Academic Funding

Science Advocates Ask Congress for Almost 9 Percent Increase in NSF Funding

April 17, 2018 1087

Barring any after-the-fact tinkering with the United States’ government budget for the current fiscal year, the National Science Foundation received a 4 percent increase in funding in the $1.3 trillion omnibus bill that the president signed last month. Now, science advocacy organizations are looking to future fiscal years and asking for more 4 percent fill-ups.

A new letter from the Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) to the heads of appropriations committees in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate makes that request explicit:

CNSF stands by a recommendation included in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Restoring the Foundation report: that to secure America’s leadership in science and engineering and to ensure a growing economy, federal science agencies should be funded at an annual increasing rate of 4 percent real growth – that is, 4 percent plus inflation.

And so, the coalition is asking for a fiscal year 2019 increase of … 8.8 percent, from this year’s appropriated $7.77 billion to $8.45 billion next year. The CNSF explains that “to safeguard our place in the global competitiveness race, we must first advance the NSF budget to a level that moves us closer to the starting line, rather than outside the stadium.” That starting line, it insists, is at $8.45 billion.

CNSF describes itself as a broad-based group of professional organizations, universities, businesses, and scientific societies united in seeking robust federal support of basic science; the letter released Friday includes signatures from well over 100 of those groups (including SAGE Publishing, the parent of this site). Its letter supports the National Science Foundation, or NSF, using some of the same language favored by legislators when they talk about the uses of scientific research – including national competiveness (especially relative to China) and the need to preserve a science and technology literate workforce.

The support that $8.45 billion request, the CNSF marshals arguments in four areas – extending the reach of research, supporting NSF’s suite of previously announced cross-disciplinary 10 Big Ideas, commercializing innovation, and reaping serendipitous and unexpected benefits from basic research that might not be apparent immediately.

The letter notes that NSF likely will fund only 11,000 of the 50,000 grant proposals it expects to receive in FY2019. That 11,000 does not cover every proposal that NSF deems “Very good” or “excellent,” and doing so would require $3.92 billion – almost six times the increase CNSF is already seeking.

To read the full letter, click HERE.


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