AMS Committee on Science Policy
1997 Annual Report
AMS Committee on Science Policy Report, 1997
Jim Lewis, Chair
CSP activities for 1997 began in January with the science policy addresses at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in San Diego. We were honored to have invited addresses by Neal Lane, Director, National Science Foundation, and Congressman George E. Brown, Jr., ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Science and long-time supporter of science. The talks were well-attended and rank among the most successful science policy addresses that the Committee has sponsored. At the San Diego meeting CSP also hosted two focus group discussions with Don Lewis, Director of the Division of Mathematical Sciences at NSF. The purpose of the focus groups was to provide Don with comments from leaders in the mathematics community with respect to the (then) proposed changes to NSF's merit review criteria, as well as issues related to the support of graduate students. The CSP also sponsored a panel discussion on public awareness opportunities in the classroom and, jointly with JPBM, sponsored a workshop on how to meet with Members of Congress.
In March the CSP Chair joined other mathematicians for a lunch briefing on mathematics for Congressional staffers on Capitol Hill, organized by President Jaffe and the AMS Washington Office. The speaker was Ronald Coifman of Yale University. The lecture followed by one day a press conference of presidents of science societies, organized by President Jaffe and other society presidents, who released a statement calling for a 7 percent increase in FY 1998 federal support for science (a significant increase over the 3 percent requested by President Clinton). This press conference was the kickoff activity of a year of coordinated activity by professional scientific groups to advocate for stronger support for science in the federal budget. Looking back from the end of the year, President Jaffe, the Washington Office, and the other societies with whom they have worked, are to be congratulated for their success (one result of their efforts was a 4.9 percent increase in NSF's budget).
In 1997 CSP met in Washington, D.C., April 18-19. The date of the meeting was chosen to coincide with Congressional Visits Day (CVD) sponsored by the Science and Technology Work Group. Under Sam Rankin's leadership, the AMS Washington Office was heavily involved in the organization of Congressional Visits Day and is to be congratulated on the success of the event. Among the over 200 scientests who participated in CVD were 10 mathematicians, including 6 members of CSP. The day was spent visiting Members of Congress and advocating for the 7 percent budget increase for scientific research that had been urged by the presidents of the scientific societies in March.
The first day of the CSP meeting was devoted to invitees from federal agencies, Congressional committee staff, and government relations staff from other scientific societies, who provided information and expertise on issues related to advocating for mathematics on the federal scene. Among those who met with the CSP were Don Lewis and Bernard McDonald of NSF, Fred Howes of the Department of Energy, John Tucker of BMS and Charles Osgood of the National Security Agency. Former Congressman Doug Walgren provided an insider's view of how to influence Congress and John Crowley of MIT's Washington Office discussed the Science Coalition and its efforts to bring the scientific community into closer contact with Congress. Janis Tabor of the Council for Chemical Research also discussed a "town meeting" approach for grass roots communication by scientists in the local districts and states of Members of Congress.
The CSP also heard from James Turner, a staff member of the House Science Committee, and Tim Peterson of the House Appropriations Subcommittee with oversight responsibility for NSF. The CSP presented Turner with a certificate expressing the committee's appreciation for his counsel and support for scientific funding over the past few years. Beverly Hartline of the Office of Science and Technology Policy presented an overview of the Clinton Administration's support for science and technology and discussed the stress that such discretionary funds were under because of efforts to balance the federal budget. Mike Lubell of the American Physical Society then gave CSP members an overview of APS efforts to involve their members in grass roots activities in support of science.
During CSP's second day of meetings we heard from Judy Sunley of NSF regarding NSF's involvement in the proposed national, voluntary, 8th grade mathematics test. Following the discussion CSP directed the Chair (in cooperation with the Chair of the Committee on Education) to write to the Department of Education and to NSF advocating a larger role for mathematicians in the development of the national test. The one noticeable result of this letter was that both AMS Chairs were appointed to the Mathematics Committee which developed the specifications for the voluntary national test of mathemtics at grade 8.
The CSP also heard from Lisa Thompson, JBPM, on her analysis of the 1998 federal budget request, plans for the Capitol Hill exhibition of the Coalition for National Science Funding, and testimony by SIAM President John Guckenheimer before the House Approprations Subcommittee on National Security on behalf of Department of Defense funding.
The CSP considered the AMS Council's resolution on AMS involvement with the US National Committee on Mathematics (USNCM) and appointed CSP member Cora Sadosky to stay in contact with the USNCM chair, Mike Artin. The CSP was concerned, and remains concerned, that groups such as the CSP, or even the AMS Council, have very little input into issues such as how the U.S. delegation will vote on the location of ICM 2002. This is a matter that the Council should consider further how best to influence the activities of the USNCM. One further concern of the CSP is that fact that the USNCM will now be housed at the International Relations branch of NAS, further distancing it from the mathematics community.
The CSP has planned two Science Policy addresses at the Annual Meeting in Baltimore, January 1998; one by the Honorable Richard Riley, Secretary of Education, and the other by Lt. General Kenneth Minihan, USAF, Director of the National Security Agency.