Lamont Weekly Report, March 6, 2009
I hope this week will be the last one in which Dick Greco and his crew will have to brave the winter's morning darkness to keep our Campus safe and accessible in the face of a particularly tiresome snowstorm on Monday. It was a tough call at 5 am that morning to make a decision about whether to stay open or close but it was the fact that we believed that we could keep the bus running from downtown that swung the balance. I hope everyone stayed safe and warm nevertheless.
I was on the 6am shuttle down to DC on Thursday morning, for a couple of days of Ocean Leadership meetings on the Hill. I am sitting in National airport writing this as I make my way home. In the old days (i.e. 6 months ago) National airport at 4pm on a Friday afternoon was absolutely chaotic with crowds and queues - but not anymore - even though this seems to be the only town in the US that has any money!
There were few agency folks attending the meetings over the last couple of days (the most senior being Mary Glackin (Deputy Under Secretary at NOAA) and the redoubtable Jack Dunnigan, Head of NOS) - they are all completely buried by the difficult demands of disbursing billions of dollars in the additional funds from the stimulus package without the addition of more staff to handle the workload. There is still little clarity about the specific details of how this will be handled, but there are strong rumours of stringent reporting and accountability requirements associated with this 'new' money, that
may make us question the wisdom of accepting any!!
CU Research Administration is in the process of developing a new web page that will be updated as new information on the stimulus becomes available - check it out at: http://evpr.columbia.edu/content/stimulus-arra
The (temporary) politically-motivated delays of the confirmations of Holdren (as Science Advisor) and Lubchenko (as Administrator of NOAA) prevented them from playing the roles as keynote speakers as planned - which needless to say was a very big disappointment.
But even so the events on the Hill were interesting. As usual Admiral Watkins turned up to rally the 'troops', but the high points were (remarkably informed but unprepared) presentations from Senator Sheldon Whitehouse from Rhode Island and Representative Brian Baird from Washington. It is clear that there are a growing number of folks in Congress who 'get it' - even down to the level of suggesting that we should be more concerned about ocean acidification than by rising
sea level. But their consistent message was that there remain a majority in Congress who do NOT get it, and we the research community should be doing more to fix that by educating them.
Well. Providing the shuttle is on time I should be home at a civilized hour this evening and will spend the weekend catching up. Sixty degrees they say on Sunday - hard to believe really.
Have a good one,