of Congress were given the “head’s up” last week that Colwell planned to resign in as soon as two weeks. Colwell’s six year term as director expires this August.

Foreign Colleagues

I believe we should devote some thought to the impact the draconian (and often useless and xenophobic) restrictions on foreign visitors and students is going to have on our profession. I keep seeing articles such as this one and it concerns me that nationally we may be hurting our research enterprise and alienating our friends. The Computing community is certainly not immune to this!

New NSB Report on S&E Workforce

The National Science Board has released a new report on the science and engineering workforce. From their release:

This important NSB policy report offers the Board’s findings and recommendations on long-term strategies for the workforce in five areas: undergraduate and advanced education in science and engineering; the knowledge base on the science and engineering workforce; the precollege teaching workforce for mathematics, science and technology; and US engagement in the international science and engineering workforce.

Link to the report.

Trends in DOD Basic Research Support

Elaine McCusker of the CNSR and Toby Smith of AAU passed on this interesting slide presentation detailing basic research funding at the Department of Defense by Bob Trew at NC State.
In it, Trew highlights concerns (concerns CRA shares) about “6.1” funding at DOD, primarily:

  • The 6.1 (basic research) budget at DOD continues to decline
  • 6.1 funding is being diverted to non-6.1 projects
  • the research is increasingly near-term; and
  • it’s too often a ready source of funding for “pet projects” in other areas.

Download the presentation (pdf – 779kb)

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