Friday, January 16, 2009

Funding Research Means More Jobs

This is a follow-up to an earlier post that reports on the emphasis that Science can stimulate the US economy and create jobs. A more detailed report on the issues being put forth, especially on the funding picture, can be found in this week's issue of Science (Science 16 January 2009).

Specifically, they want Congress to spend billions on a long list of existing research projects and programs at several federal agencies as part of a massive economic recovery plan legislators are cobbling together this month. To their surprise, that message has received a warm reception from President-elect Barack Obama, his aides, and the Democratic congressional leaders who are shaping a plan that could cost more than $800 billion over 2 years.

The American Physical Society (APS), for example, is circulating a $3.5 billion wish list that covers research and training efforts funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The list proposes upgrades and new activities at DOE's national laboratories, investments in a range of renewable energy technologies, and bump-ups in competitive grants programs at all three agencies. The society's initial list, drawn up right after the November elections, totaled $1.5 billion; it was revised after Obama transition team officials "told us we should think bigger," says APS's Michael Lubell.

How much this will all be enacted remains to be seen. As I've stated earlier, we have seen such "enthusiasm" before from these very same politicians regarding science funding. But when push comes to shove, science will be the most convenient part that gets the ax.

So I'd say less lip service, and more actual funding actions. How about them apples, huh?


1 comment:

Doug Natelson said...

FWIW, at least this is, technically, an appropriations bill. Legislation like the America Competes initiative always annoys me because it "authorizes" things but doesn't actually fund them. For example, I recently heard a member of Congress bragging about passing America Competes, and I couldn't help but think, "That's great, but if you don't ever appropriate the money, it's a meaningless gesture."