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Coalition for National Science Funding Statement on the
National Science Foundation's FY 2001 Budget

The Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) applauds the 17.3 percent increase for the National Science Foundation (NSF) proposed by the President in the FY 2001 budget and urges Congress to support an increase of at least this amount.

The CNSF believes that it is important for Congress to sustain expansion of the NSF budget over the next five years in order to reach the agency's budget goal of $10 billion. As Norman Augustine, Chairman of the Executive Committee, Lockheed Martin Company Board of Directors, has stated: "Over the years, the National Science Foundation's public investments in basic research - across all disciplines in science, engineering, and mathematics - have laid the foundation for the most dynamic and innovative science and technology enterprise in the world."

The NSF, the only federal agency whose primary mission is the support of fundamental research, is critical to the total research and development enterprise of the United States. Federal support for R&D has played a major role in the longest sustained economic growth in this country's history. Alfred R. Berkeley, III, President of the NASDAQ Stock Market, Inc., has recognized this fact: "Historically, we have seen that discoveries made in science and engineering arenas have propelled our economy forward by paving the way for breakthroughs in technology that in turn spawn entirely new industries."

Basic research in each field of science establishes the underpinnings of these fields, forms the backbone for new scientific discovery, and establishes the tools for interdisciplinary research. Leading edge advances in science and engineering today, more often than not, need cross-disciplinary perspectives. These cross-disciplinary arenas depend on the vitality of the science, mathematics, computing, and engineering disciplines. Conversely, work in these cross-disciplinary arenas stimulates new ideas and directions in the science, mathematics, computing, and engineering disciplines.

In recent years, because of incremental increases to the NSF budget, annual budget increases have been obligated almost totally to focused initiatives. Significant enhancements to NSF budgets over the next five years will allow for continued investments in these initiatives and will enable the agency to expand core disciplinary research across all areas of science and engineering. This will ensure continued scientific progress at the rate to which the U.S. has become accustomed.

As important as the new ideas and knowledge generated by scientific research are, the people educated to apply them appropriately and those educated to keep the knowledge continuum growing are just as important. For the last several years the number of U.S. students studying science, mathematics, and engineering has decreased to alarming levels.

In the 1990's the NSF's basic research budget grew at an annual rate of 1.9 percent - 3.2 percent less than 5.1 percent (in constant dollars) annual growth rate of the 1970's. It is clear that many of the technology innovations enjoyed today are based upon research done twenty and thirty years ago, and that innovations twenty to thirty years in the future will be based upon present-day research.

As NSF celebrates fifty years of supporting critical scientific discovery, the nation's continued success depends on NSF's ability to meet the new millennium's scientific and technological challenges. Appropriating a major increase for NSF in FY 2001 is imperative to expanding the opportunities for more successful science and technological breakthroughs in the future.

Note: CNSF is a coalition of science, technology, industry, and higher education organizations that advocates strong support for the National Science Foundation; CRA participates in CNSF and is a signatory to the statement.

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Document last modified on Wednesday, 04-Apr-2012 06:51:14 PDT.