December 20, 2013
The Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) sent a letter to Representative Lamar Smith, chair of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, about the draft of the Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science, and Technology Act of 2013. The bill would reauthorize the National Science Foundation (NSF). AIBS and nearly 90 other organizations signed the letter, including several AIBS member societies.
The multidisciplinary coalition of scientific organizations and universities expressed concerns about the lack of funding authorization levels for NSF in the bill. Past authorization bills have set explicit funding goals for the agency for future years.
The letter also suggests revising a provision of the draft bill that would require the director of NSF to certify that new grants are in the national interest, worthy of federal funding, and achieve one of six broad goals, which range from advancing the progress of science to increased partnerships with industry to support for the national defense. "We are concerned that the language as currently written in Section 104 is overly prescriptive, will add unnecessary burdens to the award process, and will not significantly increase public accountability and transparency beyond policies already being developed by the NSF," stated the CNSF letter.
NSF would also be required to publish online a written justification for award funding. The letter calls for the legislation to be amended so that this information is released at the time of the public announcement of the award, not beforehand.
Additionally, the letter addresses the proposal for funding to be limited for scientists who have received more than five years of NSF support. "While we recognize that the [Science ]committee is interested in ensuring that innovative ideas are supported during fiscally constrained times, we are concerned that many areas of long-term research that may take decades to reach fruition would not be supported if section 114(4) were to become statute."
Read the complete letter at http://www.aibs.org/position-statements/20131220cnsffirst_act.html.