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AAAS Expresses Concern Over Innovation Bill Pending in U.S. Senate
AAAS has urged the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee to resist any effort to undercut the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) ability to support research across all fields and also expressed concern on language in a pending innovation bill that seems to require awarding 8 percent of research funding outside the usual peer- review process.
In an 18 May letter to committee members, AAAS Chief Executive Officer Alan Leshner noted that the innovation bill (S. 2802) would give NSF a substantial budget increase over the next five years, a goal the association supports. But, he said: “Efforts to force the agency to direct its resources solely to the physical sciences, engineering and mathematics while ignoring research and education in the social and natural sciences threaten the NSF’s ability to promote the progress of science.”
To see the full letter, click here.
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) had proposed an amendment requiring NSF to give priority to funding programs in the physical sciences, engineering and mathematics. But she never formally introduced the amendment; instead, in a compromise with Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), she revised the language to note that NSF would not be restricted from funding other areas of research deemed consistent with its mandate and core mission.
In his letter, Leshner also wrote that a provision of the bill on “Innovation Acceleration Grants” seems to require each agency to set aside 8 percent of its research funding for grants awarded without the usual peer review. Leshner called it an “extremely high proportion for a set-aside” and said it could cause agencies with declining budgets to further trim their allocations for peer-reviewed research.
18 May 2006