Computing Research Policy Blog
The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) acting chief of staff Mat Heyman has warned that a proposed $22 million budget cut for the agency in fiscal 2004 would force NIST to cut back on its cybersecurity projects, stop all activities under the Help America Vote Act and seriously curtail efforts under the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP). NIST currently does important work to secure utility control systems and has played a “prominent role in helping state and local election officials implement new voting systems.” Under the budget cuts, these efforts, along with the MEP, would have to be significantly scaled back or halted. Members of the House Science Committee are unhappy with the proposed cuts and are looking for ways to mitigate them.
The Administration says it’s taken care of most of this shortfall in its FY05 budget request, however the numbers aren’t quite there. The Administration does include an increase at NIST in the President’s request, but doesn’t include an estimated $36 million believed to be required to shut down the ATP program at NIST as called for in the budget request.
One possibility is that the FY04 shortfall could be made up in a supplemental appropriation like the one that will be necessary to cover the costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns (costs also not included in the President’s budget request).
Another perspective on the outsourcing issue, from an editorial in The News & Observer on February 2nd. Makes the point that even as some computing programming jobs have headed offshore, a large number of “heavy industry” jobs, including the manufacturing of vehicles, computers, electronics and other machinery have actually been “insourced” because “U.S. is still an attractive location for the siting of plants matching advanced technology and equipment with highly skilled labor and modern research.”
Click below for the full editorial….
Just learned today that the House Science Committee is planning a hearing for February 25, 2004, to consider the impact of the current US visa policy on science. CRA has been among many groups within the scientific community that have raised concerns that tighter visa policies post-9/11 have affected international collaborations, conferences, and the participation of foreign students and faculty in US research efforts. No word yet on hearing witnesses, but I’d think the committee would be looking for folks who can speak broadly about the policy implications across disciplines.
More details as they emerge….
CRA Grand Challenges in Information Security and Assurance participant Dan Geer is the subject of an Associated Press piece today on his concerns about a software “monoculture.” Yahoo! News – Experts Warn of Microsoft ‘Monoculture’
Demonstrating the critical role software plays in the nation’s critical infrastructure, a software bug in a widely-used energy-management system appears to have suppressed an alarm that should have alerted one of the first utilities involved in the blackout early enough for them to have averted its spread. Security Focus has the story.
The biggest news from the annual House Science Committee budget briefing was confirmation that NSF Director Rita Colwell was indeed resigning and that NIST Director Arden Bement would become interim director beginning February 22, 2004.
Colwell will become head of the newly created Canon U.S. Life Sciences, Inc., and accept academic appointment with UMD and Johns Hopkins University.
Other budget hearing highlights:
From the New York Times:
Intel Says Chip Speed Breakthrough Will Alter Cyberworld
Silicon chips that can switch light like electricity….
The Chronicle for Higher Ed reports that NSF Director Rita Colwell will announce her resignation today and that Arden Bement, current director of NIST, will take over NSF on a temporary basis beginning Feb 21. Here’s the scoop: The Chronicle: Daily news: 02/11/2004 — 02
I’m headed to the Science Committee budget hearing today, so I’ll fill in the rest of the details when I get back.
If the entertainment industry can’t agree with hardware, software and electronics producers on how best to protect digital content, they will look to Congress again this year for legislation mandating a technological solution, the National Journal (subscription req’d) reports.
The problem “can be fixed with legislation later this year,” requiring technology companies to apply anti-piracy technology to the analog outputs of computers, digital televisions and digital videodisc players, said Ron Wheeler, senior vice president of content protection for Fox.
“I would guess that Congress would do what it takes to help the United States’ number one export industry,” said Mitch Singer, executive vice president of Sony’s digital policy group. “At some point, we are going to need help. We may see some interesting assistance from Congress.”
Wheeler and Singer, who dominated a panel on the piracy of feature films, said more anti-piracy tools must be mandated. Wheeler said he believes a proposal will be put forward later this year to require computer companies to use technologies that detect invisible watermarks on analog content and stop the copying or redistribution of that content.
The mandate would apply to “devices that digitize analog inputs of all kinds” and require them to apply digital copyright restrictions “on all analog-to-digital conversion,” Wheeler said. He said the technology would help close the analog hole and fight movie piracy from Movielink, from digital video recorders or from DVDs.
Fortunately, the entertainment industry didn’t get the action they wanted in 2002 when they last tried this (though they did get a favorable FCC decision in 2003 requiring digital TV manufacturers to honor a “digital flag” protecting content). The technology community was united in opposing it. We’ll see if the alliance holds this time around….
INTERNATIONAL STUDENT ENROLLMENT GROWTH SLOWS IN 2002/2003,
LARGE GAINS FROM LEADING COUNTRIES OFFSET NUMEROUS DECREASES
–India Remains The Top Sending Country-
— IIE Online Survey Suggests Visa Application Process and Sluggish Global Economy Are Affecting Fall 2003 Enrollments —
After five years of steady growth, the number of international students attending colleges and universities in the United States in 2002/03 showed only a slight increase over the prior year, up less than 1%, bringing the 2002-03 total to 586,323, according to Open Doors 2003, the annual report on international education published by the Institute of International Education (IIE) with support from the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
For more: Open Doors: International Students in the US
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