Sixteen Nobel Laureates and sixteen corporate leaders have sent a letter to President Bush urging a Presidential Initiative for FY 2005 focusing on the long-term research portfolios of DOE, NASA, the Department of Commerce, NSF, and NIH. This letter, spearheaded by Burton Richter, Director Emeritus of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, was sent to the President last week. The Administration is now in the first stages of preparing its budget request for FY 2004 that will go to Congress early next year.
The text of the letter follows:
April 14, 2003
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
This letter is prompted by the beginning of preparations for the FY 2005 budget, and the release, on October 16, 2002, of the report by your Council of Advisers on Science and Technology, "Assessing the U.S. R&D Investment." That report noted serious problems in the physical sciences, environmental sciences, mathematics, computer science and engineering that, unless remedied, will affect our scientific and technological leadership, thereby affecting our economy and national security. You began addressing these challenges in your FY 2004 budget submission, and more will need to be done to reverse the decline of the 1990s. From our perspectives in industry, academia and national laboratories, the PCAST report accurately stated,
"[T]he lack of funding in these disciplines is cause for concern for a number of reasons: Both full-time graduate and Ph.D. students in most physical sciences, math and engineering are decreasing. Facilities and infrastructure in general for the physical sciences are becoming less than adequate for the needs of today's research problems. It is widely understood and acknowledged that the interdependence of the various disciplines requires that all advance together" (p. 5).
We note, further, that the growth in expert personnel abroad, combined with the diminishing numbers of Americans entering the physical sciences, mathematics and engineering an unhealthy trend is leading corporations to locate more of their R&D activities outside the United States.
We applaud your support for research as demonstrated by your administration's recently completed doubling of the NIH bio-medical research budget, and your signing of the bill authorizing major increases in the NSF budget. However, it is not widely recognized that NSF supports only a small portion of long-term research in the physical sciences, mathematics and engineering. A Presidential initiative for FY 2005, following on from your budget of FY 2004, and focusing on the long-term research portfolios of DOE, NASA, and the Department of Commerce, in addition to NSF and NIH, would turn around a decade-long decline that endangers the future of our nation.
Dr. Marburger and Mr. Kvamme put it succinctly in their letter accompanying the PCAST report: "the report suggests targeting the physical sciences and certain engineering fields ... for budgetary reallocation given their importance to our nation's economic well- being and competitiveness in order to better balance the available budget dollars." We concur, and hope that even in these times of budgetary stress you can, through a Presidential initiative in the FY 2005 budget, expand on what you have begun to increase the nation's investment in future strength.
Nobel Laureates: Burton Richter, Phillip Anderson, Nicholaas Bloembergen, Steven Chu, Jerome I. Friedman, Ivar Giaever, Sheldon Lee Glashow, Russell A. Hulse, Martin Perl, Robert Richardson, Horst Stormer, Richard Taylor, Charles H. Townes, Daniel C. Tsui, Kenneth Wilson, Robert W. Wilson
Corporate Leaders: Craig Barett, Ned Barnholt, Linden Blue, John F. Cassidy, Stuart D. Doyle, Jerome J. Gaspar, Raymond G. Hemann, William D. Hill, Dick Lampman, Joseph J. Miller, Jr., Craig J. Mundie, Richard Pearson, Robert N. Schmidt, William T. Siegle, Russ Shade, John J. Tracy