National Science Foundation Reauthorization: Welcome back, Dr. Strangelove

By CAMILLE GIGLIO, Legislative Analyst

"Only in this way can we nurture the innovative work force that tomorrow's businesses and research laboratories will require" - Anne Hardy, VP Technology, SAP Laboratories.

June 3, 2010 - San Francisco - LLC - The above quote was taken from a commentary entitled "Our future depends on boosting interest in science," published in the San Jose Mercury News for 5-20-2010. Ms Hardy's words parallel the goals and mission of the latest federal Five year plan for expansion of the National Science Foundation mission and budget.

The House of Representatives has just today, May 28th, passed a major piece of work entitled the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2009 which is a bill to fund the National Science foundation. (see the official press release at the end of this article).

The National Science Foundation reauthorization lingered in the U.S. Congress's Committee on Science and Technology for the last year while 52 Amendments were fought over. The bill was authored by the chairman of the committee, Tennessee Democrat, Bart Gordon. It is a 120 page bill. The original bill number, HR 5116 was changed to HR 5325 because of the need to make several amendments. However, the just issued press release refers to it by its original number of HR 5116.

"The stated purpose of the bill is: "To invest in innovation through research and development, to improve the competitiveness of the United States, and for other purposes."

HR 5325 represents the goals and objectives of the Obama White House in establishing an energetic and urgent public policy on environmental "green" issues, workforce and education partnership issues and Al Gore's favorite, global warming. Though it is not an appropriations bill, it contains requests for billions of tax dollars to implement.

There are four California legislators on this 41 member committee: John Garamendi, (D-Contra Costa), Lynn Woolsey, (D-Santa Rosa), Brian Bilbray, (R-Solano Beach) and Dana Rohrabacher, (R-Huntington Beach).

Here is a sample of committee member, Lynn Woolsey's statement in support of the bill, as given to the Committee hearing:

"I believe in science -- and that with enough support -- our scientists can solve almost any problem put in front of them. But at the end of the day, this bill is about jobs. Investments in basic and applied research, green manufacturing jobs, and high risk, high reward technologies will help lay the groundwork for a clean energy economy and create thousands of new green jobs in our country."

Should the bill succeed in being signed by the President (it has two other House Committees in which to be heard - Education and Labor and Energy) it will be put before a finance committee to work out the financing. This financing of specialized activities within various branches and departments within the federal government, is in addition to the main mission and budgeting of these departments. So, the several billion dollars being sought through this Actcould be added to the costs of the various departments which will be affected.

Any funds appropriated for these activities will not be funneled through the various departments but will go directly from the White House in the form of grants, mostly, to universities, non-profit foundations, local and state federal workforce development agencies that have been planted in each state.

As a side note, California Gubernatorial Candidate Steve Poizner lists as one of his White House Fellowship interests, the subject of science and technology as an important focus for public policy.

The bill either creates new workloads on government agencies or amends and expands current Acts pertaining to science and technology in seven, different areas of governmental agencies. It establishes oversight and partnerships (also referred to as contracts) between government and the private sector in industry, educational curriculum and workforce development. It, therefore impinges on the mission and duties of several branches of Government such as Dept. of Energy, Dept of Education, NASA, NOAA.

When speaking with members of either the Science and Technology Committee or with a representative of the National Oceanographic and aeronautics Committee, they quickly assure me that neither NOAA or NASA are involved in this. However, when I remind them that the bill says that these agencies will be represented on Advisory Committees, they say, "oh, well, yes."

Regarding the Department of Education, this Act seeks to establish greater federal involvement in the development and direction of pre-K-16 classroom studies in workforce preparation, Charter schools and STEM Education - science, technology, engineering and math.This ambitious federal education/workforce development program is reflected in numerous state bills in California and, especially in creating scholarship opportunities for high school students to specialize in certain areas and, those who declare an interest in attending colleges with engineering programs.

A third way, as stated in the bill is for those students who achieve post secondary degrees in STEM subjects, but do not find jobs in those industries, to return to college for teaching degrees to become STEM teachers in the classroom.

HR5325 also attracted 52 amendments including one that prohibited any person found guilty of housing pornography on his/her computer from obtaining funding under this bill.

It was further amended to reduce the intended 5 year plans for implementation to only 3 years since it was determined that 5 years of budgeting for these programs was too expensive.

This bill is on a par with the national health care legislation in so far as it adds further federal authority and direct Presidential oversight over controlling major areas of human health, social, academic and work life.

Both the bill and the Science and Technology Committee have very interesting histories.

In the 1950's when the National Science Foundation was first created, the expressed reason was fear of other countries obtaining the Atom Bomb. The U.S. came up with the idea of a program of mutually assured destruction - MAD. This, we were told, would protect us from ever having to face the threat of nuclear attack from a foreign and hostile government, by meeting any such force with a similar or greater force. Today the government would have you believe that as we approach global unity we are in a similar situation of hostility from not only outer space, but inner space.

We must conquer the inner space mysteries of nanotechnology, global warming, environmental threats, a seeming dearth of adults competent in all areas of science, technology, engineering and math. And, we must do it before other countries get to the top of this latest race for dominance on the global playing field.

In fact this is the most ambitious plan to be offered so far. Congress is attempting to initiative a massive outcome based educational program that requires scouring the classrooms pre-K-16 to find certain types of students who will fit the government's needs, train those children from Kindergarten to graduate school and place them in preconceived positions to give the United States supremacy through science and technology to capture global leadership in physical, economic, environmental and sustainable population development. This could well be the new meaning behind the old saying "our children are our future," or everybody working for the good of society.

Already state legislatures, especially California, are loaded with education bills calling for totally remodeling the system of education in order to place California as the state most capable of racing to the top; mandating various types of technology class requirements for high school graduation. Those children who do not quite qualify for the post secondary education in science, technology, engineering or math will get those green jobs designed as "shovel ready." And, if the student does make it to a master's degree in STEM but can't get a job they will be offered an opportunity to return to school, get a teaching credential and teach STEM education to other students.

This is all contained in a section entitled STEM Education and Workforce Training or Integrative Graduate Education and Research Trainee (IGERT) Program. This will be funded through a National Science Foundation - NSF - Robert Noyce Scholarship Grant Program which will favor students completing International Baccalaureate Programs in high school. There are now about 300 or more public, Charter and Academy type schools in California featuring International Baccalaureate programs or variations thereof.

One section of The Act contains the requisite demand for gender equity and data collection for keeping track of the workforce by race and gender.

The bill further calls for using every idea available from the simplest to most wild-eyed plan imaginable through harnessing nanotechnology. In future the NSF will not just research and create programs but will form partnerships in the private sector to move their ideas out of the lab into the community for development and implementation. Title 1, sec. c-1, Nanotech Partnerships: recruit and help prepare secondary school students to pursue postsecondary level courses of instruction. This is referred to as the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and development Act, S 189 by Sen. Ron Wyden. This, like the 6 other titles, is all contained within the NSF re-authorization Act each with its own budget in the millions or billions of dollars.

The final, total budget for this re-authorization is nearing nine billions.

Today, the very same people, scientists and educators, who in the 1950's called for a national, tax funded all out effort to gain supremacy in conquering the mysteries of the atom and outer space are once again behind this effort to not just be equal with the rest of the world in science and technology, but now, through conquering inner space to Race to the Top of the global world competition and cut it off.

I suggest that this is the true goal behind all the calls for increased educational funding and reform efforts. The No Child Left Behind education Act promoted by Clinton and Bush has been declared a failure. The NCLB has been renamed Race-To-The-Top funded in part by ARRA money, to claim today's student as tomorrow's mad scientist.

One segment of The Act is devoted to development of environmentally sound green technology development. Senate and House leaders are talking about "green" jobs, the California state legislature has numerous Workforce Development green jobs creation bills. In the last two years California has created a massive bureaucracy with state and local Workforce Development Centers which is setting priorities for jobs and partnering with schools to begin training students through job shadowing and summer placements, and strong emphasis on STEM classes.

This section is all part of Al Gore's global warming push. Title 1, Subtitle B creates the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Act which amends the original 1991 High Performance Computing Act which Al Gore dubbed the Information Superhighway.

The health care bill was fought over for months, this bill just sails right through because the American citizen's attention is being diverted. Americans are now so hungry and anxious for jobs and income that we are not listening to what those jobs and educations are intended to do.

This bill, HR 5116, submitted to both the house Committee on Science and Technology and to the House Committee on Education and Labor, on 4/22/2010 has, astonishingly, passed the House in a month's time with almost no debate, no public hearings. The Health Care bill was fought over for months. This bill is every bit as important, but no one seems to know about it. In fact a House Resolution, HRES 1344 by Ed Perlmutter (D-Co) was submitted and passed in one day calling upon all the legislators to hurry up and pass the National Science Foundation Reauthorization Act.

The original idea for a National Science Foundation Act, HR 4846, was begun under President Roosevelt and was passed and signed by President Harry Truman on May 10, 1950, following almost five years of debate and planning.

The idea for a national, government directed, science foundation was attributed to the thoughts and reports of Dr. Vannevar Bush (involved in the Manhattan Project) then Director of the Wartime Office of Scientific Research and Development.

One website describes the NSF mission as "devot[ing] its funds and talents to research and education in non-medical science and engineering - the National Institute of health is its counterpart."

Another segment of the bill, Title lV, is a total reorganization within the Department of Commerce. This section, originally called the Office of Standards and Technology, is referred to as the National Institute of Standards and Technology Act of 2010. It addresses the issue of ownership of any patent rights to discoveries. Whether it is a university or private research firm, if it is funded with tax dollars the patent rights belong to the federal government. This is under the Commerce section of the bill and refers to Intellectual Property Rights which are defined as "management of scientific collections of physical specimens, living or inanimate for the purpose of supporting science." It also refers to the development of international data bases, conformity standards and security systems and includes bio manufacturing, environment, bioscience (DNA) and human identification. It is, in a sense, putting sensors on the information highway, or setting speed traps for unsuspecting trespassers. The budget for this segment for 2011 is set at $991,100,000.00 ending in 2015 with a budget of $1,191,955,000.00.

Title lll STEM Education is subtitled the STEM Ed Coordination Act of 2010. It creates a Commission to coordinate federal programs and activities setting up Science, Technology Engineering and Math - STEM - education. It draws members from the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, NASA, National Oceanography and Aeronautics Agency, Department of Education and includes private sector and non-profit groups.

Title V is entitled Stevenson-Wydler Innovation Act, 1980, (S.1250 signed 10-21-1980 by Jimmy Carter).This Act is amended, re-titled and placed under the Department of Commerce to be referred to as the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Members of this committee will be appointed from the Departments of NSF, Department of Energy.

Title Vl, Department of Energy is subtitled: Office of Science; Department of Energy, Office of Science Authorization Act of 2010. This segment sets a budget for 2011 as $5,247,000,000.00. This Act declares, in part that its mission and goal is:

(a) MISSION The mission of the Office of Science shall be the delivery of scientific discoveries, capabilities, and major scientific tools to transform the understanding of nature and to advance the energy, economic, and national security of the United States.

(1) Science for Discovery to unravel nature's mysteries through the study of subatomic particles, atoms, and molecules that make up the materials of our everyday world to DNA, proteins, cells, and entire biological systems;

(2) Science for National Need by --

(A) advancing a clean energy agenda through research on energy production, storage, transmission, efficiency, and use; and

A. advancing our understanding of the Earth's climate through research in atmospheric and environmental sciences and climate change.

This segment restricts any experimentation on human biology.

Sunday, May 23, CBS' 60 Minutes program did a segment called "Waiting for Superman." It was an infomercial type program on a new prototype of schools called "Seed" Schools. There are two, one in Washington, D.C. and one in Maryland with many more in the works. President Obama has visited the school and proclaimed its great potential. Oprah Winfrey is even promoting it. Information about Seed schools can be found at

There are other seed type schools which are advertised on San Francisco Bay Area television and on signs on the highway; DeVry University which is made up of five colleges of STEM type programs and The Phoenix school. All of these are designed to begin early in a child's life to search for and nurture the scientifically oriented student.

Public school classes on STEM Ed are being developed. Teachers are being sought who will consent to being retrained to teach specific STEM classes and Charter Schools and/or Academies are developing to prepare students to work in the new, global economy of government centered, scientifically based environmentally sound future jobs.

Understanding what is contained in the federal health care bill and placing it side by side with the Science Foundation Re-authorization Act one is able to gain a better understanding of the immense all consuming and overreaching designs planned for citizens by federal government and private industry leaders.

The bill will now go to the Senate which will present its version of reauthorization.

Here is today's official press release:

Innovation Legislation Clears the House With Bipartisan Support

(Washington, DC) – Today, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 5116, America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 by a vote of 262 to 150. The bill, which has over 100 cosponsors and more than endorsers, makes investments in science, innovation, and education to support employers today while strengthening the U.S. scientific and economic leadership to grow new industries of tomorrow, and the jobs that come with them.

"If we are to reverse the trend of the last twenty years, where our country's technology edge in the world has diminished, we must make the investments necessary today," said Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN). "The path is simple. Research and education lead to innovation. Innovation leads to economic development and good paying jobs and the revenue to pay for more research. And as private firms under-invest in research and development because the returns are too far off in the future, there is a clear and necessary role of government to help our nation keep pace with the rest of the world."

Over 750 organizations have endorsed the legislation including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Business Roundtable, the Council on Competitiveness, the Association of American Universities, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the National Venture Capital Association, TechAmerica, the Biotechnology Industry Organization, the American Chemical Society, and others, including nearly 100 universities and colleges.

To maintain a pipeline of ideas, the bill puts basic research programs on a path to doubling authorized funding levels over ten years at: the Department of Energy Office of Science, the single largest supporter of research in the physical sciences in the U.S.; the National Science Foundation, which supports fundamental research and education in all the non-medical fields of science and engineering; and the National Institute of Standards and Technology labs, which conduct research to advance the nation's technology infrastructure and support industry.

The bill will help foster innovation in new energy technologies by: reauthorizing the Advanced Research Projects Agency, which is pursing high-risk, high-reward energy technology development; and authorizing Energy Innovation Hubs, which are multidisciplinary collaborations with a single technological focus that currently presents a critical barrier to achieving our national energy innovation goals.

The bill will also help ensure U.S. leadership in emerging and growing fields, including nanotechnology and IT.

The bill supports local efforts to form Regional Innovation Clusters, which will strengthen regional economies and advance the work done in a given field by leveraging collaboration and communication between businesses and other entities.

The bill addresses immediate needs by creating Innovative Technology Federal Loan Guarantees to help small- and medium-sized manufacturers access capital to make necessary updates to become more efficient and stay competitive.

The bill will also assist industry by ensuring that the Manufacturing Extension Partnership program at National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) better reflects the needs and challenges facing manufacturers today. In addition, the bill reorganizes NIST labs to reflect the multidisciplinary nature of technology and better meet the needs of industry in the 21st century.

The bill also will help improve science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education by reauthorizing the Noyce scholarships, which help give K-12 teachers a strong grounding in their fields, so they can more fully engage students. The bill also addresses coordination of STEM activities across the federal government, and improves STEM education at the undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral levels.

"Throughout the Committee process, there was a lot of legitimate discussion about federal deficits. I agree that we must address the challenges presented by our deficits, but we must also invest in our country's future. I remember Newt Gingrich saying one of his greatest regrets was not doubling the funding for NSF when he put NIH on the doubling path," said Gordon. "During committee consideration of this bill, we made some significant changes to the bill's authorization levels—cutting them by over 10 percent. Though we will maintain a doubling path for our research accounts, we do so on a slightly less aggressive trajectory."

After a few minor setbacks over the past two weeks, the House proceeded today with further consideration of H.R. 5116. When consideration resumed, Chairman Gordon moved a division of the question on the amendment included in the Republican Motion to Recommit passed by the House on May 13. This effort allowed the House to consider and vote separately on several parts of the Motion to Recommit.

"As I've said before, this bill is too important to let fall by the wayside. Today, we took the action necessary to see consideration of this bill completed. And we allowed the Members of the House to be on record voting on provisions gutting funding for our science agencies, voting on whether we should eliminate programs that will help create jobs, voting on whether to eliminate programs that will make us more energy independent, voting in opposition to federal employees watching pornography, and voting on whether universities that ban military recruiters should receive federal research dollars. We have provided all Members, in a reasonable manner, with the ability to vote on each of these items separately instead of all together," said Chairman Gordon.

©2010 Camille Giglio. All rights reserved.