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Advocating For Science Funding

June 10, 2013 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 91, Issue 23

The amount of the federal budget that is allocated to the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and other agencies that fund research is so small that budget cuts of any magnitude will have no significant impact on national fiscal issues. Despite this, yearly appropriations that consistently lag behind inflation, and steady declines in grant application success rates, are exacerbated by the federal budget sequester. This is unacceptable, unless one believes it is a worthwhile national endeavor to impede teaching and discovery in our university research labs and to downsize the academic and industrial scientific and technological workforce trained in the U.S.

Most ACS members, and presumably most government officials, would agree that diminishing support for science research and education is not in the nation’s best interest. There are exceptions as, for instance, Mark Goltz expressed in his letter to the editor (C&EN, April 1, page 6). Despite the efforts of organizations such as ACS and the American Association for the Advancement of Science—and the leadership at funding agencies (including vocal support from past leadership)—the U.S. government does not consider support for science a priority.

ACS, together with AAAS and related professional societies, embodies a formidable cohort. It steadfastly advocates support for research. Unfortunately, efforts such as letter-writing campaigns in support of research funding don’t sufficiently motivate our elected officials.

I suggest more assertive actions such as a personal visit with a lawmaker. If a legislator believes that current support for scientific research needs to be increased, ask what specific, timely actions they plan to implement to change the current trajectory. Let them know you are sharing their views and plans with fellow constituents including the ACS Office of Public Affairs.

Rob Strongin
Portland, Ore.



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