November 15, 2012
NATIONAL TECHNICAL INFORMATION SERVICE
5301 Shawnee Boulevard, Alexandria, VA 22312 First Floor Conference Room
9:00 am - Opening and Introductions
Don Hagen, Associate Director, Office of Product & Program Management of NTIS and CENDI Chair
9:15 am - 11:00 am
“Post Election Analysis of Impacts on Science and Information” [presentation]
11:30 am - Host Showcase – National Technical Information Service
NTIS Senior Advisory Board Strategic Advice for Products and Services (Hagen) [presentation]
Science.gov Content Jam Special Award
Congratulations Department of Transportation!
12:30 am - Group Lunch
Task/Working Group Chairs
Donald Hagen, CENDI Chair, welcomed the members to NTIS.
Challenges and Opportunities for FY13
Science has been a priority in the Obama Administration; it was even mentioned in President Obama’s acceptance speech and during the debates. At this time, science is important but not the top priority of the Administration. The focus is on the economy, and the Fiscal Cliff is exacerbated by a divided Congress. It remains to be seen whether it will be more polarized than the last four years or not. There is some indication that the White House and Congress are “nipping away” at the issues to try to reach a compromise.
In the past Administration, research and development (R&D) priorities have been related to jobs and innovation. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), DOE’s Office of Science, and NSF were actually highlighted in the America Competes Act. These will continue to be the focus of the new Administration. Science will continue to be promoted as a way of boosting the economy. Advanced manufacturing is a new focus area. Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education will continue to be an area of concern. Climate will get a renewed emphasis in the coming year. A carbon tax might be a way to address the deficit. The Congressional Research Service (CRS) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) are doing studies about implementing a carbon tax. It isn’t clear how much the Administration will accomplish with regard to the R&D infrastructure.
AAAS is known for its analysis of the federal R&D budget. They have done an analysis of the impact of sequestration on the federal R&D budget. The slides include a URL and there is a listserv with updates for which you can register.
AAAS did an analysis of the next five years if we go over the Fiscal Cliff. The analysis suggests that there will be greater cuts in defense and lesser cuts in non-defense. We would lose about 58 billion dollars in potential R&D funding if sequestration moves forward. If sequestration doesn’t occur, and the Budget Control Act is followed, the impact on science is similar. The R&D budget will be difficult anyway. The worst case scenario is if all cuts must be taken by non-defense agencies. Nineteen states would lose 1 billion dollars or more in R&D funding. Information by agency and by state is provided in the analysis, which is available on the AAAS web site.
The outlook is that compromise is possible. The question is what vehicle will be used for the compromise? One possibility is a continuing resolution for a year that would postpone the sequestration. A down payment approach could be part of the package. The best outlook is that agencies would operate under current levels with some cuts in the short term and more cuts later. Another possible approach is that some of the deficit reduction plans that have been voiced over the last several years may become the rescue plans.
Some changes are likely at the cabinet level, because all agency heads will submit resignation letters which will either be accepted or rejected by the President. There are also potential impacts because of changes in the House and Senate. Some science champions were lost due to redistricting. In the process of creating more politically pure districts, incumbents were pitted against each other. This created more polarization and tight races for some science and technology champions. In some cases, the result is that only one science champion has returned.
Term limits for chairmanships will also have an impact. There are a number of science champions who will no longer hold these positions. In some cases, the most likely candidate to take over a chairmanship is still a science champion, but with a different perspective on the federal role in basic versus applied R&D. In the House Science Committee, for example, there are two likely candidates for new chairmanship. Congressman Sensenbrenner is more of a management type and will be interested in budgets and outcomes. Congressman Smith is more interested in applied science.
There are some slots open on the Senate side as well because of retirements. There will also be changes that could impact the proponents of e-government and transparency. A shared focus of all remaining and likely members of the Senate Science Committee is cybersecurity.
Ms. Carney also assessed the future emphasis on data and information. The move toward government transparency will continue partly because of the fiscal situation. The emphasis on access to data sets will continue with issues around how and whether to standardize. A connection is seen between open access and citizen science. Public access to research will now move forward as the Office of Science and Technology (OSTP) did its open call asking for comments on how to apply public access policies across the government. It is possible that OSTP will be the standard bearer for public access, resulting in one or more Executive Orders, rather than legislation. Any legislation introduced in the previous Congress, such as Rep. Issa’s Data Act, will need to be reintroduced in the new Congress.
AAAS has done a lot of work to analyze what organizations in the sciences are doing to have an impact on funding and policy. The thought is that science will still be a priority, but will there be money to spend on these initiatives? Collaboration will be important. Ms. Carney is interested in further discussions with CENDI about the STI Jam. She would like to compare notes and positioning on these issues.
Action: The Secretariat will follow up with Ms. Carney on the STI JAM to see if there are any common interests.
Technology transfer deals with how to get economic benefits out of science research. The Federal Laboratory Consortium (FLC) defines tech transfer broadly. There has been a big push from the White House and Congress in this area. The group began back in 2009 with the National Economic Council and OSTP as leads. The entrepreneurship working group evolved from this. There are now four subcommittees. Commercialization is a focus not only among the federal laboratories but among the government owned-contractor operated (GOCO) facilities too.
A key document is the Presidential Memorandum that focuses the agencies on commercialization of federal research. The Presidential Memorandum requires that agencies create plans based on their own missions. Thirteen agencies have submitted plans outlining successful outcomes and how they are going to measure them. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) reviewed and approved all the plans within the last 30 days. The plans are available online. An executive summary is provided and opportunities are identified and several work groups have been created. They are looking across the plans in areas such as metrics and ethics.
The plans are very interesting in many respects especially with regard to what can be done with no new money and no new authority. The previous legislation related to technology transfer came at a time of recession in the 1980s as well. The agencies are trying to be creative, but, so far, they have not seen many new initiatives. One of the ideas that came off the table was an agency floor on the spending for technology transfer. It was felt that this approach isn’t really needed and would only make technology transfer a target for budget cuts in the future.
Opportunities that have been identified include new scientific work products, collaborations, and public/private partnerships for R&D, and improving the efficiency of technology transfer by reducing the red tape, especially for small businesses. SBIRs (Small Business Innovation Research) are addressed in the Presidential Memorandum, but only briefly. The FLC is looking to build bridges between patents and SBIRs. Just working together with private industry, through mechanisms such as CRADAs (Cooperative Research and Development Agreement), is a big area of transfer.
The FLC is keenly interested in metrics because it is required in the technology transfer plans. The goal is to be responsive to the information request while minimizing the burden by using information the agencies are already collecting. Some baseline information is needed because it is required in the legislation. One area is Cross Agency Priority (CAP) Goals which include small business and entrepreneurship. The FLC is working with StarMetrics and NSF to determine what metrics can be developed and leveraged. A metrics approach must be in place before 2013, but they can still make changes if additional good ideas are identified. Dr. Zielinski noted that an economist has been added to the staff.
In addition to metrics, they are looking for the best data sources to support the metrics. They are using NSF, Census and bibliometric-type data. The group wants to link back to the citations for scientific articles and publications. Patents have some citations. Ultimately, the goal is to be able to perform an impact analysis to determine the downstream economic impact. Can we trace a license through the various data streams and draw information from Census or Dun and Bradstreet? Existing statutory metrics will be retained. The group is recommending that agencies develop a process to track the performance of agency-assisted companies.
Software has proven to be a particularly difficult area. When the Presidential Memorandum was produced, software was missed, and they haven’t identified a reliable data stream related to software. There is no copyright to follow and it has proven difficult to identify the right people at the agencies to talk to. They are funding development of platforms for grantees to deposit software and tools. Social networking is being used to collect how beneficial and impactful some of the tools have been.
Literature reviews are currently the only approach. The hope is that people will produce some economic analysis in the literature and find literature reviews and summaries. Unfortunately, much of the current information is anecdotal. The goal is to create a more data driven approach. They are asking the economists what data is needed and what system must be implemented by the government in order to have the needed data in the future.
No new reporting requirements are being created. Annual reporting will be in existing reports following the current statutory requirements. New information will be folded into the existing reporting mechanisms.
The FLC is required to get all federal technology transfer into a single one-stop-shop. However, Dr. Zielinski believes that the centralized approach is not sustainable. The proper way to communicate the results must be determined.
When the Research Data Alliance (RDA) met recently, there were about 120 people in attendance, including people from Australia, the US, and Europe. The RDA includes a 2.5 million dollar agreement with the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). Recent meetings brought together different stakeholder groups including data center managers, data scientists, scientists, entrepreneurs, application writers, and technology experts. The group was very energized.
In addition to government groups, the academic community had a large representation. Dr. Blatecky indicated that RDA does not want the government to drive the decisions or to be the sole funding source. Concerns were raised by participants because RDA has a data initiative and so do other organizations. There was some push back from other organizations and the chair will be evaluating this issue. The challenge is how to coordinate with other efforts.
Several RDA meetings are planned over the next year in both the US and internationally. The schedule for these meetings was presented. There will be an RDA meeting in Washington, DC, in September 2013. A suggestion was made to see if CENDI should play in this environment. Perhaps an STI Summit concept could be linked to the September meeting. Bob Chadduck from NSF would be the local contact in Washington, DC.
Showcase – National Technical Information Service
NTIS has continues as an agency because of services such as database services, digitization, document fulfillment, and other information management services. Electronic dissemination is growing but there are challenges. The Technical Reports Library is up and the Federal Science Repository Service, a public/private partnership, is moving forward. The new digital Selective Research Service recently replaced Scientific Reports in Microfiche (SRIM), which disseminated microfiche.
At the end of FY12, services are growing but technical information growth is flat. The Advisory Board concluded that this needs to be addressed in FY13. Costs have dropped dramatically because NTIS is being more efficient with what they are doing internally. They have adjusted and so they are sustainable. However, there are business model challenges, and NTIS needs to position itself differently. The technology is causing transition issues and strategic planning is ongoing.
NTIS had an Advisory Board meeting recently. The Board is made up of a chairperson and four members appointed by the Secretary of Commerce. The chairman is Dr. John Regazzi. His expertise is in the science of publishing. Members are approved for three-year terms and meet twice per year. Formal presentations are given by NTIS followed by ample opportunities for discussion.
Mr. Hagen showed the questions from the Board and how NTIS responded to some of them. A key question was what are the customer’s needs that NTIS is trying to solve, and how does NTIS help to solve them better than its competitors, including the internal federal competition? Other questions revolved around user focus groups and collaboration with Google, Google Scholar, etc.
The majority of the National Technical Reports Library (NTRL) usage is by librarians and other federal agencies. There is little use by citizens. There is a lot of traffic that is in and out. NTIS doesn’t know what those users are doing and the metrics have very little meaning. The customer base is shrinking and is not stable. The number one risk is that the NTRL is too limiting and too focused.
Another challenge for NTIS is to convert the information management skills that have grown up around its services for use in other ways.
NTIS can no longer ignore the fact that it is selling documents that are freely available elsewhere. They have a serious business model problem which isn’t new. The opportunity is to focus on “value added” and on the customer. In terms of trying to monetize the value, it was pointed out by a member of the Advisory Board that one way to determine the value to the customer is to consider what they are paying for it.
There is value in the digital-on-demand process for tangible legacy documents. In addition, the public-private partnership cooperation is an effective way to advance science information services which is unique to NTIS. In addition, NTIS has a secure hosting environment, including a secure cloud.
Free and open is the challenge. However, it is not just an NTIS problem. How do these issues apply to other CENDI agencies and what opportunities does it present?
NTIS is working with groups and customers that the CENDI community has not worked with historically. NTIS has not been effective in reaching the science community. This community doesn’t recognize NTIS or what a technical report is.
It was noted that CENDI could have a session at the FLC Meeting. The meeting routinely draws between 500 and 700 people. Ms. Carroll will send out a note to see who is interested in organizing a session.
Action: Ms. Carroll will send out a note to determine who is interested in organizing a session for the FLC Annual Meeting.
Ms. Gheen distributed material that the Science.gov Promotions group created for the 10th Anniversary. This includes the recent press release, a “Then and Now” document, and “Science.gov Cool Things.” Copies of the documents are available on the Science.gov 10th Anniversary page (http://www.science.gov/10th_anniversary.html).
The upgrade of the Science.gov software has been completed. The Deep Web platform upgrade updated Science.gov functionality, including visualization features and the integration of results for document and multimedia. The homepage was modernized, including a carousel of graphics from the agencies, and a newer, cleaner banner. The information is the same, but the look is more modern. Ciencia.science.gov, the Spanish version, was also launched about the same time as the redesign of the website.
In order to support the Anniversary, the Promotions Group has been revitalized. Agencies without representation on the group were encouraged to do so. There are 11 main participants on the Promotions group from 7 of the 15 Science.gov agencies. The group holds meetings every two weeks.
There are several events coming up where Science.gov will be promoted, including the two upcoming CENDI workshops. A list of conferences and events was distributed for people to indicate those their agencies will attend and willingness to distribute Science.gov promotional materials at these events.
Ms. Gheen also presented results of the survey that was recently completed on the Science.gov site. Ninety people responded to nine questions. The majority of the respondents learned about Science.gov from librarians. The majority like the default relevance ranking. About half of the users go to the agency page and the others stay on Science.gov, showing that Science.gov is a tool for driving traffic to agency websites. Users think the spell checker is working well and about 63 percent liked the Wikipedia information. Seventy-nine percent did not know that alerts were available, so a better job needs to be done promoting that feature. People knew about 10-25 of the available deep web databases prior to looking at science.gov. It should be noted that visitations vary by the school year, and mobile is gaining traction.
The Content Jam Award was presented to the Department of Transportation Library for adding the most web resources to the Web Catalog. Mary Moulton accepted the award on behalf of the Library.
In addition to continuing to add to the current collections, Science.gov is discussing special collections and resources that could be highlighted.
As part of the US National Action Plan on open government, communities were to be fostered under Data.gov starting with health, education, energy and safety. To date, 14 communities have been established. They range from very broad communities, such as those listed above, to very specific communities such as Restore the Gulf.
Research.gov is still on the staging site, but strategic roll-out discussions are underway at OSTP prior to the initial release. Mr. D’Souza demonstrated a similar site which uses the same template as Research.gov. It includes blogs/news to engage the public and anyone interested in discussing the data. Challenges are connected to Challenge.gov. When a challenge is closed, it is removed. Data and tools may include tools for filtering the data. The applications (apps) section includes computer-based apps to deal with the data developed as a result of challenges or federally developed. All apps are freely available and most are for the Android at this point.
At this point, Research.gov has apps, What’s New and forums. What’s New will highlight the most recent data. Data and tools include about 870 data sets from more than 15 federal agencies. These were already on Data.gov but were not properly tagged. The Science.gov categories were used to tag the data. Research.gov does not have a moderator for a blog, so they took off that component. Some web apps were identified from NITRD and NSF, but there are no mobile apps yet. The first Resource is Science.gov. Also included are NLM’s Reporter and Worldwidescience.org.
The Data.gov point of contact (POC) for each agency works with the General Services Administration (GSA) to determine what to put on the site. The agency provides the content and GSA formats it and puts it up. The site must be reviewed before it is released.
There was a discussion about the status of the strategic relationship between Data.gov and Science.gov. Further discussions are needed to address the technical issues that are blocking federated search. In addition, follow up conversations are expected with Data.gov after the conversation with the Presidential Innovation Fellows included the re-do of Data.gov.
Action: Follow-up with the Innovation Fellows on the Data.gov re-do.