Congress Trims Money for Science Agency

“Congress has cut the budget for the National Science Foundation, an engine for research in science and technology, just two years after endorsing a plan to double the amount given to the agency.

[…] Representative Vernon J. Ehlers, Republican of Michigan, said the cut was “extremely short-sighted” and showed “dangerous disregard for our nation’s future.”

“I am astonished that we would make this decision at a time when other nations continue to surpass our students in math and science and consistently increase their funding of basic research,” said Mr. Ehlers, a former physics professor who is chairman of a technology subcommittee. “The National Science Foundation supports technological innovation that is crucial to the sustained economic prosperity that America has enjoyed for several decades […]”

SOURCE: NY Times

More on FY 2005 appropriations and NIST funding

Peter Harsha has written an excellent “roundup” of FY 2005 Federal appropriations following Congress’ recent work on the omnibus bill, including the following update on funding for the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST’s) labs:

[…] NIST Labs: The Labs faced a dire funding situation as a result of last year’s omnibus appropriation, but received some of that back this year in the form of a 10 percent increase, to $379 million. Not as good as the Senate appropriation level of $384 million, but better than the House approved level of $375 million […]

Note: See the recent letter that CRA and USACM sent to Congressional appropriators regarding funding for NIST.

More funding needed for security R&D, IT committee says

“The government has shortchanged basic research into cybersecurity and should at least quadruple the money available for civilian research, the President’s IT Advisory Committee says.

The government plays a key role in supplying the intellectual capital to improve the security of IT systems, said F. Thomas Leighton, chairman of the PITAC subcommittee on cybersecurity.

“The government has largely failed in this regard,” he said […]”

SOURCE: GCN

More funding needed for security R&D, IT committee says

“The government has shortchanged basic research into cybersecurity and should at least quadruple the money available for civilian research, the President’s IT Advisory Committee says.

The government plays a key role in supplying the intellectual capital to improve the security of IT systems, said F. Thomas Leighton, chairman of the PITAC subcommittee on cybersecurity.

“The government has largely failed in this regard,” he said […]”

SOURCE: GCN

US Register of Copyrights comments on database protection, Induce Act, IPPA and more

“[…] Marybeth Peters, the U.S. register of copyrights, told a conference here [in Chicago] that the so-called Induce Act would not be part of the slew of legislation–including key spending measures–that Congress is expected to vote on before leaving for next week’s Thanksgiving holiday.

“I don’t think you’ll ever see database protection,” said Peters, who has been involved in closed-door negotiations this fall over copyright legislation […]

Peters also said that an unrelated huge copyright bill, called the Intellectual Property Protection Act (IPPA), had even odds of being enacted before Congress left town […]”

SOURCE: CNET News.com

Researchers: Florida Vote Fishy

“Electronic voting machines in Florida may have awarded George W. Bush up to 260,000 more votes than he should have received, according to statistical analysis conducted by University of California, Berkeley graduate students and a professor, who released a study on Thursday.

[…] Their aim in releasing the report, the researchers said, was not to attack the results of the 2004 election in Florida, where Bush won by 350,000 votes, but to prompt election officials and the public to examine the e-voting systems and address the fact that there is no way to conduct a meaningful recount on the paperless machines […]”

SOURCE: Wired News

Note: See ACM’s recent statement on e-voting systems.

Policymakers should enhance selection process for Presidential sci/tech appointments

“To tackle increasingly complex issues, U.S. policy-makers should ensure that both the presidential appointment process for senior science and technology posts and the process of appointing experts to federal S&T advisory committees operate more quickly and transparently, says a new report from the National Academies.

Immediately after each general election, the president or president-elect should name a confidential “assistant to the president for science and technology” to provide advice in the event of a crisis and to help quickly identify strong candidates for crucial S&T appointments. Authorities also should make certain that appointments to advisory committees are not politicized or used to promote foregone conclusions. Scientists, engineers, and health professionals should be appointed to federal advisory committees based on their expertise and integrity. They should not be asked for information that would have no bearing on the scientific or technical expertise they would provide during committee discussions – such as political party affiliation, voting record, or personal positions on particular issues, the report says […]”

SOURCE: The National Academies

Senate May Ram Copyright Bill

“Several lobbying camps from different industries and ideologies are joining forces to fight an overhaul of copyright law, which they say would radically shift in favor of Hollywood and the record companies and which Congress might try to push through during a lame-duck session that begins this week.

The Senate might vote on HR2391, the Intellectual Property Protection Act, a comprehensive bill that opponents charge could make many users of peer-to-peer networks, digital-music players and other products criminally liable for copyright infringement. The bill would also undo centuries of “fair use” — the principle that gives Americans the right to use small samples of the works of others without having to ask permission or pay […]”

SOURCE: Wired News

Related note: click here (and here) for information on USACM’s recent engagement in the debate surrounding copyright protection, potential threats to technological innovation, and the Induce Act.

New program aims to help with tech worker training, networking

“A new [Oregon] program for information technology workers is aimed at helping companies from call centers to wood product mills.

The program, called the Oregon Training Network and backed by Gov. Ted Kulongoski and the Software Association of Oregon, is developing classes to be offered in Oregon to information technology workers throughout the state.

The idea is to offer high-quality, accessible, affordable technology training to Oregon workers, wiping out the expensive travel costs paid by employers to send workers to out-of-state tech training hubs, like Silicon Valley.

The governor’s office is using $225,250 in federal work force training dollars as seed money to launch the program. But when it starts offering classes next year, the program should become financially self-sustaining, organizers say […]”

SOURCE: USA Today