Computing Research Policy Blog

The Computing Research Association (or CRA) has been involved in shaping public policy of relevance to computing research for more than two decades. More recently the CRA Government Affairs program has enhanced its efforts to help the members of the computing research community contribute to the public debate knowledgeably and effectively.


Action Alert!: Urge Your Representatives to Support Science in the Stimulus!


Today we’re asking members of our Computing Research Advocacy Network (CRAN) — and anyone else with an interest in seeing fundamental research and research infrastructure budgets reflect their critical importance to the long-term health of U.S. economy and quality of life — to contact their representatives in Congress and urge their support for science funding in the nearly $900 billion stimulus bill now making its way through Congress. Here’s the full text of the Action Alert we’ve sent our CRAN members:

COMPUTING RESEARCH ADVOCACY NETWORK
**ACTION ALERT**
THE SITUATION:
Congress is preparing to pass economic stimulus legislation that contains significant funding increases for scientific research (including computing) and research infrastructure. It is critical to urge your Members of Congress to support the scientific investments in the bill. (This is not the time to contact the agencies with proposals for spending these increases. There is no additional money right now. And there won’t be if we as a community fail to make our voices heard in Congress.)
BACKGROUND:
The American Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act passed by the House of Representatives last week provides “catch-up” funding for NSF, DOE Office of Science, NIH, and NIST that would put those agencies back on a trajectory that would double their budgets over the next 7 years — a budget trajectory that was authorized by the 2007 “America COMPETES Act” but never funded. The House version of this stimulus bill includes:

  • $2 billion in science funding at DOE’s Office of Science, including $100 million for the Advanced Scientific Computing;
  • $3 billion for NSF, of which $2.0 billion would go into core research programs, $300 million to the Major Research Instrumentation program and an additional $200 million to academic research facilities modernization;
  • $100 million for NIST’s core research programs, $300 million for facilities, and another $70 million for the Technology Innovation Program and $30 million for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership;
  • $1.5 billion to NIH for grants to improve university research facilities and another $1.5 billion in new research funding.

These numbers are incredibly good for the research community and we need your help to make sure that this funding makes it through the rest of the process. The Senate version of the American Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act does NOT include all of this funding so your assistance in contacting Capitol Hill will be critical to maintaining this level of funding in the conference process.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
The most important thing you can do now is call or write your representatives in the House and Senate and urge them to support the House funding levels for science. A sample letter you can use can be found here (rich text file) — please complete it using your own information and FAX it to your Representative and Senators’ offices as soon as possible. Please also fax a copy of your letter to CRA’S Melissa Norr at 202.667.1066 — having copies of letters from our community is incredibly helpful in our advocacy activities on the Hill.
To identify your Representative and Senators visit Write Your Rep (House) and the Senate Directory
If you have any trouble figuring out your Members of Congress or their contact information, please don’t hesitate to contact Melissa (mnorr@cra.org) for help.
WHAT NOT TO DO:
Now is not the time for contacting the agencies involved with proposals for spending these potential increases. If and when these increases are realized, the agencies will put in place processes to accept proposals for funding — and CRA will keep you informed. But, until then, the agencies are sharply limited in the advice and help they can provide. Please instead focus your efforts on ensuring that your representatives in Congress have heard from you on the importance of supporting research and research infrastructure!

It is important that we generate letters from as many institutions as possible. Because the Senate has come out with sharply reduced numbers in their version of the bill, there will be temptation in the conference process to reduce or trade away big science increases for gains elsewhere in the bill. Significant participation rates in this effort will help keep the pressure on Members to continue to support science in the bill.
If you’re not currently a member of the Computing Research Advocacy Network, joining is easy!
We’ll have more updates as the process moves forward. But the community needs your support now!
Update: (2/7/09) — Thanks to all who have participated so far — here are the details on the final Senate bill.

Action Alert!: Urge Your Representatives to Support Science in the Stimulus!