[Numpy-discussion] grant proposal for core scientific Python projects (rejected)

Joe Harrington jh at physics.ucf.edu
Fri May 3 18:13:59 EDT 2019

Just to keep people in the loop, Ralf and I are in discussion with 
people at NASA HQ about a funding stream for core development.  Ralf has 
put together a short description of the development and funding model (5 
core projects, 10-20 core developers each, nearly all volunteer now, how 
NumFOCUS fits in, what we hope to establish from NASA vs. from other 
agencies, industry, other countries' science entities, etc.).  That will 
circulate within the agency, to see what can be scraped together. 
Program managers in NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD) gave 
quite-positive feedback on how vital the Python ecosystem is to NASA's 
mission.  We're emphasizing the need for both new functionality and 
maintenance (e.g., docs, web site, bug fixing). If this is ultimately 
successful, it can be a model for approaching other agencies in the US 
and elsewhere.

To Steve's point, regarding how hard it is for Civil Servants to 
contribute to OSS (due to NASA's lengthy internal review process for 
releasing software), this problem was clearly called out in the 
Academies report.  We proposed some solutions to streamline things.  
What's needed now is for NASA Civil Servants to take that report and the 
relevant white papers (cited in the report and posted online) to their 
center's senior management, and to NASA HQ, and similarly for others in 
government agencies.  You may wish to start from NASA's (or your 
agency's) mission, which includes sharing technology openly to boost the 
economy, and how you are encountering unreasonable barriers to that 
goal.  This is mandated by the National Air and Space Act of 1958.

For example, there is little reason to conduct an export-control review 
with lawyers looking at code emerging from a group that has nothing to 
do with anything near an export-controlled topic. Universities and 
contractors are subject to the same export-control laws as NASA, and 
they have not routinely conducted similar reviews of every line of code 
released.  This has not led to a pattern of export violations.  (Whether 
there is any benefit at all to the export control laws as applied to 
software is debatable, since it's usually easy for coders elsewhere to 
write the same codes, but the law is the law.)


On 5/3/19 12:48 PM, numpy-discussion-request at python.org wrote:
> Subject:
> Re: [Numpy-discussion] grant proposal for core scientific Python 
> projects (rejected)
> From:
> Mark Mikofski <mikofski at berkeley.edu>
> Date:
> 5/3/19, 12:47 PM
> To:
> Discussion of Numerical Python <numpy-discussion at python.org>
> Sorry, that last attachment was just a slide show of the topic 3 
> recording, here is the full funding opportunity announcement - letter 
> with 200 word abstract are due May 7th
> On Fri, May 3, 2019 at 8:40 AM Mark Mikofski <mikofski at berkeley.edu 
> <mailto:mikofski at berkeley.edu>> wrote:
>     Hi Ralf, and others,
>     Sorry for the late notice, but there is are several funding
>     opportunities in solar, including one for $350,000 to develop open
>     source software to lower soft costs of solar.
>     https://eere-exchange.energy.gov/#FoaId45eda43a-e826-4481-ae7a-cc6e8ed4fdae
>     see topic 3.4 specifically in attached PDF - also note to view the
>     recording the password is "*Setofoa2019"* it's about 30 minutes long.
>     I know that this is a extremely niche, but as a few others have
>     said, [the DOE] grants tend to be very specific, but perhaps we
>     can creatively think of ways to channel funds to NumPy and SciPy.
>     Also there is a cost share that is typically 20%, which would be a
>     non-starter for volunteer projects.
>     But here's an idea, perhaps partnering with a company, like mine
>     (DNV GL) who is applying for the grant, and who uses NumPy,and
>     could pay the cost share, and then we collaborate on something
>     that is required to complete the project, which is contributed to
>     NumPy (or SciPy) - but we would have to figure what we could align on.
>     Seems like NumFOCUS, Quantsight, or some other company in the OSS
>     space could figure out ways to help connect companies, OSS
>     projects, and funding opportunities like these, where there's a
>     possibility of alignment and mutual benefit?
>     The full list of funding opportunities is here:
>     https://eere-exchange.energy.gov/
>     Best Regards,
>     Mark
>     On Thu, May 2, 2019 at 11:52 PM Ralf Gommers
>     <ralf.gommers at gmail.com <mailto:ralf.gommers at gmail.com>> wrote:
>         On Fri, May 3, 2019 at 3:49 AM Stephen Waterbury
>         <waterbug at pangalactic.us <mailto:waterbug at pangalactic.us>> wrote:
>             P.S.  If anyone wants to continue this discussion at SciPy
>             2019,
>             I will be there (on my own nickel!  ;) ...
>         Thanks for the input Stephen, and looking forward to see you
>         at SciPy'19!
>         Ralf
>             Steve
>             On 5/2/19 9:45 PM, Stephen Waterbury wrote:
>>             I am a NASA pythonista (for 20+ years ;), but you can now
>>             say you know
>>             yet another person at NASA who has no idea this even
>>             exists ... :)
>>             Not only do I not know of that, but I know of NASA
>>             policies that make
>>             it very difficult for NASA civil servants to contribute
>>             to open source
>>             projects -- quite hypocritical, given the amount of open
>>             source
>>             code that NASA (like all other large organizations)
>>             depends critically
>>             on, but it's a fact.
>>             Cheers,
>>             Steve Waterbury
>>             NASA OR
>>             THE U.S. GOVERNMENT AS A WHOLE!  Hence the personal email
>>             address. :)
>>             On 5/2/19 9:31 PM, Chris Barker - NOAA Federal wrote:
>>>             Sounds like this is a NASA specific thing, in which
>>>             case, I guess someone at NASA would need to step up.
>>>             I’m afraid I know no pythonistas at NASA.
>>>             But I’ll poke around NOAA to see if there’s anything
>>>             similar.
>>>             -CHB
>>>             On Apr 25, 2019, at 1:04 PM, Ralf Gommers
>>>             <ralf.gommers at gmail.com <mailto:ralf.gommers at gmail.com>>
>>>             wrote:
>>>>             On Sat, Apr 20, 2019 at 12:41 PM Ralf Gommers
>>>>             <ralf.gommers at gmail.com
>>>>             <mailto:ralf.gommers at gmail.com>> wrote:
>>>>                 On Thu, Apr 18, 2019 at 10:03 PM Joe Harrington
>>>>                 <jh at physics.ucf.edu <mailto:jh at physics.ucf.edu>> wrote:
>>>>                     3. There's such a thing as a share-in-savings
>>>>                     contract at NASA, in which
>>>>                     you calculate a savings, such as from avoided
>>>>                     costs of licensing IDL or
>>>>                     Matlab, and say you'll develop a replacement
>>>>                     for that product that costs
>>>>                     less, in exchange for a portion of the savings.
>>>>                     These are rare and few
>>>>                     people know about them, but one presenter to
>>>>                     the committee did discuss
>>>>                     them and thought they'd be appropriate.  I've
>>>>                     always felt that we could
>>>>                     get a chunk of change this way, and was
>>>>                     surprised to find that the
>>>>                     approach exists and has a name.  About 3 of 4
>>>>                     people I talk to at NASA
>>>>                     have no idea this even exists, though, and I
>>>>                     haven't pursued it to its
>>>>                     logical end to see if it's viable.
>>>>                 I've heard of these. Definitely worth looking into.
>>>>             It seems to be hard to find any information about these
>>>>             share-in-savings contracts. The closest thing I found
>>>>             is this:
>>>>             https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/06/22/2018-13463/nasa-federal-acquisition-regulation-supplement-removal-of-reference-to-the-shared-savings-policy-and
>>>>             It is called "Shared Savings" there, and was replaced
>>>>             last year by something called "Value Engineering Change
>>>>             Proposal". If anyone can comment on whether that's the
>>>>             same thing as Joe meant and whether this is worth
>>>>             following up on, that would be very helpful.
>>>>             Cheers,
>>>>             Ralf
>>>>             _______________________________________________
>>>>             NumPy-Discussion mailing list
>>>>             NumPy-Discussion at python.org
>>>>             <mailto:NumPy-Discussion at python.org>
>>>>             https://mail.python.org/mailman/listinfo/numpy-discussion
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