Building Support for the National Science Foundation

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Publication date: 
25 March 2014

This morning Members of the House of Representatives were alerted to a letter that will be sent to the chairman and ranking member of the House Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Subcommittee later this week.  The letter requests an increase in the FY 2015 budget for the National Science Foundation to $7.5 billion.  Members of Congress receive many of these “Dear Colleague” letters every day.  These letters are far more likely to be read and acted upon when a constituent contacts their representative or senator.

The deadline for your representative to sign this letter is this Thursday, March 27 at 1:00 PM.

The Obama Administration requested a 1.2 percent increase in the foundation’s FY 2015 budget to $7.255 billion.     Legislation now being considered by the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee would authorize a 1.5 percent increase.  The letter requests an increase of 4.6 percent.

The March 25 Dear Colleague letter regarding the FY 2015 National Science Foundation budget was sent by Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC).  The telephone number for the U.S. Capitol is 202-224-3121.  The House of Representatives web site has a guide to determining your representative.     

The letter follows:

“Dear Chairman Wolf and Ranking Member Fattah:

“We write to urge you to include $7.5 billion in funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the FY2015 Commerce, Justice, and Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill.

“The future is now.  A foundation and fundamental understanding of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) is vitally important as we educate the next generation of leaders to compete in the global economy.  Demand for highly educated and highly trained professionals in STEM and health care-related fields is at an all-time high.  The U.S. must produce one million more STEM professionals in the next decade to keep up with workforce needs in growing STEM fields.  Our nation is ranked 26th in math and 21st in science performance.  We cannot afford to continue to fall further behind in STEM education.

“The NSF is one of our country’s most important workforce development initiatives and tools for economic competitiveness.  The NSF is the only federal agency specifically responsible for supporting essential education and research across all science and engineering fields—a role that is vital to cultivating a workforce capable of keeping pace with global demand.  Nearly one out of every four basic research projects at colleges and universities across the U.S. is supported by the NSF.  The NSF awards the majority of its budget on a competitive basis to small groups of researchers at public and private institutions of higher learning through approximately 11,000 new grant awards per year.

“Awards from the NSF help enable faculty and students to access the resources they need and support the necessary infrastructure and tools to address some of our society’s most pressing concerns.  Research funded by the NSF has led to discoveries as small as antifreeze proteins to those as large as new planets.  In many cases, the basic research facilitated by the NSF is expanded upon and applied commercially by domestic companies, benefiting the private sector and the U.S. economy.  The applications of NSF research have helped many businesses create jobs by developing new products from advanced radar systems and next generation high definition videoconferencing to more efficient and affordable solar energy materials and genetically engineered tissues for medical procedures.

“We must remain committed to strengthening our workforce and competing with countries that are investing significant resources in STEM education and innovation.  We urge you support $7.5 billion to fund the NSF to ensure that we continue to cultivate STEM talent so our nation remains globally competitive.

“Thank you very much.
“Very truly yours,”