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Vol. 2007, No. 2 (9 February 2007)

1) CAPITOL HILL WATCH

  • House Members Sponsor Resolution Supporting National Engineers Week
  • Wyden, Burr, Gordon, Hall Kick Off Congressional Nanotechnology Caucus
  • Senate Finance Committee's Agenda Includes R&D Credit, Tax Ban
  • The 2007 Energy Bill
  • Congress and RFID
  • President's FY08 Budget Critisized for Lacking Priorities and Consistency to Ensure U.S. Competitiveness

2) WHITE HOUSE & EXECUTIVE AGENCY WATCH

  • NSF: Cyber-enabled Discovery and Innovation
  • Letter from NSF Director on the Effects of the Long-term Continuing Resolution on NSF Programs

3) REPORTS, SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS OF NOTE

  • Government Accountability Office Reports

4) U.S. COURTS ACTIVITY

5) U.S. STATES WATCH

6) AWARDS & GRANTS

7) CONFERENCES, FELLOWSHIPS, PROGRAMS & INTERNSHIPS FOR ENGINEERS, and STUDENTS and SCHOLARS OF ENGINEERING

  • 2007 Engineering R&D Symposium

8) LATEST IEEE-USA & IEEE ACTIVITIES

  • IEEE-USA Policy Priorities List Approved
  • IEEE-USA Commends Congress for Increasing Investment in Innovation and Competitiveness Programs
  • IEEE-USA Presidents Cited in Recent Publications
  • SAVE THE DATE!  March 13 – 14, 2007  The 3rd Annual IEEE-USA Career Fly-In
  • Track IEEE-USAs Progress
  • IEEE-USA In The News

9) U.S. COMPETITIVENESS & INNOVATION: WHO'S DOING WHAT TO ADDRESS THE ISSUE?

10) OTHER ITEMS OF POSSIBLE INTEREST


1) CAPITOL HILL WATCH

  • House Members Sponsor Resolution Supporting National Engineers Week

Congressmen Dan Lipinski (D-IL) and Bob Inglis (R-SC) sponsored H. Res. 59, a resolution Supporting the Goals and Ideals of National Engineers Week, expressing the House's support for this honorary week which occurs 18-24 February 2007). National Engineers Week recognizes not only the contributions engineers have made to American life, but also aims to raise interest in engineering and technology careers and promotes literacy in math and science.  For the full text, visit: http://thomas.loc.gov/, and enter "H Res 59" into the search field.

  • Wyden, Burr, Gordon, Hall Kick Off Congressional Nanotechnology Caucus

Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Richard Burr (R-NC), and Congressmen Bart Gordon (D-TN) and Ralph Hall (R-TX) – co-chairs of the Congressional Nanotechnology Caucus – kicked off the new Congress by announcing a lecture series for congressional staffers designed to educate them about the enormous potential and challenges faced by nanotechnology.

Nanotechnology is expected to have a significant impact on the future of information technology, homeland security, medicine, and energy production and distribution. Estimates of the potential annual global market for products that apply nanotechnology exceed $2 trillion by 2014, and projections indicate that two million workers are likely to be needed to support nanotechnology industries worldwide.

The purpose of the Nanotechnology Caucus is to promote nanotechnology, educate policy makers about this emerging area, and facilitate communications between industrial and academic researchers and the Hill. To that end, the Caucus' lecture series will draw speakers from government, industry and academia to provide congressional staff with a solid understanding of this dynamic field. IEEE-USA is working with the appropriate congressional staff to provide expertise from among our membership. Topics will include:

Nanotechnology: Introduction and Overview.

Nanotechnology and Medicine

Nanotechnology and Energy

Nanotechnology, Electronics and Photonics

Nanotechnology and Security

Nanotechnology and the Environment

Nanotechnology and Environment, Health, and Safety Issues

Nanotechnology and Commercialization

Nanotechnology and International Competition

  • House and Senate Committees' Agendas Include R&D Credit

The perennial push for a permanent research and development tax credit is back on the technology industry's agenda this year, and the Senate Finance Committee will be one of the chief battlegrounds. In its last hours, the 109th Congress extended the credit; but that reprieve lasts only through December 2007. In January, Texas Instruments credited its higher-than-expected quarterly profit to the extension of the research tax credit retroactive to the beginning of 2006. Industry's long-term goal is to make the credit permanent or to at least get another extension for as long as possible.

Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) has filed comprehensive tax legislation, which includes language to make the R&D tax credit permanent. Baucus said the goal of the tax bill is to boost American competitiveness and encourage innovation. The measure also would create a tax credit to help small tech companies access capital and give tax-exempt bond authority to states and communities seeking to improve their research capabilities.

Supporting the R&D tax credit is also a priority for the House Ways and Means Committee, along with protecting intellectual property and fostering citizen involvement in government through technology. Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY) also supports health information technology and e-health records but is concerned about protecting patient privacy, too.

  • The 2007 Energy Bill

The House passed H.R.6, a bill to "reduce our Nation's dependency on foreign oil by investing in clean, renewable, and alternative energy resources, promoting new emerging energy technologies, developing greater efficiency, and creating a Strategic Energy Efficiency and Renewables Reserve to invest in alternative energy, and for other purposes."  The legislation, which shifts certain revenue from royalties and tax incentives from oil and gas companies into a reserve fund for alternative and renewable energies, has been placed on the Senate's calendar and is awaiting a hearing.

  • Congress and RFID

Last year, eight technology associations established an RFID Technology Council – of which IEEE-USA is a part – to support the Senate Radio-Frequency Identification Devices Caucus, also formed last year. Senators John Cornyn, (R-Tex.) and Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) co-chair the caucus which will work with government agencies, research institutions, nonprofits and corporations to better understand how to use RFID devices.

Kara Calvert, director of government relations at the Information Technology Industry Council that co-founded the new council, said the goal is to have up to five roundtables a year focusing on RFID issues like privacy, the technology and risks associated with it. The hope is to educate members of Congress, especially freshmen, and create a dialogue around RFID. The devices are now used on everything from ID cards to tracing store inventory and even vehicles going through toll roads. The Council hopes to recruit more members – from users of the devices like Wal-Mart to industry experts who make RFID. There is no cost to join. The goal is to focus the first roundtable discussion early this spring on competitiveness issues associated with RFID.  For information on IEEE-USA's RFID activities, read: http://www.todaysengineer.org/2006/nov/RFID.asp and http://ieeeusa.org/volunteers/committees/CCP/ The IEEE-USA position statement on this issue can be read at: http://www.ieeeusa.org/policy/positions/rfid.html

  • President's FY08 Budget Critisized for Lacking Priorities and Consistency to Ensure U.S. Competitiveness

 

The Administration has released its annual budget request to Congress.  The FY 2008 $3 trillion request includes $142.6 billion for research and development.

 

"While the President's budget includes some important funding increases, it lacks the priorities and consistency to ensure our competitiveness now and in the long run," said House Committee on Science and Technology Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN).

 

"… I am deeply concerned that our children will be the first generation of Americans not to inherit a better quality of life than their parents.  We need to get serious about making sure our kids grow up in a country whose economic strength is sound and continues to be the envy of the world. "

 

According to a press release from Gordon's office, the White House FY08 budget includes $6.429 billion for the National Science Foundation (NSF).  However, the President again proposes to create new requirements under the Department of Education and the No Child Left Behind Act - which have been perennially overburdened and under funded - while ignoring the demonstrated success of K-12 education programs at NSF.  Those programs are cut $15 million from the FY07 Continuing Resolution level and flat relative to the President's FY07 request.

 

"Rather than continuing to add to the bureaucracy at the Department of Education, the President would be better served to utilize the longstanding expertise and success of the National Science Foundation in improving math and science skills for teachers and students," added Chairman Gordon.

 

In January, Gordon, who champions science education, led the House in authoring an innovation package of legislation built upon the recommendations of the widely acknowledged 2005 "Rising Above the Gathering Storm" report issued by the National Academy of Sciences.  The new legislation ("10,000 Teachers, 10 Million Minds" Science and Math Scholarship Act (H.R. 362) and Sowing the Seeds Through Science and Engineering Research Act (H.R. 363)) underscores the importance of NSF's work in maintaining U.S. preeminence in math and science education and research.

These bills will serve as the vehicle for broader discussion of issues by the Science and Technology Committee, as well as a cornerstone of the Democrats' Competitiveness and Innovation Agenda.

Gordon also criticzed the budget for insufficient support of it energy R&D at the Department of Energy Office of Science, and not going far enough to promote the commercialization of energy technologies.  Thus, Gordon has introduced the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) Act (H.R. 364).  Under the legislation, ARPA-E provides funding for innovative, out-of-the-box research projects carried out by industry, universities and consortia of groups, including federal laboratories.  The program is designed to give science and technology experts unprecedented flexibility and resources to develop new technologies through high-risk, high-return research addressing the nation's most pressing energy problems.

On the other side of the aisle, the House Science Committee's ranking member Ralph Hall (R-TX) said, "It should be no surprise that we are operating in a very tight budget environment.  Given these circumstances, I am pleased with a budget proposal that first and foremost will reduce the National Deficit, but will also increase American competitiveness through more funding for research and development (R&D).  The research agencies highlighted in the American Competitiveness Initiative would get a significant boost under the President's FY08 proposal, equivalent to a 7.1 percent increase.  I am particularly pleased with the increased funding for R&D at the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy's Office of Science, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology."

 

The President's FY 2008 budget also

 

  • proposes $640.7 million for the physical science portions of the National Institutes of Science and Technology (NIST).  However, since taking office the President has proposed eliminating two programs that have a proven track record of aiding small businesses and creating new jobs - the Manufacturing Extension Partnership and Advanced Technology Program.  Overall, the President's budget proposes cutting NIST's budget by 4%.
  • proposes $17.3 billion for NASA and overall increase of 3.1 percent. The budget also includes $396 million over five years in grants for aeronautics research to university and industry labs, expanding the participation of the best researchers around the country. However, the proposal is criticized as being insufficient and unable to support the agency's long-term missions as dictated by the new National Aeronautics Research and Development Policy. NASA will concentrate on fundamental aeronautics, aviation safety, and the needs of the Next Generation Air Transportation System; service and upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope; and build new telescopes such as Kepler to find planets around other stars and the James Webb Space Telescope to peer deep into the history of the universe.
  • proposed $1.9 billion for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. This is the fourth year in a row the White House has recommended the Congress allow the agency keep fees collected from patent and trademark applications instead of diverting funding to other government programs. The money would be used to hire a net gain of about 800 patent examiners and expand its worldwide intellectual property protection efforts. The funding request also would let the agency move toward its goal of processing all patent and trademark applications electronically.
  • proposes a 6.8 percent increase to $6.4 billion over the agency's expected fiscal 2007 budget.,  for the National Science Foundation. The budget also includes across-the-board increases for NSF programs, including a 4.5 percent increase over Bush's fiscal 2007 proposal for NSF's nanotechnology research investments. The funding increase is designed to help build a new NSF center to address environmental, health and safety research needs for nanomaterials.

2) WHITE HOUSE & EXECUTIVE AGENCY WATCH

 

  • NSF: Cyber-enabled Discovery and Innovation

"America's preeminence in information technology is widely recognized as essential to our economic competitiveness. The infusion of computation into science and engineering has revolutionized how research is carried out and applied. Once used by only a handful of elite researchers on select problems, advanced computing has now become essential to future progress and exploration. Coupled with continuing improvements in microprocessor speeds, converging advances in networking, software, visualization, data systems and collaboration platforms are changing the way research and education are accomplished.

In FY 2008, the National Science Foundation (NSF) will begin the Cyber-enabled Discovery and Innovation (CDI) initiative to explore radically new concepts, approaches and tools at the intersection of computational and physical or biological worlds. For four decades, NSF has provided leadership in the scientific revolution made possible by information technology. Through investments ranging from supercomputing centers and the Internet to software and algorithm development, NSF-supported information technology has stimulated scientific breakthroughs across all science and engineering fields." For more information, visit, http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=108366

  • Letter from NSF Director on the Effects of the Long-term Continuing Resolution on NSF Programs

In a letter dated 12 January 2007, NSF Director Arden L. Bement, Jr. said:

"Most Federal agencies, including the National Science Foundation (NSF), are operating under a Continuing Resolution (CR) through February 15, 2007. Under the terms of this current CR, NSF is being funded at the FY 2006 level, roughly $400 million below the Administration's FY 2007 request.

"The outlook for the remainder of the fiscal year remains highly uncertain, with one possibility being an extension of funding at the current level. While we are acutely aware of the tight constraints on the available budgetary resources, NSF is continuing to issue program announcements and solicitations as previously planned.

"It is likely, however, that NSF may be unable to fund a number of activities planned for this fiscal year. We believe it is important for NSF's grantee community to be aware of this uncertainty, as a number of activities may be affected later in the fiscal year.

"We will do our best to keep the science, engineering, and education communities informed of budget developments, and will continue our efforts to minimize any negative impacts to our nation's scientific capability and economic competitiveness."


3) REPORTS, SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS OF NOTE

According to a new study from Duke University, immigrant entrepreneurs founded 25.3 percent of the U.S. engineering and technology companies established in the past decade. What's more, foreign nationals -- those living in the U.S. who are not citizens -- contributed to an estimated 24.2 percent of international patent applications in 2006. The report, "America's New Immigrant Entrepreneurs," is available online.

 

Content First  and the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) were commissioned by the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) to develop a study on the economic impact of immigrants on the U.S. economy.  Content First established a database of nearly 900 venture backed companies that went public beginning in 1970. The founder(s) nativity for each company was examined to determine the number of foreign born founders among these firms.

 

Key Findings:

 

  • Fully 25% of the venture-backed public companies that have been established in the last 15 years were started by one or more immigrant founders
  • In the tech sector, that figure rises to 40 percent
  • The list of companies includes such well-known names as Google, Yahoo, Sun Microsystems and eBay
  • The combined market cap of these companies exceeds $500 billion, which standing alone would put it about 17th in world GDP
  • More than 400,000 jobs have been created worldwide by these companies
  • Government Accountability Office Reports

Highlights of a GAO Forum:  Global Competitiveness: Implications for the Nation's Higher Education System (GAO-07-135SP) January 23, 2007 http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-07-135SP

Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d07135sphigh.pdf

Dr. Ron Hira, IEEE-USA Vice President for Career Activities, sent a letter to U.S. Comptroller David Walker in response to this publication, expressing concern that the GAO report did not include a balanced discuss of visa programs like the H-1B. The letter can be read here: http://ieeeusa.org/policy/policy/2007/020207.pdf

Department of Energy: Key Challenges Remain for Developing and Deploying Advanced Energy Technologies to Meet Future Needs (GAO-07-106) December 20, 2007 http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-07-106

Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/highlights/d07106high.pdf


4) U.S. COURTS ACTIVITY

No items at this time.


5) US STATES WATCH

No items at this time.


6) AWARDS & GRANTS

 

  • AAAS Grant Site

The American Association for the Advancement of Science has a service called GrantsNet Express.  Each week GrantsNet will provide a 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 weekly emails will include: — New science funding programs, divided into opportunities for postdocs/graduate students and undergraduates — Submission deadlines for funding opportunities scheduled in the upcoming week — New listings of funding for science-related research.


7) CONFERENCES, FELLOWSHIPS, PROGRAMS & INTERNSHIPS FOR ENGINEERS, and STUDENTS & SCHOLARS OF ENGINEERING

  • 2007 Engineering R&D Symposium

Mark your calendar to attend the 5th Annual Engineering R&D Symposium scheduled for Tuesday, May 8, 2007 in Washington, DC. Join leaders from the engineering community to gain firsthand knowledge of the administration's R&D priorities and the potential impact of the President's fiscal year 2008 budget request on the engineering, science and technology community.  Engineers play a critical role in the public policy process, providing expertise and knowledge regarding research and technology issues facing the nation.  The symposium will feature representatives from government, industry and academia, who will participate in panel sessions on innovation, U.S. competitiveness, research and development, and the state of the U.S. engineering enterprise. Contact Kathryn Holmes, Director, ASME Government Relations at holmesk@asme.org for additional information.


8) LATEST IEEE-USA & IEEE ACTIVITIES

  • IEEE-USA Policy Priorities List Approved

The IEEE-USA Board has approved the policy priorities list for the 110th Congress.  It is now available on our website at http://www.ieeeusa.org/policy/issues/index.html

  • IEEE-USA Commends Congress for Increasing Investment in Innovation and Competitiveness Programs

IEEE-USA President John Meredith commended congressional leaders for including increased investments in innovation and competitiveness in the proposed continuing budget resolution in a 31 January letter. The continuing resolution includes increased funding for research and development (R&D) at the Department of Energy Office of Science, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the National Science Foundation."We are pleased to see that Congress recognizes the vital role that science and technology R&D play in ensuring U.S. competitiveness, energy independence and national security," Meredith wrote. "In addition, the need for a strong and balanced federal R&D portfolio is critically important for the United States to maintain its leadership role and assure future economic prosperity in the emerging global economy."IEEE-USA encourages bipartisan cooperation and support for legislation promoting U.S. innovation and competitiveness. See the letter at http://www.ieeeusa.org/policy/policy/2007/013107.pdf

  • IEEE-USA President Cited in Recent Publications

U.S. engineers need to hone their competitive edge through continuing education and focus on productivity, innovation and entrepreneurship to maintain rewarding careers, 2006 IEEE-USA President Dr. Ralph W. Wyndrum Jr. told Business Week magazine."America's leadership in technology has underpinned our economic prosperity for the past half century," Wyndrum said. "But we have no monopoly on smart people, capital investment or the will to succeed. As developing economies use comparative labor cost and other advantages to build competing industries based on mature technologies, the United States can best create new jobs and new opportunity by leading the way with new technology."

"Keeping Research and Leadership at Home," by Duke University's Vivek Wadhwa, looks at what the United States can do to maintain its technological leadership and remain on the cutting edge of innovation.Wyndrum shared his perspective alongside Intel Chairman Craig Barrett; Charles Vest, president-elect of the National Academy of Engineering; and Rick Rashid, Microsoft senior vice-president of research, among others. The article is available at http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/content/jan2007/sb20070118_135378.htm Wyndrum's portion is on page 9.Also, Cox Newspapers quoted current IEEE-USA President John Meredith on the H-1B program in an article discussing how high-tech companies and other businesses are planning a full-court press to get the 110th Congress to increase the yearly allotment of H-1B visas for high-skilled foreign workers."

 There are many flaws in the H-1B program," including weak prevailing wage guidelines and limited enforcement mechanisms, said John Meredith, president of IEEE-USA, a unit of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.  Read the full article at:

http://www.coxwashington.com/hp/content/reporters/stories/2007/01/21/BC_H_1B_VISAS_ADV21_COX.html

  • SAVE THE DATE!  March 13 – 14, 2007  The 3rd Annual IEEE-USA Career Fly-In

IEEE-USA invites all IEEE members in the United States to join us in Washington, D.C. this coming March.  All participants will have an opportunity to meet with their elected officials and staff to discuss issues related to engineering careers.  This is a great opportunity for you to express your concerns directly to people who can do something about them.The 2007 Fly-In will probably focus on immigration reform. Congress is planning on continuing to debate major changes in the nation's immigration system.  High-skill immigration, which directly affects engineers, will be part of that debate.  But because the number of high-skill immigrants is so much smaller than low-skill immigrants, skilled immigration often does not receive much attention from legislators.The Fly-In will change that. Participants will have an opportunity to express their opinions on this important issue directly to the individuals responsible for making immigration policy.  Face-to-face meetings offer the best possible chance to influence their decisions because they force policy makers to focus on your position.  Politicians always listen when voters travel to Washington. Meetings in Washington are, without question, one of the best ways to influence Congress.  IEEE-USA will fully brief and prepare you in advance of your meetings.  We will also schedule your appointments.  You just have to come to Washington to have a direct impact on immigration policy.All IEEE members in the U.S. are welcome and encouraged to attend.More information can be found at www.ieeeusa.org or by contacting IEEE-USA staffer Russ Harrison at r.t.harrison@ieee.org.

  • Track IEEE-USAs Progress

Review IEEE-USA's year-to-date progress in working for the IEEE U.S. members at the new IEEE-USA Year-in-Review Web page. Check out what IEEE-USA activities and programs helped the IEEE U.S. members in 2004 at the new IEEE-USA Annual Report online. And find out what's on IEEE-USA's agenda through 2009, with the new, online IEEE-USA Strategic & Operational Plan.

For the IEEE-USA Year-in-Review, go to: http://www.ieeeusa.org/about/yearinreview.asp

For the IEEE-USA Annual Report, go to: http://www.ieeeusa.org/about/Annual_Report/2004.pdf

For the IEEE-USA Strategic & Operational Plan, go to:

http://www.ieeeusa.org/volunteers/strategicplan/index.html

Read a full listing of IEEE-USA lobbying activities on our web site at: http://ieeeusa.com/policy/policy/index.html

  • IEEE-USA In The News

For more IEEE-USA in the News items, go to

http://www.ieeeusa.org/communications/inthenews/default.asp


9) U.S. COMPETITIVENESS & INNOVATION: WHO'S DOING WHAT TO ADDRESS THE ISSUE?

  • IEEE-USA Resource  Web Page

U.S. Competitiveness: The Innovation Challenge  - A comprehensive list of reports and activities can be found at http://ieeeusa.org/policy/issues/innovation/index.asp


10) OTHER ITEMS OF POSSIBLE INTEREST

No items at this time.


Top of Page | Whats New@IEEE | EyeOnWash Archive | IEEE-USA


Whats New @ IEEE-USAs 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://whatsnew.ieee.org/ or at http://www.ieeeusa.org/emailupdates/.

Copyright © 2007, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.  Permission granted to copy for personal use or for non-commercial republication with appropriate attribution.

Updated: 07 February 2007


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