Issue 58, October 14, 2014

Table of Contents
1. Report of the SPA Advocacy Committee


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*    *    *         AMERICAN GEOPHYSICAL UNION       .
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*  *********  *         SPA SECTION NEWSLETTER    .   ..
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*  *  ***********  *  *      Volume XXI, Issue 58    .     o       .
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*  *********  *            October 14, 2014       .   ..
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*    *    *              Editor: Peter Chi           .
*      *      *    Editorial Coordinator: Sharon Uy       . . . . . . .
*             Email: editor at
SPA Web Site:


1. Report of the SPA Advocacy Committee
From: Len Fisk <lafisk at>

(A printable copy of this report can be found at:

It has been a while since I reported on the activities and plans of the SPA
Advocacy Committee.  For those unfamiliar with the Committee, it was formed
in 2013 and consisted of myself, Dan Baker (University of Colorado,
Boulder), Gordon Emslie (Western Kentucky University), Maura Hagan (NCAR),
and Harlan Spence (University of New Hampshire). Maura was recently
succeeded on the Committee by Paul Cassak (West Virginia University); we
thank Maura for her efforts.  Let me briefly summarize what happened last
year and our plans for this year.

As you may know, we made a decision last year to emphasize what we viewed as
the most important result we wished to achieve: getting Congressional
support for NASA Heliophysics to fully implement the decadal survey,
including DRIVE and an enhancement in the Explorer program. In our judgment,
a broadly based community effort to achieve this goal was unlikely to be
successful, both in the time we had, and in the Congressional environment we
found ourselves in. So we concentrated on getting the committed support from
key Senators who serve on the Appropriations Subcommittee for NASA. The
resulting language from the Senate Appropriations bill did accomplish what
we sought – there is an enhancement for DRIVE and good words and direction
for the Explorer program.  There are also good words for the decadal survey
in the House Authorization Bill for NASA, and for space weather research in
the Defense Authorization Bill. However, the two NASA bills, and
particularly the all-important Appropriations Bill, have not been passed
into legislation. Moreover, within the Senate Appropriations Bill for NASA,
the bottom line for Heliophysics did not go up as much as our DRIVE
enhancement, with the result that it is not clear how the DRIVE enhancement
is to be paid for.

Since both the House and the Senate have now enacted their versions of the
NASA Appropriations, and the bottom line for Heliophysics is essentially the
same for each, there is little for us to do now with regard to the FY15
budget, other than to encourage that the Senate language be adopted. When
the final FY15 budget for NASA is enacted, we will need to be sure that the
Operating Plan, which is submitted 90 days after the enactment, treats
Heliophysics well.

Last year we also had a letter writing campaign, coordinated by Gordon
Emslie, in which younger researchers in the community wrote to the NASA
leadership in support of Heliophysics. This effort, and in fact all our
efforts, have been seriously hindered by the leadership issues in
Heliophysics, since it is not clear who is in charge that we should be
influencing, whether what we are advocating will be supported, nor is it
clear to Congress what they are being asked to support.

That is where it stands today, and so the question is what are our plans for
next year.  We were hindered last year because we did not have the time to
fully assemble a Congressional advocacy network, with the SPA community and
the universities from which they come, mobilized to be able to influence the
important committees in Congress.  In the coming months, we will organize
this network and prepare volunteers to interact with their elected
officials.  I hope any and all of you who believe you can help will contact
Paul at  It is our intention to have the full
network in place in time for next year’s Congressional cycle, which begins
after the President’s budget is released, usually in February.

Activities this fall will concentrate on advocacy to the Executive Branch
and the funding agencies. It is not possible to discuss the FY16 budget,
which is under development, but it is possible to use our personal contacts
to try and influence NASA, NSF, OMB, and OSTP to support Heliophysics
research. We will also express our opinion that the current unproductive
disagreements between NASA and NOAA about space weather need to stop, in the
interest of the nation. If we find a receptive audience on any of these
issues, we may choose to reactivate the letter writing campaign, but now
direct it more broadly.

I will report again at the Fall AGU on our progress.  In the meantime, as we
broaden our efforts to include members of the community, please consider
volunteering to help and work with us if called upon to help.

Len Fisk, Chair
SPA Advocacy Committee

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