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March 2017 Public Policy News

The March for Science Takes Place Globally on 22 April: The March for Science is a celebration of a common passion for science and a call to support and safeguard the scientific community. Recent policy changes have caused heightened worry among scientists, and the incredible and immediate outpouring of support has made clear that these concerns are also shared by hundreds of thousands of people around the world. Over 350 marches are being organized around the globe, encouraging people who support scientific research and evidence-based policies to take a public stand and be counted. To learn more about the movement and to find a march near you visit:  www.marchforscience.com

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:  lightourfuture.org/cvd

Newly Formed UK Photonics All Party Parliamentary Group Launches: An exhibit and reception 21 February in London marked the launch of the UK Photonics All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG). SPIE has agreed to serve as the secretariat for the group established October 2016 and led by Carol Monaghan MP, Member of the UK Parliament for Glasgow North West. Topics for the meeting will be based on the governments industrial strategy. Read the Green Paper that details specific issues, and possible courses of action in terms of policy and legislation:  Building Our Industrial Strategy

9 March 2017: Congress Passes Bipartisan NASA Authorization Legislation: Following a failed attempt last year, Congress has passed the bipartisan “NASA Transition Authorization Act” 7 March. The bill, which emphasizes human space exploration, affirms existing NASA priorities. However, it leaves ambiguous policy concerning contentious issues such as NASA’s Earth science activities.  Read More

6 March 2017: White House Proposes Deep Funding Cuts to NOAA: A draft version of the fiscal year 2018 budget outline for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration proposes a 17 percent cut in funding for the weather and climate agency. NOAA research would face a 26 percent cut, while satellites and data would be cut 22 percent.  Read More

6 March 2017: What Trump's New Travel Ban Means for Science: Policy reinstates restrictions on immigration from six countries but exempts current visa-holders.  Read More

3 March 2017: Ranking Members Johnson, Pallone, Cummings, Grijalva Urge Inspectors General to Protect Scientists and Data: House Ranking Members wrote a letter to the Inspectors General of the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Commerce, Department of Energy, Department of Health & Human Services, Department of the Interior, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Science Foundation, and Nuclear Regulatory Commission urging them to be vigilant against any threats to scientific integrity by the Trump Administration within their respective agencies.  Read More.

2 March 2017: Senate Confirms Rick Perry as Energy Secretary: The Senate confirmed Rick Perry on Thursday as the head of the Energy Department, an agency he had once pledged as a presidential candidate to eliminate.  Read More

2 March 2017: President Trump Signs Two Bills Promoting Women in STEM Fields: President Trump signed into law two bills that leverage existing programs at NASA and NSF to promote the advancement of women in STEM fields. Trump’s remarks at the signing constituted his first extemporaneous comments on science policy. Read More

2 March 2017: How Might Changes in Federal Policies Boost Innovation and Productivity?: At the beginning of February, while testifying to the House Budget Committee about the outlook for the federal budget and the economy, Congressional Budget Office’s Director was asked how federal policy might affect economic productivity. Because answers during Congressional hearings must be brief, this blog post provides some additional information on the subject. The post also complements discussions of infrastructure spending, which mentioned the effects of that spending on productivity.  Read More

2 March 2017: Reps. Tonko, Johnson, Tsongas, Lowenthal Introduce Bill to Protect Scientific Integrity in Federal Research: House Science Committee members announced the introduction of the Scientific Integrity Act requiring U.S. federal agencies to adopt or strengthen policies to insulate government-directed research from the influence of political pressure and special interests.  Read More

28 February 2017: National Science Board Considering Focus on 'Blue Collar STEM': During their first meeting of the year, members of the National Science Board enthusiastically discussed a proposed initiative to better understand and support the “blue collar STEM” workforce, although some expressed reservations about the label and others probed the extent to which such an effort is within the scope of the National Science Foundation’s mission.  Read More

27 February 2017: Trump's 2018 Budget will Squeeze Civilian Science Agencies: The chunk of the federal budget that includes most of the U.S. government’s spending on basic science would shrink by 10.5% in 2018 under a plan outlined today by President Donald Trump and administration officials.  Read More

22 February 2017: Senate Confirms White House Budget Director Committed to Shrinking Federal Government: Mick Mulvaney, the new director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, has been a leader in efforts to downsize the federal government. During the Senate confirmation process, he said he believes there is a "proper role for federal government in research."  Read More

21 February 2017: Science Committee Seeks 'Continuity' for NASA, Spotlights Earth Science Amid Talk of 'Rebalancing': At a hearing convened to discuss future directions for NASA, leaders of the House Science Committee stressed the need for continuity between administrations. Democratic members highlighted the agency's earth science activities, which could be affected by a "rebalancing" the chairman intends to pursue.  Read More

15 February 2017: Science Appropriations Leaders of the 115th Congress: Many Familiar Faces and Some New: The House and Senate have announced who will lead the appropriations subcommittees for the 115th Congress, and there are a few new faces atop the four subcommittees that oversee the lion’s share of federal R&D spending.  Read More

14 February 2017: Drop in Foreign Applicants Worries U.S. Engineering Schools: Amid the uncertainty over U.S. immigration policy, one fact is sending a chill through U.S. higher education: Some U.S. graduate programs in engineering, Science has learned, are seeing a sharp drop this year in the number of applications from international students.  Read More

14 February 2017: Defense Research Enterprise Assessment Urges Deeper Integration, Greater Managerial Autonomy: The Defense Science Board has released its Defense Research Enterprise Assessment, presenting conclusions of a year-long task force study of Defense Department laboratories and technology centers. The assessment recommends the labs be granted greater managerial independence and a stronger role in acquisitions and the formulation of technology requirements.  Read More

Read other past issues of the Public Policy News.