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

Vol. 2007, No. 15 (19 December 2007)


  • Finally...FY 2008 Appropriations
  • The Innovation Agenda and the Omnibus Appropriation Bill
  • Congress Sends Comprehensive Energy Bill to White House
  • Alternative Energy Provisions and the Farm bill



  • Government Accountability Office Reports
  • Newly released ASTRA Report on Global Competitiveness






  • FY 2008 Appropriations Not Good for U.S. Innovation & Competitiveness
  • Former IEEE-USA President Highlights IEEE-USA Innovation Institute at IEEE Globecom 2007
  • Congressional Visits Day 2008 (4-5 March)
  • IEEE-USA Government Fellowships: Linking Engineers With Government
  • IEEE-USA Mass Media Fellows
  • IEEE WISE internships - Deadline is 31 December 2007
  • Track IEEE-USA's Progress
  • IEEE-USA In The News


  • Who Says Americans Are No Longer Creative


  • Finally...FY 2008 Appropriations

Congress finally finished work on the omnibus FY 2008 appropriations bill (H.R. 2764), although for most Democrats it comes at the price of continuing to fund a war they oppose. Republicans fought regular FY 2008 appropriations bills without war funding, and congressional leaders grew resigned to that fact to ensure completion of the appropriations process. Democrats had vowed to bring an end to the war in Iraq during 2006 elections, but without the votes needed to overcome Senate Republican filibusters, they were unable to set a timetable for a withdrawal or a drawdown of troops.

"After the last election, which was clearly decided on the issue of Iraq more than any other, I expected more Republicans to take an independent stance on these issues, but they have stayed loyal . . . to the president," said Richard Durbin (D – Ill.), the Senate majority whip.

Cleared for the president's signature, the bill encompasses 11 of the 12 annual spending bills (Department of Defense appropriations passed in early November), and provides $473.5 billion in discretionary spending for FY 2008 – $23 billion less than Congress sought for total funding of the federal government. Many maintain that the president's opposition to the Congressionally-proposed funding levels will have negative consequences for U.S. leadership.

"Mr. President, those aren't just meaningless numbers on an obscure government ledger," said Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. "There are consequences for our failure to invest in America."

  • The Innovation Agenda and the Omnibus Appropriation Bill

Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a statement on the bill saying,

"A sustained commitment to research and development is a key component [the] Innovation Agenda, which proposes to double funding for the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Standards and Technology, and the Department of Energy's Office of Science within 10 years. To achieve this goal, these three agencies need to receive a funding increase of 7 % annually.

"The House-passed Appropriations Bills would have more than achieved this goal:

·       The National Science Foundation would have received $6.5 billion, a 10% increase.
·       The National Institutes of Standards and Technology would have received $831 million, a 23% increase.
·       The Department of Energy's Office of Science would have received $4.5 billion, a 25% increase.

"The 110th Congress has also been working throughout this year to restore critical American priorities that the President's budget shortchanged, ..."

"Many of these cuts proposed by the President would be a threat to American innovation and competitiveness, including:

·       cuts of 800 grants for Medical Research at NIH;
·       $1.2 billion in cuts to crucial education funds;
·       elimination of every Student Aid program except Pell Grants and Work Study;
·       a 50% cut in Vocation Education; and
·       $195 million in cuts to renewable energy programs at the Department of Energy.

"For our key research priorities, the following funds are provided in the Omnibus Appropriations Bill:

·       National Science Foundation (NSF): the Omnibus provides $6.1 billion for FY08. ... a $149 million increase (or 2.5%) over FY07. ... $444 million less than the House-passed CJS (Commerce-Justice-Science) Appropriations bill.

·       National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST): the Omnibus provides $761 million for FY08. $84 million increase (or 11%) over FY07. ... $70 million less than the House-passed CJS Appropriations bill.

·       Department of Energy Office of Science: the Omnibus provides $4 billion for FY08. ... a $220 million increase over FY07 (or 6%) over FY07. ... $500 million less than the House-passed Energy and Water Appropriations bill.

·       The National Institute of Standards and Technology (received an 11% increase) is on track to meet the Innovation Agenda's goal to double in 10 years. The Department of Energy's Office of Science (received a 6% increase) is very close to meeting that goal. Unfortunately, the National Science Foundation (funded at a 2.5% increase) falls short of the 7% goal to be on track for doubling within 10 years. 

"Other key investments in innovation and competitiveness include: 

·       Medical Research: $607 million above the President's request to study diseases like Alzheimer's, cancer, Parkinson's and diabetes.  

·       Healthcare Access: $1 billion above the President's request, making targeted increases to programs like Community Health Centers to provide 280,000 more underinsured Americans with access to healthcare and High Risk Insurance Pools to help 200,000 more people afford health insurance.  

·       Rural Healthcare: $147 million above the President's request to help 1,200 small, rural hospitals.  

·       K-12 Education: $767 million above the President's request with targeted increases to Title 1, Special Education, Teacher Quality Grants, After School Programs, and Head Start.  

·       Student Aid: $1.7 billion above the President's request for Pell Grants and other student aid programs.  

·       Vocational Education: $575 million above the President's request for technical training at high schools and community colleges.  

·       Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency: $486 million above the President's request for important investments in Solar Energy, Wind Energy, Biofuels, and Energy Efficiency, with a careful blend of new scientific investments and conservation efforts."

Pelosi pointed out that the Omnibus Appropriations Bill begins to "reinvest in the American people's priorities."

Examples of cuts to presidential priorities in the package include:

·       A variety of programs in the Energy and Water portion - provides $187 million for the strategic petroleum reserve, $145 million below the administration's request, with the savings to be invested in conservation and alternative fuels.

·       The Global Nuclear Energy Partnership – provides $179 million, $216 million below the administration's request. Also, the bill does not provide any funding for ITER, an international thermonuclear experimental reactor, for which the president requested $121 million. (Chairman of the IEEE-USA Government Fellows Committee Ned Sauthoff serves as the United States director for ITER.

  • Congress Sends Comprehensive Energy Bill to White House

19 DEC: Congress finally sent an energy bill to the president – albeit an abridged version of the original proposal – finalizing months of negotiations on the Renewable Fuels, Consumer Protection and Energy Efficiency Act of 2007 (HR 6); first introduced in the House in January.

To ensure that the bill did not draw a presidential veto, the Senate stripped out a $21.8 billion package of tax incentives for clean energy technologies (offset in part by rolling back tax breaks for oil and gas companies), and a mandate for a renewable electricity standard (a requirement that utilities generate 15 percent of electricity from alternative sources by 2020; sometimes referred to as a "renewable portfolio standard" or RPS). The House had inserted and passed both of these measures twice this year.

The White House, which signed the bill today, objected to the clean energy incentives. Read the objections in the Statements of Administration Policy issued by Office of Management & Budget here:

Congress did manage to preserve the first increase in corporate average fuel economy (CAFÉ) standards in 30 years. H.R. 6 requires a 40-percent increase in fuel efficiency of cars and light trucks sold in the U.S. by 2020.  The bill also mandates the production of 36 billion gallons of alternative motor fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel by 2022, and requires new energy efficiency standards for an array of appliances, lighting, and commercial and government buildings.

Increasing CAFÉ standards was unthinkable until recently, but rising fuel prices and growing concern about global warming altered the political landscape, making such a proposal easier to accept. Even the auto industry, which resisted tougher CAFE standards for years, is supportive.

H.R. 6 also contained language (SEC. 1305. SMART GRID INTEROPERABILITY FRAMEWORK) directing NIST to work with IEEE on developing standards for a "smart grid." The bill characterizes a smart grid as an electricity grid that has been modernized "to maintain a reliable and secure electricity infrastructure that can meet future demand growth." Elements include, among others: increased use of digital information and controls technology to improve reliability, security, and efficiency of the electric grid; deployment and integration of distributed resources and generation, including renewable resources; and deployment of "smart" technologies (real-time, automated, interactive technologies that optimize the physical operation of appliances and consumer devices) for metering, communications concerning grid operations and status, and distribution automation.

Finally, H.R. 6 included language (Subtitle B—Improved Vehicle Technology, SEC. 131. TRANSPORTATION ELECTRIFICATION) to ensure development of one of IEEE-USA's policy priorities, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

Members of both parties acknowledged that the final energy bill, while imperfect, would reduce U.S. dependence on oil and curb carbon emissions which contribute to global warming.

"This is a good energy bill," said Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.)"Of course it could have been better."

Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said the compromise was the only way to get the bill through both the Senate and House. Pete Domenici (R – NM), ranking member on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said the removal of the tax incentives, which raised $13 billion by rolling back tax breaks on the oil and gas industry, would "turn a veto into a victory."

Senators and presidential candidates Joe Biden (D-DE), Hillary Clinton (D-NY), John McCain (R-AZ) and Barack Obama (D-IL), did not vote on the energy legislation.

While H.R. 6 does bring the U.S. a bit closer to energy independence, proponents of the alternative-energy provisions that were stripped from the bill vow to revive them in 2008. One potential vehicle for the renewable mandates on utilities (the above mentioned RPS), is a climate change bill the House plans to write. Congress is also likely to revisit the deleted tax package.

  • Alternative Energy Provisions and the Farm bill

This week, the Senate passed the 2007 farm bill (H.R. 2419) which had languished while members debated the future of long-standing Agriculture Department programs. Last-minute deals on amendments cleared away objections to the bill. Now, the five-year, $286 billion bill is headed for a House-Senate conference where lawmakers must negotiate new subsidies, nutrition funding, and tax packages to pay for spending increases.

Conferees must also consider objections from the administration. White House staff say they will advise the president not to sign the bill because it contains new taxes and does not limit subsidies to wealthy farmers, but stopped short of threatening a veto. "We look forward to working with Congress to develop a fiscally responsible farm bill that includes real farm program reform while providing a strong safety net for farmers."

Senators were set to debate an amendment by Tom Coburn (R-OK) that eliminated Agriculture Department spending on things like golf courses and cheese centers. But Coburn, facing the threat of a point of order, withdrew his amendment at the last minute. Free lunch for the first person to tell us what a cheese center is. Congressional pork never ceases to entertain us.  

The 2007 farm bill had also been used as a vehicle to encourage the development of alternative energy resources. Renewable energy installations such as solar and wind farms, are great income generators for landowners. Wind turbines can share crop land with cattle, while providing energy as well as income over and above traditional farming. To that end, the Senate approved creation of the new small wind turbine tax credit - known as the small turbine Investment Tax Credit (ITC) - which would go into effect next year and be available through 31 December 2008. The credit covers 30 percent of the cost of a system up to a level of $4,000 for residential or commercial applications. Earlier this year, the House of Representatives passed its version of farm legislation (H.R. 2419) containing a similar version of the small wind ITC. In the new year, House and Senate negotiators will attempt to reconcile the differences between these bills.

The small turbine ITC had been contained in an earlier version of the energy policy bill (H.R. 6), but was removed along with all other tax items at the insistence of the Administration.


None at this time.


  • Government Accountability Office

Military Base Realignments and Closures:  Estimated Costs Have Increased and Estimated Savings Have Decreased, by Brian J. Lepore, director, defense capabilities and management, before the Subcommittee on Readiness, House Committee on Armed Services.  GAO-08-341T, December 12. Highlights -

Military Base Realignments and Closures:  Impact of Terminating, Relocating, or Outsourcing the Services of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology.  GAO-08-20, November 9. Highlights -

Aviation Runway and Ramp Safety:  Sustained Efforts to Address Leadership, Technology, and Other Challenges Needed to Reduce Accidents and Incidents. GAO-08-29, November 20. Highlights -

Digital Television Transition:  Increased Federal Planning and Risk Management Could Further Facilitate the DTV Transition.  GAO-08-43, November 19. Highlights -

Information Technology: Census Bureau Needs to Improve Its Risk Management of Decennial Systems, by David A. Powner, director, information technology management issues; and Mathew Scire, director, strategic issues, before the Subcommittee on Information Policy, Census, and National Archives, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.  GAO-08-259T, December 11. Highlights -

  • Newly released ASTRA Report on Global Competitiveness

The Alliance for Science and Technology Research in America (ASTRA) and TechVision21 released a new report on global competitiveness that includes a 14 point policy framework to ensure America's continued innovation leadership. The report updates past ASTRA benchmarks and suggests an action agenda for America's innovation future. TechVision21 performed the research under ASTRA Board direction. The focus is not only on the competition from major players like China, but the unprecedented race among nations to acquire business investment, R&D facilities and outsourced work to strengthen market positions in high tech industries vital to the United States.

"The role of TechVision21 as principal author of our report written under the direction of the ASTRA Board has been a great help in ASTRA's central mission to educate the public on the linkages between scientific R&D funding and innovation and how that relationship directly impacts our standard of living, national security and economic growth" said Mary L. Good, ASTRA's Chairman and Dean of the Donaghey College of Engineering and Information Technology at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

"Innovation remains key to the vital economic health and national defense of our nation," adds report editor and TechVision21 CEO Kelly Carnes. "The United States cannot afford to compete in the race for lowest wages, lack of consumer protection and worker training. We must ensure America's leadership today by supporting our innovators of tomorrow through investment in R&D, development of a world-class science and engineering workforce and creating a pro-innovation business climate."

Both Bart Gordon (D-TN) the Science & Technology Committee's Chairman, and Phil Gingrey (R-GA), Ranking Member of the Committee's Subcommittee on Technology & Innovation, were on hand to accept Rising Tide at a press conference last week. They commended ASTRA's membership for helping set the policy agenda for the past seven years on such key legislation as NSF Doubling, the National Innovation Initiative and the America COMPETES Act of 2007.

"Rising Tide" is posted at


No items at this time.


No items at this time.


  • 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.

  • National Science Foundation

For information on NSF Engineering (ENG) Active Funding Opportunities, visit:


No items at this time.


  • FY 2008 Appropriations Not Good for U.S. Innovation & Competitiveness

18 DEC: The Task Force on the Future of American Innovation released a press statement sharply criticizing the FY 2008 omnibus appropriations bill. In short, the task force – of which IEEE-USA is a member – said that the bill short changes U.S. competitiveness.

"The FY08 omnibus appropriations bill … represents a step backwards for the bipartisan innovation agenda. The President and Congress, for all their stated support this year for making basic research in the physical sciences and engineering a top budget priority ended up essentially cutting or flat-funding, key science agencies after accounting for inflation. The nations that seek to challenge our global leadership in science and innovation should be greatly encouraged by this legislation."

Earlier this year, Congress enacted the America COMPETES Act, laying out a path toward revitalized basic research in the physical sciences and engineering. COMPETES was a welcome Congressional initiative to double funding for America's science research programs and expand science education that complemented the President's American Competitiveness Initiative and the Democratic Innovation Agenda.

The Task Force on the Future of American Innovation is "hopeful that this reversal of direction does not represent a lack of commitment to turning around the nation's long decline in support for basic research programs.  For now, the failure to provide the funding required to begin growing these programs makes these promises little more than empty gestures."  Work will continue in 2008 to make the "promise of America COMPETES a reality."

The Task Force (, a coalition of businesses and business organizations, scientific societies, and higher education associations, was founded in 2004 to advocate greater federal investments for basic research in the physical sciences and engineering.  The group focuses on the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy Office of Science, the Department of Defense research budget, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology labs at the Department of Commerce.

Former IEEE-USA President Ralph W. Wyndrum highlighted the IEEE-USA Innovation Institute during a panel session on entrepreneurship at IEEE Globecom 2007, held in Washington, DC last month. IEEE-USA staff was on hand to provide attendees with information on our career resources and government relations activities.

Wyndrum, who served as2006 IEEE-USA president and is now president of the IEEE-USA Innovation Institute, told attendees that "innovation is everything from invention to the final sale."

The seven-person panel, sponsored by IEEE GOLD (Graduates of the Last Decade), was designed to help graduate students and young professionals learn about what skills and techniques are key to the successful commercialization of research ideas.

Wyndrum's presentation included information on the pilot Innovation Forum that IEEE-USA hosted in Falls Church, Va., on 6-8 November. Twenty-two people from organizations such as NASA, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, the FCC and the Office of Naval Research, participated in the event. Attendees had the opportunity to earn either 1.5 CEUs or 10 PDHs.

Wyndrum revealed that three Innovation Forums will be held around the country in 2008, six in 2009. The forums are designed to promote the innovation process, highlight new technologies and trends, and help high-tech professionals improve their innovation skills. The faculty is composed of successful technology innovators.

The IEEE-USA Innovation Institute offer programs designed to advance the preparation of leaders responsible for the innovation of new products and services by sharing the experiences of successful innovators in a coordinated program of interaction, teaching, mentoring and networking.

Other key aspects of the Innovation Institute include an online community; a clearinghouse of additional resources; e-books; and eventually, a national conference. Innovators can also benefit from the IEEE-USA Entrepreneurs Village. Introduced in May 2006, the village provides high-tech entrepreneurs with tools and resources conducive to innovation and company growth.

IEEE Globecom 2007 was the IEEE Communications Society's 50th anniversary of its Global Communications Conference. It is annually "the premier telecommunications event for industry professionals and academics from companies, governmental agencies and universities around the world." IEEE Globecom 2008 will be in New Orleans:

Registration is now open for the Science, Engineering, Technology 2008 Congressional Visits Day (CVD)scheduled for March 4 and 5 in Washington, DC.

CVD is sponsored by a coalition of private sector companies, professional societies, and educational institutions. The objective of the event is to demonstrate the importance of science, engineering and technology to our Nation's future growth with Congressional decisionmakers.

Approximately 200 scientists, engineers and technologists from around the country will meet here in Washington with Members of Congress and the Administration in a series of briefings and meetings during the two-day event. We are especially interested in attracting first-time attendees and students this year.

If interested, please register for CVD online at:
Registration Deadline 20 FEBRUARY 2008

  • IEEE-USA Government Fellowships: Linking Engineers With Government

Application information for the 2009 Fellowships is available online: Congressional and Engineering & Diplomacy. The deadline for both is 14 MARCH 2008.
***Please note, the eligibility requirements and stipend levels have changed for the 2009 fellowship year.

  • IEEE-USA Mass Media Fellows

Since 2000, in conjunction with the AAAS program, IEEE-USA Engineering Mass Media Fellows have backed nine U.S. IEEE undergraduate and gradate students who have helped journalists in print and broadcast fields communicate authoritatively to the public about science, engineering and technology.  IEEE-USA Mass Media Fellows have been engaged by such media outlets as "Scientific American," the "Chicago Tribune" and WNBC-TV. Mass Media Fellows must be at least a senior in college majoring in mathematics; engineering; or the natural, physical, health, computer or social sciences.  Fellows review their experiences in the program in articles appearing in the November 2007 INSTITUTE ONLINE and in the November-December 2007 IEEE POTENTIALS.

Deadline for applications is Tuesday, 15 January 2008. For more information on the program, go to; or e-mail

  • IEEE-USA Online Engineering Video Scholarship Competition

In October, IEEE-USA launched  an online video competition for undergraduate engineering students  calling on participants to create 90-second video clips, aimed at 11-13 year-olds, that reinforce engineers' contributions to the quality of life and help debunk engineering stereotypes. IEEE-USA will award seven scholarship prizes totaling $10,000 to the most creative and effective video clips highlighting the theme "How Engineers Make a World of Difference." The competition is open to all U.S. undergraduate students in engineering and computer science. All entries must be submitted through YouTube by midnight (Eastern Time) on Friday, 18 January 2008.

For more information on how to enter the IEEE-USA Online Engineering Video Scholarship Competition, go to; or e-mail

To download a flyer on the video competition
and the mass media fellowship for use in your IEEE newsletter,
or for posting on a college or university bulletin board, go to

  • IEEE WISE internships

The Washington Internship for Students of Engineering (WISE) Sponsoring societies are seeking applications for the 2008 Summer program.  The application deadline is 31 December 2007.   Application forms are currently available. IEEE sponsors three interns every year; IEEE TAB, IEEE Life Members Committee and IEEE-USA each sponsor one intern.

  • FYI - Recent IEEE-USA Letters to Congress

For a list of all IEEE-USA communications with Congress and the executive branch, please visit:

All of IEEE-USA's letters and position statements are developed by committees comprised of IEEE-USA members. To see a list of committees visit:

  • Track IEEE-USA's 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:

For the IEEE-USA Annual Report, go to:

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

Read a full listing of IEEE-USA lobbying activities on our web site at:

Many newly approved position statements are now available online at:

  • IEEE-USA In The News

For more IEEE-USA in the News items, see:


  • Who Says Americans Are No Longer Creative

The Louisiana Tech IEEE student chapter put together these funny skits designed to attract new members.

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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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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: 20 December 2007

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