New & Noteworthy



Archive for May, 2019

17 May 2019

NSC Alliance Members: Inform Science Policy This Summer

The Natural Science Collections Alliance is pleased to announce that your organization, as an Alliance member, is eligible to participate in the 2019 Biological Sciences Congressional District Visits event.

This national initiative, organized by the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS), and co-sponsored by NSC Alliance, is an opportunity for scientists from across the country to meet with their federal or state elected officials to showcase the people, facilities, and equipment that are required to support and conduct scientific research.

Now in its eleventh year, the event enables scientists, curators, museum professionals, and graduate students to meet with their elected officials without traveling to Washington, DC. Participants may either invite an elected official to tour their research facility or can meet at the lawmaker’s local office. Meetings will take place mid-July through October, depending on the participant’s schedule.

“When I found out about the AIBS Biological Sciences Congressional District Visits, I thought that this would be a perfect way to share not only my passion about my work but also my concerns and interests with a local government representative that might be able to influence policy and share advice about how to become even more involved,” said 2018 participant Khailee Marischuk. “I had not had any previous experience with this type of meeting, but AIBS did a fantastic job connecting me with my State Representative and preparing me for the lab tour and conversation. My meeting with Representative Terese Berceau was incredibly rewarding as she shared our enthusiasm for scientific research and our passion for promoting science policy for elected officials and the general public alike, along with giving our group insight in how best to make our voices and opinions known and heard. It was a thought-provoking discussion for me and hopefully everyone else involved.”

NSC Alliance members who participate will receive one-on-one support and online training to prepare them for their tour or meeting. The event is open to all types of natural science collections, including biological, geological, and anthropological collections.

The event is made possible by AIBS, with the support of event sponsors American Society of Plant Taxonomists, Botanical Society of America, Helminthological Society of Washington, Natural Science Collections Alliance, Paleontological Society, Society for Freshwater Science, Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections, and Society for the Study of Evolution and event supporter Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology.

Participation is free for NSC Alliance members, but registration is required and will close on July 10, 2019. For more information and to register, visit https://www.aibs.org/public-policy/congressional_district_visits.html.

17 May 2019

BCoN: Consider Endorsing Extended Specimen Report

Last month, members of the NSC Alliance Board of Directors participated in a National Press Club event on April 4, 2019, to celebrate the public release of the Biodiversity Collection Network’s (BCoN) community-informed vision document: Extending U.S. Biodiversity Collections to Promote Research and Education. If you have not yet reviewed the document, we invite you to read the summary brochure and longer document which are available at https://bcon.aibs.org/2019/04/04/bcon-report-extending-u-s-biodiversity-collections-to-promote-research-and-education/. A special report will appear in the journal BioScience later this year.

NSC Alliance members are encouraged to join fellow NSC Alliance members — Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology, the KU Biodiversity Institute, Academy of Natural Sciences at Drexel University, and Occidental College, among others — in endorsing the vision document.

If your organization would like to endorse the plan, please send a PDF file of a letter on letterhead and signed by an authorized representative of your organization to BCoN care of the American Institute of Biological Sciences at publicpolicy@aibs.org.

17 May 2019

National Science Board Seeking New Members

The National Science Board (NSB) is accepting nominations for the NSB Class of 2020-2026 through May 31, 2019. NSB, the oversight and governance board of the National Science Foundation, is seeking recommendations for new Board Members from leading scientific, engineering, and educational organizations, as well as the public.

Information about the process and requirements is available at: https://www.nsf.gov/nsb/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=298427

17 May 2019

House Considers FY 2020 Funding Despite No Deal on Budget Caps

Appropriators in the U.S. House of Representatives have started to consider spending bills for fiscal year (FY) 2020. Importantly, Congress and the President have not yet reached agreement on a deal to raise the budget caps that are set to kick in later this year.

Since 2013, budget sequestration has dramatically cut funding available for federal programs that support research, environmental stewardship, education, housing, foreign aid, and other programs. Congress has since reached three budget agreements, in 2013, 2015 and 2018, to lessen the extent of sequestration. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 expires on October 1, 2019. Several science agencies, including the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), could experience cuts if the budget caps are not raised prior to FY 2020.

The House and Senate leadership have begun discussions with the White House on a possible two-year budget deal. Although it is still unclear how the budget cap negotiations will play out, House appropriators are pushing forward with their own spending plan.

The House Appropriations Committee advanced the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations bill, their first spending bill for FY 2020, on May 8. The bill includes $189.9 billion in discretionary funding, an increase of $11.8 billion above the 2019 enacted level and $48 billion above the President’s budget request for FY 2020. The National Institutes of Health would receive $41.1 billion in FY 2020, an increase of $2 billion over the FY 2019 enacted level. The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), slated for closure under the President’s budget, would receive $257 million, an increase of $15 million.

The House Appropriations panel has also approved topline spending numbers for each of the twelve appropriations subcommittees, allocating increases to all 12 spending bills relative to FY 2019 enacted levels. The spending number for Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies, which includes the National Science Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration, would increase by $2.3 billion to $66.4 billion. The Energy and Water Development allocation, which includes funding for the Department of Energy Office of Science, would get a boost of $1.8 billion over FY 2019. The panel has also approved spending increases for Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies (+$1.7 billion) and Agriculture (+$1.3 billion).

On May 15, the House spending panel on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies advanced their FY 2020 appropriations bill that would boost funding for the Department of the Interior (+$833 million) and the Environmental Protection Agency (+$ 672 million) in FY 2020. The bill would provide $1.24 billion (+$75 million) for USGS, $1.4 billion (+$66 million) for the Bureau of Land Management, $1.7 billion (+$79 million) for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and $3.4 billion for National Park Service (+$168 million). The Smithsonian Institution would receive $1.07 billion, an increase of $28 million above FY 2019.

The Senate has yet to begin marking up spending bills for FY 2020. Republican appropriators in the Senate have expressed an interest in reaching a bipartisan, bicameral agreement on discretionary spending caps before starting work on appropriations.

15 May 2019

NSC Alliance Provides Testimony in Support of IMLS

The Natural Science Collections Alliance (NSC Alliance) provided testimony to the Senate Appropriations Committee regarding fiscal year (FY) 2020 funding for the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

“Museums strengthen our national economy. They provide core educational and outreach programs to engage the public and contribute more than $50 billion to the U.S. economy every year, support more than 726,000 American jobs, and generate $12 billion in tax revenue. It is of paramount importance to invest in museums given the enormous economic and educational contributions of these institutions.”

The testimony urged appropriators to reject the President’s proposal to eliminate IMLS and to instead provide IMLS with at least $257 million in FY 2020.

Read the testimony.