|Volume 1: No. 36|
Congress has passed an NREN bill that is more ambitious than the one President Bush had proposed. No money is yet appropriated, but $2.9B over five years is authorized. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy gets lead responsibility. Contracts with foreign research institutions, and contracts of more than $1M with foreign companies, must be reported to Congress. [Lee Gomes, SJM, 11/26.] (The President is expected to sign the bill within ten days.)
The 20% research tax credit has been given a six-month extension. Senator Danforth managed to link it with eleven other expiring tax breaks, including a 25% credit for self-employed people who buy health insurance. Other renewed credits encourage research by multinational corporations, employer-paid educational and legal services, and hiring of disadvantaged workers. [SJM, 11/27.]
The Office of Government Ethics is codifying ethical standards for Executive Branch employees, and ACM has asked for liberalization of the rules. OGE would have prohibited any involvement in the internal affairs of technical societies. [CACM, 11/91.] A likely result is that government employees will be permitted to participate as individuals, with official titles or mailing addresses used as seldom as possible.
New legislation (HR 191/S.1581) could permit government agencies to hold copyright on computer software developed under cooperative agreements with the private sector. This will encourage such agreements, permit fees to be charged for software distribution, and perhaps encourage U.S. distribution. IEEE-USA wants to make sure that individual software authors receive royalties, and that the government does not contract out as a software developer for private industry. [Bob Carlson, Computer, 11/91.] The Information Industry Association (IIA) claims that such legislation will threaten full public access to government databases. [CACM, 10/91.]
Robert J. Samuelson is angry with Congress's efforts to renew the Higher Education Act, a $20B grant to college students. Many good students do need support, but the Act requires virtually no educational standards. Congress doesn't want to offend parents, and universities don't want to limit enrollments. Reporters don't stir up public outrage because they don't connect colleges to "the school problem." Samuelson says that few of our institutions are bastions of excellence and that lax college admissions standards feed lax high-school standards. He calls for an end to educational pork barrel, but doesn't expect it to happen. Universities want more money and less accountability, and they're likely to get it. [Newsweek, 10/28.]
Canada's NRC former Division of EE now has an expanded staff as the Institute for Information Technology. Collaborative arrangements are sought in diagnostic systems, decision support, advisory systems, machine learning, sensor systems, robotics, software engineering, and other topics. [Bob Carlson, Computer, 11/91.]