Congress Creates New $4.5 Billion Math and Science Education Program

In early November, I wrote a piece outlining Congress’ budget endgame. We are just beginning to see the final bills now (one is over 700 pages by itself), so we will post stories about what actually happened as we digest them.

The first program that stands out is an entirely new $4.5 billion program of grants for low-income students to attend college and go on to major in math, science, or foreign language. The program starts out pretty modestly giving $750 to low-income students (the income threshold is same as the federal Pell Grant program) to pay the first year of tuition at a two- or four-year institution of higher education. It then ramps up to $1,300 in year two and $4,000 in both years three and four. The catch is that students have to hold a 3.0 GPA their first year of college and then in the coursework of their major, and, at four-year universities, their major must be in:

  • “the physical, life, or computer sciences [our emphasis], mathematics, technology, or engineering,” or
  • “a foreign language that the Secretary, in consultation with the Director of National Intelligence, determines is critical to the national security of the United States.”

The program runs through 2010; after that, it would have to be reauthorized.

Beyond the focus of increasing opportunities for potential math and science majors, what is useful about this program is that it is relatively predictable. Because it is part of the “mandatory” side of the budget it isn’t subject to the annual appropriations process. This means students that stick to the major requirements should be able to depend on the $4,000 grant for each of their last two years of school.
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USACM chair comments on Pentagon cybersecurity

Prof. Eugene Spafford, USACM Chair and executive director of Purdue University’s Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security (CERIAS), was interviewed recently as part of a National Public Radio (NPR) Morning Edition piece on Department of Defense (DOD) cybersecurity:

Pentagon Faces Computer Security Problems
by Vicky O’Hara

Morning Edition, December 12, 2005 · The Pentagon’s 5 million computers make a tempting target for computer hackers. Officials reported 80,000 attempts to disrupt the system last year. What is being done to improve security?

An audio archive of the segment is available here.

In the NPR piece Spafford echoes some recent testimony he gave before a House Armed Services Committee hearing, where he urged a different approach to DOD cybersecurity involving a shift away from reliance on commercial-off-the-shelf (or COTS) products and away from systems and software with extraneous functionality. For more information on this hearing, including a link to Spafford’s written testimony, see our October newsletter.

E-voting tensions rising in North Carolina

North Carolina’s State Board of Elections created quite a stir recently when, surprisingly, it decided to certify Diebold e-voting equipment for use in the state despite a still-running debate about the state’s new source code “escrow” rules and the company’s compliance with them. The requirements call on companies to deposit the source code for their e-voting equipment with a state-approved third party and for the State Board of Elections to evaluate that code. A ZDNet article describes the situation in more detail:
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ACM Washington Update, Vol. 9.11 (November 30, 2005)

CONTENTS

[1] Newsletter Highlights
[2] USACM Writes to Virginia Policymakers on E-voting
[3] Data Security Bills Progressing, but Passage Unlikely by Year End
[4] House Committees Investigate “Fair Use” and the “Analog Hole”
[5] R&D Programs Weather Tough Budget Climate (So Far)
[6] Sony Rootkit Stirs Controversy, While Senate Spyware Bill Advances
[7] ICANN Retains Internet Governance Position
[8] Turing Award Winners Earn Nation’s Highest Civilian Award
[9] Events in December
[10] About USACM

[An archive of all previous editions of Washington Update is available here.]
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