AGI Joins in Call for Increased Research Funding in Fiscal Year 2000 Appropriations (10-7-99)

In early September, AGI joined forces with twenty-four engineering, scientific, and business associations to send letters to members of Congress regarding proposed budget cuts in federal funding for researching programs in science and technology. The letters were bundled together to demonstrate the breadth of support for federal investment in research. Appropriations bills emerging from the House of Representatives in particular cut funding for key science agencies including the National Science Foundation and NASA. Other agencies, such as the USGS, were funded below the President's request. Senate versions of the appropriations bills were more generous but strained to stay within the budget caps, a legacy of the 1997 balanced budget agreement. The science, engineering and technology community are concerned the lack of federal funding for research will harm the future growth of the American economy.

The Science, Engineering and Technology Working Group (SETWG) organized the letter campaign to call attention to the role of federally funded research in the growing economy. Richard T O'Grady, Executive Director of the American Institute of Biological Sciences, wrote, "The many interactions and cross-over benefits among seemingly disparate areas of science and engineering today make it impossible to know when a funding cut in one area will unintentionally prevent progress in another area." Many people credit the current economic boom to technological advances that resulted from federally funded research projects.

Groups sending letters included:

American Association for the Advancement of Science
American Association of Engineering Societies
American Astronomical Society
The American Ceramic Society
American Chemical Society
American Electronics Association
American Geological Institute
American Geophysical Union
American Institute of Biological Sciences
American Mathematical Society
American Physical Society
American Psychological Association
ASM International - The Materials Information Society
American Society of Mechanical Engineers
Association for Women in Mathematics
The Council for Chemical Research
Council on Undergraduate Research
EPSCoR Foundation
The Ecological Society of America
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Federation of Materials Societies
The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. - United States of America
National Society of Professional Engineers
Optical Society of America

Template of Letter From AGI President David Stephenson Sent to all Senators and Representatives

September 8, 1999

The Honorable ____________
_________ Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representative ________:

On behalf of the Executive Committee of the American Geological Institute (AGI), I urge you to restore funding for science and engineering research and development programs in the Fiscal Year 2000 appropriations bills currently before Congress. AGI is a nonprofit federation of 34 geoscientific and professional associations that represent more than 100,000 geologists, geophysicists, and other earth scientists.

We share the concern of the science and engineering community that in the current rhetoric concerning the federal budget surplus, science and engineering research is noticeably absent.  This omission is surprising given that it is widely accepted that over half the nation's economic growth in the last fifty years can be attributed to technological advances based on fundamental science and engineering research.  In other words, without adequate support for research today, we cannot expect to realize budget surpluses in the future.

We are particularly concerned by the cuts proposed for the National Science Foundation and the NASA Office of Earth Science.  We also encourage full support for the U.S. Geological Survey and for the Department of Energy's Basic Energy Sciences and Fossil Energy Research and Development programs.

I urge you to ensure the future health and vitality of our nation's economy by restoring federal investment in these vital research programs.

Sincerely yours,

David Stephenson

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

Contributed by Margaret Baker, AGI Government Affairs

Last updated October 7, 1999

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