March 11, 2020

The Honorable Jerry Moran
Chairman
Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies
Committee on Appropriations
Room S-128, The Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Jeanne Shaheen
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies
Committee on Appropriations
Room S-128, The Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Jose Serrano
Chairman
Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies
Committee on Appropriations
H-307, The Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Robert Aderholt
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies
Committee on Appropriations
1016 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Chairman Moran, Ranking Member Shaheen, Chairman Serrano, and Ranking Member Aderholt:

The Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) - a broad-based group of professional organizations, universities, scientific societies, and businesses - wants to thank Congress for its consistent support for fundamental scientific research and educational programs supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF). As the only federal agency charged with the promotion of scientific progress across all scientific and engineering disciplines, NSF is the cornerstone of America's basic research enterprise.

As you consider fiscal year 2021 appropriations, we ask that you provide at least a $9 billion appropriation for NSF.

NSF needs robust funding in FY21 to allow the United States to keep up with global investments around the world. The United States still led the world in total research and development investments in 2017; however, data indicated that China was on track to surpass the US in 2019. According to the National Science Board's 2020 Science and Engineering Indicators, "Increasingly, the United States is seen globally as an important leader rather than the uncontested leader."

In addition to an urgent need to maintain US global leadership in science and engineering, there are many other reasons to support the $9 billion request, including:

  • strengthen NSF's core and interdisciplinary programs and address unmet needs represented by the more than $3 billion in high-quality proposals that are submitted each year but cannot be funded;
  • implement NSF's 10 Big Ideas, NSF's innovative long-term research agenda that aims to ensure future generations continue to reap the benefits of fundamental science and engineering research;
  • increase funding for critical priority technologies with major national security and economic implications including artificial intelligence, quantum information sciences, wireless research, engineering biology, and advanced manufacturing;
  • support STEM education research that ensures our STEM ecosystem can effectively serve students and adapt to meet future workforce needs;
  • strengthen broadening participation efforts that connect underrepresented groups to STEM;
  • grow training and early career programs that enable future STEM innovators;
  • address massive unmet needs for mid-scale infrastructure projects, where NSF has received over $5 billion in proposals, many of which have potential transformational scientific impact; and
  • protect major research facilities that enable groundbreaking discoveries.

These categories fall short of describing the long-term dividends these investments produce. NSF funding results in direct benefits to national security, economic prosperity, and overall quality of life in the United States. Critical technologies such as advanced communications, networking infrastructure, biosensors to combat addiction, and low-cost tools for rural hospitals are just a few areas where this research gets translated into action.

With at least $9 billion, NSF would also be able to support an additional 50,000 researchers, students, and teachers in FY21-a significant infusion of economic development, creativity, and innovation through people.

We are pleased to join in celebrating NSF's 70th anniversary this May and recognizing that NSF-funded research has proven essential to national security, economy, and maintaining our global competitiveness for seven decades. Please support at least $9 billion for NSF in FY 2021 to allow for this incredible work to continue in the decades ahead.

Sincerely,

The Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF)

(AIBS is a member of CNSF)

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