AAS Electronic Notification Service - Announcement #10 6/95
- Congressional Budget Process Proceeding
- Weedman to Leave NASA Astrophysics
- NASA Space Science Programs to be Restructured
- AASTeX v4.0 Now Available
- Cosmic Abundances Conference - Revised Announcement
1. CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET MAKES FURTHER CUTS TO NASA
The budget process is bumping along in Washington. No matter how you slice it, this will be a tough time for science (as well as for many other discretionary programs). The main political driver is a rush toward a balanced budget. The only points under discussion are how soon do we get there and how much of a tax cut do we want along the way?
Almost unnoticed in the excitement over the enormous political clashes which are occurring on Capitol Hill these days, the usual budget process is moving pretty much on the normal schedule. The Congressional budget sets limits on the major expenditure categories. However, the House and Senate have not resolved the differences in their budget bills - so there is no definitive Congressional budget yet.
In the next step, the chairs of the Appropriations Committees, whose dollar amounts are given by the budget bill, have to allocate their resources to their Subcommittee Chairs (the so-called 602B allocations). This can't be done for real until the budget bill is passed, but the subcommittees are already working with provisional marks which are much smaller than they had last year. According to rumor, the House VA-HUD-Independent Agencies Subcommittee, under whose jurisdiction NASA and NSF fall, is working with a mark $1.8 B less than last year.
Under present scenarios, NASA's Space Station will receive full funding, so any cuts to the NASA budget will come from the rest of the agency. Under a massive restructuring plan (see item 3) considerable cuts have already been made to reach the target in the President's budget. However, the Congressional budget scenarios will cut even deeper, causing some Space Station supporters, notably George Brown, to waver in their support of the Station because it would cut too deeply into the space science programs. On the other hand, multi-year funding of the Station is being debated now, a move which would protect the
program from yearly attempts to kill it. Judging from past experience, this fight should be left to the experts. A campaign by the scientific community against the Station, or any other part of NASA, would be counter-productive at this time.
The proposed calendar for action in the House is:
June 22 - HUD-VA-Ind Appropriations Subcommittee marks up their appropriations bill which covers NASA and NSF.
Early July - Full Committee votes on VA-HUD-Ind appropriations bill.
July 18 - Full House action on VA-HUD-Ind appropriations bill.
The Senate will follow these dates by about a month.
This is the critical time for astronomers to make their views known to their Congressional Representatives. For further information about who the Appropriations Committee members are you can find the info under the Public Policy part of the AAS Homepage at:
The AIP series called FYI gives even-handed, authoritative information
as well as advice on how to contact congress. You can find all the
FYIs under the "Electronic Newsletters" link on the AIP homepage:
Information from NASA, including a letter from Chief Scientist France Cordova can be found on the WWW at:
The NASA Office of Space Science also has a homepage which carries relevant information:
Just a note of caution: don't overreact to the political rhetoric and overstated positions which have characterized the early months of this year. As we get into the real work of setting budgets, you can expect to see innovative ways being sought to achieve compromises in ways which will allow politicians to retreat a bit in a graceful way. It is important to make your voice heard in this process.
2. WEEDMAN TO LEAVE NASA ASTROPHYSICS
Dan Weedman, Director of NASA's Astrophysics Division has decided to return to Penn State University as a professor in the Department of Astronomy, a position from which he has been on leave. The following message which he has been circulating gives his reasons. Although the
projected downsizing of NASA and the budget uncertainty promises to make the coming years particularly challenging, Dan is opting to return to research.
"I have now decided that I want to return to Penn State and resume active participation in teaching, outreach, and research. I did, however, receive an extension of the date on which I must report back. This date has been set as November 12. I will remain at NASA until then in order to see through the current budget cycles and aid in a smooth transition to the new organization of OSS. I am confident that the astrophysics program will continue to prosper and am enthusiastic about plans to restructure OSS in a manner that will increase the unity and common goals of the entire space science community."
3. NASA SCIENCE PROGRAMS TO BE RESTRUCTURED
NASA Administrator Dan Goldin has been working to make major cuts in the number of people at NASA Headquarters. The goal is to cut the civil servant staff, eliminate the contractor support (which has already been done) and to eliminate the senior scientist positions as of next year. To run the programs with half the staff will require significant changes in the organization. The Office of Space Science will, in one year, be the same size (60-70 people) as the Astrophysics Division was last year.
This is part of the major restructuring effort which has been referred to as the Zero Based Review. The NASA pages on the WWW referred to above contain information about the results of the Review, the proposals for privatizing many of NASA's jobs and the formation of institutes in conjunction with several of the NASA centers.
While the final shape of the NASA science programs is still being debated, it seems unlikely that there will be three separate space science divisions a year from now. Dan Weedman has favored a fresh approach about how to structure a smaller Office of Space Science, one which can be an effective advocate for all sceince within a reduced and fiscally constrained NASA. The new structure of the Office of Space Science at NASA HQ will probably be decided in the next several weeks.
4. AASTeX v4.0 NOW AVAILABLE
An updated version of the AASTeX package, v4.0, is now available on aas.org in the pubs/aastex directory. Authors are encouraged to use this new version of AASTeX for all subsequent manuscript preparation for the ApJ, the ApJ Letters, and the AJ. Send e-mail to email@example.com for additional instructions on retrieving the new package, or see the URL:
The file RelNotes.v40 in the package distribution lists the changes to the package. All the sample *.tex files have been modified to reflect changes and additions to the markup, and the user guide in the file aastex.tex has been updated. The package should run under LaTeX 2.09 or LaTeX 2e in compatibility mode. A Frequently-Asked-Questions list (see the file FAQ) is available in the directory pubs/aastex-misc as well as the file keywords.apj containing the subject headings used by the ApJ and Letters. Questions about AASTeX may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
5. COSMIC ABUNDANCES CONFERENCE - REVISED INFO
Information about the Cosmic Abundances conference at the University of Maryland, October 9-11,1995, can now be accessed at WWW URL: http://www.astro.umd.edu/october.
The organizers apologize for any frustration caused by previous messages directing browsers to this site before information about the conference was actually there.