Tag Archive: Policy and Government Affairs

Articles relevant to Government Affairs.

Congress on Track to Continue Increases for Science

Before leaving on their traditional two-week spring recess, members of the House and Senate approved their respective versions of the Fiscal Year 2008 Congressional Budget Resolution, with each providing space beneath the budget caps for increased funding for key federal science agencies. While the differences between both versions will have to be resolved in a compromise resolution when both chambers resume work in late April, the similar treatment of science accounts in both versions of the resolution bodes well for the agencies in the upcoming FY 08 appropriations process.

Congress Protects Science Funding in Final Appropriations

After several months fearing a freeze on federal science funding in FY 2007, the science community in late January breathed a collective sigh of relief as congressional appropriators reached an agreement on a final resolution for the year’s spending bills that would preserve increases for three key science agencies. The increases—proposed more than a year earlier by President Bush as part of his “American Competitiveness Initiative”—will put the research budgets of the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and Department of Energy’s Office of Science on track to double over ten years.

Congress Change Could Mean Slight Changes in Science Policy

With the change in Congressional leadership resulting from the Democrats’ strong showing in November’s mid-term elections, the landscape for research funding issues in Congress is expected to change in a number of ways, with outcomes that are, at this point, difficult to predict. For the research advocacy community, these changes will include new personalities heading every key Congressional committee and new legislative priorities for the Congressional leadership that could imperil recent gains in research funding commitments.

Congress Delays Appropriations, Creating Uncertainty for Science Increases

Congress will reconvene in mid-November in a post-election session to finish work on a slate of appropriations bills—including bills that would fully fund the basic research elements of President Bush’s “American Competitiveness Initiative”—that they failed to finish by the traditional end of the legislative session in early October. Less clear is whether any of the authorization bills drafted to boost U.S. competitiveness will receive floor time before the 109th Congress adjourns for good. Congress did complete work on the mammoth FY 2007 Defense Appropriations bill before recessing in late September. Included in the bill were healthy increases to defense research and development, and some reductions to requested budgets for defense IT research.

Congress on Track to Provide Big Boost to Physical Sciences, Computing

Before adjourning for the traditional August congressional recess, appropriators in the House and Senate approved a collection of funding measures that would significantly increase funding for federal research efforts in the physical sciences, mathematics, computing and engineering next year. Both chambers’ appropriation committees have passed FY 2007 appropriations bills that provide boosts to the research budgets of the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, effectively endorsing—at least in the short term—a Presidential initiative to double research funding for those agencies over the next 10 years.

Innovation, Competitiveness Plans Advance, But Hurdles Ahead

Some high-profile legislative efforts to bolster U.S. competitiveness by fostering greater U.S.-based innovation have begun to move in Congress, putting the spotlight on the importance of increasing federal support of fundamental research, improving education efforts, and addressing needs in federal tax policy and workforce and immigration issues. But despite the positive action, there are a number of obstacles to enactment of these innovation plans including, most seriously, a perceived lack of support from the House Republican leadership.

Congress Provides Symbolic Increase for NSF

After a year’s worth of warning that the final funding levels for American science agencies would likely be austere, congressional appropriators surprised many in the science community by passing a slate of funding bills that would have increased funding slightly for federal research at several agencies, including a 3 percent increase at the National Science Foundation. However, the increases proved to be symbolic as Congress, under pressure to reduce federal discretionary spending in the wake of unanticipated payouts to areas hard-hit by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, passed an across-the-board 1.0 percent reduction in all FY 2006 appropriations, including those already enacted, eliminating much—and in some cases all—of the approved spending increases for science.

Restrictions on Foreign Scientists Could Threaten U.S. Research

For more than 50 years the United States has attracted the best minds in the world to study, teach, and work—an influx of talent that has helped the nation become the world’s dominant economic power, driven its military ascendancy, and improved the lives of its citizens. But changing government policies may put that influx at risk, as regulators threaten to clamp down on the freedom of foreign nationals to pursue research and work with cutting-edge technologies in U.S. universities, federal labs, and companies.

Computing Research Gains Congressional Focus

The concerns of computing researchers about the overall underinvestment in the federal IT research portfolio—and specific concerns about DARPA’s steady withdrawal from long-term IT research, especially in universities—have gained new prominence in Congress thanks to a series of recent news reports, studies and congressional actions. That attention has so far culminated in a hearing of the full House Science Committee on the future of computer science research in the United States and questions about the implications of the shift in the overall landscape for federal support of computing research.

Despite Budget Climate, Industry/Academia Argue for Fundamental R&D

As the fiscal year 2006 budget process heats up in Congress with an austere outlook for federal research and development funding, a loose coalition of industry and scientific groups is taking its case to Capitol Hill to advocate for increased federal support for fundamental research, especially in the physical sciences. In the wake of an FY 2005 appropriations deal in Congress that led to a two percent cut in the budget of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the President’s FY 2006 budget submission that included a 4.5 percent cut to information technology research and development (as well as cuts to several science agencies), companies, academic institutions, and professional societies are making the case for research support by arguing that it plays a critical role in fueling the innovation necessary to keep the United States competitive in a global economy. The resonance of the message in Congress and in the national press appears to have put the Administration on the defensive.