February 16, 2012
NSPE Senior Manager of Government Relations Sarah Ogden attended a briefing and press conference regarding the Federal Prison Industries Competition in Contracting Act of 2011 (H.R. 3634). Reps. Bill Huizenga (R-MI-2) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY-14) spoke in support of the legislation, which would require Unicor, a government-owned corporation that employs federal prisoners, to compete with the private sector for federal contracts to provide goods and services. The bill also would prohibit Unicor from competing for contracts in which inmates would have access to sensitive or classified information. NSPE is monitoring the legislation.
February 13, 2012
Senior Manager of Government Relations Sarah Ogden represented NSPE at the National Science Foundation's 2013 budget announcement, where NSF Director Subra Suresh stressed the importance of federal investment in science and engineering to U.S. competitiveness. President Obama has requested $7.373 billion for NSF in FY13, a 5% increase over current levels. NSF's engineering programs would receive $876.33 million.
February 10, 2012
The Small Business Administration has issued a final rule increasing the size standard for engineering firms from $4.5 million to $14 million in average revenues over three years. The rule will take effect on March 12, 2012. NSPE has supported increasing the size standard to allow more engineering firms to compete as small businesses.
February 9, 2012
NSPE sent a letter with the STEM Education Coalition to House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN-2) urging him not to strip provisions that support science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education from the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. NSPE is a member of the STEM Education Coalition, which supports STEM programs for teachers and students at the Department of Education, National Science Foundation, and other agencies that offer STEM-related programs. The coalition is composed of more than 1,000 diverse groups representing all sectors of the technological workforce.
The Senate agreed by a vote of 85–11 to begin considering its transportation reauthorization bill, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (S. 1813). The bipartisan effort is a striking contrast to the House's American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act of 2012 (H.R. 7), which is also expected to hit the floor next week but has garnered no Democratic support and has come under fire from conservative factions within the GOP. With the current transportation funding extension set to expire on March 31, Congress must move quickly—but partisan rancor and election-year politics have raised doubts that Congress will be able to pass a long-term bill before November. A ninth short-term extension of current funding levels may be more likely. NSPE believes that appropriately funded infrastructure systems directly benefit the public's health, safety, and welfare.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved by a vote of 4–1 the first licenses to build reactors in more than 30 years. The reactors will be built from a standardized design that promises to speed construction and reduce costs. NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko was the sole dissenter, objecting on the grounds that the NRC has yet to finalize post-Fukushima safety enhancements. Nuclear energy currently provides about 20% of the United States' electricity. NSPE believes that the United States should lead the world in the advancement and use of nuclear power. Green, clean, renewable nuclear power systems will provide an important component in our nation's efforts to reduce reliance on foreign oil and to reduce the releases of harmful pollutants.
January 25, 2012
NSPE joined more than 1,000 professional, trade, and non-profit organizations; businesses; and labor groups in sending a letter to Congress urging expedient passage of a long-term transportation reauthorization bill. The current law expires on March 31. The letter, part of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's campaign "Make Transportation Job #1," acknowledged the funding challenges Congress faces but stressed the benefits of infrastructure investment to the U.S. economy.
January 10, 2012
NSPE Senior Manager of Government Relations Sarah Ogden participated in a Council on Federal Procurement of Architectural and Engineering Services meeting. NSPE is a founding member of COFPAES, an organization dedicated to protecting and promoting the Brooks Act (PL 92-582) and the use of qualifications-based selection.
December 23, 2011
NSPE submitted comments on the 2013 federal locality pay program at the request of the Office of Personnel Management. OPM solicits comments from NSPE annually, when the agency must prepare a congressionally mandated report to the president that compares pay rates for federal employees with rates paid to non-federal workers in each locality. The locality pay program provides federal employees with pay adjustments in areas where surveys have shown that the pay disparity between federal and non-federal workers is greater than 5%. The program's goal is to narrow the pay gap between federal and non-federal workers. NSPE believes that federally employed engineers must be compensated in a way that is comparable to the private sector to enable federal agencies to recruit and retain the most qualified engineers.
December 9, 2011
The Federal Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education Portfolio, a White House report cataloging all federal investments in STEM education, found that federal agencies are investing $3.4 billion in 252 STEM education programs, with only modest overlap in investments and no duplication in programs. The investments represent less than 1% of the $1 trillion the U.S. spends annually on education. The report, mandated by the America COMPETES Act, is a first step in formulating a five-year strategic plan to improve federal STEM education efforts.