Washington, D.C. – As part of an on-going effort to examine ways to increase the country’s global competitiveness and students’ interest in math and science, members of the Subcommittee on Research and Science Education today heard from officials regarding key policy initiatives, programs, and education and training activities at the National Science Foundation (NSF). 

Specifically, the Subcommittee looked into what issues should be addressed through the 2007 NSF reauthorization bill.  This includes:  how to nurture young researchers in their investigations; finding a balance between funding for interdisciplinary and disciplinary research; merit review processes; and, priorities for K-16 science, technology, engineering, and math education.

“There is tremendous opportunity to better coordinate local and state levels with federal efforts,” Subcommittee Chairman Brian Baird (D-WA) said during the hearing.  “The simple fact is, if America wants to compete on the global marketplace, we have to invest in programs that work, increase research and education opportunities, and elevate standards.”

Witnesses at today’s hearing included Dr. Arden L. Bement, Jr., Director of the National Science Foundation and Dr. Steven C. Beering, Chairman of the National Science Board.  Both expressed the need for budget increases for research facilities, new technologies, and education programs.

“The issues you have raised in this hearing are of profound importance, not only to NSF, but to the nation,” said Dr. Bement.  “Through funding, collaborative grants and cooperative agreements, NSF can foster partnerships with academia and industry, potentially expediting the transition of basic research to ‘products.'”

The National Science Foundation is unique among the federal government’s scientific research agencies in that it is to support science and engineering across all disciplines.  NSF currently funds research and education activities at more than 2,000 universities, colleges, K-12 schools, businesses, and other research institutions. 

“In order to support NSF in its efforts to develop a diverse and well-prepared workforce, we must continue to invest in programs and policies that are top quality and committed to the highest standards possible,” concluded Chairman Baird.