FY 17 Science Budgets: DoE Office of Science Gets Slight Increase

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The final appropriations agreement for FY  2017 provides a 0.8 percent increase for the Department of Energy Office of Science. Five of the office’s six research programs were increased over FY 2016.  Fusion energy was curtailed due to disputes over the progress of the International Thermonuclear Energy Reactor (ITER) project.  The total increase was below the 4.1 percent increase proposed by the Obama Administration.

Sources:  American Institute of Physics, U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science

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Thinking of marching? Read this first.

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As far as science advocacy goes, the March for Science to be held in Washington, DC and locations across the world is a double-edge sword. It has sparked enormous enthusiasm and energy unlike anything ever seen in the once-obscure circles of science policy. However the march does threaten to undermine the bipartisan consensus for public investments in science that continues despite the recent U.S. presidential election.   As folks prepare for the science march tomorrow they might want to consider also how to advocate for science in more sustainable and effective ways beyond marching.

Here’s a tip for better advocacy:  do some homework then head to your local legislator’s office instead either alone or in a small group. According a new report, direct constituent interactions have more influence on lawmakers’ decisions than other advocacy strategies. In three surveys of congressional staff over a 10-year span, over 95% said that “in-person visits from constituents” would have “some” or “a lot” of influence on an undecided lawmaker.  Good science communication resources are available from organizations such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

http://bit.ly/2kDo4rz

 

View from Arch Street

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Designing Security into Silicon Chip Microarchitecture

Software patches deal with symptoms of system insecurity without addressing underlying hardware vulnerability. Left untouched, hardware weaknesses leave systems vulnerable to follow-on software-based exploits. To counter this, DARPA’s new System Security Integrated Through Hardware and Firmware (SSITH) program challenges researchers to design security directly at the hardware architecture level.

DARPA will host a Proposers Day in support of the SSITH program on Friday, April 21, 2017, at the Booz Allen Hamilton Conference Center (3811 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 600, Arlington, VA, 22203) from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm EDT.  See also: Baking Hack-Resistance Directly into Hardware

Ten US States Receive Over 50 % of Federal R&D Funds

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Federal R&D is highly concentrated among a few states, with funding flowing to states with major federal research facilities such as NASA Centers, DoE National Laboratories or major research universities.

According to a recent report by the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, ten states (nine + the District of Columbia) receive the lion’s share of federal R&D funding, combining for 57% ($71.7 billion) in fiscal year 2015 . Maryland, home of HHS’s National Institutes of Health (NIH), was the top state recipient at $16.8 billion and received 48% of its funding from HHS. California was the second highest recipient at $15.3 billion and received most of its funding (93%) from DOD, DOE, HHS and NASA. Virginia ranked third, receiving $7.5 billion with 77% coming from DOD.

 

 

University Indirect Costs Set to be Slashed?

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U.S. research universities are facing dramatic cuts to their federal overhead payments, known as facilities and administration (F&A) or indirect cost reimbursements.  These are costs not attributable to a single research project but include support costs such as rent, facilities maintenance and libraries.

This concern is triggered by a proposal contained in the recent Trump administration budget framework for the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  While a detailed budget has yet to be released the document included language that notes:  “[t]he Budget also reduces administrative costs and rebalances Federal contributions to research funding.”  According to a report in journal Science, this language is targeted at reducing reimbursements to universities for conducting federal research.  Full budget details are scheduled to be released in mid-May but proposals to reduce overhead payments are likely to engender strong opposition from universities as their rates are pre-negotiated with the government and must cover costs of compliance with numerous federal rules and regulations.

This will likely be a highly contentious issue during the 2018 budget debate and Arch Street will be watching closely.

— Tim