Letter Urges Senate to Reject Attempts to Reduce FY 2013 NSF Funding

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Publication date: 
15 June 2012

The American Institute of Physics and five of its Member  Societies - the American Astronomical Society, the American Association of  Physics Teachers, the American Geophysical Union, APS Physics, and the Optical  Society of America – joined more than 120 organizations in signing a letter to  the Senate regarding FY 2013 funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF).  The letter, written by  the Coalition for National Science Funding, urges strong support for the  research and development budget at the NSF while opposing “legislative attempts to micromanage NSF and undermine the merit review  process by singling out specific programs for elimination as recently occurred  in the House.” 

While advocating for NSF’s support of all disciplines “in a balanced portfolio that uses the  scientific peer review system as the foundation for awarding research grants  based on merit,” the letter also recognizes the challenges “in addressing the deficit and revitalizing  our national economy.”

The letter explains:

“Eliminating support  for specific disciplines, such as the House did with respect to political  science, sets a dangerous precedent that, in the end, will inhibit scientific  progress and restrain our international competitiveness economically and with  regard to national security.  Congress  should exercise its oversight responsibilities, but second-guessing the  scientific process could have a chilling effect on scientists and young people  considering a future in science. The country cannot afford to lose the  incredible talent, experience, and energies of its scientists, regardless of  their discipline.”

During House consideration of the FY 2013 Commerce, Justice,  Science Appropriations Bill, an amendment to reduce the foundation’s budget by $1.2 billion was rejected.  The House did approve an amendment to  eliminate funding for the NSF’s Climate  Change Education Program and its Political Science Program in the  Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences.  This bill is now pending in the Senate.

The CNSF letter includes a statement asking the Senate to  ensure “that the  NSF and its independent scientific panels determine where the best scientific  opportunities are and how to absorb any potential reductions to its budget.” It closes by addressing  the allocation of federal investments competitively through scientific merit  review “we encourage you to provide congressional oversight by protecting  that process rather than allowing others to threaten critical contributions to  our innovative spirit and knowledge base.”

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