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                                    May 12, 2018



Voting 60-1, the House Armed Services Committee has approved a $716 billion FY 2019 defense FY 2019 authorization bill, which will go to the House floor in coming weeks. "The Senate Armed Services is scheduled to adopt its own draft of the legislation later this month," Military Times reports. But House-Senate negotiations over a final bill could take months. During a lengthy session this week, lawmakers adopted sections of the bill prepared by subcommittees, along with a number of amendments, which can be found here. John Latini, chair of the Coalition for National Security Research, has prepared a funding table and a summary of key provisions and amendments. 

WATCH LIST: One amendment included in the House NDAA points to heightened scrutiny of research collaborations with China and Russia, as well as those -- if any -- with Iran and North Korea. It would require applicants for Pentagon research funding to certify "that none of the funds received by such applicant shall be made available to any individual who has participated in or is currently participating in a foreign talent or expert recruitment program of (one of the four countries)." Its author is Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), photo above, who appears likely to gain influence in national security debates. His bio includes a doctorate in international relations from Georgetown, service as a Marine intelligence officer in Iraq--part of the time as a member of Gen. David Petraeus's brain trust--followed by three years working for the intelligence community.

'CUTTING EDGE AI': An NDAA amendment by Rep. Elise Stefanik would establish an AI policy and oversight council and seek to "foster greater emphasis and investments in basic and advanced research to stimulate private, public, academic and combined initiatives in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other associated technologies, including quantum computing and high performance computing." The New York Republican (middle photo, above) chairs the Emerging Threats and Capabilities subcommittee, which funds most university defense R&D.

Rep. Liz Cheney, (R-Wyo.), right photo, above, who occupies the seat once held by her father, has one amendment calling for the Pentagon to maintain "a list of emerging and foundational technologies." A second Cheney amendment raises the question of whether the late-1980s U.S.-Soviet Intermediate Nuclear Forces treaty could limit "research, development, prototyping, testing, or employment of hypersonic vehicle technology." See a Prism story on ongoing research. 

APPROPRIATORS BOOST NSF, NASA; CUT NIST: The appropriations subcommittee responsible for funding the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology calls for NSF to get $8.17 billion in FY 2019, $408 million above the FY 2018 omnibus level; NASA to receive $21.5 billion, an increase of $810 million; and NIST to get $985 million, a reduction of $214 million. See a detailed analysis by Lewis Burke Associates

RESCISSIONS AIM AT UNSPENT MONEY: The $15 billion rescissions package proposed by the White House doesn’t include any money from the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill signed in March. Instead, CQ reports, it is "aimed at funding provided in previous years but never actually spent." The sum includes "unspent health care and green energy funds . . .  eliminating $7 billion in budget authority from the Children’s Health Insurance Program." The administration may come back with another rescissions package that would include cuts from the omnibus.

See ASEE's advocacy letters to appropriators on provisions in the CJS and Defense spending bills of concern to engineering educators. The letters were prepared with help from ASEE's federal-relations partners at Lewis-Burke Associates. 

A TECH RESPONSE TO CLIMATE CHANGE: Implicitly recognizing that global warming poses a problem, the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday entitled "Using Technology to Address Climate Change." Among witnesses is applied physicist Phil Duffy, left, president of the Woods Hole Research Center, whose past work on the topic includes a 2007 study, "Impact of Geoengineering Schemes on the Global Hydrological Cycle." He was quoted in 2015 as saying, "No reputable scientist I know thinks placing tiny reflecting particles in the stratosphere is a good idea, although some support studying it." Other witnesses are Oren Cass of the Manhattan Institute; Ted Nordhaus of the Breakthrough Institute, and Judith Curry, president of the Climate Forecast Applications Network and professor emerita at Georgia Tech. 


AI ENGAGES WHITE HOUSE: Raising its profile on a science topic, the Trump administration hosted a forum this week seeking "ways to reduce barriers to innovation, improve R&D collaboration among America's allies, and promote public awareness and understanding of AI technologies." Wired magazine reports that the exercise "comes in the wake of major strategy announcements on AI from China, France, the UK, and the European Union. All have pledged significant new funding for AI research, and spoken of the importance of engaging with ethical challenges such as lost jobs, and systems that pick up unsavory values." On the occasion of the forum, the National Science Foundation noted that it spends over $100 million annually to support AI research, adding: "To stay competitive, all companies will, to some extent, have to become AI companies."

FOUR TOPICS IN NSF-AIR FORCE PARTNERSHIP: "These areas are: space operations and geosciences; advanced material sciences; information and data sciences; and workforce and processes," the two agencies say in their letter of intent. They note: "The Air Force benefits from greater access to NSF’s expertise in basic research across all fields of science and engineering and community of researchers. The NSF benefits with a direct pathway for the technical maturation of many of its research efforts and products, with increased relevance afforded by its direct support of the nation’s defense posture."


Early FY 2019 Appropriations Numbers

Source: American Association for the Advancement of Science, based on agency documents and appropriations bills and reports. Click here for an interactive version with more information. © 2018 AAAS


HOLDING ONTO INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY IN CHINA: A study from ShanghaiTech University's School of Entrepreneurship and Management dares to challenge the assumption that establishment of foreign R&D centers inevitably means loss of technical knowledge to local competitors, including in China. The study suggests instead that "R&D offshoring is associated with a lower probability of knowledge flow from the foreign multinational to Chinese organizations." It argues that "as multinationals expand R&D in China they also enhance their ability to monitor the learning and invention of their indigenous competitors." Read the study.


ALL TOGETHER NOW: "There is little doubt that disciplinary specialization has helped produce many of the achievements of the past century," a new National Academies report acknowleges. "Yet today, many leaders, scholars, parents, and students are asking whether higher education has moved too far from its integrative tradition towards an approach heavily rooted in disciplinary 'silos'" The study "reflects a growing concern that the approach to higher education that favors disciplinary specialization is poorly calibrated to the challenges and opportunities of our time." 

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