ALERT: Support FY07 Funding for NSF

(Posted 11-29-06)


This update was originally sent out as an e-mail message to AGI's member societies.

IN A NUTSHELL: Congress has not completed 9 appropriation bills for the fiscal year 2007 (FY07) budget. Among the unfinished bills are the budgets for science agencies, such as the National Science Foundation (NSF), NASA and NOAA. Fiscal year 2007 started on October 1, 2006 and to ensure government functions, Congress has passed several continuing resolutions. The latest continuing resolution is set to expire on December 8, however, it seems unlikely that Congress can complete their budget work by that date and another continuing resolution is likely. Each continuing resolution is detrimental to the NSF because it leaves their budget uncertain, reduces their total budget and delays the announcements of funding opportunities. In addition, NSF will lose part, or perhaps all, of the proposed ~8 percent budget increase for FY07 approved by the House of Representatives and the Senate Subcommittee if the budget process is not completed in a timely fashion.

Please write a letter or call your representative and senators and request action on the FY07 budget for NSF and other science agencies as soon as possible. The federal government cannot function effectively with continued budget uncertainty and NSF is particularly crippled because its main task is competitive grant funding and it cannot proceed with grant opportunities without a budget. In addition, NSF will lose more funding and become less effective and efficient if continuing resolutions are extended into next year.

The House approved a 7.9 percent increase for NSF for a total potential budget of $6.02 billion, while the Senate Commerce, Science and Justice Appropriations Subcommittee approved a slightly smaller increase for a total potential NSF budget of $5.99 billion for FY07. The full Senate has not voted yet on this proposed NSF budget. After the Senate votes, the two chambers will need to conference to resolve any differences and then each chamber will vote again on the final budget numbers.

Below is a sample letter you may use as a template for communicating with your senators/representative by fax or email. You should personalize the letter as appropriate. Calling your congressional members is also effective and you can provide the same message to the member, a staffer or by voicemail. Communication with your congressional members should be completed by December 4. Congress will be back in Washington DC on December 5 to work on the FY07 budget and complete other business, so it would be best to contact them before the lame-duck session reconvenes.

********************** SAMPLE LETTER ********************************
November XX, 2006

The Honorable XXX
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

or

The Honorable XXX
United States Senate
Washington DC 20510

Dear XXX:

I am writing to ask for your support for the increased funding in fiscal year 2007 for the National Science Foundation (NSF). The decision by the House Appropriations Science-State-Justice-Commerce Subcommittee and the Senate Appropriations Commerce, Justice and Science Subcommittee to provide an increase for NSF for a total budget of about $6 billion represents a clear commitment to strengthen our nation's competitiveness in science and engineering through wise investments in research and education.

I hope that the budget can be completed before the end of the year to avoid any reduction in funding for vital government programs, such as NSF. NSF funds research and science education development programs through competitive, meritorious grants. The agency cannot function efficiently and cost effectively with an uncertain budget.

NSF provides the funding for the basic research conducted by geoscientists and geo-engineers to deal with natural resources, natural hazards, Earth processes and the environment. NSF also provides support for the development of K-12 geoscience education tools, so that all students understand the value of our natural resources and are better prepared to deal with natural hazards. Through research and education, the current and future generations of Americans can compete in the global marketplace, while maintaining a vital and secure homeland.

I am a XXX [briefly describe yourself and the value of NSF to you and your community]


Thank you for your leadership. I fully support your ongoing efforts on the fiscal year 2007 budget.

Please contact XXX [provide your contact info] if you need any additional information or if you have any questions.

Sincerely,

XXX
****************** END OF LETTER ***********************************

1. Call your Senator/Representative's Washington, DC office.

You may obtain the phone number from their official websites at www.senate.gov or www.house.gov.

Ask to speak to the legislative assistant responsible for NSF. When connected: Encourage the staffer to have Senator/Representative [name] support NSF in the FY07 Budget. Be prepared to mention how important NSF funding is to your research, academic department/institution, and/or your community. Legislative staffs are busy, so you may be asked if you would like to leave a voice mail - you do. Simply convey the same information you would have if you spoke to the staffer in person, but be sure to leave your contact information.

2. E-Mail or Fax your Senator/Representative

Your Senator/Representative's e-mail addresses and fax numbers are available on their website at www.senate.gov or www.house.gov.

Tips for an effective e-mail or fax message:

-Be sure that the subject line in your e-mail is clear: "Please Support NSF in FY07 Budget", or Request Senator/Rep. [name] support increased funding for NSF.

-Be sure that you include your contact information at the top of the e-mail/letter; this must include your name, mailing address, phone number and e-mail address. NOTE: many offices will discard correspondence that does not include contact information, or that comes from outside of their district/state.

-In the opening paragraph of your message, clearly state that you are writing to ask that your Senator/Representative support NSF in the FY07 Budget. Tell them that the letter requests that Congress provide the National Science Foundation with about $6 billion in FY 2007 funding.

-Briefly explain why NSF funding for basic research is important to you and/or your institution (e.g., only source of funding for your area of research, helps support undergraduate/graduate student research experience, leads to innovation, etc).

To further bolster your argument, you may wish to incorporate statistics from the National Science Foundation (http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/).

You can also find more information on the NSF budget at the Government Affairs website (http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis109/appropsfy2007_nsf.html).


Alert prepared by Linda Rowan, Government Affairs Staff

Please send any comments or requests for information to the AGI Government Affairs Program.

Posted November 29, 2006