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Bullet policy, statements · Mar 11, 2020

CNSF Letter on FY 2021 Funding for NSF

The Honorable Nita M. Lowey
Committee on Appropriations
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Richard Shelby
Committee on Appropriations
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Kay Granger
Ranking Member
Committee on Appropriations
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Patrick Leahy
Vice Chair
Committee on Appropriations
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Chair Lowey, Ranking Member Granger, Chair Shelby, and Vice Chair Leahy:

We are writing to urge you to provide the highest possible fiscal year (FY) 2021 allocation for the Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) Appropriations Subcommittees, at least equal to the FY 2020 allocation and sufficient to fully fund the basic and applied research programs in the CJS portfolio. The bill includes agencies and departments that are vital to the advancement of science, technology, economic development, and criminal justice. These include the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), the Department of Commerce statistical agencies, and the Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Justice Programs.

Strong funding for the CJS bill is necessary for the United States to maintain its global lead in science and technology. According to the 2020 Science and Engineering Indicators report, while the US remains at the forefront of research, spending $548 billion on research and development (R&D) in 2017, other nations have dramatically increased their investments in science. For example, between 2010 and 2017, China’s R&D enterprise grew by 13 percent annually and South Korea’s grew by 8 percent annually. In comparison, U.S. R&D expenditures increased by only about 4 percent per year over this same period. China is now likely to surpass us in total spending, threatening our science and technology leadership in fields such as artificial intelligence, space exploration, quantum computing, and other areas.

In addition to increased competition in the realm of science and technology, our nation faces immense environmental challenges. The CJS research agencies play a central role in understanding and predicting global and regional changes; developing new technologies to improve resilience; and providing life-saving weather forecasts. NSF, NASA, and NOAA together fund over 60 percent of our nation’s federal investments in environmental research and development as well as funding a large portion of our civilian observational capabilities. Additionally, there is an ever-increasing need for the disaster resilience research headed by NIST, including investment in post-disaster impact research and pre-impact mitigation, whether from high-winds, fire, or flood.

A robust CJS allocation will also allow the Commerce Department to provide vital funding to offices that support the U.S. economy. Commerce Department programs produce detailed analyses that are indispensable for understanding our multitrillion-dollar economy. Our nation must sustain these and other efforts, including successful conclusion of the 2020 Census and the dissemination of high quality socioeconomic and demographic decennial census data that scientists will use throughout the next decade to inform basic, clinical, and applied research and research training activities.

The CJS bill includes critical research that supports law enforcement and criminal justice. In recent years, there has been increased demand for objective research regarding policing, prison and sentencing reform, mental health, addiction and community-trust building activities. Research funded by DOJ is central to our understanding of these issues and sound policymaking. Increasing the allocation for CJS will help to provide additional resources for these essential DOJ research programs.

In sum, the federal government has a unique role in funding the R&D crucial for our national needs, but the federal share of R&D spending as a percentage of GDP is now at its lowest point since the 1950s. The CJS bill is singularly responsible for determining over 50 percent of the annual federal investment in non-defense, non-biomedical research - research that is essential for our long-term economic growth, security, and prosperity.

Given the importance of federal support for R&D and the vital role played by the CJS Subcommittees in funding a substantial portion of this research, we urge you and your colleagues to do everything you can to ensure a sufficient CJS 302(b) allocation. Doing so will allow the Subcommittees to support the R&D investments necessary to meet our nation’s challenges and opportunities.


The Census Project
Coalition for Aerospace and Science
Coalition for National Science Funding
Crime and Justice Research Alliance
The NIST Coalition

AASRO (Association of Academic Survey Research Organizations)
American Anthropological Association
American Association for the Advancement of Science
American Association of Geographers
American Association of Physics Teachers
American Astronomical Society
American Educational Research Association
American Geophysical Union
American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE)
American Institute of Biological Sciences
American Institute of Physics
American Mathematical Society
American Physical Society
American Physiological Society
American Psychological Association
American Society for Microbiology
American Society of Agronomy
American Society of Civil Engineers
American Society of Plant Biologists
American Sociological Association
American Statistical Association
Annis Water Resources Institute - Grand Valley State University
Arafune Government Relations, LLC
Associated Universities Inc.
Association for Psychological Science
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Association for Women in Mathematics
Association for Women in Science
Association of American Medical Colleges
Association of American Universities
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Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC)
Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (New York and Bermuda)
Biophysical Society
Boise State University
Boston University
Brandeis University
Brown University
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Center for Coastal Studies
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Coalition for Academic Scientific Computation
Computing Research Association
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Cornell University
Council for Community Economic Research
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Department of Ocean, Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, Old Dominion University
Duke University
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Ecological Society of America
Environmental Defense Fund
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Eversole Associates
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Geological Society of America
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Linguistic Society of America
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Mineralogical Society of America
National Association of Development Organizations
National Association of Marine Laboratories
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Sea Grant Association
Society for American Archaeology
Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology
Society for Neuroscience
Society for Research in Child Development
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