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Science Panel Urges Cooperation

September 4, 2001

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The National Academy of Sciences on Tuesday called for a new panel to coordinate astronomy research.

However, the academy declined to endorse a Bush administration proposal that NASA take over the programs of the National Science Foundation.

The National Research Council concluded that moving the National Science Foundation’s astronomy and astrophysics activities to NASA would disrupt scientific work while still not integrating research performed in private institutions. The council is a division of the National Academy of Sciences.

Instead the council called for the formation of an interagency planning board for astronomy and astrophysics to help coordinate the work of the two agencies plus others.

In its budget for fiscal year 2002, which begins Oct. 1, the Bush administration had called for a review of federal spending on astronomy, including the possibility of the transfer of responsibilities.

Currently the NSF is responsible for ground-based astronomy while the National Aeronautics and Space Administration supports space-based research.

The council concluded that, ``overall, the federal organizations that support work in astronomy and astrophysics manage their programs effectively.″

The two sides have become increasingly dependent on one another in recent years, the report observed, resulting in the need for coordination in planning and research.

A new interagency committee should be established to handle that, with representatives from NASA, NSF, the Department of Energy, the Defense Department, Smithsonian Institution and others, the council said.

The National Academy of Sciences is a private organization chartered by Congress to advise the government agencies on scientific matters.


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National Academy of Sciences: http://www.nas.edu

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