ALERT: Support Increased Funding for NSF

(Posted 3-20-07)

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


*** Support Increased Funding for NSF ***

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) and Bob Inglis (R-SC) 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, Justice and Commerce of the Appropriations Committee which has jurisdiction over the NSF.

Please contact your Representative today and ask them to sign onto the Ehlers-Holt-Inglis NSF Dear Colleague letter. This is great opportunity to communicate with your Representative and it will only take a few minutes. The deadline for sign-on is March 29.

The Ehlers-Holt-Inglis Dear Colleague letter requests that Congress provide $6.43 billion for NSF in fiscal year 2008, which is the same amount that President Bush has requested. In addition, the letter asks that if additional funds become available, that $200 million be given to the Education and Human Resources Directorate of NSF to support their research efforts in science and engineering education.

Last year, more than 100 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.

The letter will be sent to the House Subcommittee on Science, Justice and Commerce Appropriations subcommittee which has jurisdiction over the NSF. The letter will be addressed to the chairman of the subcommittee, Alan Mollohan (D-WV) and the ranking member, Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ).

Please contact your Representative and ask them to sign the Ehlers-Holt-Inglis Dear Colleague and to support increased funding for NSF. The staff contacts for signing onto the letter are Julia Jester in Congressman Ehlers' office (x53831) or Don Engel in Congressman Holt's office (x55801).

The deadline for signing the letter is March 29, 2007, so the most efficient way to reach your representative is by phone, fax or email.

To determine who your Representative is, go to and enter your zip code+4. 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 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 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-Inglis 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 address and fax number are available on their website at

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-Inglis 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 to sign the Ehlers-Holt-Inglis NSF Dear Colleague letter. Tell them that the letter requests that Congress provide the National Science Foundation with $6.43 billion in FY 2008 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 (

Representatives Ehlers, Holt and Inglis anticipate collecting signatures until March 29, 2007, 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

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 March 20, 2007