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February 2017 Public Policy News

SPIE Encourages Participation in Congressional Visits Day: SPIE encourages members of the optics and photonics community to advocate for light-based technologies by taking part in Congressional Visits Day, 25-26 April 2017. This is an annual opportunity to meet members of Congress and help educate them about importance of light science and technology. To learn more about training and how to participate visit:

Comment Period Open Until 13 March for Notice of Inquiry Affecting Optics and Photonics Export Controls: On 13 January, the Department of State and Department of Commerce published a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) in the Federal Register to seek public opinion about reinstating technical parameters in some areas where "specially designed" is used in the new U.S. Munitions List (USML) Category XII and proposed changes to the Commerce Control List (CCL) Category VI. Leaders of SPIE are advising the community that the level of public comment received will influence whether the wording is retained. SPIE has resources and templates to assist companies and universities with their response to both departments. Comments are due by 13 March. For more information and to download the templates visit:

9 February 2017: Trump Advisers' Space Plan: To Moon, Mars and Beyond: A push for privatization is inspiring a battle between aerospace contractors and the new breed of tech entrepreneurs. The Trump administration is considering a bold and controversial vision for the U.S. space program that calls for a "rapid and affordable" return to the moon by 2020, the construction of privately operated space stations and the redirection of NASA's mission to "the large-scale economic development of space," according to internal documents obtained by POLITICO.  Read More

8 February 2017: Science Organizations Identify Policy Priorities for Trump Administration: Through statements and letters addressed to President Trump, scientific organizations and D.C.-based science advocacy coalitions have been communicating their policy priorities and recommendations to the new administration. Chief among the recommendations are that Trump appoint a science advisor and that his administration request robust and sustained funding of federal science agencies and STEM education programs.  Read More

3 February 2017: House Science Committee Releases Agenda for 115th Congress: The chairman's plans include reforming the use of science in EPA rulemaking, prioritizing basic research at the Department of Energy, promoting STEM education, overseeing cybersecurity investigations, and adjusting NASA’s mission portfolio.  Read More

2 February 2017: Podesta Group Delivers Keynote Presentation at SPIE Photonics West: Josh Holly and Beth Inadomi of the Podesta Group addressed a crowded room at SPIE Photonics West on what is being heard on the hill regarding budgets behind emerging technologies and science. Their presentation on Navigating Science, Technology and the Budget in President Trump's Washington was recorded.  Watch the Video

1 February 2017: New UK Science Body Appoints Chief: Professor Sir Mark Walport has been appointed to head Britain's newly created research funding organization. He will be the first chief executive of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) - an umbrella body that will oversee the distribution of £6bn of research funding annually.  Read More

31 January 2017: SPIE Leaders Ask Reconsideration of U.S. Entry Stance, Offer Assistance in Developing Policy: Leaders of SPIE are requesting reconsideration of an executive order banning entry to the United States. In a letter to President Donald Trump, the society offers to provide assistance in working with the administration to develop policies for providing necessary security checks without inhibiting scientific collaboration. Read More

31 January 2017: Congress May Soon Pass NASA Authorization Bill: The chairman of the House Science Committee is optimistic that Congress will soon pass the first NASA authorization bill in more than six years.  Read More

30 January 2017: Two Proposals That Could Influence the Trump Budget Team's Thinking: Physics, climate, chemistry, and applied energy technology among research areas targeted for cuts in a pair of relevant budget proposals from last year.  Read More

30 January 2017: President Trump Has Not Yet Chosen a Science Advisor: President Trump has issued a series of executive actions linked to a range of scientific issues since taking office earlier this month, but he has yet to name a science advisor. Formally known as the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the science advisor is responsible for consulting with scientists inside and outside of government to ensure the President has the best available information on any policy issue related to science.  Read More

30 January 2017: Science Will Suffer Under Trump’s Travel Ban, Researchers Say: Researchers, academic officials and science policy makers are expressing alarm at President Trump’s order barring entry to the United States to people from certain predominantly Muslim countries, saying it could hinder research, affect recruitment of top scientists and dampen the free exchange of scientific ideas.  Read More

27 January 2017: House Passes Comprehensive Bill to Guide Energy Department Science: On 23 January, the House unanimously passed the "Department of Energy Research and Innovation Act," which would provide the first-ever comprehensive statutory guidance for DOE's Office of Science and its network of national laboratories. The bill also includes provisions to enhance technology transfer from DOE's 17 national laboratories, improve research coordination across the department, and boost advanced nuclear R&D.  Read More

27 January 2017: Perry Says at Hearing He Will Defend DOE, as News Breaks of Possible Cuts: The Senate is expected to confirm Rick Perry as secretary of energy following a relatively uncontentious hearing on Jan. 19, at which the former Texas governor vowed to be a champion for all Department of Energy activities. However, Perry’s support has been partially overshadowed by a report that the Trump administration plans to target DOE for deep budget cuts and program eliminations.  Read More

13 January 2017: In Farewell Speech, Moniz Unveils National Labs Report and Scientific Integrity Policy: In his final public speech in D.C., Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz rolled out the first annual report on the state of the Department of Energy national laboratories alongside an enhanced scientific integrity policy that now applies to all DOE employees, including those at the labs.  Read More

Read other past issues of the Public Policy News.