|FAS Public Interest Report
The Journal of the Federation of American Scientists
Volume 54, Number 3-4
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FAS Status ReportBy Henry Kelly
The FAS membership elected Richard Garwin, Jane Owen, and Gregory Simon to the FAS Council, replacing Arthur Rosenfeld, Marvin Miller, and Priscilla McMillan, whose terms ended this year. The membership also overwhelmingly approved the merger of the FAS Fund and the FAS into a single organization. This change will streamline management of the organization and means that all contributions to FAS will be tax deductible. The merger will take effect upon receipt and approval of merger documents by the DC government.
The FAS Council with its newly elected members and the FAS Fund Board met for the last time as separate entities on July 13 and 14. The FAS Council re-affirmed its previous vote to appoint Hazel O'Leary, Shankar Sastry, and Jonathan Silver to the FAS Fund Board. Once the merger takes effect, members of both the Fund Board and the FAS Council will become the inital slate of directors for the new FAS. Our next elections and Board appointments will be made using the new FAS bylaws.
The Board meeting was lively and, at least from my perspective, highly productive. It's clear that the new FAS Board will play an active role in shaping the organization's future. We are likely to form several advisory groups for FAS projects that will report regularly to the Board. These groups would include FAS Board members and other individuals interested in the specific topics covered. We already have an active Biological Weapons Working Group, but we may start to develop Groups advising us on Global Security and Information Technology (with emphasis on information technology in education). We're likely to be contacting FAS members to ask them for help.
Strategic Security Project Co-Authors Report, Expands Staff
Bob Sherman is building a strong team in Strategic Security. We have been working actively to build a rational basis for a new US nuclear and space posture, working with the Center for Defense Information, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and the Natural Resources Defense Council. FAS Council Chair Frank von Hippel and Fund Board Chair Steve Fetter were active participants in the process. The recommendations in this report represent an effective way to take advantage of the end of the Cold War. We have been encouraging a broad national debate on these issues and helping the Congress to prepare to review the Bush Administration's nuclear posture review due December 1.
Robert Nelson continues his analysis of small nuclear weapons and is working actively with FAS Board members Lynn Sykes and Gregory van der Vink to review the state-of-the-art in detection of nuclear testing. Our new staff member Michael Levi will be focusing initially on reviewing new proposals for Ballistic Missile Defense technology. This work will soon be available in a major re-design of the FAS global security website.
Charles Vick continues to analyze missile development in North Korea, Iran, and Iraq. His work can be seen in the relevant sections of the FAS website.
ASMP Attends UN Conference
Tamar Gabelnick, together with Pamina Firchow and Matt Schroeder, have been working actively to use the opportunity of the UN Conference on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects to strengthen international controls on the conventional arms trade. Gabelnick's presentation to the Conference can be found on page 9. Her work was made much harder by an administration that at times seemed more interested in highlighting its bona fides with the NRA than developing multi-national approaches to the control of the small arms trade.
BWC Project Widens Focus While Continuing Protocol Fight
Barbara Rosenberg and her Biological Weapons Working Group fought hard to preserve the verification protocol to the Biological Weapons Convention, making an eloquent case for a strong verification protocol in testimony before the House Committee on Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Veterans Affairs and International Relations (see page 11).
Now that near term hopes for a verification protocol have been dashed, it is even more critical that we identify other approaches. Rosenberg and her FAS group is actively promoting several. They are examining options for a global infections disease surveillance system, and development of a database on pathogen strain identification. Van Blackwood will be leading an effort designed to ensure that the largest possible number of people in a position to identify inappropriate use of biological technology is trained to identify misuse, and know how to respond appropriately. A key element of this work is a collaborative effort to develop high-quality educational materials on this topic, available over the internet, that could be used around the world in courses for students in the biological sciences.
Ed Tech Pinpoints Resources
Marianne Bakia has been working actively to encourage increased federal investment in education technology research. An NSF-sponsored workshop that FAS helped lead last fall concluded that a key barrier to increased investment was the absence of a clearly articulated program of research. We have been working hard to remedy this situation by assisting in the creation of a Learning Federation, a public-private partnership that will conduct research on use of education technology for post-secondary instruction in science, mathematics, and engineering. An initial step will be developing a detailed roadmap of required research.
Marianne has also been an active part of the Digital Legacy project — a proposal for a major national investment in the development and dissemination of educational and cultural materials using new digital communication technologies. Like the Morrill Act of the 19th century, this would spark widespread use of technologies that can enrich the lives of people throughout the US.
FAS Sponsors Survey of Science/Tech Institutes
Peter Balint, on loan to FAS from the University of Maryland, has been exploring options for strengthening the ability of university centers to support accurate, timely analysis of science and technology policy issues most relevant to the Congress and the public. His work involves (i) identifying existing capacity in US universities and developing a plan for strengthening their capacity and tying them more directly to priority work, and (ii) surveying potential Congressional clients to propose mechanisms for identifying the highest priority projects, the timing required, and the best format for delivering the information.
FAS Sponsors Digital Human Conference
Gerry Higgins of FAS, joined by Tim Poston on leave from Johns Hopkins University, are working to create an open-source community working with a shared set of standards that can build a Digital Human _ a simulation of the human body that would range in scale from molecules to organs. These simulations would be used to teach and learn biology at all levels, to integrate information and conduct research, to predict stress on the human body in a variety of circumstances. We started building this community at a major conference on this topic held at NIH on July 23 and 24. The proceedings are posted on the FAS homepage, http://www.fas.org/dh.
A Final Note
We've been working actively to both strengthen FAS' work in areas where it has been active for many years and explore new areas. Our new facilities on K Street in downtown Washington, DC are helping us work together much more effectively, and we look forward to working with our new Board.
I apologize for the erratic mailing schedule of the PIR. We've successfully navigated some major transitions and hope to be back on a regular schedule this fall. We've plainly got our work cut out for us. Thank you for your continued support.