"I know your Subcommittee must consider many pressing
national priorities as you prepare the Fiscal Year (FY) 2006 Appropriations
bill, including the continuing war on terrorism, facilitating economic
stimulus, and maintaining fiscal responsibility. Mr. Chairman, I fully
support your efforts to balance these priorities and thank you for
your past support of Department of Commerce programs. In choosing
among the important programs in the new Science, State, Justice, and
Commerce Appropriations bill, we must not overlook the fact that scientific
research and development forms the foundation of increased innovation,
economic vitality, and national security for our nation.
"One of our nation's most critical science organizations
is the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Almost every
Federal agency and U.S. industry sector uses the standards, measurements,
and certification services that NIST labs provide. The future of many
cutting-edge technologies depends on the research and technical expertise
of NIST's laboratories. Emerging fields such as nanotechnology, quantum
computing, and bioengineering will not mature into U.S. job-creating
industries and markets without the existence of scientifically-based
industrial standards. There is no other U.S. organization, public
or private, with the knowledge and skills necessary to provide these
highly technical services in a non-discriminatory manner. Furthermore,
the quality of NIST scientists and research is superb, as evidenced
by the two Nobel prizes they have won in the past few years. NIST's
expertise in this kind of cutting-edge science is crucial for U.S.
industry to remain competitive in the increasingly globalized economy.
"I cannot emphasize enough how important it is that
you provide the President's requested funding of $426 million in FY
2006 for the Scientific and Technical Research Services (STRS) account
at NIST [see http://www.aip.org/fyi/2005/020.html]
. This is the bare minimum level necessary for NIST laboratories to
continue their vital contribution to our national economy and security.
I appreciate your support in FY05 and hope we can build on that in
"Also within NIST, I would like to mention the Manufacturing
Extension Partnership (MEP) program. This program has proven its worth
over and over as an appropriate use of government funds, and it is
critical to help provide the edge that U.S. manufacturers need to
compete in the global economy. Without funding MEP at $106 million
in FY 2006, MEP centers across the country will be forced to cut back
their vital services to small and medium-sized manufacturers services
that are not replicated by any other private or public organization.
I urge you to fund the MEP program at $106 million in FY 2006.
"I would also like to discuss the National Science Foundation,
which is new to your subcommittee. In 2002 Congress recognized NSF's
role in driving scientific innovation and improving our national security,
and wisely authorized a doubling of the agency's science research
budget. However, we have not stayed the course on this proposed doubling
path. In 2005, the budget for NSF was reduced, particularly in the
area of education programs. I am particularly concerned about the
trend of the current budget request that reduces the Education and
Human Resources (EHR) budget at the Foundation by more than $104 million,
or 12 percent [see http://www.aip.org/fyi/2005/022.html].
This dramatic decrease is unparalleled in other parts of the federal
science and technology portfolio, and, indeed other parts of the total
budget. Now more than ever, workers need a fundamental understanding
of math, science and engineering as well as technical know-how to
succeed. This type of education research is performed at NSF, where
a merit-reviewed process is well understood due to the research experience
of the Foundation. I ask that the committee restore the funding to
NSF in this year's appropriations process to a level that recognizes
the important role NSF plays in education, defense, homeland security,
and a healthy national economy.
"Science and technology are critical to our economic
prosperity as well as national security. Economists attribute more
than half the economic growth in the past 50 years to technological
innovation. Federally funded basic research has been responsible for
groundbreaking technologies, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI),
global positioning system (GPS), human genome mapping, fiber optics,
lasers, and the Internet.
"I urge you to fund the National Science Foundation
in FY06 at $6.1 billion [see http://www.aip.org/fyi/2005/017.html
]. This amount is $2.4 billion below the authorized level for 2006.
Given NSF's importance to both national defense and homeland security,
it is critical to provide for at least inflationary increases each
year. When you consider the funding level for NSF in FY06, it is important
to note the cuts that the NSF budget endured in the FY05 appropriations
process. Last year, Congress only appropriated $5.47 billion for the
NSF, well below the requested $5.75 billion for the Foundation, and
beyond the President's recommended rate to curtail overall discretionary
spending. Consequently, the FY06 request appears to be an increase,
but this is only when you compare it to the enacted amount of the
FY05 process. Due to the importance of NSF objectives, including support
for core science research, the development of information technology,
engineering research, and K-12 education programs, I believe it is
necessary for us to quickly remedy these reductions. Given NSF's vital
contributions to our homeland and national security missions, I respectfully
request that you fund NSF at $6.1 billion for FY06 and would appreciate
your consideration of any additional amounts.
"Finally, I would like to briefly express my support
for the President's request of $3.6 billion for the National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This level of funding will
allow NOAA to maintain current services in support of its mission
to understand and predict changes in the Earth's weather, marine environment,
and climate, and to conserve and manage coastal and marine resources.
"In summary, as a scientist and a subcommittee chair,
I ask you to fund NIST labs at the requested level of $426 million
and NSF at $6.1 billion as a priority over any additional funding
for other science agencies in this bill."