ALERT: Geoscientists Needed for Congressional Visits in September

(Posted 7-23-07)


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

IN A NUTSHELL: The Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) is organizing congressional visits for scientists and engineers on September 18 and 19. AGI and several other Member Societies are part of CNSF. Participants are asked to carry forward a core message urging Congress to support steady increases for the National Science Foundation. In addition, participants can share their own brief messages about programs that they see as valuable examples of the federal science and technology enterprise emphasizing, for example, the value of the geosciences to the economy and national security. The coalition hopes to bring together a diverse array of scientists and engineers representing many disciplines for a brief overview of priorities, on the afternoon of September 18, followed by congressional visits in multidisciplinary groups on September 19.

We urge you to sign up and participate in this effort. It will not take too much time, hundreds of scientists participate in visits every year and it is vital that the geoscience community communicates about the value of geoscience with policymakers. AGI's Government Affairs Program and the public policy offices of several Member Societies can provide you with more information about the visits and will be helping to organize this event. Please contact Linda Rowan, AGI's Director of Government Affairs at rowan@agiweb.org to sign up or to ask questions. The deadline for signing up is August 23.

Federal agencies that fund basic physical science research, such as the National Science Foundation, have gone through a period of stagnant budgets in the past few years and this pattern has been eroding the research and development community, depleting the skilled workforce pipeline, hindering science and engineering education, and hurting U.S. competitiveness and innovation in the global marketplace. Since the publication of multiple studies on the federal research funding situation and its effect on the U.S. economy, in particular a major report by the National Academies, entitled "Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future", Congress and the Administration have proposed healthy increases for research at the National Science Foundation and some other agencies.

There is momentum for supporting increases for basic research for fiscal year 2008, however, as Congress completes its budget deliberations in September, it is imperative for scientists, engineers and educators to speak up about the value of the research priority in relation to other budget priorities. Congress will begin the difficult task of reconciling differences between the House and Senate spending bills for the major federal science agencies, including the National Science Foundation (NSF) as well as working with the Administration, which has expressed concerns about the costs of some appropriations and threatened to veto several bills. Now more than ever, the geoscience community needs to make a strong case to Congress about the value of these programs in general and about the value of geoscience and geo-engineering research and development more specifically.

It is vital for geoscientists to be represented in science-community efforts if our discipline is to be a distinctly recognizable and valued element of the congressional view of "science." For anyone interested in science policy, this is an opportunity to meet your elected officials and experience Washington, DC policymaking. In addition, although it is a very busy time for Congress and their staff, they do want to hear from their constituents and they are enthusiastic about meeting scientists, hearing about their work and understanding how geoscience research and development may relate to national priorities. We especially encourage the leadership of AGI's Member Societies to attend these visits on September 18 and 19.

If you have participated in congressional visits before, this is a chance to continue building a relationship with your members of Congress and their staff. If not, there is no better time than now to sit down and talk about funding priorities that are important to you and the larger science, engineering and technology community.

For more information, AGI has a number of articles and updates on its Government Affairs website (http://www.agiweb.org/gap) that can provide background and context for some of the issues you may want to discuss.

If you would like to participate on September 18-19, have any questions or would like our assistance in preparing for the visits, call Linda Rowan in AGI's Government Affairs Program at (703) 379-2480 x228 or send an email to rowan@agiweb.org. The deadline for signing up is August 23.


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 July 23, 2007