|Volume 2: No. 44|
The NSB Commission on the Future of NSF has received as much as 225 letters per day, most supporting the status quo or increased funding for small science, education, and facilities programs. Director Walter Massey has said "I may be wrong" and "Much more has been read into the establishment of the Commission than was intended." He says this is a first step in a lengthy review process, and that basic university-based research will not be slighted. The commission is continuing to accept comments, but will have difficulty digesting them by the report deadline. One question is whether the average grant of $60K/year is large enough to be meaningful. [Richard M. Jones (email@example.com), Am. Inst. of Physics, FYI #139. sci.research, 10/21.] Congress, of course, is likely to ignore any report that seems self-serving for NSF's academic constituencies.
Robert A. Eisenstein told the NSF Advisory Committee for Physics that Congress must be convinced NSF is helping to solve national problems (but not responsible for solving them entirely). Walter Massey said that NSF is being reviewed because of its importance and potential, not because of any negative perception. "Nothing is being rushed," the agency will not fund industrial research, and Massey intends "to do no harm." Low award rates are a problem, and Massey hopes that NSF's budget can be doubled or tripled. Proposal processing is also a problem, and the physics division may try panel reviews. [Ibid, FYI #140. sci.research, 10/21.] Massey has said that NSF should be allowed to decide how best to spend its budget. Congress would find that surprising.
Gary Clyde Hufbauer, a former Treasury Department tax expert, estimates that tax reform could increase U.S. R&D by $2B and high-tech output by $34B. Our complex system hurts U.S. industry and pushes production and R&D overseas. Hufbauer wants to stop foreign tax credits, taxing of foreign income, and allocation of U.S. R&D overhead to foreign operations. We should boost export tax incentives, make the R&D credit permanent, exclude capital gains tax for shares held five years, and subject royalties earned abroad to U.S. taxation only. [J. of Commerce, 10/13. KRBN, agentsee.]
Banner Blue Software Inc. (Fremont, CA) has released a free PC spreadsheet program called "Uncle Sam's Budget Balancer." It's loaded with Federal budget data and options for tax cuts and increases. A running tally shows how the deficit changes over the next five years. Download sam.zip from CompuServe's ISSUES or VOTEFORUM or through Filesearch on America Online. Banner Blue will send you a copy for $10; (510) 794-6850. [Mike Langberg, SJM, 10/23.]
Prodigy has been running an electronic town meeting with access to Bill Clinton and George Bush. The candidates were asked more than 150K questions, of which Clinton answered 50 and Bush answered 25. Neither has promised to stay online after the election. [Time, 10/12.]
(Perot had dropped out at that time. A Rich Tennant cartoon calls Ross Perot the "terminate and stay resident" candidate. [CW, 10/12.])
Papers by Clinton and Bush have been indexed and made available on sunsite.unc.edu via the Wide-Area Information Server (WAIS) protocol. (You can get a Mac, DOS, Windows, VMS, Unix, or X-windows WAIS client by FTP from sunsite.unc.edu or think.com, or try out a simple client by telnetting to bbs.oit.unc.edu and its 300 databases.) [Paul Jones (firstname.lastname@example.org), PACS-L, 9/2.]
Daniel Goldin reorganized NASA with half an hour's internal notice, just weeks before the election. He may be making his mark before Clinton takes over. Lennard Fisk's Office of Space Science and Applications (OSSA) has split into Mission to Planet Earth under Shelby Tilford (acting) and an Office of Planetary Science and Astrophysics (also known as Mission from Planet Earth) under Wesley Huntress (acting). The Office of Aeronautics and Space Technology has split into the Office of Aeronautics and the Office of Advanced Concepts and Technology. Other changes are planned. [Audrey T. Leath (email@example.com), Am. Inst. of Physics, FYI #141. sci.research, 10/21.]