Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) have asked their colleagues to join them in signing a letter in support of the FY 2008 request for the DOE Office of Science. The letter will be sent to the top Democratic and Republican appropriators on the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee. Under the FY 2008 request, Office of Science funding would increase from $3,796.4 million to $4,397.9 million.
The funding request keeps the Office of Science budget on track to double within ten years, as the final FY 2007 appropriation fell short of the original request. In rolling out the FY 2008 S&T budget request in early February, a senior official of the Office of Science and Technology Policy acknowledged that the $4.4 billion Office of Science request (and other ACI agency requests), prepared before the FY 2007 budget was finalized, would be a “difficult lift” on Capitol Hill.
The FY 2008 cycle is in full-swing on Capitol Hill. In testimony before a congressional committee, Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman stated “Given the large-scale nature of Office of Science facilities and the thousands of scientists and researchers receiving DOE support for their research and education, sustained and predictable budgetary trajectories are essential to preserve America’s vitality in science and avoid an attrition of U.S. scientific talent.” Energy Under Secretary for Science Ray Orbach will be testifying before a House Science and Technology subcommittee tomorrow.
The new FY 2008 letter by Alexander and Bingaman will build on the success of similar letters in support of the Office of Science. Last year, 70 senators signed such a letter (see http://www.aip.org/fyi/2006/056.html.) A similar Senate letter in support of the National Science Foundation will be covered in a forthcoming FYI.
Senators are far more likely to sign a letter if contacted by their constituents. See http://www.aip.org/gov/commcong.html for information on communicating with Congress. Note that government resources should not be used to contact Members of Congress. State-by-state information on Office of Science funding can be viewed at http://www.science.doe.gov/SC_Funding The American Physical Society is maintaining a list of senators who have agreed to sign the Bingaman-Alexander letter at http://www.aps.org/policy/issues/research-funding/fy08signers.cfm
The Bingaman-Alexander letter to Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) follows:
“Dear Chairman Dorgan and Ranking Member Domenici:
“We are writing to express our support for upholding the President's Fiscal Year 2008 request of $4.4 billion for the Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Science.
“There has been strong bipartisan support for increasing funding for the Office of Science. In April 2006, 70 senators signed a letter in support of the President's funding request for Fiscal Year 2007. Earlier this year, nearly half the Senate signed a similar letter on short notice regarding funding in the Joint Resolution for the remainder of the current fiscal year.
“The President's requested funding for the Office of Science is justified as our nation's ability to sustain a growing economy and create good jobs at home increasingly depends upon our achievements in science and technology. Competition in the global marketplace is increasingly fierce, and the Office of Science is at the forefront of our efforts to keep America's edge and avoid being overtaken by nations like China and India. Strengthening our investment in the Office of Science is the right thing to do to meet our long-term challenges for abundant energy, clean air and water, and a vibrant economy,
“The Office is supporting discoveries in essential new fields - biotechnology, nanotechnology, and supercomputing – that will revolutionize the 21st Century economy. With past performance as our guide, we can look forward to even more breakthroughs, such as: stronger, more functional materials; improved understanding of climate change; advances in nuclear medicine to treat diseases, better sensors for homeland security and our troops in the field; and a more diverse portfolio of dean, abundant energy sources.
“In addition, through its many world class user facilities and programs, the Office of Science plays an indispensable role in educating, training, and sustaining the nation's scientific workforce. Thousands of university researchers - professors, "post-docs", and undergraduate students - also rely, each year, on support from the Office. Roughly half of the researchers at Office of Science-run faci1ities come from universities, and about a third of Office of Science research funds go to institutions of higher learning.
“We are acutely aware of the tight constraints on the available budgetary resources, and commend you and the subcommittee for making the Office of Science a funding priority. We urge your continued support for the Office of Science so that we can maintain this critical investment in our nation's future.”