ALERT: Support Increased Funding for NSF

(Posted 4-12-05)


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) and Rush Holt (D-NJ) are collecting signatures for a Dear Colleague letter that requests increased funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF). The letter will be sent to the House Subcommittee on Science, State, Justice and Commerce Appropriations subcommittee which has jurisdiction over the NSF.

The Ehlers-Holt Dear Colleague letter requests that Congress provide $6.1 billion for NSF in fiscal year 2006. The President's request for this year is $5.6 billion -- $2.9 billion less than the FY06 authorized level Congress set in 2002. If the President's budget request is approved, NSF will receive only a slight increase of 2.4 percent. This funding level would leave some research directorates at or below FY04 funding levels.

Last year, 165 members of Congress signed a similar letter. It is important that more members of Congress sign the letter this year. The federal budget is once again austere and quite competitive. A demonstration of strong bipartisan support for NSF is required.

Please contact your Representative and ask them to sign the Ehlers-Holt Dear Colleague and to support increased funding for NSF. The deadline for signing the letter is April 22, 2005, so the most efficient way to reach your representative is by phone, fax or email.

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 (www.house.gov) or you may call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard (202-224-3121) and ask to be connected to Representative [name] in office [name]. NOTE: You must know the name of your Representative prior to 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 NSF Dear Colleague letter. Be prepared to mention how important NSF funding is to your research, academic department/institution, 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 is clear: Please sign the Ehlers-Holt NSF Dear Colleague, 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 NSF Dear Colleague letter. Tell them that the letter requests that Congress provide the National Science Foundation with $6.1 billion in FY 2006 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/appropsfy2006_nsf.html).

DEADLINE:
Representatives Ehlers and Holt anticipate collecting signatures through April 22, 2005, so please contact your Representative as soon as possible.

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!


Alert prepared by Linda Rowan, AGI Director of Government Affairs

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

Posted April 12, 2005