When I started this blog, I knew that I wanted to stay more or less on technical issues. Politics was an issue I would avoid. Aside from too many other talented people writing on politics, there was also too much rhetoric, emotion and a seeming lack of ability to do basic math on the part of the politicians. I really prefer to concentrate on facts and data.

Along came one person, who made one idiotic statement, and I found myself looking at the webpage for  the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. Now I can’t decide if I’m mad, concerned or hopefully, just not understanding the situation.

If you have a two monitor system feel to explore their website with me or just take notes as I discuss this.  I started by jumping right into the Initiatives tab. This is where I was expecting to be blown away by the future vision. Hmm, the only item here is a staff report on “Yucca Mountain: The Administration’s Impact on U.S. Nuclear Waste Management Policy.”  I’m sure this is important but it’s not a vision of the future.

On to the Hearings and  Legislation section. The majority of the activity seems to be hearings. This is one of those places where I hope I’m wrong. To me, a hearing is where key industry leaders are brought in and are requested to give their views and opinions to members of the committee. It much like a seminar on specific subjects except that the committee members don’t take a test to demonstrate their grasp of the data given them and the committee members control the scope and direction of the data transfer. I’m not sure how this works. Without a solid grasp of the issues how can you direct the knowledge? It’s like me signing up for a class on programming and telling the instructor what I wanted to be taught. I’ll certainly learn something but I won’t get a complete view.

Moving to the Legislation section, six bills over the last two years.

Feb 7, 2012: H.R. 3834, Advancing America’s NITR-D Act of 2012 

Feb 7, 2012: H.R. 3199 Assessment of the Scientific and Technical Research on the Implications of the Use of Mid-Level Ethanol Blends

Jul 28, 2011: H.R. 2484 Harmful Algal Blooms

Jul 21, 2011: H.R. 2096, the Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2011

May 4, 2011: H.R. 1425, Creating Jobs Through Small Business Innovation Act of 2011

Mar 17, 2011: H.R. 970 the Federal Aviation Research and Development Reauthorization Act of 2011

I’ve hyperlinked the bills for anyone who wants to read them. I have read them and while the format makes sense, that was all that looked scientific. All six bills devote the majority of the document on saying how much money is allocated and then a few paragraphs or it is to be used. The Cybersecurity Enhancement Act looked interesting, it authorizes scholarships and jobs to improve our Cybersecurity capabilities. Then I spoiled my first impression by doing more research.  This bill is a modification of an existing bill and the net effect is to lower spending we had already authorized.

It’s fortunate they left the rhetoric about how important Cybersecurity was to them, otherwise I might have been confused.  I won’t argue about the importance of any of the research or training grants here. All of them are probably important but again, this is not a vision of the future. This is a very narrow look at a few very specific subjects.

Vision, leadership, results of previous studies, data, I would have been happy finding any of those. What I did find was personal opinion, self aggrandizement, and a lack of a coherent strategy. This can’t be the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, this is the Committee of Bookkeepers that Writes Checks for Targeted Research in Technology.

Someone, anyone, please tell me where I misinterpreted this website. Hearings aside, what does this Committee do?

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