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

Vol. 2010, No. 1 (11 January 2011)

CAPITOL HILL

THE WHITE HOUSE

President Obama Signed the COMPETES Act Into Law

White House Will Be Making Technology Neutral IT Procurement Decisions

Of Interest to New Grads - White House Order on Hiring Students and Recent Grads

FEDERAL AGENCY ACTIVITY

U.S. Commerce Department Opens First Ever Patent and Trademark Satellite Office in Detroit

LATEST IEEE-USA & IEEE ACTIVITIES

Plan to Participate in SET Congressional Visits Day 2011

U.S. STATES

Virginia Governor Proposes $25M Research and Technology Fund, $50M Boost for Higher Ed

State of the Recovery: State by State

AWARDS, FELLOWSHIPS & GRANTS

White House OSTP Student Volunteer Application Deadline Extended

REPORTS, DOCUMENTS OF NOTE & INFO RESOURCES

FCC IPv6 Working Paper Cites IEEE-USA Whitepaper


CAPITOL HILL

The Senate is in recess until January 25th. The House has postponed voting in the wake of the shootings in Arizona.


THE WHITE HOUSE

President Obama Signed the COMPETES Act Into Law

President Barack Obama signed the reauthorization of the COMPETES Act, extending the federal competitiveness initiative that provides funding for numerous science, STEM education and commercialization programs. Though the final bill represents a significantly scaled-back version of the legislation which the House passed in May, the final version will allow the programs introduced in the COMPETES Act to continue for another three years. The reauthorization also includes a new regional innovation program to award competitive grants for activities relating to the formation and development of regional innovation clusters.

The 2007 America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education and Science (COMPETES) Act authorized $43 billion in new federal spending over three years to support research and STEM education. In order to enhance U.S. scientific competitiveness, the legislation put several federal research agencies on a path towards doubling their budget authorizations, including the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Science, and the laboratory activities of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The bill put a particularly strong emphasis on energy research as a key to U.S. competitiveness, creating the DOE ARPA-E energy innovation program. Research agencies will remain on track to double their budgets under COMPETES over ten years. ARPA-E is funded at $300 million a year over the next three years.

The Department of Commerce will house a new Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship charged with developing policies to accelerate innovation and advance the commercialization of U.S. research and development and coordinating Commerce innovation initiatives. These initiatives include a new Regional Innovation program that would support regional innovation strategies, including cluster-based initiatives and science or research parks, a pilot program to promote high-end computing simulation and modeling by small manufacturers and federal loan guarantees for innovative manufacturing technologies. NIST's Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) will administer a green manufacturing and construction initiative for high-performance building standards. The bill also directs the administration to develop a national competitiveness and innovation strategy. Actual funding levels for the act's provisions will depend on the decisions of appropriators over the next few months. The current continuing resolution extends the deadline for appropriations through March 4.

White House Will Be Making Technology Neutral IT Procurement Decisions

"Each year, the U.S. Government spends almost $80 billion dollars buying information technology (IT); the software, computer equipment and network devices that help the Government run efficiently.  It is important that those purchases be fair, neutral and based on an objective assessment of relevant criteria.  To ensure that the agencies and the public are aware of our policy, today U.S. Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra, Administrator for Federal Procurement Policy Dan Gordon and I issued a statement to Senior Procurement Executives and Chief Information Officers reminding them to select IT based on appropriate criteria while analyzing available alternatives including proprietary, open source and mixed source technologies." -- Victoria Espinel, U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator

Of Interest to New Grads - White House Order on Hiring Students and Recent Grads

"... There are hereby established the Internship Program and the Recent Graduates Program, which, along with the Presidential Management Fellows Program, as modified herein, shall collectively be known as the Pathways Programs."


FEDERAL AGENCY ACTIVITY

U.S. Commerce Department Opens First Ever Patent and Trademark Satellite Office in Detroit

The Commerce Department plans to open the first ever USPTO satellite office in Detroit, MI in 2011. The new office is expected to create more than 100 new jobs in its first year and provide a boost to the region’s innovation economy. The office will represent the first phase of the USPTO’s Nationwide Workforce Program, an effort to hire more patent examiners and seek out additional resources and technical expertise in locations across the country. Following an evaluation of the first satellite office, the USPTO will consider opening additional offices, which would provide the patent applicant community and our nation’s innovators greater access to the USPTO and the services it offers.

"The current backlog of patent applications delays the commercialization of American innovation and the creation of new jobs and economic growth," Locke said. "Recruiting and retaining top patent examiners from across the country is an integral part of reducing the backlog. We're very excited to bring the first ever satellite office of our nation's innovation agency to one of the country’s most important innovation centers – the city of Detroit."

"The Nationwide Workforce Program represents a shift in the way the USPTO does business from a human capital and stakeholder outreach perspective," Kappos said. "Establishing satellite offices in geographically and economically diverse areas of the country will enable the agency to better recruit and retain a broad range of talented patent professionals."

A specific location and anticipated opening date for the new Detroit office will be announced in the coming months. The office will work closely with the Commerce Department’s CommerceConnect facility in Pontiac, MI. The USPTO considered a broad range of factors in its decision to locate the new satellite office in Detroit. The city fulfilled a number of critical criteria, including having a high percentage of scientists and engineers in the workforce; providing access to major research institutions, particularly leading universities; and supporting a high volume of patenting activity and significant numbers of patent agents and attorneys in the area. As the USPTO explores expansion into other areas of the country, the agency will continue to engage with employees and stakeholders to determine the most effective use of satellite offices as centers of applicant and public engagement, as well as the most efficient distribution of human resources.


LATEST IEEE-USA & IEEE ACTIVITIES

  • Public Policy Priority Issues (111th Congress, 2nd Session, 2010)

  • Public Policy Position Statements on issues deemed to be of concern to or affecting IEEE's U.S. members. The statements 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.

Plan to Participate in SET Congressional Visits Day 2011

Scheduled for 6-7 April in Washington, the multi-society Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) Congressional Visits Day brings hundreds of scientific and technical professionals to Washington to met with their legislators on the importance of federal support for S&T research and innovation.  Space is limited, so apply before the 23 March deadline. 

IEEE-USA E-Books - To see the latest E-Books, visit our online catalog which includes the 2010 IEEE-USA Salary & Fringe Benefits Survey, the 2010 Profile of IEEE Consultants and two new GovDocs.

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.


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.

Virginia Governor Proposes $25M Research and Technology Fund, $50M Boost for Higher Ed

Governor Bob McDonnell has announced a $25 million fund providing grants for tech commercialization, matching funds for research, and funding to attract "star" researchers to Virginia's universities. The grants are a key component of his $54 million Opportunity at Work agenda presented to Virginia's lawmakers as part of his 2010-12 budget. The governor's budget also includes $5 million for a refundable R&D tax credit and an extra $50 million for higher education directed toward increasing college access and economic development opportunities.

The $25 million Virginia Research and Technology Innovation Fund will be governed by a board of technology industry experts, legislators and administration representatives with funding directed toward targeted sectors including information technology, biotechnology, life sciences, alternative energy, advanced electronics, polymers, composites and aerospace propulsion. Grants or loans would be distributed among three funds:

--Commercialization Fund — providing grants to grow new small and existing businesses to accelerate entrance of new products and services to the market;
--Research and Matching Fund — providing matching funds to incentivize collaboration between institutions of higher education and companies engaged in research in high-growth, emerging industries; and,
--Eminent Scholars Fund — providing funding for brining the best and brightest researchers, scholars, and professors in key technologies to Virginia universities.

Other components of the agenda include $5 million for a refundable R&D tax credit for startups and early stage firms in targeted industries; $5 million for the Virginia Small Business Financing Authority to provide access to capital for small businesses; and, $3 million to support noncredit courses in the Virginia Community College System used to strengthen workforce development efforts. To see all of Governor McDonnell's proposed changes visit: http://dpb.virginia.gov/budget/buddoc11/pdf/budgetdocument2011.pdf.

State of the Recovery: State by State

In December, the Joint Economic Committee under democratic leadership released a state-by-state analysis of the economic recovery. Also, read press coverage from The Hill. The JEC contends,

"While the trough in economic activity occurred in June 2009, the economy continued to lose jobs on a national level until the end of 2009. It has not been unusual for job losses to continue into the recovery following recent U.S. recessions—the economy continued to shed jobs after the 2001 recession and the 1990-91 recession. The recovery in 2010 appears more robust than it appeared in the second half of 2009, especially when controlling for the demobilization of decennial Census workers in the second half of 2010. While only 26 states and the District of Columbia show private sector job gains to date from the end of the recession, 46 states plus the District of Columbia have gained private sector jobs in 2010 thus far."


AWARDS, FELLOWSHIPS & GRANTS

White House OSTP Student Volunteer Application Deadline Extended

Want to assist OSTP staff on exciting policy issues in the many domains that involve science and technology? If so, take note: You now have a few additional weeks because we are extending the application deadline for this summer from January 14 to January 31. Click here to read about the program or here for details on applying. Use these extra few weeks to sharpen your writing sample or resume, or if you are confident with your application, send it in early!

National Science Foundation Recent opportunities include:

Cyberinfrastructure Training, Education, Advancement, and Mentoring for Our 21st Century Workforce  (CI-TEAM) - New information, communication, and computational technologies have had profound impacts on the practice of science (in this solicitation, the term science includes the natural, mathematical, computing, and social sciences),  engineering, and education. This includes the means by which citizens of all ages use science  and engineering to enhance professional and private lives.  The systems, tools, and services emerging from these new technologies are linked to create a comprehensive cyberinfrastructure that is enabling individuals, groups, and organizations to advance research and education in ways that revolutionize who can participate, what they can do, and how they do it. Sustaining this revolution across all areas of science, engineering, and education requires the formation of a citizenry and workforce with the knowledge and skills needed to design and deploy as well as adopt and apply these cyber-based systems, tools and services over the long-term. The opportunity for such preparation should be available at all stages of formal and informal education (K-16 and lifelong), training and professional development, and must be extended to all individuals and communities.

EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement Program: Track-2  (RII Track-2) - The Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) is a program designed to fulfill the National Science Foundation's (NSF) mandate to promote scientific progress nationwide. The EPSCoR program is directed at those jurisdictions that have historically received lesser amounts of NSF Research and Development (R&D) funding. Twenty-seven states, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the U. S. Virgin Islands are currently eligible to  participate. Through this program, NSF establishes partnerships with government, higher education, and industry that are designed to effect lasting improvements in a state’s or region’s research infrastructure, R&D capacity and hence, its national R&D competitiveness.

Historically Black Colleges and Universities Undergraduate Program (HBCU-UP) - The Education Research Projects track has been renamed the Broadening Participation Research in STEM Education (BPR) track. The HBCU-UP BPR track provides support to research projects that seek to enhance understanding of the participation of underrepresented groups in STEM education, inform education practices and interventions, and assess impact of efforts to increase successful retention, degree completion, and transition to graduate school or the workforce among underrepresented minority students. A new focus of HBCU-UP is the recruitment and retention of Veterans in STEM fields as a means to diversify and increase the STEM workforce. Implementation proposals that recruit a cohort of Veterans and suggest strategies to retain them, are strongly encouraged.

IEEE-USA 2012 Government Fellowships

Each year, IEEE-USA sponsors three government fellowships for qualified IEEE members.  The fellows - chosen by the IEEE-USA Government Fellows Committee and confirmed by the Board - 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 science, technology and engineering professionals with government, and provides a mechanism for IEEE's U.S. members to learn firsthand about the public policy process while imparting their knowledge and experience to policymakers. 2012 Application materials are now available. Deadline is 18 March 2011.

Read an article by one of the current fellows - Dr. Norman Lerner who is serving as a State Department fellow at our mission to the Organization of American States - in January's Today's Engineer. For those of you who may be attending the IEEE-USA Annual Meeting in Austin, the chair of the Fellows Committee, Marc Apter, along with several former fellows, will be presenting a session on Saturday, 11:30am, March 5th.

Application Kit for 2012 Congressional Fellowship

Application Kit for 2012 Engineering & Diplomacy (State Department) Fellowship

California Science and Technology Policy Fellowships

The California Council on Science and Technology (CCST) is pleased to announce that applications are now being accepted for the 2011-2012 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. Deadline for submission of applications is March 31, 2011 at 5:00 p.m. PST.

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.

Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Solicitations - The majority of EERE financial opportunities are for business, industry, and universities.

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.

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.


REPORTS, DOCUMENTS OF NOTE & INFO RESOURCES

FCC IPv6 Working Paper Cites IEEE-USA Whitepaper

An FCC working paper on the  "Potential Impacts on Communications of IPv4 Exhaustion and IPv6 Transition" released in December, extensively cites IEEE-USA's 2009 whitepaper on IPv4 Address Exhaustion.

The Alliance for Science & Technology Research in America

ASTRA's Regional Innovation Index™ is created to support policymakers and analysts working on innovation in their region. The Index is an online tool integrating hundreds of data sets drawn from various innovation literatures into a single system designed for benchmarking the innovative capacity of regions. Extensive reporting and exporting capabilities mean that users get usable data immediately, and the capacity to develop their analysis further. Development of the Index was funded by the Advanced Technology Program at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Government Accountability Office

Public Health Information Technology: Additional Strategic Planning Needed to Guide HHS's Efforts to Establish Electronic Situational Awareness Capabilities GAO-11-99, December 17, 2010 Summary (HTML)   Highlights Page (PDF)   Full Report (PDF, 49 pages) Accessible Text  Recommendations (HTML)

Telecommunications: FCC's Performance Management Weaknesses Could Jeopardize Proposed Reforms of the Rural Health Care Program GAO-11-27, November 17, 2010 Summary (HTML)  Highlights Page (PDF) Full Report (PDF, 84 pages)   Accessible Text   E-supplements   Recommendations (HTML)

B-2 Bomber: Review of the Air Force's Decision to Change Extremely High Frequency Satellite Communications Antennas GAO-11-180R, December 16, 2010 Summary (HTML) Full Report (PDF, 30 pages) Accessible Text

Export Controls: Agency Actions and Proposed Reform Initiatives May Address Previously Identified Weaknesses, but Challenges RemainGAO-11-135R, November 16, 2010 Summary (HTML)   Full Report (PDF, 25 pages)   Accessible Text

Congressional Research Service

An assortment of reports from the last year.

U.S. Initiatives to Promote Global Internet Freedom: Issues, Policy, and Technology (CRS148797)

Spectrum Policy in the Age of Broadband: Issues for Congress (CRS145560)

Industrial Competitiveness and Technological Advancement: Debate Over Government Policy (CRS139289)

Foreign Science and Engineering Presence in U.S. Institutions and the Labor Force (CRS141610)

Nanotechnology: A Policy Primer (CRS145098)

The Role of Trade Secrets in Innovation Policy (CRS148809)


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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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