the House Budget Committee sent an FY 2002 spending plan to the House
that provided the same total amount of funding requested by President
Bush for NSF, DOE's general science programs, and NASA's science programs
(following an unsuccessful effort by Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) to add more
money.) Unless the Bush Administration changes its position in the next
few weeks, it will request only a 1% increase in the budget for the National
Science Foundation for FY 2002. An effort is now underway by Senator Christopher
Bond (R-MO) and Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), the chairman and ranking
minority member of the Senate VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies Appropriations
Subcommittee, to double the NSF budget by FY 2005. An effort is also underway
in the House by Rep. David Wu (D-OR) to urge President Bush to request
a 15% increase in FY 2002 for NSF. Success in accomplishing these objectives
will depend, to a significant degree, on the support shown by constituents.
ARichard M. Jones
Last year, Bond
and Mikulski and 41 Republican and Democratic senators sent a letter
to the Senate leadership advocating a doubling of the NSF budget. A
new letter is to be sent to Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS)
and Democratic Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD). Bond and Mikulski are actively
seeking co-signers for this letter.
Rep.Wu has asked
his colleagues to sign a letter that will be sent to President Bush.
This letter asks the President to increase the NSF request to 15% in
the budget request to be submitted in mid-April. Ninety-five representatives
(all Democrats) have signed this letter, but more signatories are sought.
is called a "Dear Colleague," and is employed hundreds of times on Capitol
Hill every month. The success of such an effort often depends upon the
number of constituents which request that their Members of Congress
sign the letter. Federal spending is likely to be much more constrained
this year, so the demonstration of on-the-record support by senators
and representatives will be important.
The U.S. Capitol
switchboard number is 202-224-3121. The Bond-Mikulski letter to the
Senate leadership and the Wu letter to President Bush follow:
Leader Lott and Democratic Leader Daschle:
"We are writing
as longtime supporters of investments in fundamental research and
education -- the building blocks of the new economy. Just as we have
worked collectively to double the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
budget over five years, we believe that we must continue a parallel
effort to double the budget of the National Science Foundation (NSF)
over five years. It is our strong belief that the success of NIH's
efforts to cure deadly diseases such as cancer depends heavily on
the underpinning research supported by NSF.
supports fundamental research that contributes to the nation's health
and well-being. In the fiscal year 2001 appropriation, the Congress
provided this crucial agency with the largest budget increase in its
history, which put the agency on the path of doubling its budget in
five years. As the Council on Competitiveness has noted: 'For the
past 50 years, most, if not all, of the technological advances have
been directly or indirectly linked to improvements in fundamental
understanding.' Business Week adds: 'What's needed is a serious stimulant
to basic research, which has been lagging in recent years. Without
continued gains in education and training and new innovations and
scientific findings the raw materials of growth in the New Economy
-- the technological dynamic will stall.'
over the past half century has been monumental - - especially in the
field of medical technologies and research. The investments have also
spawned not only new products, but also entire industries, such as
biotechnology, Internet providers, E-commerce, and geographic information
systems. Medical technologies such as magnetic resonance imaging,
ultrasound, digital mammography and genomic mapping could not have
occurred, and cannot now improve to the next level of proficiency,
without underlying knowledge from NSF- supported work in biology,
physics, chemistry, mathematics, engineering, and computer sciences.
In 1993, NSF support made it possible to detect the cause of a deadly
hantavirus outbreak in the American Southwest. NSF-supported research
on plants led to the discovery of Taxol, a derivative of Yew trees
that is effective against certain cancers. The benefits of NSF research
to medical science and technology has been recognized by leading doctors
such as the former heads of the NIH, Harold Varmus and Bernadette
Healy, and the President of the Institute of Medicine, Kenneth Shine.
support for research in nanotechnology, high-speed computing, plant
genome research, biocomplexity, and cognitive neuroscience will further
advance the state of technological change and improve our quality
of life through creation of new products, a better understanding of
how humans behave, and how our ecological systems can survive. Furthermore,
every generation requires a group of skilled and innovative scientists
and engineers to make the new discoveries that propel society into
the future. NSF's educational programs from pre-kindergarten to graduate
school train the next generation of inventors and discoverers For
industry, this is the best type of technology transfer.
NSF programs have become important resources for broadening the participation
of under-represented groups such as minorities and women in the fields
of science, math, and engineering. Further, NSF programs such as the
Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) and
the Innovation Partnerships program have become critical resources
for strengthening the research and development infrastructure of many
rural and small states.
may disagree about the precise mix of fiscal and monetary policies
that will ensure a continuation of America's current economic prosperity.
But there is a growing consensus that investing in fundamental scientific
research is one of the best things we can do to keep our nation economically
strong. This fact has been recognized by Federal Reserve Chairman
Alan Greenspan, NASDAQ President Alfred Berkeley, the Committee for
Economic Development, and many other widely respected experts.
these reasons, we hope you will join us in continuing a five-year
goal of doubling the budget of National Science Foundation by fiscal
WU LETTER TO PRESIDENT BUSH:
"As you prepare
your final budget request for Fiscal Year 2002, we urge you to give
high priority to increasing the National Science Foundation's (NSF)
funding by at least 15 percent. We were disappointed that your budget
outline to Congress included only a 1 percent increase for the NSF.
current shortage of students in the fields of science, mathematics
and engineering is two-fold. While the country's weaknesses in these
fields are at the primary and secondary school levels, America continues
to lose a great opportunity to improve the skills of many college
undergraduates without the sufficient background to undertake science,
mathematics or engineering majors.
"It is clear
that NSF provides the basic knowledge that leads to the innovation
that rejuvenates our economy. Furthermore, university research trains
new generations of scientists and engineers. Mr. President, it is
important to realize that if funding shortages occur, schools will
be required to limit their admissions to graduate programs.
"Due to a
lack of funding, NSF currently funds less than a third of its applicants
and about half of its quality applicants. Though an applicant may
receive a NSF award, it is usually financially sub-optimal. The current
situation leaves researchers in NSF funded fields scrambling for funds
and spending too much of their time chasing limited funding rather
than in the laboratory or mentoring students.
request that you give high priority to increasing the NSF's funding
by at least 15 percent in your upcoming budget. Funding NSF contributes
to the development in the high tech sector. Growth and development
in the high-tech sector benefits the economy and continued economic
growth benefits all Americans."