May 26, 2017

Proposed FY 2018 budget prompts response

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has issued a multi-organization letter regarding President Donald Trump’s FY 2018 budget request for research and development.

The entire letter, dated May 24, 2017, is posted online. ASAS is one of 149 organizations that has signed onto the letter, speaking out on the importance of federal investments in scientific research. The body of the letter is as follows:

Dear Congressional Leaders:

The undersigned U.S. science and engineering, medical and health, and higher education organizations urge you to reject the Administration-proposed cuts to science as you begin to craft the fiscal year (FY) 2018 appropriations. We urge you once again to prioritize these investments and provide sustainable and robust investments in scientific research.

The drastic cuts to NIH, NSF, DOE, USDA, EPA, NOAA, NIST, USGS, portions of DOD and NASA, and other agencies would cripple the science and technology enterprise, severely harming discovery science programs and critical mission agencies alike.

As you are aware and have acted on before, our nation’s research enterprise is among the most powerful engines for American prosperity. One of the consistent areas of bipartisan agreement over the past 70 years has been the importance of the federal government’s role in supporting research and innovation. One example of this bipartisan support is the final FY 2017 omnibus bill that provided critical funding for federal R&D, and we applaud your support.

As you work to craft appropriations for FY 2018, we ask you to consider the following in your deliberations:

America’s research and development (R&D) enterprise has made our nation the world’s preeminent, most effective, and sought-after partner for innovation. It is among the most powerful engines of American prosperity, producing value far beyond the sum of its individual agencies. History confirms that a secure, prosperous, and competitive future is found in research across all fields of science and engineering:

  • American physical and life sciences leadership has helped us better understand ourselves and our world, enabling us to improve and lengthen Americans’ lives, enhance public health, advance food safety and security, and enhance quality of life.
  • Environmental, agricultural and Earth sciences research has allowed state leaders and managers, business owners, and farmers to have access to the best available science for critical decision- making that impacts our energy and transportation infrastructure, agriculture sector, and water resources management.
  • Defense research has improved the effectiveness of our armed forces and our awareness of growing threats around the world, and saved lives on the battlefield and once soldiers are home.
  • Social and behavioral science research has been critical to respond effectively to disasters; enhance intelligence analysis; understand decision-making and its impact on public health and business investments; improve international relations, and effectively educate the STEM workforce.
  • Math and computer science research has made the Internet economy possible and improved cybersecurity.
  • Material and engineering sciences have improved energy sources, space exploration, bridges and roads, and enabled countless technologies and products now essential to modern lives.U.S. investments in science R&D have created millions of jobs in public and private sectors, enhanced state economies, and generated commercial growth. According to a leading report conducted by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, although scientists and engineers only account for over four percent of the nation’s workforce, they help create many jobs in other parts of the economy. Scientists’ discoveries and insights extend beyond the research laboratory, impacting and employing people in many other sectors, from designers to builders to salespeople to consumers.Decreased investment would have significant impacts on our country’s long-term competitiveness and lead to an American innovation deficit. Many countries are increasing their investments in scientific research, recognizing that it will be a key foundation for 21st century economic growth and global competitiveness. For the period 2000-2013, China’s average annual R&D investment growth shot up 17%; South Korea grew 8.3%; Russia 8.2%; Singapore 6.8%; and Germany 3.2%. This compares to 2% growth in the U.S. over that period. Without sustained commitment, this high-functioning engine is at real risk of stalling, harming the well-being of future generations. Once stalled, that process cannot be easily reversed. Attempting to rebuild our world-leading science and engineering enterprise would be expensive and slow, and face new competition from other rising leaders.We urge America to support its research and innovation infrastructure. This will enable institutions to continue investing in skilled workers and high-technology tools; focus today’s scientists on creating tomorrow’s discoveries; support and prepare the world’s finest future scientists through quality STEM education from K-12 through graduate school; and communicate a clear, hopeful path for today’s emerging, diverse young scientists and engineers who will realize tomorrow’s breakthroughs and applications.For many decades, the American people and our economy have reaped the enormous benefits of federally-supported research. It is time again for the bipartisan foresight of U.S. policymakers to prevail in support of research. For FY 2018, we urge you to reject the Administration’s proposed cuts to research investments and negotiate increased discretionary spending caps for next year and beyond that will permit sufficient federal research investments and sustain our nation’s status as the world’s innovation leader.Thank you for considering our views.

The entire list of organizations that have signed onto the letter can be found in this pdf.