It’s a great pleasure to report to you that the Council of Scientific Society Presidents was busy on your behalf during 2016.
First, I want to thank you for being here and encouraging your colleagues to attend. We have 48 people registered for this meeting, which is close to our desired capacity of 50. As you know, we strive to keep these meetings intimate to foster discussion and exchange of ideas. The December registration represents an increase of more than 35% from May, with several new societies, and more importantly, nearly a third of our attendees are attending for the first time. We have three dozen organizations represented here.
All the presentations that you have heard are be available to you in the Member Section of the CSSP Website. You will be able to log in and find the presentations in the member file directory. Darrell Fisher’s excellent presentation on how best to work with the Transition Team was sent to attendees by email.
These are the most notable things CSSP did on your behalf this year. The most important accomplishment during this year is that we have a revision by OMB on restrictions on travel to scientific conferences by federal employees.
Just to provide a bit of background, on May 11, 2012, the Office of Management and Budget issued OMB Circular M-12-12, titled “Promoting Efficient Spending to Support Agency Operations.” This memo was issued in the wake of a highly publicized and inappropriate GSA meeting in Las Vegas that was held up as an example of lavish and inappropriate travel by federal employees. Unfortunately, that memorandum swept up federal employees who travel to scientific conferences. It was highly restrictive and resulted in many societies experiencing fewer federal employees at their meetings.
Since March 2015, I have been representing CSSP in regular meetings of a scientific society travel coalition. We have met frequently and visited a lot of people in OMB and on the Hill. I am delighted to report that thanks to a lot of hard work by a lot of folks in the scientific society travel coalition, a new OMB Memorandum was issued on November 25 (the day after Thanksgiving) that rescinds Section 2 of the original 2012 OMB memorandum.
The new OMB memorandum, which is technically an amendment to Memorandum M-12-12, re-focuses oversight on agency sponsored and hosted conferences and travel, which was where the problem began in the first place. The travel caps that were in place through the end of Fiscal year 2016 expired on September 30 (the focus of Section 1 of the original memorandum).
So there is very good news for all of us. The new memorandum speaks to the importance of S&T conferences to agency missions, delegation to an “appropriate official” for approvals, and pre-approval of known, recurring conferences. Now the hard work begins for each of our societies working with the relevant agencies to ensure that they know about the new guidance.
You may find the link to the new memorandum on the carousel portion of the Sciencepresidents.org website.
In other advocacy work, CSSP wrote letters to the transition teams of both campaigns this summer emphasizing the importance of science. The request to both campaigns was to:
Immediately develop a list of potential candidates for science advisor to the President.
- The Science Advisor should have regular and meaningful interactions with the President on all matters pertaining to science and technology and a portfolio to interact with all relevant stakeholders
.Commit to increased support and funding for scientific research.
- Continuous and consistent support is required to maintain efficient scientific progress.
- A roadmap for science funding should be developed that shows growth over time to historically competitive levels. Long-term investments in science lead to breakthrough discoveries.
- Translational and transitional research should be encouraged within all agencies.Commit to support of quality STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education for all students
- Discovery-based STEM education should be provided at all levels in our schools.
STEM-related professional development opportunities should be made available for all teachers and properly incentivized.
- Special emphasis should be placed on providing STEM-education resources for those communities in most need.Reaffirm the principle of scientific merit as the primary basis for review of research projects and facilities.
Peer review is the underpinning for excellence in science and should be the basis for selecting research to fund.Support measures to protect the environment and improve the quality of life.
A similar letter was sent to the Trump Transition Team after the election. In addition, CSSP signed on to letters to encourage the Trump Administration to appoint a Science Advisor as quickly as possible.
We have a number of policy statements that arose from our May meeting. One on water resources is now available, having been passed by the CSSP Board on Saturday morning. Other policy statements are nearing completion.
We continue to work in a task force to monitor legislation on open access, which will undoubtedly be reintroduced in the new session of Congress.
CSSP was also involved in promoting the reauthorization of COMPETES. The Senate Commerce Committee reported their version of the COMPETES Reauthorization, S. 3084 on Friday, December 2. The U.S. House of Representatives then followed the U.S. Senate’s action and approved the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act, a bicameral, bipartisan legislative compromise originally introduced by Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Gary Peters (D-MI), along with John Thune (R-SD), and Bill Nelson (D-FL), that maximizes basic research opportunities, reduces administrative burdens for researchers, encourages scientific entrepreneurship, and promotes oversight of taxpayer-funded research. The legislation promotes diversity in STEM fields, incentivizes private-sector innovation, and aims to improve manufacturing. It most directly affects programs within the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).
This legislation marks the first major update to federal research and technology policy to originate in the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee in more than a decade.
Highlights of the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act are as follows: Maximizing Basic Research
- Highlights Peer Review: Reaffirms the appropriateness of the National Science Foundation’s (NSF’s) intellectual merit and broader impacts criteria used to evaluate grant proposals.
- Keeps Government Accountable to Taxpayers: Promotes transparency by requiring public notices of grants to justify the project’s expenditures and confirm that they align with NSF’s priorities.
- Broadens Research Opportunities: Updates NSF’s Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) to continue promoting groundbreaking research in states that receive relatively little federal research money.
- Modernizes Existing Programs: Includes updates to the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) programs, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST’s) laboratory and education outreach programs.
Administrative and Regulatory Burden Reduction
- Reduces Paperwork Burdens: Establishes an inter-agency working group to provide recommendations on eliminating unnecessary paperwork for researchers and institutions.
- Streamlines Government: Repeals obsolete agency reports and unfunded government programs.
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
- Enhances Scientific Community Input: Establishes a STEM Advisory Panel composed of academic and industry representatives to provide recommendations on federal STEM programs.
- Promotes Diversity in STEM Fields: Creates a working group to study how to improve inclusion of women and underrepresented individuals in STEM fields and reaffirms the necessity of broadening participation in STEM fields through NSF programs.
Leveraging the Private Sector
- Incentivizes Private-Sector Innovation: Updates prize competition authority to encourage greater participation in federal prize competitions.
- Expands Opportunities for Public Involvement: Permits federal science agencies to use crowdsourcing as a tool to conduct agency projects.
- Encourages Improved Manufacturing: Adjusts the federal cost-share ratio and implements new accountability and oversight provisions within NIST’s Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program.
Innovation and Technology Transfer
- Bolsters Scientific Entrepreneurship: Authorizes the successful I-Corps program to help scientists move their research from the laboratory to the marketplace.
- Reaffirms Importance of Commercialization: Directs NSF to continue awarding translational research grants and strengthen public-private cooperation.
In other work, CSSP hosted two meetings and two Kavli Lectureships. Through our newly forged partnership with the Carnegie Institution for Science, we are able to have parts of our meetings in their lovely facilities. The Kavli Lectures are beautifully hosted in their auditorium. Both lectures are “sold out”—even though they are free, we require registration and the Kavli Lecture in the spring had 100 people in an overflow room.
I want to thank all of the people and institutions that make our meetings possible. Special thanks to the American Chemical Society for the rooms and logistics—especially Reggie Washington and Sherman Kearny. I want to thank the Carnegie Institution for Science for the collaboration that I forged with them on CSSP’s behalf to have our meetings when possible in their facilities and to take advantage of their mailing lists and promotion for their general public science lectures. The myriad details of these meetings are left to Brandi Neifert and Cindy Reed-Paska, and I thank them as well. Finally, in the thanks category, I want to applaud the hard work of the CSSP Executive Board which works very hard to ensure the success of these meetings and the future of CSSP.
And speaking of the future: A few months ago, I notified CSSP Chair Dave Penrose and the rest of the CSSP Executive Board that I would be leaving my role as President and CEO of CSSP at the end of December. This transition is totally for personal reasons. I was very honored to be asked to take on this job when I retired from ACS in 2015. I’ve enjoyed every minute representing you in many venues since March 2015.
I am passionate about the role CSSP plays and its unique value proposition. I fully support its work. I am encouraged by the CSSP Board’s dedication and every member’s personal commitment to CSSP. I want to thank Patricia Simmons and Sharon Mosher for their encouragement; my first chair John Downing for his leadership; and my current chair and dear friend Dave Penrose, for his guidance and support.
CSSP leadership will be making an announcement later this year on plans going forward to ensure a seamless continuity of leadership and programs. CSSP has dates planned for next year’s meetings—May 6-8 and December 2-4 and we are about to select our 2017 Kavli lecturers. We have a lot of opportunities to work together with the new Administration.
Please stay in touch. After December 31, I can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.