I started out the day at the Ronald Reagan building. The metro comes up right underneath it which is nice. This is a fun place to have a meeting at with lots of conference rooms that are set up to be comfy as well as effective meeting spaces. I'll admit that the DC version of working breakfast leaves much to be desired. I'm not a huge fan of fruit so a fruit platter and bagel tray left me looking for munchies before lunch time. Lunch however was a bigger hit with a large variety of sandwiches, salads and cookies.
At our training we learned a lot about what legislation is going through the Congress right now. The America Competes Act is of particular concern to scientists and engineers as well as the NSF and NIST re authorization bills. We also got tips for how to speak to members of congress and their staffs. The "bad meeting" training video was hilarious. In one sense we were all thinking, "I would never behave that way." and in another I was thinking "I know people who would do this and think nothing of it." So, i guess the training was necessary.
After lunch we walked over to the AAAS building. On my way the wrong way I walked by a few tourist attractions, making my way all the way down to Maryland Ave. before realizing that New York Ave. is the complete opposite direction. I knew that, duh.
The training at the AAAS building was more about budgets with representatives from the House Science committee, AAAS, the OSTP (Office of Science and Technology Policy) of the White House and others giving presentations. It being a lazy DC afternoon in early May nobody has turned the AC on full-blast yet and more than a few people were dozing in their seats. I must say that "death-by-PowerPoint" would have been a distinct possibility if we hadn't cut the last speaker off early to go to the next event.
The next event on the schedule was a reception honoring several members of congress for their support of legislation which brings federal money to R&D, including the NIST re authorization (H.R. 1868, the Technology Innovation and Manufacturing Stimulation Act), NSF re authorization (H.R. 1867) and America Competes Act. The presentation of George E. Brown Jr. SET Leadership Award to: Representative Nancy Pelosi (California) (accepted by another representative, Speaker of the House of Representatives and Senator Lamar Alexander (Tennessee), U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations was interesting. These two members of congress were instrumental in introducing competitiveness and innovation legislation and supporting it. In congress these days its hard to get legislation passed without consensus. One thing all members of congress want to be able to say when they go home to their constituents is that they are bringing dollars home to their state. Research dollars are hard to critique as pork. Who would criticize money that's going towards discovering a cure for a disease or an innovative manufacturing process that could revitalize local business.