Wednesday, the House Budget Committee sent an FY 2002 spending
plan to the House that provided the same total amount of
funding requested by President Bush for NSF, DOE’s general
science programs, and NASA’s science programs (following an
unsuccessful effort by Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) to add more
money.) Unless the Bush Administration changes its position in
the next few weeks, it will request only a 1% increase in the
budget for the National Science Foundation for FY 2002. An
effort is now underway by Senator Christopher Bond (R-MO) and
Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), the chairman and ranking
minority member of the Senate VA, HUD, and Independent
Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, to double the NSF budget
by FY 2005. An effort is also underway in the House by Rep.
David Wu (D-OR) to urge President Bush to request a 15%
increase in FY 2002 for NSF. Success in accomplishing these
objectives will depend, to a significant degree, on the
support shown by constituents.

Last year, Bond and Mikulski and 41 Republican and Democratic
senators sent a letter to the Senate leadership advocating a
doubling of the NSF budget. A new letter is to be sent to
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) and Democratic Leader
Tom Daschle (D-SD). Bond and Mikulski are actively seeking
co-signers for this letter.

Rep.Wu has asked his colleagues to sign a letter that will be
sent to President Bush. This letter asks the President to
increase the NSF request to 15% in the budget request to be
submitted in mid-April. Ninety-five representatives (all
Democrats) have signed this letter, but more signatories are

This approach is called a “Dear Colleague,” and is employed
hundreds of times on Capitol Hill every month. The success of
such an effort often depends upon the number of constituents
which request that their Members of Congress sign the letter.
Federal spending is likely to be much more constrained this
year, so the demonstration of on-the-record support by
senators and representatives will be important.

The U.S. Capitol switchboard number is 202-224-3121. The
Bond-Mikulski letter to the Senate leadership and the Wu
letter to President Bush follow:


“Dear Majority Leader Lott and Democratic Leader Daschle:

“We are writing as longtime supporters of investments in
fundamental research and education — the building blocks of
the new economy. Just as we have worked collectively to double
the National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget over five
years, we believe that we must continue a parallel effort to
double the budget of the National Science Foundation (NSF)
over five years. It is our strong belief that the success of
NIH’s efforts to cure deadly diseases such as cancer depends
heavily on the underpinning research supported by NSF.

“The NSF supports fundamental research that contributes to the
nation’s health and well-being. In the fiscal year 2001
appropriation, the Congress provided this crucial agency with
the largest budget increase in its history, which put the
agency on the path of doubling its budget in five years. As
the Council on Competitiveness has noted: ‘For the past 50
years, most, if not all, of the technological advances have
been directly or indirectly linked to improvements in
fundamental understanding.’ Business Week adds: ‘What’s needed
is a serious stimulant to basic research, which has been
lagging in recent years. Without continued gains in education
and training and new innovations and scientific findings the
raw materials of growth in the New Economy — the
technological dynamic will stall.’

“NSF’s impact over the past half century has been monumental –
– especially in the field of medical technologies and
research. The investments have also spawned not only new
products, but also entire industries, such as biotechnology,
Internet providers, E-commerce, and geographic information
systems. Medical technologies such as magnetic resonance
imaging, ultrasound, digital mammography and genomic mapping
could not have occurred, and cannot now improve to the next
level of proficiency, without underlying knowledge from NSF-
supported work in biology, physics, chemistry, mathematics,
engineering, and computer sciences. In 1993, NSF support made
it possible to detect the cause of a deadly hantavirus
outbreak in the American Southwest. NSF-supported research on
plants led to the discovery of Taxol, a derivative of Yew
trees that is effective against certain cancers. The benefits
of NSF research to medical science and technology has been
recognized by leading doctors such as the former heads of the
NIH, Harold Varmus and Bernadette Healy, and the President of
the Institute of Medicine, Kenneth Shine.

“New NSF support for research in nanotechnology, high-speed
computing, plant genome research, biocomplexity, and cognitive
neuroscience will further advance the state of technological
change and improve our quality of life through creation of new
products, a better understanding of how humans behave, and how
our ecological systems can survive. Furthermore, every
generation requires a group of skilled and innovative
scientists and engineers to make the new discoveries that
propel society into the future. NSF’s educational programs
from pre-kindergarten to graduate school train the next
generation of inventors and discoverers For industry, this is
the best type of technology transfer.

“Lastly, NSF programs have become important resources for
broadening the participation of under-represented groups such
as minorities and women in the fields of science, math, and
engineering. Further, NSF programs such as the Experimental
Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) and the
Innovation Partnerships program have become critical resources
for strengthening the research and development infrastructure
of many rural and small states.

“Senators may disagree about the precise mix of fiscal and
monetary policies that will ensure a continuation of America’s
current economic prosperity. But there is a growing consensus
that investing in fundamental scientific research is one of
the best things we can do to keep our nation economically
strong. This fact has been recognized by Federal Reserve
Chairman Alan Greenspan, NASDAQ President Alfred Berkeley, the
Committee for Economic Development, and many other widely
respected experts.

“For all these reasons, we hope you will join us in continuing
a five-year goal of doubling the budget of National Science
Foundation by fiscal year 2005.”


“Dear Mr. President:

“As you prepare your final budget request for Fiscal Year
2002, we urge you to give high priority to increasing the
National Science Foundation’s (NSF) funding by at least 15
percent. We were disappointed that your budget outline to
Congress included only a 1 percent increase for the NSF.

“America’s current shortage of students in the fields of
science, mathematics and engineering is two-fold. While the
country’s weaknesses in these fields are at the primary and
secondary school levels, America continues to lose a great
opportunity to improve the skills of many college
undergraduates without the sufficient background to undertake
science, mathematics or engineering majors.

“It is clear that NSF provides the basic knowledge that leads
to the innovation that rejuvenates our economy. Furthermore,
university research trains new generations of scientists and
engineers. Mr. President, it is important to realize that if
funding shortages occur, schools will be required to limit
their admissions to graduate programs.

“Due to a lack of funding, NSF currently funds less than a
third of its applicants and about half of its quality
applicants. Though an applicant may receive a NSF award, it
is usually financially sub-optimal. The current situation
leaves researchers in NSF funded fields scrambling for funds
and spending too much of their time chasing limited funding
rather than in the laboratory or mentoring students.

“Again, we request that you give high priority to increasing
the NSF’s funding by at least 15 percent in your upcoming
budget. Funding NSF contributes to the development in the
high tech sector. Growth and development in the high-tech
sector benefits the economy and continued economic growth
benefits all Americans.”


Richard M .Jones

Public Information Division

The American Institute of Physics

(301) 209-3095