Science and Technology in the FY 2011 Budget

ACS Position Statement: FY 2011

ACS Position

Our nation faces a series of broad societal challenges such as establishing energy independence and security, addressing climate change, maintaining clean and abundant water and food supplies, and preparing the next generation of scientists and technical workers through a robust science education curriculum. All of these issues will require a coordinated national strategy that marshals not only the scientific and technical resources at our disposal, but also the creation of new innovative resources for the future. Addressing these considerable challenges will require substantially increased and enduring federal funding for basic research and engineering, as well as increased attention to all aspects of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education.

U.S. global technological leadership and corresponding economic performance depend heavily on federal investments in science and technology and the American entrepreneurial willingness to capitalize on the dividends of scientific research. The federal government plays a crucial role in supporting the fundamental basic research upon which the private sector builds its technology base.

Federal investments in chemistry and chemical engineering have a significant impact on the U.S. economy. A Council for Chemical Research study shows that for every dollar of R&D investment, the chemistry enterprise generates two dollars of operating income for industry. In addition, such annual R&D investments ($1 billion federal and $5 billion industry) increased the U.S. Gross Domestic Product by $40 billion, created over 500,000 jobs, and increased tax revenues by $8 billion over a 20-year period.

While the current fiscal climate will constrain the FY 2011 budget, steady funding growth is essential to increasing scientific human resource capacity, improved scientific knowledge, and the innovation that fosters enhanced U.S. global competitiveness. Large funding fluctuations are disruptive to training, careers, long-range projects, and ultimately success in meeting agency goals in sustained economic health, energy security, and national security. The federal research enterprise will be most successful with predictable, enduring investments that maximize our nation’s long-term return on investment.

The Impacts of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

ACS strongly supports the substantial investments in science and technology provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). In particular, ACS supports targeted investments in basic research at the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

ACS encourages the administration to continue to take a long-term view when considering the economic and societal impact of ARRA’s basic research investments. While a significant focus of ARRA is on producing a short-term boost to the economy, the Society is concerned that such a short-term focus could have unintended consequences for the longer-term scientific research process. In setting overall annual science and technology funding priorities, ACS urges the administration to continue to assign precedence to the areas of federal investment most likely to provide the greatest long-term return to the American people, including investments that strengthen our scientific and technological capabilities.

Reliable Funding for Energy Research

ACS supports strategic investments in research programs to transform U.S. source and energy usage patterns and particularly supports the president’s call for a $15 billion annual investment in clean energy technology over the next 10 years. The Society believes that funding of energy research could be expanded reliably by dedicating revenues related to the climate change legislation. When considering such proposals, ACS strongly urges all stakeholders to work together in order to avoid the appearance of balkanization or politicization of scientific research support. ACS also urges policymakers to refrain from creating long-term, energy-research-related infrastructure commitments that cannot be reliably funded through new resources in order to avoid competing priorities for existing funds.

The Role of Voluntary Service by Science and Technology Professionals in Education

Historically, American economic and technological preeminence is rooted in a large and highly skilled domestic workforce of scientists, technicians, engineers, and mathematicians. A consensus has emerged in the business, education, and scientific communities that our nation’s current and future economic prosperity depends on our ability to better educate our young people in math and science and attract more of the best and brightest students into technological careers.

In his April 2009 speech before the National Academies, the president called for the creation of “new pathways for experienced professionals to go into the classroom.” ACS strongly supports policies that will create opportunities for mid- and late-career science and technology professionals to contribute their expertise to the education system, either in the classroom or in other supportive roles. The Society encourages exploration of practical mechanisms that can leverage the vast array of content knowledge and enthusiasm within the scientific community to improve education.

The Society also encourages the administration to continue pursuing efforts that will leverage successful volunteer service programs operated by professional and non-profit organizations. ACS operates several programs, such as Project SEED, which provide students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds with in-depth, summer laboratory experiences in chemistry and science through partnerships between universities, businesses, and local school districts. ACS supports policies that further encourage such partnerships.

Bolstering the Green Workforce and Environmental Education

A transition to a more energy-efficient, environmentally sustainable, and responsible economy requires a significant focus on developing appropriately educated and skilled citizens. The question of how best to augment and adjust our educational pipeline to tackle the additional challenge of producing a competitive national workforce that is well suited to a green technology economy is a critical subject. Chemists are particularly well suited to assist in a transition to greener materials, manufacturing, and energy. ACS commends the administration for focusing on “green jobs” creation through ARRA and other initiatives.

ACS has long worked to improve education across all STEM subject areas, ethnic and economic groups, and educational levels. The Society has cooperated with legislators and other officials at the federal and state levels to support a systemic approach to improving STEM education and targeting of resources at high-need points of the STEM pipeline. This allows a constant focus on improving our capabilities to measure the results of education reform in terms of student achievement and educational rigor.

Within this context, ACS supports focusing additional resources and attention on widespread environmental and sustainability education, including the greening of the workforce. These efforts should be focused on rigorous, standards-based educational outcomes and additional resources provided for these subject areas should supplement, rather than replace, existing and effective STEM reform programs. This would maximize the effectiveness of environmental and sustainability education efforts while assuring continued progress on improving STEM education.

Recommendations on Specific Federal Agency Budgets and Programs

Department of Defense

Basic scientific and engineering research funded by the DOD has contributed significantly to our nation’s economic and national security. It has helped make America’s military the best equipped and most effective in the world, and civilian applications of technologies intended originally for military purposes have become staples of the nation’s economic and modern life. ACS would like to see DOD fund research at a level of three percent of overall agency budget, which would require a 63 percent increase from the president’s FY 2010 budget. In the current fiscal and security climate, ACS supports funding of at least $14 billion, a 20 percent increase that would return the Science and Technology (S&T) accounts to their FY 2009 buying power.

The basic research programs (6.1) at the DOD underpin advances in the applied research (6.2) and advanced technology development (6.3) programs, as well as progress in basic science and engineering research nationwide. Collectively, they advance scientific knowledge and enable new technologies and applications critical to the DOD mission, which are also useful in the civilian sector. ACS urges the administration to place a higher priority on DOD basic research in the upcoming FY 2011 budget request.

Department of Education

The Department of Education has an important role to play in improving STEM education. While NSF provides leadership in research on human learning and is at the forefront of research on STEM education pedagogy, curricula, and assessment, the Department of Education has an extensive network of contacts with state and local educational agencies that can scale up and fund the dissemination of innovative programs. It is essential that these two agencies form an effective partnership to deliver the best new educational strategies and materials to K-12 educators.

ACS has consistently supported the Department of Education’s Math and Science Partnership (MSP) program, which ACS strongly urges the administration to fund at the $450 million level as authorized by Title II, Part B of the No Child Left Behind Act. Seventy-one percent of teachers participating in an MSP project who were assessed in mathematics and 80 percent of teachers who were assessed in science showed significant gains in their content knowledge. These teachers improved their pedagogy and teaching strategies, provided a positive classroom culture, and increased relevance and rigor in their classroom instruction. According to the Department of Education, this leads to an average six percent gain in students’ mathematics proficiency from the previous year’s assessment and an average of a seven percent gain in science proficiency from the previous assessment, twice the improvement rate of the national average.

ACS supports the Math Now initiative, which Congress overwhelmingly approved in the America COMPETES Act in 2007. This new mathematics education initiative would award competitive grants to improve instruction in mathematics for students in kindergarten through ninth grade. The program and its goals warrant an investment of $95 million as authorized by the America COMPETES Act.

ACS also supports the Adjunct Teacher Corps initiative, which was established by the Higher Education Act of 2008. This program permits the Department of Education to award grants on a competitive basis to states that establish programs to identify, recruit, and train qualified individuals with subject matter expertise in mathematics, science, or foreign languages to serve as adjunct content specialists in K-12 schools.

Department of Energy

ACS believes the basic science mission at the DOE’s Office of Science is critical to our nation’s energy security. ACS supports the president’s goal of doubling this important agency’s budget by 2016 and urges FY 2011 funding of $5.5 billion or a 10 percent increase to maintain momentum toward the final goal.

Increasing federal investment in long-term energy research is essential to promoting energy independence and environmental progress. As the largest federal supporter of physical sciences research, DOE plays a crucial role in boosting both federal and private investment in this area. Accordingly, the Society urges the administration to give budget priority to DOE’s Office of Science, particularly research supported through the Basic Energy Sciences and Biological and Environmental Research programs.

The Society is supportive of the administration’s proposal to establish Energy Innovation Hubs and a new workforce education program, REgaining our ENERGY Science and Engineering Edge (RE-ENERGYZE). ACS believes substantial challenges exist in multiple energy fields, and our energy workforce needs expansion and training. ACS is hopeful that these proposals could address these pressing needs and the Society encourages DOE to further detail these proposals as it expands DOE’s programmatic responsibilities.

The Society supports robust investment in the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) in line with the ARRA funding level of $400 million. This innovative, cross-cutting, and nimble program is well positioned to leverage small investments in innovative technology into transformative technologies in the energy field. In the long term, ACS supports creation of a dedicated funding stream for ARPA-E through revenue from legislation addressing global climate change.

Department of Homeland Security

DHS needs a strong and prominent S&T component that is crucial to our nation’s ability to prevent and respond to terrorist threats. Given the various science and engineering challenges involved in homeland security, a robust S&T directorate is critical to developing new scientific knowledge, facilitating the deployment of new and existing technologies, and setting and coordinating technology-related priorities across the Department. ACS specifically urges the administration to increase its investment in multi-year DHS research projects. A longer-term technology development outlook would promote novel methodologies and new technologies to enhance our current capabilities and build on the strong base of scientific knowledge developed in industry, academia, and federal laboratories.

Environmental Protection Agency

In order to make effective regulatory decisions and increase our understanding of environmental, health, and safety issues, EPA must make substantial investments in research and development (R&D), including the Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program, green chemistry, and EPA’s scientific workforce. The Society encourages the administration to return funding for EPA’s Office of Research and Development to its previous 2004 funding high of $646 million (a 10 percent increase). Additionally, ACS urges the administration to fully fund the STAR program at the authorized level of $124 million.

EPA’s S&T account supports research, environmental monitoring, and laboratories that are essential to achieving multiple goals across the Agency. Boosting STAR would support a greater number of high-quality, peer-reviewed research grants and the related fellowship program. Increasing funding for green chemistry and engineering programs would advance the development and use of innovative products and processes that reduce or eliminate the use of hazardous substances, stimulating development of cutting-edge, exportable technologies. Investments in EPA’s ability to recruit, develop, and retain an effective scientific workforce would reinvigorate EPA’s scientific and engineering talent, better serving the public in protecting human health and the environment.

National Institutes of Health

ACS urges the administration to fund NIH in FY 2011 at $33 billion (a seven percent increase). This level is the minimum necessary for keeping pace with the rising cost of medical research, and ensuring a steady, predictable growth path.

NIH plays a critical role in both the funding and training of researchers in the health-related sciences. ACS believes the federal government must continue steady annual appropriations growth after the distribution of ARRA funds to ensure newly built capacity and research is not threatened by a sudden drop in support. Predictable and enduring funding levels for NIH would enable the Agency to continue to support the basic research programs that have led to many of the disease prevention, detection, and treatment strategies available today.

To help the Agency remain at the forefront of biomedical research, ACS strongly supports increased investment for both the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) and the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR). Additional funding of these institutes would translate into researchers working in state-of-the-art research facilities while pursuing essential multi-disciplinary projects.

In addition, ACS also believes that the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB) mission is critical to improving health by leading the development and accelerating the application of biomedical technologies. NIBIB supports basic research and research training through investigator-initiated grants, contracts, program project and center grants, and career development and training awards. The Institute also specializes in the development and application of cutting-edge technologies, which are based upon engineering, mathematics, and the physical sciences, for the solution of challenges intersecting biology and medicine.

National Institute of Standards and Technology

ACS places great value on the mission of NIST to promote U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology and urges the president to fund the NIST Core in FY 2011 at $647 million. NIST laboratories, in particular, serve as the technological nerve center for countless products and services across industries. By advancing research and extremely accurate measurement technology, NIST enables universal quality-control technologies that undergird industrial productivity, efficiency improvements, and faster product development. NIST also plays a critical role in advancing public health and safety, environmental progress, and national security.

ACS also supports the Technology Innovation Program (TIP) to be funded at a level commensurate with its final authorization in the American COMPETES Act (P.L. 110-69), $140.5 million. The TIP program supports, promotes, and accelerates innovation in the United States through high-risk, high-reward research in areas of critical national need.

National Science Foundation

The funding increases provided for NSF in ARRA and the FY 2009 omnibus bill provided an immediate infusion of funds and put the Agency back on a doubling path to 2016. For FY 2011, ACS urges NSF funding of $8.5 billion, a 20 percent increase, to maintain that trajectory. In addition, the Research and Related Activities Account (RRA) should be funded at $6.7 billion, an increase of 16 percent.

The NSF supports fundamental research and education in science and engineering. From climate prediction, aircraft design, pioneering medical tools, and robotics, to discovering how children better learn chemistry, NSF has played a key role in funding discoveries that have driven the nation’s economy, improved our quality of life, and enhanced national security. The Foundation also supports the high-risk research and novel collaborations that could deliver exceptionally high rewards. NSF provides more than 20 percent of the federal support for basic research at academic institutions and supports roughly 10,000 new awards per year through the merit reviews of over 40,000 proposals received. Every year, an estimated 200,000 people, from undergraduates to senior faculty, participate directly in NSF research and education programs.

For many years, the Society has been an aggressive advocate for the role of the NSF as a leading agency in fostering the development our nation’s STEM education pipeline. NSF is ideally suited to be the primary source of fundamental research and tools to address the toughest challenges in STEM education: development of innovative curricula, research into educational standards and student learning methods, development of best practices in teacher professional development, and research to establish the most effective ways to employ technology in the classroom.

The position of the Society has consistently been that NSF research and educational missions must be treated as co-equal core missions of the Foundation. Accordingly, ACS encourages additional resources be allocated to NSF’s Education and Human Resources (EHR) Directorate in FY 2011 and that these increases be proportional to those provided to NSF’s research directorates.