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AAS Informational Email 2012-07

Subject: NSF AST Portfolio Review Report

AAS members should be aware that the AAS has issued a resolution endorsing the process and goals of undertaking a portfolio review, which may be found at this link:
http://aas.org/governance/resolutions.php#NSFPort

Undertaking such a process is a challenge for any scientific discipline, with potential impacts across our entire field. In the coming weeks, the AAS leadership will be considering what action, if any, to take following the release of AST's response to the report recommendations and the implications of the report become clear.

Members are encouraged to let your elected leadership know your thoughts about the report and AST's response to the reports recommendations. Comments emailed to aas@aas.org are always welcome and will be shared appropriately.

Kevin B. Marvel, Executive Officer

The following message is being distributed by the AAS as a service to the NST Astrophysics Division.

The Portfolio Review Committee of the NSF Division of Astronomical Sciences (AST) presented its report to the Advisory Committee for the Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPSAC) at a
meeting on August 16, and that report was formally submitted to the NSF after a vote by the MPSAC. The report is now public and may be found on the AST Portfolio Review web page. Please see
http://www.nsf.gov/mps/ast/ast_portfolio_review.jsp to access the report and related information from the Division. AST anticipates holding a community webinar briefing sometime in September, following
the upcoming Beijing IAU meeting, with the exact schedule still to be determined.

AST wishes to express its sincere gratitude to the Portfolio Review Committee for the Committee’s diligent efforts on behalf of the U.S. astronomy community. The recommendations of the Committee’s report
clearly are derived from the National Academy decadal survey priorities, and portray a robust scientific program even in the face of significant budget challenges. AST understands that decisive actions are crucial for ensuring the future health of the ground-based astronomy enterprise in the United States, so that U.S. scientists can continue as leaders at the forefront of astronomy through the next decade. Thus AST intends to respond to the recommendations of the report as diligently and expeditiously as possible. An initial response to the report will be made public by the end of August, and will be posted at the above web site. A more detailed plan, with the capacity to evolve over time in response to changing conditions, is under development. Given the complex nature of the implementation of facilities-related recommendations, the many stakeholders involved, and the relation to the embargoed budget process for Fiscal Year 2014 (FY 2014), it is not possible to make a more detailed plan for implementing facilities recommendations available now; such a plan will not be available until after the President’s FY 2014 budget request is released in February 2013. AST will keep the community informed as implementation evolves.

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