Science Societies Warn of Risks to R&D Funding

AAAS and 139 other scientific societies and universities urged U.S. lawmakers to refrain from eliminating or substantially defunding specific areas of science as they consider the fiscal year 2012 budget.

In an 11 July letter sent to the House Appropriations Committee, the societies acknowledged the nation’s fiscal challenges, but strongly opposed the elimination of entire interdisciplinary programs such as the National Science Foundation Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences. Proposed legislation that would undermine the scientific peer review process, they cautioned, could set “a dangerous precedent that, in the end, will inhibit scientific progress and our international competitiveness.” [Read the full letter]

The bipartisan agreement to raise the U.S. debt ceiling could have a negative impact on research and development investment, said Joanne Carney, director of AAAS’s Office of Government Relations. In a statement after President Barack Obama and congressional leaders reached agreement on 31 July, she said long-term spending caps, when combined with inflation, “could result in a real decrease in R&D investment for the foreseeable future.”