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August 2012 Public Policy News

August 13, 2012: Highly Anticipated Optics and Photonics Report Released: The National Research Council of the National Academies has released its highly anticipated new report, "Optics and Photonics, Essential Technologies for Our Nation," which updates its 1998 "Harnessing Light" study. The report assesses the current state of optics, photonics, and optical engineering in the United States, prioritizes research grand-challenge questions to fill technological gaps, and recommends actions to support global leadership in photonics-driven industry. The report also recommends that the federal government develop a "National Photonics Initiative" to bring together academia, industry, and government to steer federal research and development funding and activities. "The report underscores that optics and photonics are huge contributors to the economy," said SPIE CEO Eugene Arthurs. "The technologies enable applications ranging from the internet and the equipment it is both sent across and received on, to new tests for cancers and treatments for stroke and other brain disorders that transmit data from the body using beams of light. Very large numbers of direct and enabled jobs for the future depend on mastery of optics and photonics." (Read SPIE's full press release on the report here). SPIE has put together a website which includes the latest information on the report, interviews with its authors, blog posts and related articles - it can be found at www.opticsandphotonics.org.
August 9, 2012: Senate committee approves FY2013 Department of Defense Appropriations bill: In the last congressional action on FY2013 appropriations before the August recess, the Senate Appropriations Committee (SAC) approved its version of the FY2013 DoD appropriations bill.The SAC bill provides $511 billion for DoD appropriations in the base budget (excluding military construction, which is provided in a separate bill). This amount is consistent with the administration's request and the target set in the Budget Control Act of 2011, according to the committee press release. The House version of the FY2013 DoD appropriations bill (passed last month) included $518 billion for the base budget. See the AIP's report for specific budget breakdowns.

August 1, 2012: White House releases report on advanced manufacturing: The President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology submitted a Report to the President on Capturing Domestic Competitive Advantage in Advanced Manufacturing which builds on a previous report, "Ensuring American Leadership in Advanced Manufacturing." The new report describes the current state of US manufacturing, articulates the role of manufacturing in producing US jobs, and identifies policy recommendations intended to help strengthen US manufacturing. The AMP Steering Committee report grouped its 16 recommendations into three categories: (1) Enabling innovation, (2) Securing the talent pipeline, and (3) Improving the Business Climate. These are aimed at ensuring US competitiveness and invigorating domestic manufacturers. The report calls for the establishment of a national network of manufacturing innovation institutes; emphasizes community college training; and proposes trade, regulatory, and energy policies that would potentially benefit domestic manufacturers. Read more from the White House about the report here.