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Vol. 2009, No. 16 ( 11 SEPTEMBER 2009)
125 Years of Innovation and Ingenuity

CAPITOL HILL

They're Baaack

THE WHITE HOUSE

White House Releases PCAST Report on H1N1 Flu

FEDERAL AGENCY ACTIVITY

USPTO Announces Senior Management Changes

FCC OKs Sweeping Probe Into Wireless Industry

REPORTS, DOCUMENTS OF NOTE & INFO RESOURCES

Switzerland Replaces United States At Top of Competitiveness Rankings

U.S. STATES

AWARDS & GRANTS

Nominations Open for New Award Recognizing Outstanding Researcher-Entrepreneurs

Entries Invited for Lemelson-MIT Award for Sustainability

LATEST IEEE-USA & IEEE ACTIVITIES

IEEE-USA Unveils Digital Archives, Features Organization's Four Decades of Service

Sustainable Energy, S&T Policy among Government Documents Available through IEEE-USA E-Books

Got an Idea For an IEEE-USA E-Book?


CAPITOL HILL

They're Baaack

Congress has returned to Washington, and with no time to waste before the end of the year, they must tackle the following legislation: a health care reform bill, climate change legislation, and a financial services regulation bill. Also at the top of Congress' must-do list will be passage of twelve appropriations bills funding the FY 2010 federal government operations; the new fiscal year begins on October 1.

On the bright side, Congress is much further along in the appropriations cycle than it was last year at this time. The House has completed and secured passage of all 12 appropriations bills. The Senate Appropriations Committee completed eleven bills (only Defense remains), and five of the eleven bills have passed on the Senate floor. As you may know from past experience, failure to enact any of the appropriations bills requires a short term funding bill called a continuing resolution, otherwise, the government simply shuts down. These resolutions generally maintain spending at current rates for fixed periods of time. If Congress is unable to pass any of the bills separately, appropriators may combine the remaining bills into a single omnibus funding bill. Highlights of the current bills include:

DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: The House-passed bill containing a total $508 billion - including $128.2 billion for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the first time since the wars began that funding has been included in a defense appropriation bill - reduces total S&T program funding by 2.3 percent, opposing the Administration's request for a 13.6 percent reduction. The House also opposed a requested 2.4 percent cut in the FY 2010 budget for basic research funding, voting to increase it by 4.8 percent. The Senate Appropriations Committee has not approved its version of this legislation. A veto threat exists if two House provisions remain in the bill. One provides money for an alternative engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter; the other funds five VH-71 presidential helicopters.

DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION: Senate appropriators agreed with the Administration's request for flat funding of the Math and Science Partnerships. The full House amended the House Appropriations Committee bill to include a 3 percent increase for the Partnerships, the first increase since FY 2006.

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY - Both the House and Senate easily passed versions of the Energy-Water spending bill in July, and appropriators are expected to resolve the differences with little trouble. The House bill contains $33.3 billion and the Senate contains $34.3 billion. Most program funding levels line up with one another and with the $34.4 billion White House request. Most of the bill is devoted to Energy Department programs that maintain the nuclear weapons stockpile, pay for nonproliferation activities and fund the cleanup of defense-related nuclear waste. Other Energy Department programs include researching renewable and alternative energy sources. The bill typically draws bipartisan support, primarily because it funds hundreds of water projects carried out by the Army Corps of Engineers in districts across the country.

Among the differences, the Senate provides $190 million for research into hydrogen technology, including research into fuel cell vehicles, a $21 million increase over fiscal 2009 funding. The White House wants to reduce the amount to $68 million, calling it one of the least-promising alternative vehicle technologies in the near term. The House bill cuts to $35 million from $280 million a White House request to set up a network of eight "Energy Innovation Hubs" aimed at researching cutting-edge alternative energy technology. Appropriators say many of the projects overlap with existing Energy Department research. Regarding the Office of Science, the House provided the Administration's requested increase of 3.9 percent. The Senate-passed bill contains a 3.0 percent increase.

NASA: The Senate Appropriations Committee concurred with the Administration's 5.1 percent requested increase (total $18.7 billion). The House approved a bill that would increase the agency's budget by 2.4 percent (total $18.2 billion), pending the outcome of an independent study of manned space flight.

NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY: The Administration requested an increase of 3.3 percent. The House voted a 4.6 percent reduction. Senate appropriators recommend a 7.3 percent increase.

NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION: The Administration requested an 8.5 percent increase in the foundation's total budget. The House and Senate agreed that the budget should be increased, although not by that much. The House voted for a 6.9 percent increase; Senate appropriators for a 6.6 percent increase.


THE WHITE HOUSE

White House Releases PCAST Report on H1N1 Flu

Among PCAST's prime recommendations: accelerate the preparation of flu vaccine for distribution to high-risk individuals; clarify guidelines for the use of antiviral medicines; upgrade the current system for tracking the pandemic's progress and making resource allocation decisions; accelerate the development of communication strategies—including Web-based social networking tools—to broadcast public health messages that can help mitigate the pandemic's impact; and identify a White House point person with primary authority to coordinate key decisions across the government as the pandemic evolves. The report recommends intensive public education campaigns to reinforce those key prevention behaviors.


FEDERAL AGENCY ACTIVITY

USPTO Announces Senior Management Changes

Commissioner for Patents John Doll to Retire; Robert L. Stoll Nominated as Successor; Margaret Focarino Named Deputy Commissioner

The USPTO announced significant changes among the senior management team. After 35 years at the USPTO, Commissioner for Patents John Doll has announced his intention to retire on October 2. Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO David Kappos has nominated longtime USPTO executive Robert ("Bob") Stoll to the position of Commissioner for Patents, and has named Margaret ("Peggy") Focarino Deputy Commissioner for Patents. U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, who will appoint Doll's replacement, expressed support for Stoll's nomination.

"I have directed the USTPO to pursue an aggressive agenda to significantly reduce the time it takes to process patent applications," Locke said. "The length of time it takes causes uncertainty for inventors and entrepreneurs, stifles innovation and impedes our economic recovery. Bob's deep knowledge of the Patent Office will make him an important addition to the senior management team as they reform the system and help us regain America's competitiveness." Locke will appoint Stoll after Doll's retirement becomes official.

Bob Stoll has held a series of leadership positions during his 27-year career with the USPTO. He began his USPTO career as a patent examiner, then later held critical management roles including Supervisory Patent Examiner; Executive Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Commissioner of Patents and Trademarks; Administrator of the Office of Legislative and International Affairs where he led a staff of attorneys representing the USPTO before Congress and in diplomatic and policy arenas worldwide; and Director of Enforcement, where he led the USPTO's efforts to fight the counterfeiting and piracy of American intellectual property. Most recently, Stoll served as Dean of Training and Education for the USPTO where he directed efforts to train foreign officials and the public on all aspects of IP. He holds a bachelor of science in chemical engineering from the University of Maryland, a J.D. from Catholic University and is a member of the Maryland state bar.

The appointment of Peggy Focarino to the position of Deputy Commissioner for Patents creates a streamlined management structure for20the Patent organization. Focarino has been with the agency for more than 32 years, and has significant experience as a patent examiner, supervisory patent examiner and technology center director. During her tenure as Deputy Commissioner for Patent Operations, where she had oversight of the agency's patent examining corps, Focarino implemented a new approach to training examiners, and supported telework programs for patent examiners and technical support staff.

The Commissioner for Patents is nominated by the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and is appointed by the Secretary of Commerce for a term of five years.

FCC OKs Sweeping Probe Into Wireless Industry

The Federal Communications Commission approved a public inquiry designed to pave the way for further regulation of cell phone and mobile Internet providers and launched a widespread investigation into "innovation" in the wireless industry. A separate item examines the state of competition in the wireless sector. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said the FCC should be "relentless about developing policies" that maximize innovation in the wireless sector, which is a fast-growing and dynamic market that many observers consider key to economic growth.

"It is essential that the commission develop policies that encourage a new generation of innovators, working with new tools, on new platforms, and having an extraordinary impact on our economy and society," Genachowski said. The FCC's wireless and competition inquiries could branch off into several new regulatory avenues, although Genachowski stressed that there could be times when "the right answer is to get out of the way and let the market work."

Down the road, the commission could restrict exclusive deals limiting consumers' choice of carriers for hot phones like Apple Inc.'s (AAPL) iPhone or Palm Inc.'s (PALM) Pre smart phone. The FCC also could cap the rates that wireless companies charge each other to roam on their networks and regulate the so-called "special access" market where cellular companies pay to connect to the main voice and Internet arteries. The wireless inquiries were approved on a 5-0 basis, but Republicans on the independent body are nervous that the FCC will go too far in regulating a fast-growing and dynamic market.

"The phenomenal success of the wireless sector shows how well a light regulatory touch works," said Commissioner Robert McDowell, the senior Republican on the FCC. McDowell said he hopes the FCC's future actions will attract more private investment in wireless technology, "rather than deter it."

CTIA, the wireless association, is gearing up to respond to the FCC's questions. For the last several months, CTIA has been collecting and publishing data on the wireless market in the U.S. compared to other countries.

"We have the least concentrated market," said Chris Guttman-McCabe, CTIA's vice president of regulatory affairs. "You can say it's still too concentrated, but it's still the least concentrated market." But consumer advocates say true competition in the wireless industry would lower consumer prices from where they are now.

"Four carriers cover 90 percent of the market," said Consumers Union Policy Analyst Joel Kelsey. Those companies - all members of CTIA - are Verizon Wireless, AT&T Inc. (T), Sprint Nextel Corp. (S) and T-Mobile USA. Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) and Vodafone Group PLC (VOD). T-Mobile is a unit of Deutsche Telekom AG (DT). Kelsey said the fine print of consumers' wireless plans, such as rates for individual text messages or charges for going over allotted minutes, are out of whack with the actual costs those services.

Verizon Wireless, which is the U.S.'s largest wireless company by subscribers, welcomed the FCC inquiry. Verizon Wireless spokesman Jeffrey Nelson said his company is especially eager to talk to the commission about Verizon's investment in a next-generation, high-speed mobile network, which is "a multi-year, multi-billion-dollar investment."

Sprint spokesman John Taylor said his company will cooperate with the investigation and hopes the FCC will look closely at the "special access" market. Changing the payment structure for access to major Internet arteries is a top priority for Sprint, which devotes one-third of its operating costs for each cell tower to those access charges. An AT&T official said his company would examine the order, but he declined to comment further. T-Mobile declined to comment.

Senator Herb Kohl (D-Wis.), who chairs the antitrust subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee, applauded the FCC for "taking a close look at whether there are adequate competition and consumer protections in place in the wireless market." Kohl is concerned about antitrust violations in the wireless sector and has held several hearings on the issue.


REPORTS, DOCUMENTS OF NOTE & INFO RESOURCES

National Science Foundation Reports

Future STEM Innovators Expert Panel Discussion - The STEM Innovators discussion brought together experts from a variety of relevant disciplines to provide input to the National Science Board's development of recommendations for NSF and the Federal Government to increase the pool of talent that will produce the Nation's future STEM innovators. Follow the link for more in-depth information on the Board's efforts, including the summary and presentations from the STEM expert panel discussion. Please visit the STEM Education page. Please visit the Expert Panel Discussion on Preparing the Next Generation of STEM Innovators page.

Switzerland Replaces United States At Top of Competitiveness Rankings

Switzerland tops the overall ranking in The Global Competitiveness Report 2009-2010, released by the World Economic Forum ahead of its Annual Meeting of the New Champions 2009 in Dalian. The United States falls one place to second position, with weakening in its financial markets and macroeconomic stability. Singapore, Sweden and Denmark round out the top five. European economies continue to prevail in the top 10 with Finland, Germany and the Netherlands following suit.


U.S. STATES

Stateline.org If you like to keep up with what's going on in state politics, StateLine.org provides a good overview of the activities in all 50 state legislatures.

Stateline.org's annual report on state trends and policy, "State of the States 2009" is now available. The report is full of helpful graphics and maps, in addition to reports on the most significant developments in the 50 states.


AWARDS & GRANTS

National Science Foundation - Additional NSF funding listed here: http://www.nsf.gov/funding/.

Small Business Innovation Research Program Phase I Solicitation-2 FY-2010  (SBIR) - The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program stimulates technological innovation in the private sector by strengthening the role of small business concerns in meeting Federal research and development needs, increasing the commercial application of federally supported research results, and fostering and encouraging participation by socially and economically disadvantaged and women-owned small businesses. Full Proposal Deadline(s) (due by 5 p.m. proposer's local time): December 03, 2009 (Do not submit a proposal prior to 3 November 2009.)

Dear Colleague Letter: Information for the research community in advance of release of the FY10 solicitation for Cyber-enabled Discovery and Innovation (CDI)

Dear Colleague Letter: NSF Graduate Research Fellows Nordic Research Opportunity - The Division of Graduate Education and the Office of International Science and Engineering announce an international research opportunity, available as a Supplemental Award, for NSF Graduate Research Fellows (GRFs) to enable Fellows to gain international research experience and establish collaborations with counterparts at Norwegian, Finnish or Danish research institutions.  Through a pilot collaboration, the U.S. National Science Foundation, the Research Council of Norway (RCN), the Academy of Finland and the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation (TEKES), and the Danish National Research Foundation (DNRF) will support research visits of between two and twelve months on a competitive basis.  This international research opportunity is intended to enrich the GRF experience by exposing Fellows to leading Nordic scientists and institutions, thus enabling them to develop early-career collaborations with European research partners.  Results are expected to expand opportunities for innovation and add an international dimension to GRF research projects.  Interested Graduate Fellows studying at U.S. institutions are encouraged to contact potential Nordic host institutions for detailed information on current research activities at that site.

National Academies

Reviewers Needed for Broadband Technology Opportunities Program - The National Academy of Engineering needs your help in support of a presidential broadband initiative.  NAE is seeking subject matter experts who would review grant applications being filed with the federal government by applicants seeking financial support for broadband projects throughout the country.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act appropriated $7.2 billion to the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA) and the Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service (RUS) and to expand broadband access to unserved and underserved communities across the U.S., increase jobs, spur investments in technology and infrastructure, and provide long-term economic benefits.  

The Department of Commerce's program, the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, or BTOP, will distribute 4.7 billion dollars in grant funds directed at enhancing network connectivity as well as broadband education.  These grants should provide lasting value to commerce, economic development, education, research, health care, and energy conservation.

The Department will be giving out funds in three categories.  A large share of the funds will be dedicated to developing broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved communities.  Two additional programs include grants for innovative projects that will drive the demand for broadband and grants for increasing public computing center capacity to provide access to those that can't afford a computer or broadband service at home. Commerce is expecting a large number of applications and is using experts to rate the various projects.  Of particular interest to the Department of Commerce are people with a background in broadband related activities, including engineering, business development, economics, research and development, and project management.  The Department is also interested in staff that have significant experience in the analysis and oversight of infrastructure projects. Participation by high quality expert reviewers will help ensure that these funds are well invested for our future.  The Department is looking for a minimum time commitment of approximately 20 hours between mid August and mid September.  You may apply directly to serve as a reviewer at btopreviewer@ntia.doc.gov.  More information about being a reviewer is available at broadbandusa.gov.

AAAS GrantsNet Express - A weekly American Association for the Advancement of Science listing of science funding opportunities from private foundations and organizations, and new U.S. government grant announcements in the sciences. AAAS will send GrantsNet by e-mail to AAAS member subscribers.

Grants.gov - The President's 2002 Fiscal Year Management Agenda established grants.gov as a central storehouse for information on over 1,000 grant programs. The site provides access to approximately $400 billion in annual awards. Most agencies, such as the DOE's Office of Science, use only grants.gov to list all funding opportunities. Other funding opportunities of interest include the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and NASA.

Nominations Open for New Award Recognizing Outstanding Researcher-Entrepreneurs - The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and the National Postdoctoral Association announced that they are accepting nominations for the Outstanding Postdoctoral Entrepreneur Award, which recognizes a researcher who has successfully brought his or her discovery to market. Nominees must have completed postdoctoral training in the United States and founded companies to commercialize their scientific discoveries. (To learn more about eligibility requirements for the award, go here.) The winner of the award, which includes a $10,000 honorarium, will be announced at the NPA's annual meeting in March 2010 in Philadelphia. Learn more about the Outstanding Postdoctoral Entrepreneur Award. Click here for the nomination form. Nominations must be submitted electronically or by mail by 2 November 2009.

Entries Invited for Lemelson-MIT Award for Sustainability - Funded by the Lemelson Foundation and administered by MIT's School of Engineering, the Lemelson-MIT Program recognizes outstanding inventors, encourages sustainable new solutions to real-world problems, and enables and inspires young people to pursue creative lives and careers through invention. Deadline: 6 October 2009

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Opportunities - The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) (Public Law 111-8) appropriates significant federal funding for technology-related programs in areas identified by IEEE-USA as being of high priority for strengthening the nation's innovation infrastructure and ensuring its long-term economic competitiveness.  To stimulate the economy, funds are being distributed as quickly as possible, using existing federal programs as funding outlets where possible.  This webpage provides information and links on these funding opportunities as a resource for IEEE members and their companies.  Additional information is available on-line at Recovery.Gov.  Members should also look to funds distributed through their respective state governments.


LATEST IEEE-USA & IEEE ACTIVITIES

 

  • Public Policy Priority Issues (111th Congress, 1st Session, 2009)

  • Position Statements - The statements identify important technical or engineering career-related aspects of public policy issues deemed to be of concern to or affecting IEEE's U.S. members; and make specific public policy recommendations for the consideration of Congress, the Executive Branch, the Judiciary, representatives of State and Local Government, and other interested groups and individuals, including IEEE members.

IEEE-USA Unveils Digital Archives, Features Organization's Four Decades of Service

IEEE-USA is building a digital archive featuring documents and photos of its 36-year history of promoting the careers and public policy interests of U.S. IEEE members. Part of the IEEE-USA History Project, the archive features:

-- An overview of the first four decades of IEEE-USA from 1973-2009
-- A listing of IEEE-USA's leaders from 1973 to date, including photos of boards of directors from 1998
-- A detailed description of IEEE-USA's formation and its first 10 years (1973-1983), including an IEEE Spectrum special report on the constitutional referendum that added professional activities to the IEEE constitution
-- A look at IEEE-USA growth and maturity from 1984-1999, with annual reports covering the 15-year period
-- A glimpse of IEEE-USA in the 21st Century from 2000-present, including annual reports from 2002-2008, years in review from 2005-2008, and program handbooks for 2007-2008
-- Program histories, including IEEE-USA's Student Professional Awareness Conferences (S-PACs)

John Meredith, IEEE-USA's 2007 president, is leading the IEEE-USA History Project. Meredith chaired the 2009 IEEE Conference on the History of Technical Societies, in Philadelphia from 5-7 August, and made a presentation on IEEE-USA history.

Sustainable Energy, S&T Policy among Government Documents Available through IEEE-USA E-Books

Did you know that the federal government publishes numerous documents and reports that are available to the general public? IEEE-USA has packaged some of these into e-books and is making them available free to IEEE members. Here are the latest titles:

"Building a Sustainable Energy Future Draft Report" (10 April 2009), prepared by the National Science Board, offers key findings, recommendations to the U.S. government, and guidance to the National Science Foundation (NSF) on how to transform the nation to a sustainable energy economy.

"Science and Technology Policymaking: A Primer" (27 May 2009), prepared by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), is an introductory guide for members of Congress and their staff. It provides an overview of U.S. science and technology policymaking, describes the processes and key players that contribute to that policy, and concludes by highlighting the opportunities and challenges facing the current S&T policy decision making process.

"The President's Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP): Issues for Congress" (3 June 2009) is a background report prepared by CRS for Congress. It provides a brief history of OSTP and issues and options for Congress regarding the office. These include, among others, the title, rank, roles and responsibilities of the OSTP director, and whether OSTP should remain within the Executive Office of the President.

Government documents and reports can be downloaded at www.ieeeusa.org/communications/ebooks for free to IEEE members. The nonmember price is $9.95. To purchase IEEE members-only products and to receive the member discount on eligible products, members must log in with their IEEE Web Account.

Got an Idea For an IEEE-USA E-Book? - If you've got an idea for an e-book that will educate your fellow IEEE members on a particular topic of expertise, e-mail your e-book queries and ideas to IEEE-USA Publishing Manager Georgia Stelluto.

IEEE-USA Stimulus Webpage -The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) (Public Law 111-8) appropriates significant federal funding for technology-related programs in areas identified by IEEE-USA as being of high priority for strengthening the nation's innovation infrastructure and ensuring its long-term economic competitiveness.  To stimulate the economy, funds are being distributed as quickly as possible, using existing federal programs as funding outlets where possible.  This webpage provides information and links on these funding opportunities as a resource for IEEE members and their companies.  Additional information is available on-line at Recovery.Gov.  Members should also look to funds distributed through their respective state governments.


Top of Page | What's New@IEEE | IEEE-USA

What's New @ IEEE-USA's Eye on Washington highlights important federal legislative and regulatory developments that affect U.S. engineers and their careers. In addition to this biweekly newsletter, subscribers receive legislative bulletins and action alerts on IEEE-USA priority issues, including: retirement security, employment benefits, research & development funding, computers and information policy, immigration reform, intellectual property protection and privacy of health/medical information.

You can change your IEEE-USA Eye on Washington subscription status by using the forms at http://www.ieeeusa.org/communications/emailupdates/default.asp

Copyright © 2009, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.  Permission granted to copy for personal use or for non-commercial republication with appropriate attribution.

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