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What's New @ IEEE-USA - Eye On Washington

Vol. 2009, No. 1 (8 January 2010)


House Passes Pair of Data Security Measures

IEEE-USA President Praises Retiring House Science & Technology Committee Chairman

Sustained Commitment to Manned Space Flight Would Stabilize Aerospace Workforce


Obama Kicks Off 2010 With a STEM Education Battle Cry


Key NIST Position Filled, Next Steps Assigned for the New Smart Grid Panel


STEM in the States


Kentucky Expects To Be the first to Adopt New K-12 Core Education Content Standards


National Science Foundation

California Science & Technology Policy Fellowships

IEEE-USA Government Fellowships


2010 IEEE-USA Career Fly-In

WISE 2010 - Seeking FMR Applications

2009 Government Fellow Tom Lee's Copenhagen Diary: Blogging the UN Climate Conference

Fourth E-Book in IEEE-USA Innovation Series Released -- 'What it Takes To Be an Innovator'


Congress is slowly coming back to Washington this week and early indications are that the House priorities for 2010 are ambitious. The Speaker would like to focus on deficit reduction while at the same time pumping billions of dollars into creating and preserving jobs at a time of high unemployment. Creating jobs is a priority for any lawmaker facing a tough re-election race this fall.

Paramount on the still-to-do list for the 111th Congress is continuing with health care reform. The issue remains the president's No. 1 priority. On Christmas Eve, the Senate finally passed its version. Now it remains to be seen whether or not the competing House and Senate versions can be melded into a compromise package that Obama can sign in 2010.

Other issues for 2010 include bills attempting to cap carbon emissions in order to slow climate change and a revamp of the the financial services industry regulatory structure

Some of the last minute 2009 activities included:

House Passes Pair of Data Security Measures

8 DEC: The House passed a pair of technology-related measures aimed at safeguarding consumers' personal information. The first bill - HR 2221, Sponsor: Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) - requires parties that electronically collect consumers' personal information to take steps to keep the data secure. Congressman Rush pointed to security breaches affecting entities such as financial institutions, retailers, credit card processors, health care institutions and government agencies. Rush said the bill sets standards that are good for both consumers and business. The bill authorizes $6 million over six years for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and directs the agency to create rules for those involved in interstate commerce who own or possess data containing personal information, or that have a third party maintaining such data. Covered firms would have to establish procedures regarding information security practices to protect personal information, including a process to assess any system vulnerabilities. The bill requires entities to notify the FTC and affected consumers if there is a data breach, but allows law enforcement or national security agencies to delay notification under certain circumstances. The notification requirement would not apply if the compromised information is considered "unusable, unreadable or indecipherable" by encryption or other security technology. At a subcommittee hearing in May, the then-acting director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, Eileen Harrington, said the bill is supported by the FTC.

"A critical element of privacy is data security," Harrington said. "If companies do not protect the sensitive consumer information that they collect and store, that information could fall into the wrong hands, resulting in fraud and other harm, and consumers could lose confidence in the marketplace."

The second bill - HR 1319, Sponsor: Mary Bono Mack (R-Calif.) - prevents individuals from inadvertently sharing their personal information online when using file-sharing software. The bill imposes requirements on commercial entities that develop or distribute certain file-sharing programs — often referred to as peer-to-peer or P2P software. The firms would need to provide computer users and owners with certain notice and consent prior to the installation and initial use of the software. The bill also bars the commercial entities from preventing users from blocking installation or disabling or removing such software. The FTC would enforce these provisions and could issue regulations to accomplish the bill's purposes, but would be barred from requiring the deployment or use of any specific products or technologies.

IEEE-USA President Praises Retiring House Science & Technology Committee Chairman

15 DEC: Congressman Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.), chairman of the House Science & Technology Committee, announced that he would not seek re-election in 2010. IEEE-USA President Gordon Day praised Mr. Gordon (D-Tenn.) for his key role in maintaining the United States' global leadership in science and technology. Gordon was one of the principal architects of the bipartisan America COMPETES Act, which in 2007 made law many of the recommendations of the National Academies' 2005 report, "Rising Above the Gathering Storm." He then fought for funding of the new programs, achieving substantial success in 2009.

"I salute Chairman Gordon's visionary leadership in science and engineering legislation," Day said. "He understands the close linkage between technology and the economy, and his initiatives are stimulating innovation, building competitiveness and creating jobs. We hope that Congress reauthorizes the COMPETES Act and continue to increase funding for the programs it established."

Gordon's many other achievements include important legislation on energy and health IT. He and Congressman Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) were also the lead sponsors of a May 2009 congressional resolution recognizing IEEE's 125th anniversary, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives 409-0.  

"On behalf of 210,000 U.S. IEEE members, I thank Chairman Gordon for his quarter century of public service and wish him the best on the next phase of his personal and professional life." Day said.

Sustained Commitment to Manned Space Flight Would Stabilize Aerospace Workforce

10 DEC: In one of its last hearings of 2009, the Science and Technology Committee held a hearing focused on the health of the U.S. aerospace workforce and industrial base and how decisions on NASA's direction and funding would affect them, including decisions on human space flight plans.

"The decisions we make on the future direction and funding of NASA is a topic of tremendous importance to our nation," said Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics Ranking Member Pete Olson (R-TX).  "Attempts to stem the tide of rising double digit unemployment have not worked.  Against this backdrop of rising unemployment, we are facing decisions about NASA which will have a profound effect on not only jobs, but also on the critical knowledge, skills, and production capacities needed to maintain our Aerospace and Defense capabilities and compete in the 21st century."

According to a series of advisory reports, the U.S. aerospace workforce and space industrial base face growing challenges.  In its report, The Commission on the Future of the United States Aerospace Industry identified several critical issues including the aging of the aerospace workforce, consolidation in the industry, and "the failure of the U.S. K-12 education system to properly equip U.S. students with the math, science, and technological skills needed to advance the U.S. aerospace industry."  These concerns are particularly relevant during a period in which NASA is moving toward a planned retirement of the Space Shuttle, developing the next human space flight system, and will be relying on non-U.S. means of access to space for a period of at least 5 years.  The U.S. will need to make key decisions about the space program and NASA's plans for human space flight in low-Earth orbit and beyond.  These decisions will have significant implications for the aerospace workforce and industrial base. Olson highlighted the high-tech jobs that would be created from supporting a robust manned space flight program.

"In a perverse way that could only come from Washington, we are concerned about a shortage of engineers and scientists.  We are concerned about America losing important strategic manufacturing capabilities.  We are concerned about attracting and retaining young, high quality students to the Aerospace field," Olson said.  "Yet we are pursuing policies that in many ways may be exacerbating these very problems.  In the debate about job creation, the intent was to create high quality jobs that pay good wages and that reward important skills.  Those are the very jobs that are the norm in the aerospace industry."


Obama Kicks Off 2010 With a STEM Education Battle Cry

6 JAN: In a speech at the White House today President Obama emphasized the critical importance of an aggressive commitment to improving our nation's education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the so-called STEM fields.

"Make no mistake. Our future is on the line. The nation that out-educates us today is going to out-compete us tomorrow. To continue to cede our leadership in education is to cede our position in the world," said Obama. The president noted that in comparison to other high school students around the world, U.S. students currently rank 21st in science and 25th in math.

Obama's address was part of an awards ceremony for over 100 science teachers and mentors from across the country who have demonstrated outstanding work. President Obama also announced the creation of five new public-private partnerships aimed at raising U.S. students to the top of international math and science rankings in ten years. These initiatives are the newest component of the administration's " Educate to Innovate" campaign, which kicked off in November with an initial commitment of $260 million from philanthropic organizations and individuals. The initiative is designed to unite and engage citizens, institutions of higher education, non-profits, and businesses alike in the effort to propel STEM education in the United States. Obama has outlined three goals for the campaign: increasing students' STEM literacy and critical thinking, improving math and science teaching, and expanding opportunities for groups underrepresented in STEM fields like women and minorities. The new initiatives total an additional $250 million and include efforts by companies like Intel, Texas Instruments, PBS, and a coalition of 75 presidents of public universities, which has committed to train 10,000 science and math teachers annually by 2015.

As further evidence of the federal government's commitment to improving STEM education in the United States, the president also cited the "the largest investment in education by the federal government in history" in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, as well as specific initiatives such as the Department of Education's $4.35 billion "Race to the Top" fund, and the Department's plan to provide $10 million in grants to support innovative teaching and $43 million in grants for 28 Teacher Quality Partnership programs at colleges of education and in high-need school districts.

While the president recognized the government's responsibility to provide greater support for the recruitment, preparation, and retention of quality teachers to improve the nation's education in the sciences, he also reaffirmed his challenge to the scientific community to "to think of new and creative ways to engage young people in their fields." In response to this, the scientists at NASA will organize a multi-year "Summer of Innovation" enrichment program in which NASA scientists and engineers will work with thousands of teachers and students to work on cutting-edge STEM learning opportunities.

Other companies and organizations involved include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York, which are recruiting private sector leaders to advocate for STEM education in the states; Time Warner Communications, which is running a public service campaign; Sony Computer Entertainment America, which is launching a contest to design the best STEM-related video games for children; and the grassroots "National Lab Day" effort which is committed to working with 10,000 teachers and 1 million students this year.


Key NIST Position Filled, Next Steps Assigned for the New Smart Grid Panel

The Smart Grid Interoperability Panel's (SGIP's) governing board appointed Steve Widergren, a principal engineer at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, as plenary chair of the panel at its first meeting, held Dec. 8-9. Additionally, the SGIP, a unique public-private partnership with more than 400 member organizations, began laying plans for the new panel's work to support the U.S. Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology's (NIST's) effort to coordinate the expedited development of technical standards for the nation's Smart Grid.

NIST launched the SGIP in mid-November as a collaborative means for private and public sector stakeholders to provide input to accomplishing a key goal of the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007: building a secure and interoperable smart electric grid, an essential component of an envisioned clean energy economy. Under EISA, NIST is responsible for coordinating development of a "framework . . . to achieve interoperability of Smart Grid devices and systems."

Widergren, who has served as administrator of the GridWise Architecture Council and as Smart Grid interoperabilty and standards coordinator for the Department of Energy, will organize and preside over meetings of the entire SGIP. He also will appoint the chairs of the panel's two standing committees—one on Smart Grid architecture and the other on interoperability testing and conformance.

Now numbering 23 members (18 of whom participated in the meeting at NIST), the governing board prioritizes the work of the SGIP, and it will consult regularly with standards development organizations, user groups and others directly involved in Smart Grid standardization efforts. The board will coordinate resources necessary to carry out finalized SGIP action plans in efficient and effective manner.

"The collective brain power and experience of this governing board bodes well for the future of ongoing Smart Grid standardization efforts," said IEEE Senior Member George Arnold, NIST's national coordinator for Smart Grid interoperability, who serves as a non-voting member. "I also was impressed by the dedication and spirit of cooperation demonstrated by this diverse group."

Members also will serve as liaisons to domestic and international organizations engaged in or affected by standardization efforts relevant to modernization of electric power systems. Overall, the SGIP, which consists of organizations spread among 22 categories of Smart Grid stakeholders, has three primary functions:

1) Oversee activities intended to expedite the development of interoperability and cyber security specifications by standards setting organizations;
2) Provide technical guidance to facilitate development of standards for a secure, interoperable Smart Grid; and
3) Specify testing and certification requirements necessary to assess the interoperability Smart Grid-related equipment.

Other governing board business included initiating a call for candidates to fill the four open stakeholder-category positions on the board: electric transportation industry stakeholders; municipal utilities; electricity and financial market traders (including aggregators); and venture capital. The call for candidates will be posted. The board also began making preparations to provide input to future versions of the NIST Framework and Roadmap for Smart Grid Interoperability Standards, Release 1.0, and a second draft of a companion document, DRAFT NISTIR 7628 Smart Grid Cyber Security Strategy and Requirements. The EnerNex Corp. serves as SGIP administrator under a NIST-awarded contract enabled by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.


STEM in the States - The Washington-based Commission for Professionals in Science and Technology (CPST) published a new source of comparative statistics about the condition of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and workforce in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. More information, including a descriptive press release, the table of contents and sample statistics for North Carolina - as well as prices for print and electronic copies - is accessible online at

Government Accountability Office

International Space Station: Significant Challenges May Limit Onboard Research GAO-10-9  November 25, 2009 Summary (HTML)  Highlights Page (PDF) Full Report (PDF, 39 pages) Accessible Text

Telecommunications: FCC Needs to Improve Oversight of Wireless Phone Service GAO-10-34  November 10, 2009 Summary (HTML)    Highlights Page (PDF)   Full Report (PDF, 71 pages)   Accessible Text

Telecommunications: Surveys of Consumers and of State Utility Commissions about Wireless Phone Service (GAO-10-35SP, November 2009), an E-supplement to GAO-10-34GAO-10-35SP  November 10, 2009 Summary (HTML)

Intellectual Property: Enhancements to Coordinating U.S. Enforcement Efforts GAO-10-219T  December 9, 2009 Summary (HTML)    Full Report (PDF, 11 pages)   Accessible Text

Tax Policy: The Research Tax Credit's Design and Administration Can Be Improved GAO-10-136  November 6, 2009 Summary (HTML)    Highlights Page (PDF)   Full Report (PDF, 119 pages)   Accessible Text

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

Kentucky Expects To Be the first to Adopt New K-12 Core Education Content Standards

Kentucky expects to become the first US state to officially adopt new common core-content standards for math and English in grades K-12. The standards — which describe the classroom content deemed essential for children to master — focus on fewer concepts while stressing deeper learning and understanding. The Kentucky Board of Education, the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education and the Kentucky Education Professional Standards Board will meet on February 10th to approve the standards, which were developed by a national group of education experts.


National Science Foundation (

Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring - The PAESMEM Program seeks to identify outstanding mentoring efforts that enhance the participation of groups (i.e., women, minorities, and persons with disabilities) that are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The awardees serve as leaders in the national effort to develop fully the Nation's human resources in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

California Science & Technology Policy Fellowships - The California Council on Science and Technology (CCST) is pleased to announce that applications are now being accepted for the 2010-2011 California Science and Technology Policy Fellowships based in Sacramento. The S&T Policy Fellowship, a unique one-year professional development opportunity, provides the selected fellows with hands-on experience working with the California Legislature to incorporate science and technology into public policy. Eligible applicants will be PhD-level (or equivalent) scientists and engineers who have a sincere interest in California current events, the state legislative process, and a strong desire to learn how policy decisions are made. Please forward this announcement to any individuals or group listservs that may be interested in this exciting opportunity. Deadline for submission of applications is February 12, 2010 at 5:00 p.m. PST.

2011 IEEE-USA Government Fellowships- Each year, IEEE-USA sponsors three government fellowships for qualified IEEE members.  The fellows spend a year in Washington serving as advisers to the U.S. Congress and to key U.S. Department of State decision-makers. Known as either a Congressional Fellowship or an Engineering & Diplomacy Fellowship, this program links engineers with government, providing a mechanism for IEEE's U.S. members to learn firsthand about the public policy process. Application materials now available. Deadline: 15 March 2010

2009 Congressional Fellow Tom Lee with Vice President Al Gore in Copenhagen, December 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.

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. - The President's 2002 Fiscal Year Management Agenda established 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 to list all funding opportunities. Other funding opportunities of interest include the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and NASA.

AAAS: Communicating Science, Tools for Scientists & Engineers - Scientists and engineers who foster information-sharing and respect between science and the public are essential for the public communication of and engagement with science. Although traditional scientific training typically does not prepare scientists and engineers to be effective communicators outside of academia, funding agencies are increasingly encouraging researchers to extend beyond peer-reviewed publishing and communicate their results directly to the greater public. In response to this need in science communications, the AAAS Center for Public Engagement with Science and Technology has partnered with the National Science Foundation to provide resources for scientists and engineers, both online and through in-person workshops to help researchers communicate more broadly with the public.

Communicating Science online resources include webinars, how-to tips for media interviews, strategies for identifying public outreach opportunities, and more. Additionally, AAAS is providing workshops for scientists and engineers interested in learning more about science communication tools and techniques are now available. The schedule of NSF-sponsored workshops for the 2009-10 academic year has been updated and pre-registration is open. Please contact AAAS if you are interested in hosting a workshop at your institution.



  • 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.

2010 IEEE-USA Career Fly-In - IEEE-USA will be hosting a two-day Washington Fly-In to promote education reform on February 8 and 9 in Washington, DC. The event will focus on pending legislation to add engineering and technology to the standard science curriculum in public schools. Fly-In participants will meet with their members of Congress to discuss the state of science and math education in the Untied States, and to recommend ways to improve the system. All IEEE members in the United States are welcome and encouraged to participate.

WISE 2010 - Call for WISE 2010 Faculty-Member-In-Residence - If you are an outstanding faculty member or policy professional, WISE needs you to mentor and teach engineering students about the interaction between S&T and policymaking during the 2010 WISE Program in Washington, DC. (PDF Flyer) The deadline for applications is 31 January 2010.

2009 Government Fellow Tom Lee's Copenhagen Diary: Blogging the UN Climate Conference - 2009 IEEE-USA Government Fellow Thomas Lee is in Copenhagen for the UN Climate Change Conference, and he will be blogging about the latest developments and "filling in the gaps and providing 'color commentary' to what you may see in press coverage."

Fourth E-Book in IEEE-USA Innovation Series Released -- 'What it Takes To Be an Innovator' - Complete your set in IEEE-USA's e-book series on innovation with the fourth and final e-book, "What it Takes To Be an Innovator." In his latest book, author Gus Gaynor "discusses the critical element in innovation -- the innovator." He provides a picture of what an innovator could -- and should -- bring to an organization, including characteristics and attitudes, and discusses some famous innovators. You can purchase your copy of "Doing Innovation: Creating Economic Value -- Book 4: What it Takes To Be an Innovator" at for the IEEE member price: $9.95. The nonmember price is $19.95. The other books in the series are:

Book 1: "Perspectives on Innovation," gave an understanding of what innovation involves and how it takes place.
Book 2: "Developing a Workable Innovation Process," focused on the innovation process -- with emphasis on designing the innovation process from a systems perspective.
Book 3: "Fostering an Innovation Culture" provided the fundamentals for developing a culture that supports innovation.

Have 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.

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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.

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