Issue Date: March 3, 2008
America COMPETES Act
I think many of us had a smile on our faces when President George W. Bush signed into law H.R. 2272, the America Competes Act, on Aug. 9, 2007. This act was heralded as groundbreaking legislation because the bill supported basic scientific research in the physical sciences by setting budgets at the National Institute of Standards & Technology, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Energy's Office of Science on a path to doubling in the near term. Moreover, the bill was aimed at giving the U.S. a competitive edge in the global marketplace by giving students and educators the support they needed, and it would advance U.S. efforts to become energy independent.
Fast-forward to Dec. 26, 2007, when President Bush signed the so-called omnibus spending bill (C&EN, Dec. 24, 2007, page 7). What happened to the promised much-needed raises for science funding contained in the America Competes Act? For example, NSF funding will rise by only $56 million rather than the promised $365 million, and DOE's Office of Science saw its promised 15% raise shrink to 5%. This occurred just at a time when significantly more money should be invested in research to minimize the effects of a recession and, perhaps more important, when the U.S. should be the global leader in energy research.
Several Office of Science user facilities, such as the Advanced Photon Source, have already announced reduced operating schedules. The Intense Pulsed Neutron Source at Argonne is closing well ahead of the date planned. I urge all scientists to contact their congressional representatives today and lobby for the missing funds to put the U.S. back on top in scientific innovation and leadership.
Simon R. Bare
- Chemical & Engineering News
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