Computing Research Policy Blog

Highlights from the House Science Budget Hearing

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:

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More on Colwell

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.

Hollywood May Seek Legislation to Plug “Analog Hole”

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….

Study of Visas and Students

–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

Enlightening Comments from DOD Comptroller

Thanks to Tom Jones of CNSR for pointing this out:

NEWS TRANSCRIPT from the United States Department of Defense
DoD News Briefing
Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) Dr. Dov Zakheim
Friday, January 30, 2004 – 9:00 a.m. EST
Q: Why don’t you invest more in S&T? I looked in the R1 books and each
of the three components —
Briefer: Glad you had them, huh?
Q: Yes, they were helpful.
Briefer: No thanks to me, I can tell you that.
Q: They dropped down, the amount dropped down in all three categories of S&T for all the services with the exception of basic research for the Air Force. So you’ve seen a real drop.
Briefer: Not at all. Why do you say that? A drop relative to what? To the enacted?
Q: Yes.
Briefer: Of course, because the enacted always is higher than what’s in the requested and we always compare it to our requested. The reason is that a lot of what’s enacted are things that the Congress believes are important for us to do research in but we don’t necessarily share that same assessment.
Q: Are you meeting the three percent large goal that’s —
Briefer: No, because I don’t think it’s relevant any more. Three
percent might have been relevant but first of all we never met it. We were at 2.69 percent, now we’re going to go down to 2.62 percent. But the real question is, is that really a meaningful measure when you’re at a budget of $400 billion? That means we’re approximately $100 billion over where we were three years ago. Does that mean that we necessarily must throw $3 billion at universities and so on? There’s an argument for putting more money in but there’s not a knee-jerk argument percentage wise that says well, you increased $100 billion because you’re fighting a war in Iraq and you’re modernizing, you’re transforming, you’re doing this, that and the other. I need my three percent bite. It just doesn’t work.
I think what you’re finding here is by having $1.3 billion in basic research you’re putting an awful lot of money into universities, into labs, into research centers, and you don’t know if anything’s going to come out in military terms because that’s what basic research is all about. The same to some extent with applied research. And I would even argue the same to some extent with exploratory development. There’s a lot of money going into this and I don’t think three percent’s the relevant measure.
I am going to have to stop here. I apologize for not being able to walk you through the rest of the slides, but I am sure that my colleagues both in the services and OSD will help you out.

Some NSF Budget Info

Still parsing the numbers, but here’s a more detailed look at NSF

    Research and Related Activities (includes CISE) – $4.45 B; up from $4.25 B in FY04; increase of 4.7 percent.
    Education and Human Resources – $772 M; down from $939 M in FY04; decrease of 18 percent*
    Major Research Equipment – $213 M; up from $155 M; up 37 percent.
    Salaries and Expenses – $294 M; up from $219 M in FY04; increase of 34 percent
    NSB – $4 M; same as FY04
    Inspector General – $10 M; same as FY04.

Overall – $5.745 Billion; an increase of 3 percent over FY04
Highlights – $761 million for NSF’s lead role in NITRD, $305 million for National Nanotech Initiative, and $210 million for climate change science. Five priority areas: Nanoscale Science and Engineering; Biocomplexity in the Environment; Mathematical Sciences; Human and Social Dynamics; and Workforce for the 21st Century. The ITR initiative, one of four NSF programs rated “effective” (the highest designation) by OMB, ends in FY04 and program funds will revert to “NSF’s fundamental science and engineering core in 2005.”
CISE would grow to $618 million in FY05, an increase of 2.2% or $13 million over FY 04.
* The bulk of the decline in EHR is apparently the result of the Administration moving most of the Math and Science Partnerships Program to the Department of Ed.

Science Chairman Responds to Budget

House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert’s statement: “I am very disappointed in the proposed science budget, and I will be working with the Administration and my Congressional colleagues to improve the numbers as we move through the budget process. I understand that we are in a very tight fiscal situation and that the Administration has tried to treat research and development (R&D) as favorably as possible. But we just have to find a way to do better. …

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