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

Vol. 2010, No. 5 (27 April 2010)

CAPITOL HILL

Benefits of Health Care Reform, District by District Impact

Strengthening American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Global Economy: House Subcommittees Approve Legislation to Be Rolled Into COMPETES ACT

THE WHITE HOUSE

White House Streamlines Progress-Report System for Federal Grantees, Freeing Additional Time for Research

Commerce Secretary Locke Announces Public Review of Privacy Policy and Innovation in the Internet Economy, Launches Internet Policy Task Force

President Details New Space Exploration Policy & The Response

Obama Administration Announces Nearly $100 Million for Smart Grid Workforce Training and Development

FEDERAL AGENCY ACTIVITY

Commerce Secretary Supports Current Version of Patent Reform Legislation

National Inventors Hall of Fame Announces 2010 Inductees

LATEST IEEE-USA & IEEE ACTIVITIES

IEEE-USA in the Congressional Record

U.S. STATES

AWARDS, FELLOWSHIPS & GRANTS

REPORTS, DOCUMENTS OF NOTE & INFO RESOURCES

 


CAPITOL HILL

Benefits of Health Care Reform, District by District Impact

The House Committee on Energy & Commerce has prepared, for all 435 congressional districts, a district-level analysis of the impact of health care reform legislation. This analysis includes information on the impact of the legislation on families, small businesses, seniors in Medicare, health care providers, and the uninsured. Additional publications will explore things such as the legislation's impact on large employers and the State of California.

Strengthening American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Global Economy: House Subcommittees Approve Legislation to Be Rolled Into COMPETES ACT(Read IEEE-USA's letter to Congress)

The House Committee on Science & Technology is currently working on a multi-year reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act.  The Committee says that about half of the growth in U.S. GDP since World War II is related to the development and adoption of new technologies. COMPETES aims to maintain and strengthen American global economic competitiveness by:

1) improving science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education, so that all students are prepared for the highly technical, high-paying jobs of the future;
2) setting our basic research programs on a doubling path; and
3) addressing the need for transformational energy technologies with the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E), which is pursuing high-risk, high-reward energy technology development.

COMPETES was originally signed into law in 2007 after receiving broad bipartisan support.  The law is based on recommendations from the National Academies' report Rising Above the Gathering Storm. The current bill will expire at the end of FY 2010. Chairman Gordon's goal is to get the legislation through the House before the Memorial Day district work period. The following subcommittees have completed work leading to the full Committee's markup which is scheduled for Wednesday, April 28th:

--March 25th, the Energy & Environment Subcommittee passed a Committee Print on DOE programs.
--April 14th, the Research and Science Education Subcommittee passed a Committee Print on NSF programs.
-- April 21st, the Technology and Innovation Subcommittee approved a Committee Print on NIST programs, which includes the National Institute of Standards and Technology Authorization Act of 2010 (HR 5074).

Subcommittee Chairman David Wu (D-OR) introduced HR 5074 saying:

"This new bill moves us forward to focus NIST on creating jobs, supporting competitiveness, and meeting the measurement needs of the private sector. In the face of ever-increasing global technological and economic competition, it is our responsibility in Congress to support a robust high-tech manufacturing sector that will create new jobs in the United States. The legislation authorizes robust funding to enable NIST to better support manufacturing and updates the Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program (MEP), which helps small- and medium-sized manufacturers in the U.S. compete effectively.

"This legislation structures the Manufacturing Extension Partnership to better address the challenges facing our small- and medium-sized manufacturers as well as the revenue challenges facing our states. By requiring MEP Centers to inform local and regional community colleges of the skill sets that are needed by area manufacturers, we will help ensure that students have the specific job training necessary to secure a good-paying job in their community. In addition, we are creating an innovative services initiative that will help small manufacturing improve energy efficiency, use new technologies, and generate high-tech products."

In addition to supporting manufacturing, HR 5074:

-- authorizes funds for vital NIST programs and makes fundamental changes to the agency's structure to help it better reflect the current technological environment;
-- maintains the commitment to doubling the funds provided to NIST labs and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership program over 10 years;
-- authorizes funds to enable the Technology Innovation Program to fund up to $40 million in new awards for high-risk, high-reward research in areas of critical need each year while meeting its existing obligations and continuing the vision laid out in the original COMPETES Act;
-- reorganizes the NIST lab structure to better reflect the multidisciplinary nature of technology in the 21st century;
-- provides for a more efficient and streamlined organizational structure to enable the labs to be more responsive to industry without reducing their research capacity;
-- gives the NIST Director the authority to modify the agency's structure, upon notification to Congress, as technology advances and the needs of the private sector evolve;
--gives NIST a role in facilitating cross-agency coordination when the federal government is involved with the development of international technical standards, a function that supplements the agency's current role in helping develop technical standards within the U.S.;
-- establishes a biosciences research program to support R&D of standard reference materials, measurements, methods, and genomic and other data;
-- elevates the Director of NIST to the level of Under Secretary for Technology and Standards, with the clarification that the Director will not, as part of the promotion to Under Secretary, have to take on additional duties beyond his duties as the Director of NIST; and
-- reduces the matching funds requirement for participants in the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program. This change will ease the cost matching burden on MEP centers given the current economic troubles and pinched state budgets.


THE WHITE HOUSE

White House Streamlines Progress-Report System for Federal Grantees, Freeing Additional Time for Research

Imagine you are a scientist whose research is funded by various Federal agencies, and imagine that not only does each of these agencies require an annual progress report—a reasonable requirement—but that each has its own complicated forms for doing so and its own system you must navigate in order to submit those forms. For more info, visit: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/04/23/white-house-streamlines-progress-report-system

Commerce Secretary Locke Announces Public Review of Privacy Policy and Innovation in the Internet Economy, Launches Internet Policy Task Force

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced the launch of an initiative designed to gather public input and review the nexus between privacy policy and innovation in the Internet economy. Locke also announced the formation of a Department of Commerce-wide Internet Policy Task Force to identify leading public policy and operational issues impacting the U.S. private sector's potential for economic growth and job creation via the Internet. Through a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) published in the Federal Register, the Commerce Department is seeking public comment from all Internet stakeholders—commercial, academic and civil society sectors and citizens—on the impact of current privacy laws in the United States and around the world on the pace of innovation in the information economy. The Department seeks to understand whether current privacy laws serve consumer interests and fundamental democratic values.

The Internet Policy Task Force is exploring current privacy frameworks, and ways to address the challenges of the new Internet economy and society in a manner that preserves and enhances personal privacy protection. The Task Force is comprised of staff members from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the International Trade Administration (ITA), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), and will be coordinated through the Commerce Department's Office of Policy and Strategic Planning, which reports to the Secretary. In addition to privacy and innovation, the Internet Policy Task Force will examine cyber security, online copyright protection and international barriers to moving data around the globe, and the ability of entrepreneurs, and small- and medium-sized businesses to expand their operations via the Internet.

On May 7, 2010, the Department will hold a public meeting to discuss stakeholder views and to further facilitate public discussion on privacy policy in the United States. After analyzing public comments in response to this NOI, the Department will issue a report contributing to the administration's domestic policy and international engagement on privacy.

President Details New Space Exploration Policy & The Response

Remarks by the President on Space Exploration in the 21st Century John F. Kennedy Space Center - Responding to criticism about the Administration's new space exploration policy, President Barack Obama delivered an address on the decision to cancel the Constellation Program, the development of the Orion Capsule and a heavy-lift vehicle, future destinations for human exploration, workforce issues, and America's role in space exploration.

Following the President's address, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, OSTP Director John Holdren, and Norman Augustine spoke to a gathering of government, private, and academic leaders. Augustine chaired the "Review of U.S. Human Spaceflight Plans Committee" which released a report - Seeking a Human Space Flight Program Worthy of a Great Nation - that played an important role in the development of the Administration's new space exploration policy.

Obama Administration Announces Nearly $100 Million for Smart Grid Workforce Training and Development

U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced that the Department of Energy is announcing award selections for nearly $100 million for 54 smart grid workforce training programs to help prepare the next generation of workers in the utility and electrical manufacturing industries. These projects will leverage more than $95 million in funding from community colleges, universities, utilities and manufacturers to develop and implement training programs. The selectees estimate that the programs will train approximately 30,000 Americans.  These workers will help to modernize the nation's electrical grid and implement smart grid technologies in communities across the country.

This funding is the latest investment by the Obama Administration to develop the smart grid and builds on the more than $4 billion in Recovery Act funding for smart grid deployment and demonstration projects nationally. The programs will focus on training activities that support electricians, line workers, technicians, system operators, power system engineers, cyber security specialists and transmission planners. The selections include support to develop and deploy training programs broadly as well as to conduct actual personnel training for current and future employees. Workers will receive training on the transmission and distribution systems as well as new intelligent grid systems, such as smart meters, phasor measurement sensors and advanced communication networks.


FEDERAL AGENCY ACTIVITY

Commerce Secretary Supports Current Version of Patent Reform Legislation

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke submitted a letter to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee expressing the administration's view that the draft Manager's Amendment to existing Senate patent reform legislation will make the reforms more effective upon implementation. Reforming the patent system will accelerate economic growth and job creation, and expand America's ability to innovate. In the letter, Locke expressed the administration's position that the draft Manager's Amendment to S.515, the "Patent Reform Act of 2010," saying that it "improves the reported bill and incorporates critical elements of patent reform." At the same time, the administration is supportive of ongoing discussions to resolve differences between the House and the Senate on patent reform. The letter restates the administration's commitment to work with both houses of Congress to arrive at a final bill for passage this session.

"Regardless of any issues that remain under discussion (between the House and Senate), there is a consensus that a strong patent system, including an appropriately funded and well-functioning United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), fosters innovation that drives economic growth and creates jobs," Locke said in the letter. The letter praises the Manager's Amendment to S.515 for "including key provisions that fairly balance the interests of innovation and competition across all industries without favoring one industry or particular area of technology over another."

IEEE-USA believes that the current legislation has the potential to harm the ability of U.S. inventors and small businesses to innovate in the future, and in addition to holding meetings with key members, we have sent our own letters to the Senate.

National Inventors Hall of Fame Announces 2010 Inductees

31 MAR: Dedicated to paying homage to the men and women whose ideas, discoveries and entrepreneurial spirit have changed the world, the National Inventors Hall of Fame has announced its 2010 Inductees. This year's Induction ceremony, sponsored in part by the United States Patent and Trademark Office and the Kauffman Foundation, took place at the United States Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C. Collectively the 2010 hall of fame Inductees have added tremendous value to the American economy with inventions like Post-it Notes, man-made diamonds, and break-resistant, high temperature, glass ceramics used in rockets, but also found in Corning Ware pots and pans.

The National Inventors Hall of Fame annually accepts nominations for men and women whose work has changed society and improved the quality of life. The candidate's invention must be covered by a United States patent, and the work must have had a major impact on society, the public welfare, and the progress of science and the useful arts. This year's deadline is 1 May 2010.


LATEST IEEE-USA & IEEE ACTIVITIES

 

  • Public Policy Priority Issues (111th Congress, 2nd Session, 2010)

  • Public Policy Position Statements on issues deemed to be of concern to or affecting IEEE's U.S. members. The statements make specific public policy recommendations for the consideration of Congress, the Executive Branch, the Judiciary, representatives of State and Local Government, and other interested groups and individuals, including IEEE members.

IEEE-USA in the Congressional Record

STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS -- (Senate - December 14, 2009) [Page: S13192] By Ms. SNOWE (for herself and Mr. Warner): "In addition, several engineering membership and standards bodies have weighed in voicing concern about the lack of technical depth at the FCC. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, IEEE , the largest technical professional organization in the world, sent a letter in June of 2008 to then-Chairman Martin writing ``despite the generally excellent nature of its internal staff, given all of the technical issues within the FCC's jurisdiction, it may be prudent to seek means to supplement the internal technical capabilities of the Commission.'' The Society of Broadcast Engineers has outlined that one of its legislative goals for 2009-10 is ``to promote the maintenance or increase of technical expertise within the FCC to ensure that decision-making by the FCC is based on technical investigation, studies and evaluation rather than political expenditures.'' I would like to thank these two organizations for supporting this beneficial legislation."

Read the full text at: S. 2881. A bill to provide greater technical resources to FCC Commissioners; to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation

Have an Idea For an IEEE-USA E-Book? - If you've got an idea for an e-book that will educate your fellow IEEE members on a particular topic of expertise, e-mail your e-book queries and ideas to IEEE-USA Publishing Manager Georgia Stelluto.


U.S. STATES

The  State R&D Sheets for 2010 are now available.  IEEE-USA. along with ACS, MRS, and SPIE, sponsor development of the data and pages which is handled by ASTRA. They may be helpful to your committees and other activities.    To access them immediately, please click on the following link and download the PDF's of states that you are interested in.  See
http://www.usinnovation.org/state/state_rd_list.asp

Stateline.org If you like to keep up with what's going on in state politics, StateLine.org provides a good overview of the activities in all 50 state legislatures. Stateline.org's annual report on state trends and policy, "State of the States 2009" is now available. The report is full of helpful graphics and maps, in addition to reports on the most significant developments in the 50 states.


AWARDS, FELLOWHIPS & GRANTS

National Science Foundation (http://www.nsf.gov/funding/) Recent opportunities include:

Math and Science Partnership (MSP) - The Math and Science Partnership (MSP) program is a major research and development effort that supports innovative partnerships to improve K-12 student achievement in mathematics and science. MSP projects are expected to raise the achievement levels of all students and significantly reduce achievement gaps in the mathematics and science performance of diverse student populations. In order to improve the mathematics and science achievement of the Nation's students, MSP projects contribute to what is known in mathematics and science education and serve as models that have a sufficiently strong evidence/research base to improve the mathematics and science education outcomes for all students. NSF's MSP program coordinates its effort with programs of the U.S. Department of Education in the expectation that effective innovations in mathematics and science education will be disseminated into wider practice.

NSF-NRI Graduate Student and Postdoctoral Fellow Supplements to NSF Centers in Nanoelectronics (NSF 10-031) - NSF has undertaken a cooperative effort with the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) through the industry's Nanoelectronics Research Initiative (NRI) to provide supplemental funding opportunities to NSF centers involved in long-term nanoelectronics research. The supplemental funding supports additional graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to work in collaborative efforts with participating NRI company assignees on exploring new concepts beyond the scaling limits of CMOS (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) technology. Such efforts are intended to enhance nanoelectronics research and education, strengthen industry linkages with NSF centers, and develop future cadres of industry and faculty researchers to help drive the field. Supplement Deadline Date:  May 10, 2010

Software Infrastructure for Sustained Innovation  (SI2) - SI2 is a long-term investment focused on catalyzing new thinking, paradigms, and practices in using software to understand natural, human, and engineered systems.  SI2's intent is to foster a pervasive cyberinfrastructure to help researchers address problems of unprecedented scale, complexity, resolution, and accuracy by integrating computation, data, networking and experiments in novel ways. It is NSF's expectation that SI2 investment will result in robust, reliable, usable and sustainable software infrastructure that is critical to the CF21 vision and will transform science and engineering. Letter of Intent Deadline Date: May 10, 2010, Full Proposal Deadline Date: June 14, 2010

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.

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

AAAS: Communicating Science, Tools for Scientists & Engineers - Scientists and engineers who foster information-sharing and respect between science and the public are essential for the public communication of and engagement with science. Although traditional scientific training typically does not prepare scientists and engineers to be effective communicators outside of academia, funding agencies are increasingly encouraging researchers to extend beyond peer-reviewed publishing and communicate their results directly to the greater public. In response to this need in science communications, the AAAS Center for Public Engagement with Science and Technology has partnered with the National Science Foundation to provide resources for scientists and engineers, both online and through in-person workshops to help researchers communicate more broadly with the public.

Communicating Science online resources include webinars, how-to tips for media interviews, strategies for identifying public outreach opportunities, and more. Additionally, AAAS is providing workshops for scientists and engineers interested in learning more about science communication tools and techniques are now available. The schedule of NSF-sponsored workshops for the 2009-10 academic year has been updated and pre-registration is open. Please contact AAAS if you are interested in hosting a workshop at your institution.


REPORTS, DOCUMENTS OF NOTE & INFO RESOURCES

U.S. Department of Commerce Issues Report on Role of Patent Reform in Supporting Innovation and Job Creation

According to a new report by the U.S. Department of Commerce, reforming America's patent system will accelerate economic growth and job creation, and expand America's ability to innovate. The paper, titled "Patent Reform—Unleashing Innovation, Promoting Economic Growth and Producing High-Paying Jobs," was authored by the Commerce Department's Chief Economist Mark Doms, the United States Patent and Trademark Office's (USPTO's) Chief Economist Stuart Graham and USPTO's Administrator for External Affairs Arti Rai. Technological innovation is a key driver of the Obama Administration's pro-growth, job-creating agenda. The report suggests there are significant economic benefits to patent-reform legislation that will support that agenda. Among the key statistics presented in the report are:

1) Technological innovation is linked to three-quarters of the nation's post-WWII growth rate. Two innovation-linked factors – capital investment and increased efficiency –represent 2.5 percentage points of the 3.4 percent average annual growth rate achieved since the 1940's.
2) Innovation produces high-paying jobs. Average compensation per employee in innovation-intensive sectors increased 50 percent between 1990 and 2007—nearly two and one-half times the national average.
3) Highly innovative firms rely heavily on timely patents to attract venture capital—76 percent of startup managers report that venture capital investors consider patents when making funding decisions. Delay in the granting of rights has substantial costs.
4) Recent reports conclude that the U.S. backlog (currently at 750,000 applications) could ultimately cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars annually in "foregone innovation." The fee-setting authority patent reform gives to the USPTO will contribute significantly to the agency's planned 40 percent reduction in patent pendency.
5) The enhanced post-grant review—the process by which a patent's validity may be challenged through an administrative appeal in front of the USPTO—offers a cost effective and speedier alternative to litigation. The cost of such proceedings is expected to be 50-100 times less expensive than litigation and could deliver $8 to $15 in consumer benefit for every $1 invested.

Government Accountability Office

Traffic Safety Data: State Data System Quality Varies and Limited Resources and Coordination Can Inhibit Further Progress GAO-10-454 April 15, 2010 Summary (HTML) Highlights Page (PDF) Full Report (PDF) Recommendations (HTML)

Rare Earth Materials in the Defense Supply Chain GAO-10-617R, April 14, 2010 Summary (HTML) Full Report (PDF)

Intellectual Property: Observations on Efforts to Quantify the Economic Effects of Counterfeit and Pirated Goods GAO-10-423 April 12, 2010 Summary (HTML) Highlights Page (PDF) Full Report (PDF)

Information Security: Concerted Effort Needed to Consolidate and Secure Internet Connections at Federal Agencies GAO-10-237, March 12, 2010 Summary (HTML)  Highlights Page (PDF) Full Report (PDF)  Recommendations (HTML)

Nuclear Weapons: Actions Needed to Address Scientific and Technical Challenges and Management Weaknesses at the National Ignition Facility GAO-10-488 April 8, 2010 Summary (HTML) Highlights Page (PDF) Full Report (PDF) Recommendations (HTML)

Critical Infrastructure Protection: Update to National Infrastructure Protection Plan Includes Increased Emphasis on Risk Management and Resilience GAO-10-296 March 5, 2010 Summary (HTML) Highlights Page (PDF) Full Report (PDF)

National Science Foundation

Math and Science Partnership (MSP) Program National Impact Report

Math and Science Partnership (MSP) Program: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Faculty at Institutions of Higher Education (IHE)

National Academies

Report of a Workshop on the Scope and Nature of Computational Thinking presents a number of perspectives on the definition and applicability of computational thinking. For example, one idea expressed during the workshop is that computational thinking is a fundamental analytical skill that everyone can use to help solve problems, design systems, and understand human behavior, making it useful in a number of fields. Supporters of this viewpoint believe that computational thinking is comparable to the linguistic, mathematical and logical reasoning taught to all children.

Various efforts have been made to introduce K-12 students to the most basic and essential computational concepts and college curricula have tried to provide a basis for life-long learning of increasingly new and advanced computational concepts and technologies. At both ends of this spectrum, however, most efforts have not focused on fundamental concepts. The book discusses what some of those fundamental concepts might be.

The Report xplores the idea that as the use of computational devices is becoming increasingly widespread, computational thinking skills should be promulgated more broadly. The book is an excellent resource for professionals in a wide range of fields including educators and scientists.


Top of Page | What's New@IEEE | IEEE-USA

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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