listserv messages

Replied by David Wojick on 03/19/2017 - 11:17
Glenn, I have no objection to your protest; it just does not help answer my question. For example, I am trying to figure out how to best cut the DOE basic science budget by 18%. I agree that Congress may well not go along with this, but simply hoping it does not happen is not a useful approach in my book. That route leads to a mad scramble if it actually happens. Call it contingency planning if you like. I would not be surprised by a 10% cut (a standard OMB move) and if I am prepared to cut 18% then 10% is easy. My motto is "Cut don't Gut."... [Read more]  
Replied by Glenn Hampson on 03/19/2017 - 08:23
Point well taken David---sorry. So, if I'm hearing you correctly, agencies are already being asked to develop plans to make these cuts happen---not waiting until a real budget comes through? Best, Glenn [Read more]  
Replied by Marc Saner on 03/19/2017 - 15:06
Hello all, A quick view from an outsider (Canada, and not a sci-pol expert): The attached summary table (by the NYT) seems to indicate cuts to MANY policy priorities - but an investment in defence has traditionally translated into an investment in science, no? I thought much of science from WWI to the cold war was financed by defence interests …  Marc Saner, University of Ottawa, Canada ... [Read more]  
Indeed, Glenn. In fact OMB routinely runs 10% cut drills as part of the annual agency request process. An agency seldom gets everything it asks for. Admittedly this is an extreme case, which makes it analytically challenging. David At 03:23 PM 3/19/2017, Glenn Hampson wrote: >Point well taken David---sorry. So, if I'm hearing you correctly, agencies >are already being asked to develop plans to make these cuts happen---not >waiting until a real budget comes through? > >Best, > >Glenn... [Read more]  
Replied by David Wojick on 03/19/2017 - 11:39
Keep in mind that the detailed, program level budget request is yet to come. David At 03:23 PM 3/19/2017, Glenn Hampson wrote: >Point well taken David---sorry. So, if I'm hearing you correctly, agencies >are already being asked to develop plans to make these cuts happen---not >waiting until a real budget comes through? > >Best, > >Glenn > > > [Read more]  
Replied by Eugene Arthurs on 03/19/2017 - 15:44
I would expect most or all on SciSIP agree that last week’s skinny budget makes little sense as regards DOE and NIH science funding and believe or hope that Congress will moderate the damage, as previous Congresses diluted Obama’s more pro-science budgets. Those who voted for the current administration may feel that the proposals are coherent with the campaign promises, (and some in this cohort may feel it also has elements of payback for we elite who disrespect them). The OMB director said this first feint for the FY2018 budget was based on an analysis of the president’s public... [Read more]  
Replied by Glenn Hampson on 03/19/2017 - 09:01
Thanks David. So---tying this back to the point then about acquiescence vs. activism---at what point can (or should) an agency head simply reply "sorry--does not compute?" A 10% cut drill is one exercise---and it can be a useful one for examining internal processes. But an 18% or 31% cut drill isn't so much a drill as a reorg. At this point, agency officials face not only budget decisions but moral, ethical and legal ones about whether they can continue to serve the public in the capacity that Congress has required through statute, or whether attempting to do so would be impossible... [Read more]  
Replied by Frodeman, Robert on 03/19/2017 - 14:13
The problem with this discussion is that it assumes that Trump’s budget (outline) will have any standing once things are discussed in congress. This is unlikely, with a repub chief of staff calling it a joke, and saying that no one takes anything Trump says seriously. Ditto the elimination of NEH, NEA, Meals on Wheels, etc. I am not suggesting that these aren’t dangerous times. And certainly, dangerous times for science (cf EPA, NOAA, etc). But the dangers are not coming from accustomed directions. ___________ Robert Frodeman Dept of Philosophy and Religion... [Read more]  
Replied by Christopher Hill on 03/19/2017 - 11:45
David, I would take sharp exception to your final point, "SciSIP is part of the government." While SciSIP, the NSF program, is a government program, SciSIP, a field of research and analysis, is an intellectual endeavor that is in no way "part of the government." So, whereas SciSIP analysts who happen to be employed by (or contracted by) "the government," may have a duty, depending on the circumstances, to analyze and inform the policymakers to whom they report about their available options and the implications of taking action... [Read more]  
Replied by N. Peter Whitehead on 03/19/2017 - 14:40
All -Christopher and Eugene’s comments got me thinking about the very future of this SciSIP discussion medium.  The fact that this listserve does end with .gov, perhaps we should be considering that it could be shut-off without notice.Some are saying OSTP will be shut-down for the duration of the administration.  As far as I can tell, there isn’t even a skeleton crew left in the EEOB to answer their phones and their web presence is gone.  From this and the budget news, one might draw the conclusion that the incumbents are not interested in taking an active role in the science of... [Read more]  
Replied by Stephen Fiore on 03/19/2017 - 19:03
Peter raises an important point.  It's also somewhat confusing because the SciSIP webpage is a ".net" (see  But, if you go to the Contact Us page, you'll see that it is NSF employees running it (see  I don't know how/why it was set up like this.  ... [Read more]  
Replied by David Wojick on 03/20/2017 - 03:30
Very interesting, Glenn. This is a tipping point model of sorts. These numbers may well be too big to achieve by simply shaving programs. To touch on an earlier discussion, might DOE have to zero its entire fusion program, or close the Energy Hubs or a National Lab? Is EPA supposed to shut down the entire Research Triangle complex? These tipping points create a lot more visibility than spread out smaller cuts, which in turn might generate local opposition from Congressional constituencies. I am reminded of the military base closure controversies awhile back. This is the... [Read more]  
Replied by Susan Fitzpatrick on 03/20/2017 - 04:01
Of course -- thinking about what you can and cannot live without is the first step towards seriously considering what it is the agencies and their funds should be doing. It may very well turn out that the dollars will not change very much in the end - but the programs and projects might. Right now the classic response is to defend the status quo and not dream of the new opportunities. Novelty often emerges from disruption. Perhaps it is time? Susan M. Fitzpatrick, Ph.D. President, James S. McDonnell Foundation Visit JSMF forum on academic issues:... [Read more]  
Posted by James Gover on 03/20/2017 - 04:49
In 1987 and 1988 the House Science Committee was tasked to review US science policy and make recommendations for change.  Many hearings were held.  I reviewed the testimony documented in these hearings and concluded that the most consistent recommendation was to maintain the status quo.  About one decade later, a Congressman from MI was given the same task.  Nothing new came of his effort.  The needs of R&D performers, not the public, seems to dominate these efforts. Agencies that fund R&D performers as well as R&D performers have a vested interest in maintaining the... [Read more]  
Replied by Misha Teplitskiy on 03/20/2017 - 09:41
Replied by Glenn Hampson on 03/20/2017 - 06:45
Hi Deborah, This may be a bit hard to measure, but one might argue that the most pronounced example in world history of a generation lost to cuts in science programs is the decline of the Arab empire. As you know, the Arab world invented modern math and science during the Middle Ages, but their scientific influence and output went into a steep and permanent decline starting in the late ninth century AD after their political leaders began adopting harsh anti-rational, anti-science philosophies. That’s more than a lost generation, of course. What scientific advances might have come out... [Read more]  
Replied by Gordon Reikard on 03/20/2017 - 15:02
Some historical perspective might be in order here.  While the NSF data on R&D does not begin until the early 1950s, there is some BLS data which goes back to the 1920s.  In the past, the willingness of the Federal government to fund R&D has often depended on the political incentives to do this.  The Federal government began allocating funds for R&D in 1938, largely in anticipation of the threat of war.  By 1941, spending had increased by an order of magnitude, and by 1945, it had increased again by a factor of six.   The Cold War led to a... [Read more]  
Replied by David Wojick on 03/20/2017 - 11:39
"Lost generation" seems pretty hyperbolic. NSF is not listed and DOE gets an 18% cut. NASA gets almost no cut, just a reallocation. Plus DOD may get a big boost, maybe equal to the DOE cut. In fact this budget outline seems to go out of its way not to target basic science, so far anyway. David At 12:16 PM 3/20/2017, Deborah Stine wrote: Greetings,        Someone just sent me this article:   In the face of massive federal budget cuts, scientists are bracing for a lost generation in American research.... [Read more]  
Replied by Holly Falk-Krzesinski on 03/20/2017 - 14:04
NSF NCSES tracks quite a bit of information about STEM trainees and research expenditures, their data would offer insight into the impact of a lost generation.   Regards, Holly      “The beautiful spring came; and when Nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also.” – Harriet Ann Jacobs                                                                                                                                                                                      Holly J. Falk-Krzesinski, PhD Vice President,... [Read more]