Supporters of the Department of Energy's Office of Science are looking
for signatures on a letter that will be sent to House Energy and Water
Development Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman David Hobson (R-OH)
and Ranking Minority Member Peter Visclosky (D-IN). The deadline for
signatures is April 22.
"We have a long way to go to make up for years of inadequate budgets,"
the letter states, recommending that the FY 2006 appropriations bill
significantly increase the funding for the Office of Science. This "Dear
Colleague" letter was sent by House Energy Subcommittee Chair Judy
Biggert (R-IL), Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), and Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-CA).
A similar letter, with a fast approaching deadline, is circulating in
the Senate (see http://www.aip.org/fyi/2005/047.html.)
The Administration's budget request for FY 2006 would result in an
Office of Science budget lower than that for FY 2004. Under the FY 2006
request, funding would be cut 3.8% from the current year (see http://www.aip.org/fyi/2005/016.html.)
As stated in previous FYIs, Members of Congress receive many "Dear
Colleague" letters every week. Often the difference between a Dear
Colleague letter that is overlooked, and one that is signed, is vocal
constituent support. The telephone number for the U.S. House of Representatives
The Biggert - Schiff - Tauscher letter to Rep. Hobson and Rep. Visclosky
on the FY 2006 DOE Office of Science budget follows:
"Dear Chairman Hobson and Ranking Member Visclosky:
"As you begin your work on the fiscal year 2006 Energy
and Water Appropriations bill, we write to thank you for your strong
support in recent years for the Department of Energy's (DOE) Office
of Science. We also write to express our strong support for the DOE
Office of Science and the world class scientific research that it
supports. To this end, we encourage you to significantly increase
fiscal year 2006 funding for the DOE Office of Science above the level
appropriated in fiscal year 2005.
"The DOE Office of Science supports over 40 percent
of basic research in the physical sciences more than any other
federal agency making it the nation's primary supporter of
research in physics, chemistry, biological sciences, environmental
sciences, mathematics and computing, and engineering. Furthermore,
the DOE Office of Science supports a unique system of programs based
on teams of scientists focused on national priorities in scientific
research, and large-scale, specialized user facilities, which are
utilized by 19,000 researchers, nearly half of whom are university
faculty and students. This makes the DOE Office of Science unique
among, and complementary to, the scientific programs of many other
federal science agencies, including the National Institutes of Health
(NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF).
"While federally supported medical research like that
conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has doubled in
recent years, funding for research in the physical sciences has experienced
little or no growth over the last three decades, and has actually
been in a steady decline as a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product
(GDP). Because its budget, in constant dollars, remains at its 1990
level, the DOE Office of Science funds research proposals at a rate
that is one-third that of the NIH and NSF.
"As a result, Europe and Asia are threatening America's
dominance in the physical sciences as measured by the number of patents
won, articles submitted to scientific journals, degrees awarded, Nobel
prizes won, or the percentage of GDP dedicated to research and development.
Furthermore, test scores show that American youth, as they progress
through the education system, fall further and further behind their
counterparts in other counties, especially when it comes to math and
"That is why the President's Council of Advisors on
Science and Technology recommended in 2002 that research and development
for the physical sciences and engineering should be brought to parity
with the life sciences over five budget cycles. More recently, the
DOE Office of Science released a twenty-year facilities plan and a
strategic plan that prioritize research and facilities across scientific
disciplines based on funding levels in the energy bill. The result
of lengthy deliberations, a disciplined management approach, and some
very tough choices, these plans provide the scientific vision that
will enable America to benefit from 21st century science.
"Even with the generous 4.3 percent increase you provided
for the DOE Office of Science in fiscal year 2005, and passage of
energy legislation in the 108th Congress that increased authorized
funding for the DOE Office of Science, we have a long way to go to
make up for years of inadequate budgets. Unfortunately, the proposed
budget for fiscal year 2006 would reduce funding for the DOE Office
of Science, curtailing its core research programs, substantially scaling
back operating times for its many user facilities, and delaying or
canceling the construction of next generation facilities.
"Instead, an increase is needed and warranted, even
during this time of tight budgets. Economic experts maintain that
during the last half-century, science-driven technology has accounted
for more than 50 percent of the growth of the U.S. economy. To maintain
our national competitiveness and ensure America's economic, energy,
homeland, and national security for the next fifty years, we must
provide strong support today for basic research across the disciplines.
That is why we urge you to provide increased funding for the DOE Office
of Science, enabling it to attract the best minds, educate the next
generation of scientists and engineers, support the construction and
operation of modern facilities, and continue to provide the quality
of scientific research that has been its trademark for so many years.
"Thanks again for your strong support for the DOE Office
of Science. We are cognizant of the difficult budget situation under
which your subcommittee is working, and we urge you to contact us
if we may be of assistance in any way."