American Mathematical Society

My Account · My Cart · Customer Services · FAQ  
AMS Committee on Science Policy
1999 Annual Report


Arthur M. Jaffe, Chair

Activities of the Science Policy Committee, and of its members, as well as related activities of the AMS Washington office in 1999 included the annual meeting, the 1999 mathematics briefing for Congress, participation in the CNSF exhibit on Capitol Hill, participation in Congressional visits day, and participation in activities of the Council of Scientific Society Presidents. Furthermore CSP made plans for the January 2000 joint meeting. Two related events anticipated in 2000 will be the presentation of the first Joint Award for Public Service (by the AMS, APS, and AAS) and a Town Meeting in Princeton for Representative Holt. This report expands upon material prepared by Monica Foulkes and Sam Rankin.

I. Meeting of the Committee on Science Policy, March 12-13, 1999, Washington DC
The annual meeting was organized by Sam Rankin, taking place on Friday and Saturday morning in Washington. The first day was devoted to presentations by representatives of federal agencies, Congressional bodies, and others, on a variety of current science policy and funding issues, providing CSP members with a forum for information exchange and debate. On the second day, internal committee business took place.

Department of Defense: Research Funding.
Concerned about the trend over the last several years of decreasing budgets for Defense research funding, and the resultant pressure put on the National Science Foundation's budget by "research refugees" from defense, the Committee met with Robert Trew, Director of Research, Office of the Secretary of Defense. Trew described how the defense budget is planned, some of the forces acting on it, and how research is funded in each of the services (radically differently). In the President's FY 2000 budget funding for research, development, training and evaluation is down 6 percent from the FY 1999 level -- 6.1 accounts (basic research, heavily weighted to universities) remain flat, while the 6.2 accounts (applied research) decrease 6 percent. Trew said that the problem did not lie so much within the services as with the money Congress appropriates; the budget is subject to constant micro-management, particularly the House Appropriations Committee, and insertion of earmarks that eat into the funds actually available for research. Trew noted that current technological advances make use of research done 10 to 20 years ago, and in today's rapidly changing science and technology environment decreases in investment in research dries up the pipeline for future advances. Asked how CSP members could help, Trew recommended contacting the lead person in each service, and constant pressure on individual Members of Congress.

Freedom of Information Act: Public Access to Federally-funded Data.
The Office of Management and Budget has been directed by Public Law 105-277 (a little noticed amendment to the Omnibus Appropriations Bill passed in the waning days of the last Congress) to revise its Circular A-110 to "require Federal awarding agencies to ensure that all data produced under an award be made available under the procedures of the Freedom of Information Act." The proposed revision has raised serious concerns within the scientific community. OMB recognized the problems with implementation and was trying for a very narrow interpretation of the law, but whether their revision would hold up when challenged in the courts was not known. Several visitors at this meeting urged CSP to provide comments, both as a Committee and as individuals. Arthur Bienenstock, Associate Director for Science, Office for Science and Technology Policy, and Kathleen Peroff, Deputy Associate Director, Energy and Science Division, OMB, strongly urged members to respond during the public comment period. CSP unanimously approved a resolution to be forwarded to OMB, recommending that a policy for sharing data be established through a National Academy of Sciences study, and that the law be repealed pending completion of such a study. Attached find a letter from the committee chair.

Congressional visitors.
Elizabeth Prostic, staff for the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, updated CSP on progress of the Frist-Rockefeller bill S.296, Federal Research Investment Act, which calls for the doubling of federal funding for civilian R&D over the next twelve years. Although prospects for passage of this bill in the 106th Congress are slim, it continues to serve as a tool to educate Senators and Representatives about the importance of R&D. She also informed CSP that Frist and Rockefeller had that morning launched a new Forum on Technology and Innovation, dedicated to elevating Congressional expertise in science and technology. Peter Rooney, who leads the new Forum, working out of the Council on Competitiveness, said the goal was to develop a cadre of Congressional staffers who are self-identified with science and technology, noting that, because of the degree to which relatively young staffers influence the national agenda, educating the staff in effect educates their Senators and Representatives. While the legislative agenda would drive the issues to be addressed, Rooney said the science community could help by providing expert speakers. Jim Turner, Chief Democratic Counsel for the House Committee on Science, and a long-time advisor to CSP, gave his usual succinct prediction about the forthcoming appropriations deliberations. Turner said that, given that the majority party was in some disarray, no bill would pass without bipartisan support. Budget caps were still in effect and would get tighter (by design, as the pain was designed to be felt after the Presidential election year). If the caps held there would be a 20 to 25 percent cut in funding for science research, however Turner predicted that a similar slight-of-hand maneuver to last year's, when "offsets" of new revenues that are never going to happen, such as the tobacco settlement, allow the caps to be exceeded while achieving a balanced budget. There was overall agreement by the President and Congress that defense spending should increase (although defense research would still take a hit), creating even more pressure on discretionary funding. Turner predicted that the ceiling for science funding in general would be raised, but not to the point where everyone would be happy. Although some House Budget Committee members thought that the science community should lobby for support as often, say, as defense contractors, Turner was encouraged by the increased visibility of the science community in recent years and hoped for a "passable" FY 2000 budget.

BMS Decadal Study of the Mathematical Sciences.
Robert MacPherson, Chair, Board on Mathematical Sciences, discussed plans for the forthcoming study, which will have three components: subject reports (written for graduate students and the scientific press); vignettes on the impact of mathematical research on society (written for the general public with the assistance of a science writer); and an education study. Some concern was expressed about the scope of the project, the difficulty of writing successful expository articles on mathematics and the negative effect if not done well, the amount of time and effort involved, and reluctance in the mathematical community to set priorities.

National Science Foundation.
Robert Eisenstein, Assistant Director of the Mathematical and Physical Sciences Directorate, gave an overview of NSF's FY 2000 budget request, noting that NSF Director Rita Colwell argues frequently that NSF is inappropriately-funded for a multi-trillion dollar economy. The Division of Mathematical Sciences (DMS) would receive an increase of 4.4 percent over FY 1999. A US$366 million initiative in the President's budget - Information Technology for the Twenty-First Century (IT2) - is a multi-agency initiative to be led by NSF, who will receive US$146 million in new money for research on software systems and high performance computers. The initiative was recommended by the President's Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC). CSP asked about the effects of this large initiative on funding for basic research, and where previous year's initiatives such as KDI (Knowledge and Distributed Intelligence) and HPCC (High Performance Computing and Communications) fitted in. Other NSF initiatives for FY 2000 include Biocomplexity in the Environment, and a new Graduate Teaching Fellows program, aimed at broadening graduate education and boosting the content in K-12 classrooms. Asked about the BMS Decadal Study, Eisenstein welcomed efforts by the mathematical community to set out their priorities so that a nonmathematician such as himself, who had to make decisions on priorities, could understand. Eisenstein noted that, after four years of wonderful work for NSF, Don Lewis, Director, DMS, would retire in June, and introduced his successor, Philippe Tondeur, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who discussed with CSP his philosophies on mathematics research and education.

COSEPUP Report on Evaluating Federal Research.
Richard Bissell, Executive Director, NRC Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy, reported that, after studying how federal agencies such as NSF could comply with the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA), COSEPUP had concluded that measuring the results of research was possible, but different kinds of measures were needed for different kinds of research. During the discussion of whether interest in Congress for GPRA was now waning, Bissell said that the deadline for full implementation by agencies was 2000, and that certain Congressional bodies (the House Science Committee in particular) were still very committed to it.

Other CSP visitors included Dan Hitchcock, Department of Energy, Daniel Goroff, Director of the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics, April Burke, Lewis-Burke Associates, Lida Barrett, Chair, MAA Committee on Science Policy, Bernard McDonald, National Science Foundation. CSP Activities at the January 2000 Joint Mathematics Meetings. CSP tentatively agreed to invite representatives from the Senate Science and Technology Caucus, for one of their two slots, with NSF Director Rita Colwell and possibly General Odom for the other slot.

II. Mathematicians Participate in Congressional Visits Day
Four mathematicians joined over a hundred scientists and engineeers visiting their Senators and Congressmen during this year's Science and Technology Congressional Visits Day on April 22, 1999. Bob Daverman (Univ of Tennessee), Susan Friedlander (Univ of Illinois at Chicago), Jane Hawkins (Univ of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), Jean Taylor (Rutgers Univ) and Washington Office Director Sam Rankin visited their Senators and Representatives to urge federal support for science research and education. Visitors were briefed by Congressional leaders and administration officials on current Congressional activities concerning science research and education, and by representatives of the various scientific societies and groups organizing this annual event on how to present their case for science effectively. Thanks to our visitors, this year's CVD achieved the objective of underscoring the importance of science and technology to the nation's future well-being, and of building relationships with legislators and their staffs that will be important for future efforts to influence decision-making on Capitol Hill. The next Congressional Visits Day will be held April 4-5, 2000.

III. Mathematics Exhibit On Capitol Hill
Don McClure, of Brown University, represented mathematics at this year's CNSF Exhibition, held May 19, 1999, in the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington DC. Don's exhibit was entitled "Mathematical Foundations of Image Analysis and Computational Vision". This exhibition of NSF-funded research is organized annually by the Coalition for National Science Funding, a network of around fifty scientific, mathematical and engineering organizations, universities, higher education associations and industry groups, working together in support of the National Science Foundation. The exhibition provides Congressional staff, Representatives and Senators, with the opportunity to talk directly with scientists, mathematicians and engineers about their NSF-funded research. This year over 30 exhibitors presented displays featuring computer demonstrations, videos and educational material, and discussed their work with Congressional staff. Over 100 staffers and a dozen Members of Congress attended, in addition to national press and NSF and other agency representatives.

IV. AMS Congressional Lunch Briefing
Calculating the Secrets of Life: Mathematics and Medicine The AMS Washington Office organized its annual lunch briefing on mathematics for Members of Congress and staff on September 29, 1999, in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill. Despite the frantic pressures of appropriations deadlines in this, the last week of the government's fiscal year, a satisfyingly large crowd of around sixty, including two Members of Congress and many Congressional staff, turned up to hear De Witt Sumners of Florida State University speak on "Calculating the Secrets of Life: Mathematics and Medicine". Congressman Allen Boyd, R-FL, introduced Sumners and AMS President Felix Browder acted as master of ceremonies. Also present was Congressman Vernon J. Ehlers, member of the House Committee on Science and, since the death of Congressman George Brown, the current "champion of science" in the House of Representatives. Presidents of several scientific societies also attended: American Chemical Society, American Physical Society, American Astronomical Society, Materials Research Society, Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, and the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. Many of the presidents of societies took the opportunity to visit Members of Congress with oversight for science funding and policy, including House Science Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, Ralph M. Hall, ranking Democrat on the Science Committee, and legislative assistants for the important appropriations subcommittee on VA/HUD/Independent Agencies. Professor Sumners held the crowd's attention with a lively illustrated discussion of a few areas of medical research, indicating how mathematics plays a role in this research. Noting that the human body is an extremely complicated biological system which generates extraordinary data, he pointed out that mathematics is needed to build models and navigation tools in order to turn this huge amount of data into useful knowledge. Mathematics is used to compute the structure and function of life-sustaining enzymes that operate on DNA. These same enzymes that sustain life are also involved in life-threatening diseases, such as cancer; understanding structure and function opens the door to therapy. Geometry is used to build sophisticated heart models so that better heart defibrillators can be designed. Mathematics is also critical in relating brain architecture, as revealed by high-resolution MRI scans, to brain function, as revealed by Positron Emission Tomography and functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging scans.

V. Meetings with Rita Colwell, NSF Director
AMS, working with the other societies, had arranged for the science society Presidents to be in town for a meeting with NSF Director Rita Colwell. Luckily one meeting took place the same day as the Congressional Lunch briefing, and AMS President Felix Browder as well as CSP Chair Arthur Jaffe participated in that meeting, the latter as Chair Elect of the Council of Scientific Society Presidents (CSSP). This meeting was the second of a series of planned meetings which hopefully will continue before the President announces his plans for the year 2001 science budget.

Status of FY 2000 Appropriations
National Science Foundation.
The VA/HUD/Independent Agencies FY 2000 appropriations bill was signed into law October 20. Here are some details of how NSF fared: According to the report language, NSF's Research and Related Activities account will receive a US$196 million increase over FY 1999 (a 5.6% increase), with US$90 million of that going to the Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) directorate, and US$50 million designated for a bio-complexity initiative. This leaves US$56 million to distribute among the NSF research directorates. Some of this US$56 million may have to be directed to certain programs mandated by Congress. The Mathematics and Physical Sciences (MPS) directorate will receive a US$25 million increase (3.4%) over FY 1999. Five disciplines will share in this increase - astronomical sciences, chemistry, materials, mathematics and physics. Usually there are internal taxes to the directorate that will reduce actual funds distributed to the individual disciplines. The total figure for research and related activities in the bill signed by the President is US$2.966 billion, US$38 million less than the President's request. In his FY 2000 budget request, MPS was slated for a US$20 million increase over FY 2999, so in the case of MPS Congress added US$5 million. Mathematical Sciences (DMS) was slated to receive a US$4.4 million increase in the President's initial request - US$1.4 million for research project support (which currently receives US$71.94 million), and US$3 million for infrastructure support (currently US$29 million). How the DMS will share in the extra US$5 million given to MPS has not been indicated at this time. Education and Human Resources (EHR) will receive US$589 million - a US$35 million increase (Congress added US$19 million to the President's request) - representing a 6.2% increase over FY 1999. Although the 6.5% increase in the total budget for NSF is a relief, given the rocky budget process this year, mathematics is not going to receive a lot of new money in this budget

Dept of Defense
Pesident Clinton signed into law the defense appropriations bill. Budgets for DOD's research programs (6.1, 6.2, and 6.3 accounts) increase between 5.7% and 8.5%. Here's how some of the final numbers look ...Basic Research, 6.1, defense-wide budget increases 5.7%, from US$1,107.9 million in FY 1999 to US$1,170.7 million in FY 2000. Applied Research, 6.2, increases 6.6%, from US$3,150.8 million to US$3,358.4 million. Advanced Technology Development, 6.3 increases 8.5%, from US$3,532.4 million to US$3,834.4 million. The total 6.1, 6.2, and 6.3 budget increases 7.3%, or US$572.4 million, from US$7,791.1 million to US$8,363.5 million. Although FY 2000 began October 1, Congress is still struggling to complete the final and most problematic appropriations bills.

VI. Plans for Future Events
Joint Mathematics Meetings, January 2000, Washington DC
NSF Director, Rita Colwell, who had to cancel her address at last January's meeting, will address the Opening Banquet on Tuesday, January 19. CSP panel discussion on Friday, January 21, is entitled "Division of Mathematical Sciences of the National Science Foundation: Past, Present, and Future". Panelists include former division directors Ettore Infante, Vanderbilt University, D. J. Lewis, University of Michigan, John C. Polking, Rice University, Judith S. Sunley, interim Assistant Director, NSF Division of Education and Human Resources, Frederic Y. M. Wan, University of California, Irvine, and current DMS Director, Philippe Tondeur. Moderator: Arthur Jaffe, chair of the AMS Committee on Science Policy. Panelists will present a view of the Division during his/her period of service, and contribute to the discussion of current and future directions. Audience participation will be encouraged.

First Joint Award for Public Service
Following approval by the Council of the joint award, the AMS with the American Physical Society and the American Astronomical Society agreed to a joint award. The plans are being coordinated by the Washington offices of the three organizations. As this award was originally an AMS initiative, the lead role has been taken by Sam Rankin. A committee of two members from each of the three societies (Felix Browder and Arthur Jaffe representing the AMS) formulated the proposal for the recipients of the first award. The outcome is the proposal for a joint award for Senator Bill Frist (Republican from Tennessee), Senator Joseph Lieberman (Democrat from Connecticut), and Harold Varmus (former Director of the National Institutes of Health). This proposal was discussed and enthusiastically approved at the November meeting of the ECBT. We expect the presentation to take place in early 2000.

Representatives in Home Districts
The AMS will organize a town meeting with Congressman Rush Holt (the second physicist to be elected to Congress) in Princeton in January. A small group to mathematicians and other scientists will meet Congressman Michael Capuano for lunch in early January in Cambridge. Capuano succeeds Joe Kennedy, is a member of the Science Committee, and representing Cambridge, MA, has a large following of mathematicians and scientists as constituents.

Monica Foulkes
AMS Washington Office


  AMS Home | Comments: webmaster@ams.org
© Copyright 2014, American Mathematical Society
Privacy Statement

AMS Social

AMS and Social Media LinkedIn Facebook Podcasts Twitter YouTube RSS Feeds Blogs Wikipedia


Comments: Email Webmaster

© Copyright , American Mathematical Society
Contact Us · Sitemap · Privacy Statement

Connect with us Facebook Twitter Google+ LinkedIn Instagram RSS feeds Blogs YouTube Podcasts Wikipedia