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

Vol. 2009, No. 1 (January 2009)
125 Years of Innovation and Ingenuity


Steering & Policy Committee Forum Highlights the Role of Science and Technology in Job Creation, Economic Recovery


Obama Likely to Pick Air Force General as NASA Head

Cabinet Nominee Hearings:

Chu Stresses Change of Focus at Energy Department

Duncan Vows Focus on Early Childhood Education, Innovation


National Academies Press: An Assessment of the SBIR Program

Digital Transformation via Economic Stimulus

NIST Needs You!

National Academies Press: Beyond "Fortress America" National Security Controls on Science and Technology in a Globalized World

CCIA Submits Tech Policy Recommendations To Obama Transition Team



Science & Innovation Policy Book Prize Announcement

Dirksen Congressional Research Awards


IEEE-USA Communications With the Obama-Biden Transition Team

IEEE-USA Now Accepting 2010 Government Fellowship Applications


Steering & Policy Committee Forum Highlights the Role of Science and Technology in Job Creation, Economic Recovery
The Democratic Steering and Policy Committee convened a forum to brief lawmakers on the latest economic outlook and components that should be included in the upcoming economic recovery package plan to spur job creation and create long-term growth. Steering and Policy Committee co-chairs George Miller (D-Calif.) and Rosa L. DeLauro (D-CT) chaired the forum. Also participating were the chairs of the House Energy and Commerce, Transportation and Infrastructure, Budget, Appropriations, Ways and Means, and Science Committees.
"During the 110th Congress, we enacted the key components of the Speaker's [Pelosi] Innovation Agenda, including the America COMPETES Act," said House Science and Technology Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN).  "COMPETES implemented the actions recommended by a National Academies panel headed by Mr. Augustine, recommendations that our best experts determined to be critical to maintain our country's competitiveness and economic growth.  Today's economic situation should not delay these actions—on the contrary, funding and implementing COMPETES, which invests in research key to technological innovation and job creation and helps train people for new, higher-skilled jobs, is more urgent than ever."
In FY08, COMPETES received $10.8 billion in funding.  The FY09 authorization is $13.7 billion. Forum witnesses included:

--Norman R. Augustine, chair of National Academies' Rising Above the Gathering Storm report committee
--Martin Feldstein, George F. Baker Professor of Economics, Harvard University; President Emeritus, National Bureau of Economic Research
---Robert Reich, Former Secretary of Labor, professor University of California at Berkeley
-- Dr. Mark M. Zandi, Chief economist and cofounder of Moody's
--Maria Zuber, E. A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

The panel discussed the need to balance short-term investment infusions that will create jobs immediately while addressing the larger structural problems with the economy to ensure lasting job and economic growth. "We need to secure our overall competitiveness, otherwise we could create new jobs now only to lose them to foreign competition later," said Mr. Augustine.
"Investments in basic research and STEM education will foster innovation that will reinvigorate our economy and create desirable and lasting jobs," said Dr. Zuber.
The panel also discussed the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy, or ARPA-E, as a vehicle to foster innovation in energy technology development. "ARPA-E could be the bridge to the new energy economy and, with it, the 'green' jobs we need," said Gordon.  ...ARPA-E could be the foundation of a new sector of our economy, the way DARPA formed the underpinnings of the multi-billion dollar defense industry."  
During the panel, Chairman Gordon also quoted from a letter calling funding for COMPETES "an urgent and necessary step that will enhance our country's economic strength [and] competitiveness."  Approximately 250 stakeholders - including IEEE-USA - signed the letter. 


Obama Likely to Pick Air Force General as NASA Head

A decorated military man is the reported to be President-elect Obama's top choice to lead NASA. Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Jonathan Scott Gration, who uses his middle name, is a career Air Force man who has logged nearly 1,000 hours of combat flight time and been awarded the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star and the Distinguished Service Medal. The son of missionaries, he was raised in Africa and speaks Swahili. Unlike current NASA Administrator Michael Griffin, a rocket scientist, Gration has little space experience other than working as a White House fellow in 1982 for then-NASA Deputy Administrator Hans Mark. He does however, have military aerospace experience.

Chu Stresses Change of Focus at Energy Department

13 JAN: Physicist Steven Chu - President-elect Obama's Energy secretary nominee - told members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee at his confirmation hearing that his leadership would focus on tackling climate change and encouraging renewable energy technologies. "Renewable energy is something we really have to work on as quickly as possible  ... It will be my primary goal as secretary to make the Department of Energy a leader in these critical efforts."

Chu's comments signaled a major shift in the DOE's traditional portfolio, which has primarily centered on nuclear weapons and nuclear science programs. It is also likely to elevate what has long been viewed in Washington as a second-tier agency into a leading entity in realizing the energy and climate goals Obama says will be among his top priorities.

"There was a period when there was very little interest in the government and general public on energy  . . .  now there's a great deal of interest on all sides. Dr. Chu's nomination comes at a pivotal time in the department's history," said Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.). Republicans and Democrats both praised Chu and said they expected the Senate to confirm him. Bingaman said he hopes to have a confirmation vote January 20th, after Obama is inaugurated.

Committee members also pressed Chu on his views on the future of coal and nuclear power, particularly in light of a 2007 comment he made saying that burning coal to generate power is an environmental "nightmare." Chu offered assurances that under his leadership, the Energy Department would invest heavily in researching so-called "clean coal" technology, which captures and sequesters carbon emissions, and in reprocessing and recycling nuclear waste, although he did not go into detail: "Coal and nuclear form the baseload of electricity today. It cannot happen overnight, the nurturing of renewable resources. I think we need all the solutions, we need to make them as clean as possible as quickly as possible."

Duncan Vows Focus on Early Childhood Education, Innovation

13 JAN: Arne Duncan - President-elect Obama's Department of Education secretary nominee, promised a new emphasis on early childhood education at his confirmation before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) who chaired the hearing at the request of ailing Chairman Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), said he wants to see a partnership between the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees Head Start, and the Department of Education to boost early childhood education programs. "So many of these kids, we get them in kindergarten . . . and we have a tough time," Harkin said. "Somehow, we have got to make sure that every child comes to school ready and able to learn."

Duncan said he would work to do something "dramatically better" in early childhood education, and Obama was committed to the creation of a commission on early childhood education.

"President-elect Obama has made several distinguished Cabinet appointments — I think you're the best," said Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), former Education secretary under President George H.W. Bush.

The hearing revolved largely around education plans Obama laid out during his campaign, including a new focus on early childhood education and on teacher quality. Duncan said teachers need to receive more support through mentoring programs and career ladders: "We have to elevate the teaching profession . . . and we have to find ways to scale up what works. We have a chance to bring in an extraordinary generation of talented folks into teaching. Duncan also briefly touched on higher education: "We need to expand access, we need to expand affordability. This is an area where I want to spend a lot of time and attention." Duncan said he wants to simplify the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. "You basically have to have a PhD to figure that thing out," Duncan said. "Any impediments like that . . . we have to be smart and pragmatic and thoughtful in trying to remove those barriers."


National Academies Press: An Assessment of the SBIR Program

The SBIR program allocates 2.5 percent of 11 federal agencies' extramural R&D budgets to fund R&D projects by small businesses, providing approximately $2 billion annually in competitive awards. At the request of Congress, the National Academies conducted a comprehensive study of how the SBIR program has stimulated technological innovation and used small businesses to meet federal research and development needs. Drawing substantially on new data collection, this report provides a comprehensive overview of the SBIR program at the five agencies representing 96 percent of program expenditure-- DOD, NIH, NSF, DOE, and NASA--and makes recommendations on improvements to the program. Separate books on each agency will also be issued.

Digital Transformation via Economic Stimulus

Invest $30 billion in America's information technology (IT) infrastructure, and you may create as many as 949,000 jobs. That's the bottom line number for a new economic stimulus package proposed last week by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF). ITIF researchers argue that the economic stimulus package should not be used only to build and upgrade traditional infrastructure. Investments in new IT infrastructure are also needed. They propose three primary categories of new investments:

  • Broadband Infrastructure: Invest $10 billion to expand broadband networks and increase the speed of existing networks.
  • Health IT: Invest $10 billion to expand use of health IT, especially in the use of electronic health records.
  • Smart Grid: Invest $10 billion to improve transmission lines and to create tax incentives for smart grid investments by utilities, businesses, and consumers.

Download the the January 2009 Information Technology and Innovation Foundation report, "The Digital Road to Recovery: A Stimulus Plan to Create Jobs, Boost Productivity, and Revitalize America," by Robert D. Atkinson, Daniel Castro, and Stephen J. Ezell.

NIST Needs You!

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and its Technology Innovation Program (TIP) are looking for some good ideas. NIST recently announced a call for White Papers from all interested parties with thoughts and suggestions for "critical national needs" that could be addressed via the TIP initiative. TIP is designed to make research investments in businesses, research institutions, and other entities for projects designed to address pressing national needs. For example, in 2008, TIP invested in projects related to inspecting, monitoring, and evaluating key infrastructure components such as bridges, sewer systems, and the like. The call for White Papers is designed to solicit new ideas for target areas such as manufacturing, personalized medicine, nanomaterials, and a host of other research areas. If you have ideas, there are a number of different deadlines to submit White Papers.

National Academies Press: Beyond "Fortress America" National Security Controls on Science and Technology in a Globalized World

This book examines national security controls that oversee scientific and technological research, specifically the federal regulations governing which information or goods can be shared with citizens of other countries.

CCIA Submits Tech Policy Recommendations To Obama Transition Team

The Computer & Communications Industry Association released long-term recommendations to the Obama-Biden transition team. President & CEO Ed Black made the following statement explaining the scope of the recommendations:

"Washington tends to debate issues like net neutrality, privacy rights, copyright enforcement, Internet censorship, and broadband deployment separately. But we believe it is important to understand them in a holistic way. At the core of these issues is the question of how firmly we are committed to a common ethic of promoting Internet openness, freedom, and innovation. Freedom on the Internet is critical to vibrant communication and information exchange, which foster innovation and help drive our economy.

"CCIA joins other tech trade associations in supporting principles outlined in House Speaker Pelosi's Innovation Agenda, but we also want to stress our support for policies that keep an open Internet, balanced patent and copyright reform, broadband competition, net neutrality, and freedom from government censorship and Internet spying in any country."

In addition to this report, CCIA released separate recommendations for the National Institute for Standards and Technology and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. There have been growing conflicts between standards and patents at multiple levels. These conflicts have been addressed by the FTC but not by NIST or USPTO.

"The complexity and rapid evolution of information technology creates special challenges for the patent system and for standardization. The abuses and deficiencies of the patent system are the most severe in IT. The development of new products and markets in IT depends heavily on the efficiency and integrity of standards development and implementation," said senior CCIA fellow Brian Kahin.


If you like to keep up with what's going on in state politics, provides a good overview of the activities in all 50 state legislatures.


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. - The President's 2002 Fiscal Year Management Agenda established 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 to list all funding opportunities. Other funding opportunities of interest include the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and NASA.

National Science Foundation - For information on NSF Engineering Active Funding Opportunities, visit:

Science & Innovation Policy Book Prize Announcement

The Science, Technology, and Environmental Politics section of the American Political Science Association seeks nominations for the 2009 Don K. Price Award for Best Book in Science and Technology Politics/Policy published in the past 3 years. Deadline for submitting nominations:  APRIL 1, 2009. Books should be sent to *each* of the following:

Award Committee Chair, Assistant Professor Dan Breznitz
Sam Nunn School of International Affairs, Georgia Institute of Technology
781 Marietta St NW
Atlanta, GA 30332-0610
(FedEx/UPS Zip Code is 30318)

Professor Thomas Bernauer, ETH Zurich
Center for Comparative & International Studies (CIS), and Institute for Environmental Decisions (IED)
Seilergraben 49
8092 Zurich, Switzerland


Professor Patrick Hamlett
For US Mail: Box 7107
North Carolina State University
Raleigh, NC 27650-7107
(For FedEx, UPS: 106 1911 Building, 10 Current Drive, Raleigh NC 27695)

STEP Chair: Assistant Professor Mark Zachary Taylor
Georgia Institute of Technology
International Relations
781 Marietta St NW
Atlanta GA 30332-0610

Previous Winners of the Don K. Price Award include:

2008  Dan Breznitz, Georgia Institute of Technology
Innovation and the State: Political Choice and Strategies for Growth in Israel, Taiwan, and Ireland.  (Yale University Press 2007).

2007  Yochai Benkler, Harvard Law School
The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom (Yale University Press, 2006)

2006  Darrell M. West, Brown University
Digital Government: Technology and Public Sector Performance (Princeton University Press, 2005)

2005  Thomas C. Bernauer, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich
Genes, Trade, and Regulation: The Seeds of Conflict in Food Biotechnology (Princeton University Press, 2004)

2004  Bruce Bimber, University of California, Santa Barbara
Information and American Democracy: Technology in the Evolution of Political Power (Cambridge University Press, 2003)

Dirksen Congressional Research Awards - DEADLINE: All proposals must be received no later than February 1, 2009

The Dirksen Congressional Center invites applications for grants to fund research on congressional leadership and the U.S. Congress. A total of up to $30,000 will be available in 2009. Awards range from a few hundred dollars to $3,500.

The competition is open to individuals with a serious interest in studying Congress. Political scientists, historians, biographers, scholars of public administration or American studies, and journalists are among those eligible. The Center encourages graduate students who have successfully defended their dissertation prospectus to apply and awards a significant portion of the funds for dissertation research. Applicants must be U.S. citizens who reside in the United States.

The awards program does not fund undergraduate or pre-Ph.D. study. Organizations are not eligible. Research teams of two or more individuals are eligible. No institutional overhead or indirect costs may be claimed against a Congressional Research Award.

There is no standard application form. Applicants are responsible for showing the relationship between their work and the awards program guidelines. Applications are accepted at any time. Applications which exceed the page limit and incomplete applications will NOT be forwarded to the screening committee for consideration. All application materials must be received on or before February 1, 2009. Awards will be announced in March 2009.

Complete information about eligibility and application procedures may be found at The Center's Web site. Frank Mackaman is the program officer. The Center, named for the late Senate Minority Leader Everett M. Dirksen, is a private, nonpartisan, nonprofit research and educational organization devoted to the study of Congress and its leaders. Since 1978, the Congressional Research Awards (formerly the Congressional Research Grants) program has paid out $747,465 to support 369 projects.


Communications With the Obama-Biden Transition Team

In addition to several meetings between IEEE-USA staff and members of the president-elect's transition team, IEEE-USA has communicated our interests via the following letters:

22 Dec. 08

Coalition Letter to Obama-Biden Transition Team offering support and seeking a dialog on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education issues.


05 Dec. 08

Letter to Obama-Biden Transition, OSTP Agency Review Team Chair on science and technology (S&T) priorities for the first months of the new administration.


IEEE-USA Now Accepting Government Fellowship Applications

Each year, IEEE-USA sponsors three qualified IEEE members to serve as government fellows: one Engineering & Diplomacy Fellow and two Congressional fellows.  The fellows spend a year in Washington, serving as advisers to the U.S. Congress or key U.S. Department of State decision-makers.  IEEE-USA's Government Fellowships link engineers with government, providing a mechanism for IEEE-USA members to learn firsthand about the public policy process through personal involvement.

The congressional fellowship consists of an appointment to the personal staff of a U.S. Senator or Congressman, or to the professional staff of a Congressional Committee. The Fellow along with the Congressional sponsor and IEEE-USA, negotiates a starting date, although IEEE-USA recommends that Fellowship terms run from January 1st to December 31st. For an application Kit for the 2010 Congressional Fellowship Program, visit:

The State Department fellowship begins in January of each year and offers an opportunity for an engineer to provide technical expertise to the State Department, and help raise awareness of the value of engineering input while learning about and contributing to the foreign policy process. For an application Kit for the 2010 Engineering & Diplomacy (State Department) Fellowship Program, visit:

Fellows must be U.S. citizens.The postmark application deadline for 2010 Fellowships is 13 March 2009. For more information, visit:

Recent Policy Communications:

Public Policy Priority Issues - 110th Congress, 2d Session (2008):

Position Statements: - IEEE-USA position statements identify important technical and/or engineering career-related aspects of specific public policy issues deemed to be of concern or affecting IEEE's U.S. members.  They make specific public policy recommendations and provide recommended approaches for consideration by the U.S. Congress, Executive Branch officials, the Judiciary, representatives of State and Local Government, and other interested groups and individuals, including IEEE members. Check out the new positions statements approved in November 2008 [New!] . Many more are Under Review by committees.

IEEE-USA In The News:

Former IEEE-USA Government Fellows Available to Speak to Sections

Earlier this year, former IEEE-USA Congressional Fellow George Hanover spoke to an IEEE PACE group in the San Francisco Bay area. He discussed the innovation and competitiveness issues that he worked on during the year he served as an IEEE-USA government fellow, working as a staffer for the Environment, Technology and Standards Subcommittee of the House Science Committee. George also served on the personal staff of Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), a member of the House Science Committee. George also discussed an engineer's perspective on the "government process" and the IEEE-USA's involvement in that process. If your section is interested in having one of the former government fellows speak to your group about the program, how the legislative process works in Washington, and how IEEE-USA is influencing it, please contact Erica Wissolik at e. wissolik @ ieee. org. For more information on the IEEE-USA Government Fellows Program, please visit:

Next up? A January 20th IEEE Philadelphia Section dinner presentation by Former IEEE-USA Congressional Fellow Tom Fagan. Tom will discuss the IEEE-USA Congressional Science & Engineering Fellows Program, the program's history to date, and his personal reflections on the many activities in which he was involved during his tenure on Capitol Hill. During his fellowship, Tom served as a professional staff member of the Senate Armed Services Committee's subcommittees on General Procurement, Arms Control, and Military Construction. In addition, Tom will describe a number of initiatives that were started during his term that have now been recently implemented under the rubric of Acquisition Reform and Procurement Reform. Tom will discuss these changes and why they are good for the Defense Department, Defense Contractors, the United States, and the U.S. Taxpayer.

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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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