Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Billionaires With Big Ideas Are Privatizing American Science

William J. Broad, New York Times
March 19, 2014

American science, long a source of national power and pride, is increasingly becoming a private enterprise. In Washington, budget cuts have left the nation’s research complex reeling. Labs are closing. Scientists are being laid off. Projects are being put on the shelf, especially in the risky, freewheeling realm of basic research. Yet from Silicon Valley to Wall Street, science philanthropy is hot, as many of the richest Americans seek to reinvent themselves as patrons of social progress through science research. The result is a new calculus of influence and priorities that the scientific community views with a mix of gratitude and trepidation.  Read more

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

House GOP Allows Some Compromise in Bid to Focus NSF on Economic Value

March 13, 2014
Paul Basken, Chronicle of Higher Education

A Congressional panel on Thursday approved legislation that would flatten the budget of the National Science Foundation and revive past attempts to tie the agency’s spending on research to a definable economic payback.
The measure, a policy-setting bill for the NSF and the National Institute of Standards and Technology, would give the NSF a budget in the 2015 fiscal year of $7.28-billion, about 1.5 percent beyond its current level of $7.17-billion. President Obama, in his 2015 budget proposed this month, suggested $7.3-billion, while House Democrats are seeking $7.52-billion.
Yet in a sign of future compromise before the bill reaches the Democratic-controlled Senate, the Republican majority on the House Science Subcommittee on Research and Technology accepted nine separate Democratic amendments, including a partial retreat from plans to severely cut the NSF’s budget for social-science research.  Read more

Monday, March 10, 2014

Federal Spending on Science, Already Down, Would Remain Tight

Paul Basken, Chronicle of Higher Education
March 5, 2014

The Obama administration, constrained by spending caps imposed by Congress, suggested on Tuesday a federal budget for 2015 that would mean another year of cuts in the government’s spending on basic scientific research.
The budget of the National Institutes of Health, the largest provider of basic research money to universities, would be $30.4-billion, an increase of just $200-million from the current year. After accounting for inflation, that would be a cut of about 1 percent.  Read more