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ALERT: Support Increased Funding for NSF

(Posted 3-16-06)


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

IN A NUTSHELL: Each year during the appropriations process, members of Congress may circulate "Dear Colleague" letters, obtain signatures and submit these letters to an appropriations subcommittee in support of a specific program or project. These letters allow members of Congress to demonstrate their support for a program. A large number of signatures indicate strong support for the program discussed in the letter. Currently, Representatives Vernon Ehlers (R-MI), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Bob Inglis (R-SC), and Dan Lipinski (D-IL) are collecting signatures for a Dear Colleague letter circulating in the House that requests increased funding for the National Science Foundation. The letter will be sent to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Science, State, Justice and Commerce by the end of the week.

The "Dear Colleague" letter sponsored by Representatives Vernon Ehlers (R-MI), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Bob Inglis (R-SC), and Dan Lipinski (D-IL) requests that Congress provide the fully requested amount of $6.02 billion for the National Science Foundation (NSF) in fiscal year 2007. A copy of the letter is attached below.

Please contact your Representative and ask him/her to sign the Dear Colleague letter and to support increased funding for NSF. The deadline for signing the Ehlers-Holt-Inglis-Lipinski letter is March 16th, so the most efficient way to reach your representative is by phone, fax or email.

Please note that the following members have already signed the letter:
Abercrombie, Allen, Baldwin, Bartlett, Boehlert, Boucher, Brown, Capps, Cardin, Conyers, Cooper, Costello, DeFazio, Dent, Dingell, Doyle, English, Ehlers, Engel, Gilchrest, Hall, Harris, Holt, Honda, Hooley, Inglis, E.B.Johnson, T. Johnson, Kildee, Larson, Levin, Lipinski, Matsui, McCotter, McDermott, McIntyre, Meeks, Michaud, D.Moore, Nadler, Oberstar, Payne, Rangel, Rogers (MI), Schwartz, Schwarz and Smith

To determine who your representative is, go to www.house.gov and enter your zip code. The link will also provide the contact information for your representative, so you can call, fax or email them.

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

You may obtain the phone number from their official website (via www.house.gov) or you may call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard (202-224-3121) and ask to be connected to Representative [name] office. NOTE: You must know the name of your Representative before calling the switchboard; they will not be able to tell you who your member of Congress is.

Ask to speak to the legislative assistant responsible for NSF. When connected: Encourage the staffer to have Representative [name] sign the Ehlers-Holt-Inglis-Lipinski Dear Colleague letter to support NSF funding. Be prepared to mention how important NSF funding is to your research, academic department/institution, industry and/or your community. Legislative staff 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 Representative

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

Tips for an effective e-mail or fax message:

-Be sure that the subject line in your e-mail or fax is clear: Please sign the Ehlers-Holt-Inglis-Lipinski Dear Colleague letter to support NSF funding, or Request 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.

-In the opening paragraph of your message, clearly state that you are writing to ask that your Representative sign the Ehlers-Holt-Inglis-Lipinski Dear Colleague letter to support NSF funding. Tell them that the letter requests that Congress provide NSF with the requested $6.02 billion in fiscal year 2007.

-Briefly explain why NSF funding is important to you and/or your institution/company.

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

DEADLINE:
The deadline for submitting this letter to the appropriations committee is March 16th, so please contact your Representative as soon as possible. Your Representative may still sign the letter after March 16th and we are hoping to have a majority of House members support NSF through this letter.

Please fax or e-mail a copy of your letter to AGI at Government Affairs Program, 4220 King Street, Alexandria VA 22302-1502; fax 703-379-7563; email: govt@agiweb.org.

Many thanks for taking the time to be an active citizen-scientist!

****************************************
COPY OF DEAR COLLEAGUE LETTER

The Honorable Frank Wolf
Chairman
Subcommittee on Science, State, Justice, and Commerce
H-309 Capitol
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Alan Mollohan
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Science, State, Justice, and Commerce
H-309 Capitol
Washington, DC 20515


Dear Chairman Wolf and Ranking Member Mollohan:

Thank you very much for your leadership in increasing federal funding for basic science research. As supporters of scientific research and education, we respectfully ask that you make the National Science Foundation (NSF) funding a priority again and provide $6.02 billion in your fiscal year 2007 Science, State, Justice and Commerce (SSJC) Subcommittee appropriations legislation. This is the level requested by the President's budget.

In previous years, we have made a similar bipartisan request along with many of our colleagues, seeking increased funding for an agency that has suffered budget stagnation and even a budget cut in fiscal year 2005. This year, however, we are heartened that the budget request for the NSF includes a substantial increase for the "high-leverage fields of physical sciences and engineering" as part of the proposed American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI). This boost in funding would allow for new innovative technologies to be developed by NSF scientists and engineers. While we lament that in previous years we fell far short of the authorized levels of funding for NSF, we believe that meeting the President's request for NSF in fiscal year 2007 represents the first year of a ten-year commitment to the doubling of the NSF budget.

The proposed ACI focuses funding on scientific research and facilities at NSF that fuel innovation. Clearly the government plays a role in innovation, as two-thirds of U.S. patents cite federal funding as their source of support. Federally funded basic research has cultivated groundbreaking technologies, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), global positioning systems (GPS), human genome mapping, lasers, fiber optics and many, many more. NSF research supports technologies that are later applied by other agencies, ranging from Doppler radar, which has saved many lives through accurate weather forecasts, to laser-guided weapons, which have revolutionized combat. Recently, NSF has pioneered cutting-edge research in cyberinfrastructure, the information technology-based infrastructure increasingly essential to science and engineering leadership in the 21st Century. As other nations are significantly increasing their funding of basic research, the U.S. must recognize that leadership in science and technology is not something that we can take for granted.

NSF is also a key supporter of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education. Now, more than ever, we must invest in our children's education to develop their talent, ensure their success, and maintain the quality of our workforce and economic strength. NSF, with its expertise in merit-review awards, is uniquely positioned to contribute to math and science education and directly impact our nation's competitiveness. Elementary, middle- and high-school students participating in the NSF Math and Science Partnership (MSP) program showed significant improvements in mathematics proficiency test scores, according to a first analysis of results. NSF education endeavors are complementary to those of the Department of Education, as NSF research provides the foundation for much of the applications promoted by the Department of Education. In the words of Craig Barrett, the Chairman of the Intel Corporation, "If you look at the driving forces for today's economy, its happens to be the high-tech area. You can't be successful in those fields if you don't have a workforce that understands mathematics and science." We strongly support the educational mission of the NSF, and request that if it is possible to devote any additional funds from other agency portions of your allocation, they would be added to the President's request for the education directorate (EHR) of NSF.

We recognize this significant increase is requested at a time when other agencies with the SSJC account may be suffering cuts. Please preserve funding for NSF at the level requested by the President, and do not allow the NSF portion of the ACI to be depleted by competing interests. Though NSF receives only four perfect of the total federal research and development budget, it is the bedrock of our scientific strength and provides the basis for innovation and development throughout our economy.

We respectfully request that you fund NSF at the President's requested level of $6.02 billion in fiscal year 2007. We cannot afford to shortchange the fundamental sciences in which out future and our children's future depend.


Alert prepared by Margaret Anne Baker, Government Affairs Staff

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

Posted March 16, 2006


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