February 6th, 2012, by Abby Benson  

Week in Review, or Projecting the Budget

With one week to go before the President releases his FY 2013 budget, the House and Senate Budget Committees heard from Doug Elmendorf, Director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), last week on that office’s Budget and Economic Outlook. This testimony is given annually by the CBO director and offers insight into what the next 10 years might look like from a budget perspective. This projection allows Congress to consider a baseline against which budget proposals can be measured. One inherent challenge in the system, however, is that the outlook generally assumes current law will remain in place, while in Washington there are always potential changes on the horizon. Given the magnitude of some proposals under consideration this year, including extension of the Bush-era tax cuts, extension of payroll tax reductions, and changes to doctors’ compensation in Medicare, the CBO’s report does contemplate how their projection might change if these were to become law.

If current law remains in place, the report finds that “In part because of the dampening effect of the higher tax rates and curbs on spending scheduled to occur this year and next, CBO expects that the economy will continue to recover slowly, with real GDP growing by 2.0 percent this year and 1.1 percent next year (as measured by the change from the fourth quarter of the previous calendar year). CBO expects economic activity to quicken after 2013 but to remain below the economy’s potential until 2018.”

Also of note this week, the Senate considered a measure to permanently ban “earmarks,” or Congressional directed spending. While this measure failed, the Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee did announce an extension of the existing earmark moratorium through FY 2013. This news is of interest to some research institutions who have historically relied on earmarks for research funding.

Also of Note

Awards. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) this week announced it is seeking nominations for the 2012 National Medal of Technology and Innovation, while the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced it is seeking nominations for the 2012 National Medal of Science.

Health. In a joint statement published by Science and Nature, members of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) further explained their December decision to recommend that those journals censor their research on avian influenza.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) published the survey results from their recent request for information (RFI) on the Biomedical Research Workforce. Of the over 200 comments received, the issues of supply and demand and characteristics of the PhD were cited most often.

Immigration. As part of the anniversary of President Obama’s Startup America Initiative, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced this week that it will implement a series of administrative reforms to the student and highly skilled visa programs, with the goal of providing additional opportunities for foreign talent to remain in the U.S. For more information on the status of the Startup America Initiative, including efforts to support innovative programs such as the NSF’s I-Corps and the Department of Commerce’s i6 challenge, visit the White House’s Progress Page.

Patent Reform. In their weekly wrap-up, the Association of American Universities (AAU) reported on a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the America Invents Act’s impact on prior user rights. This hearing focused on a Report on the Prior User Rights Defense, required by the AIA, that the USPTO delivered to Congress last month.

Politics. The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) recently announced a new website that will track the presidential candidates views on science and technology. According to the release, “the site is designed to be a one-stop, continuously updated resource useful not only to scientists and engineers, but to businesses, journalists, educators, students, and others interested in the future of the nation’s research enterprise.”

Research. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) posted the results of two recent RFIs, one on Public Access to Peer-Reviewed Scholarly Publications Resulting From Federally Funded Research and the other on Public Access to Digital Data Resulting From Federally Funded Scientific Research.

Space. the National Research Council (NRC) released its publication, NASA Space Technology Roadmaps and Priorities:Restoring NASA’s Technological Edge and Paving the Way for a New Era in Space. For this report, the NRC reached out to the external technical committee to review and rank 14 draft technology roadmaps that have been identified by NASA in an attempt to rebuild the advanced space technology program.

In Print

Kevin Bogardus writes in The Hill on how K Street lobbies hard over limits on medical research with chimps. The article describes efforts to advocate for continued use of chimpanzees in medical research, after recent efforts by the NIH to consider limiting such uses.

Nancy C. Andrews, dean of the Duke University School of Medicine and Duke’s vice chancellor for academic affairs, writes in the North Carolina New Observer about the threat of sequestration in her piece Unhealthy Cuts in Medical Research.

An article in The Economist entitled Research and development Brain gain, Why America is wrong to fear Asian innovation, argues that just looking at money going into R&D foreign countries, rather than results coming out, does not paint an accurate picture of international competitiveness in science and technology.

In a Roll Call op-ed, Mike Lubell, professor of physics at the City College of the City University of New York and director of public affairs of the American Physical Society, writes that Smart, Not Fat, Cats Fuel Economic Growth. In this piece, Lubell argues that economic growth doesn’t stem only from Wall Street, but also from research conducted in laboratories.

What’s on Deck





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