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FYI Number 30: February 23, 2006

Building Support for the Office of Science

Constituents have the opportunity to give their support to a drive to increase the FY 2007 budget for the Department of Energy's Office of Science. A letter is now being circulated in the Senate to demonstrate support for the budget request for the Office of Science. Interested constituents are being urged to contact their senators to request that they sign this letter to key Senate appropriators.

The Bush Administration requested $4.1 billion for the Office of Science in FY 2007, an increase of 14.1% (see http://www.aip.org/fyi/2006/022.html.) It is hoped that a letter signed by many senators will demonstrate to Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Pete Domenici (R-NM) and Ranking Member Harry Reid (D-NV) that this request should be supported in their upcoming FY 2007 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill. Domenici and Reid are well-recognized advocates of the Office of Science; this letter is to serve as a tangible demonstration to other Senate appropriators of the wide support that exists for the Office.

Last year, 68 senators signed a letter in support of the Office of Science (see http://www.aip.org/fyi/2005/063.html for a list of these senators.) As was true last year, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) are the sponsors of this letter.

This "Dear Colleague" letter was sent by Alexander and Bingaman on February 16. Senators receive many such requests every week. A Dear Colleague letter is much more likely to be acted on if constituents express their views.

The following 13 senators have agreed to sign this newest letter: Alexander (R-TN), Allen (R-VA), Bayh (D-IN), Bingaman (D-NM), Boxer (D-CA), Clinton (D-NY), DeWine (R-OH), Dole (R-NC), Feinstein (D–CA), Johnson (D-SD), Levin (D-MI), Menendez (D-NJ) and Warner (R-VA).

Guidance on writing to a Member of Congress and access to electronic mail forms may be accessed at http://www.aip.org/gov/nb1.html

See "A State-by-State Guide to the Office of Science's Research Investments Nationwide" at http://www.science.doe.gov/SC_Funding

The text of the February 16 Alexander-Bingaman "Dear Colleague" letter follows:

"We are writing to express bipartisan support for the Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Science. We request that you uphold the Administration's request for a 14.1 percent increase in the Office of Science's overall budget for fiscal year 2007.

"This year, the President included the Office of Science as part of his American Competitiveness Initiative, a broad-based effort to shore up our nation's basic R&D enterprise, educate our children in math and science, and create the necessary tax incentives to keep U.S. industry innovative by performing cutting edge R&D here instead of overseas. As part of this initiative, funding for the Office of Science - along with the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) - is projected to double over the next 10 years.

"The Administration's proposed increase for the Office of Science is critical in a time of increasing dependence on overseas sources of energy and a global economy that is competing to attract our best R&D talent. China plans to double their investment in science and technology research over the next 15 years. Multinational companies, including our own, have established more than 600 R&D centers in China to support that nation's high-tech manufacturing base. These corporations are also setting up large research centers in India to take advantage of a highly-trained and eager scientific workforce. In some cases, the computer chips being manufactured in the U.S. are now being designed in India - the reverse of where we were ten years ago.

"The Office of Science is at the tip of the spear in our efforts to compete in this new flat world. It is building unrivaled nanoscience facilities with products that include a new generation of semiconductors, solar cells, hydrogen fuel cells, solid-state lights, lightweight materials, and specially tailored drugs that work at a targeted cellular level. These and the Office of Science's other national user facilities, like synchrotrons, accelerators, and other large world-class facilities, will bring forth a new generation of highly-trained scientists and engineers that our industries need to remain competitive.

"We are acutely aware of the tight constraints on available budgetary resources. Still, we believe that basic research is of such vital importance to economic growth and protecting America's competitive edge that it should be prioritized during the fiscal year 2007 appropriations process. We urge you to support the President's request for the Office of Science to ensure that America remains at the forefront of scientific capability, thereby enhancing our ability to shape and improve our future."

Richard M. Jones
Media and Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics
fyi@aip.org
301-209-3095

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