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FYI Number 33: March 9, 2006

Signatures Sought on House Letter Supporting DOE Science Funding

A "Dear Colleague" letter supporting the Bush Administration's request for a 14.1% increase in FY 2007 funding for the DOE Office of Science is now circulating in the House. Supporters of the Office of Science may wish to consider contacting their representative urging that he or she sign this letter that will be sent to the chairman and ranking member of the House Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee.

As explained in previous issues of FYI, "Dear Colleague" letters are used to demonstrate support for a program. This House letter is being circulated by Judy Biggert (R-IL), Adam Schiff (D-CA), and Ellen Tauscher (D-CA). It will be sent to Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman David Hobson (R-OH) and Ranking Member Peter Visclosky (D-IN).

A similar letter was distributed in the Senate, although so far, fewer senators have signed this letter than signed a comparable letter last year (see http://www.aip.org/fyi/2006/030.html). Another letter last year to House appropriators in support of the Office of Science had 118 bipartisan signatures.

Congressional staff read many such "Dear Colleague" letters. Constituent support is important in getting a letter noticed and acted upon. See http://www.aip.org/gov/nb1.html for guidance on sending a letter to a Member of Congress. This site also has links to e-mail systems. "A State-by-State Guide to the Office of Science's Research Investments Nationwide" at http://www.science.doe.gov/SC_Funding contains useful information.

The text of the letter described in the March 6 Dear Colleague letter by Biggert, Schiff, and Tauscher follows:

"Dear Chairman Hobson and Ranking Member Visclosky:

"As you begin your work on the fiscal year 2007 Energy and Water Appropriations bill, we write to express our strong support for the $4.1 billion in funding proposed by the President for the Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Science in his fiscal year 2007 budget request. This represents a 14.1 percent increase over current funding.

"As part of his American Competitiveness Initiative, President Bush proposes to double federal funding for basic research in the physical sciences over the next decade. Supporting over 40 percent of basic research in the physical sciences - more than any other federal agency - the DOE Office of Science is the nation's primary supporter of research in the physical sciences.

"We face a world in which our economic competitors in Asia and Europe are making significant new investments in their own research capabilities. These investments are beginning to payoff, as Asian and European countries challenge U.S. leadership in the sciences no matter how it is measured - by number of patents won, articles submitted to scientific journals, degrees awarded, Nobel prizes won, or the percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) dedicated to research and development.

"Report after report - from the National Academy of Sciences and the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology to the Task Force on American Innovation and the Council on Competitiveness - calls on Congress and the President to invest in U.S. research capabilities. The benefits of such an investment to the U.S. economy and U.S. competitiveness are well known. Economic experts have concluded that science-driven technology has accounted for more than 50 percent of the growth of the U.S. economy during the last halfcentury.

"Even as we face greater international competition, these are exciting times for science in the United States. There are many great opportunities for scientific discovery, and the DOE Office of Science is prepared and positioned to seize them. In its Facilities for the Future of Science: A Twenty- Year Outlook, the Office of Science has developed a balanced investment strategy to ensure the U.S. retains its dominance in such key scientific fields as biotechnology, nanotechnology, materials science, and supercomputing well into the next century.

"U.S. scientists are as bright as any in the world, but they traditionally have had better tools than everyone else. The DOE Office of Science has led the way in creating a unique system of large-scale, specialized user facilities for scientific discovery. These facilities are utilized by more than 19,000 researchers each year. Nearly half of those users are university faculty and students, many are from other federal agencies, and a significant number are now from U.S. industry. This collection of cutting-edge - often one-of-a-kind - tools makes the DOE Office of Science a unique and critical component of the federal science portfolio. Other federal science agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF), greatly depend upon these DOE Office of Science facilities in carrying out their own research activities.

"For these many reasons, we urge you to appropriate at least the $4.1 billion requested by the President for the DOE Office of Science and the physical sciences research it supports. Furthermore, we urge you to focus this funding on mission-related activities, facilities, and projects, and to avoid using core program budgets to fund projects extraneous to the President's request. With this funding, the DOE Office of Science will attract the best minds, educate the next generation of scientists and engineers, support the construction and operation of modern facilities, and conduct even more of the quality scientific research that will ensure the U.S. retains its competitive edge for many years to come.

"Thanks for your continued 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."

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

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