"GOVERNMENT FUNDING OF THE PHYSICAL SCIENCES
"Investment in the physical sciences and engineering
plays a critical role in enabling U.S. technological innovation and
global economic leadership. It is essential to the development and
utilization of our energy resources, as well as innovations in the
areas of defense, the environment, communications and information
technologies, health care and much more. Over the past 50 years, half
of U.S. economic growth has come from prior investment in science
and technological innovation. Life expectancy has grown from 55 years
in 1900 to nearly 80 years today.
"The Department of Energy is the leading source of Federal
investment for R&D facilities and fundamental research in the
physical sciences. Yet investment in the Department's R&D has
declined in constant dollars from $11,200,000,000 in 1980 to $7,700,000,000
in 2001. As a percentage of GDP, total Federal investment in the physical
sciences and engineering has been cut roughly in half since 1970.
"Shrinking investment in the physical sciences and engineering
poses serious risks to DOE's ability to perform its mission. It also
threatens the Nation's science and technology enterprise. DOE faces
a shortage of nearly 40 percent in its technical workforce over the
next 5 years. To meet its needs, DOE must compete with industry for
a shrinking pool of skilled workers, many of whose leaders also report
serious shortages of scientists and engineers.
"American educational institutions are failing to attract
sufficient numbers of U.S. students, especially women and minorities,
into undergraduate and graduate programs in the physical sciences
and engineering. For these skills the United States is now more heavily
dependent on foreign nations than ever before. The H1-B visa has become
a main element of U.S. technology policy.
"As fewer foreign students choose to pursue their education
in the United States, and too few U.S. students enter these fields,
our vulnerability grows. The National Science Foundation reports that
between 1996 and 1999, the number of Ph.D.s in science and engineering
awarded to foreign students declined by 15 percent. Only 5 percent
of U.S. students now earn bachelors degrees in natural science or
engineering. Since 1986, the total number of bachelors degrees in
engineering is down 15 percent. Between 1994 and 2000, the number
of Ph.D.s awarded in physics in the United States declined by 22 percent.
"These trends must be reversed. Many DOE user facilities
do not operate at their designed capacity. As a result, opportunities
and momentum are lost as researchers and students encounter barriers
to the pursuit of their studies, including promising research opportunities
at the boundaries of the life sciences, physical sciences, engineering,
and computer sciences. Future U.S. global leadership and technological
leadership will rely upon today's investment in research in all of
the science and engineering disciplines."