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Letter urges the White House and Congress to Avoid the Sequestration

On December 7, 2012, AAAS and over one hundred other scientific societies sent a letter to the White House and Congress, urging them to avoid the sequestration.

To the President and Leadership of the U.S. Congress:

As representatives of the major U.S. science, engineering, and higher education organizations, we write to you today on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of researchers and innovators that we represent to ask both branches of government to work together to achieve a bipartisan compromise that avoids the fiscal cliff and moves the country on to sound fiscal footing without sacrificing our nation’s crucial investments in science and technology. It is important to recognize that federal research and development (R&D) investments are not driving our national deficits. These investments account for less than one-fifth of the current discretionary budget, but discretionary spending is the only place where deep cuts will  be made. Placing a significant burden on these crucial areas, as sequestration would do, is nothing less than a threat to national competitiveness. We recognize that the United States faces severe fiscal challenges, and we urge you to begin to address them through a balanced approach that includes tax and entitlement reform.

Economists know that more than half of all economic growth in the industrialized world since World War II has been driven by innovation and technological progress. Public research funding has helped plant the seeds that have spawned the Global Positioning System, the laser, Google, and countless other beneficial technologies in addition to medical advances that have helped save the lives of millions of heart disease, cancer and diabetes patients among others. The United States today remains a world leader in science, technology and innovation. But certain long-term trends should give us pause. A common measure for comparing international competitiveness is research intensity, or research investment as a percentage of GDP. In recent years, countries such as South Korea, Taiwan, and China, along with select European economies like Germany and Finland, have all increased their research intensities substantially and at a far faster pace than the United States. The nation’s long-term leadership position in science, technology and innovation is now threatened and allowing blunt cuts to R&D to go forward will only accelerate these trends.

Almost every national priority—from health and defense, agriculture and conservation, to hazards and natural disasters—relies on science and engineering. Sequestration threatens all these priorities, by requiring up to $12 billion in R&D funding cuts annually across defense and nondefense programs over the next decade. The need for a technologically superior military remains clear in a dangerous world, but DARPA would lose over $1 billion for cutting-edge innovation in the next five years alone. Over the same time period, NIH would lose $11.3 billion for research on some of the nation’s most critical medical challenges including those related to cancer, obesity, aging, and emerging diseases. The Department of Energy would lose $4.6 billion through 2017 for next-generation energy research and nonproliferation R&D. The National Science Foundation would lose $2.1 billion over five years for research across a broad spectrum of disciplines, most of which is cutting-edge research conducted at universities throughout our nation. What is needed is a balanced approach to deficit reduction that does not simply take an axe to discretionary federal programs without also considering the contributions of tax revenue solutions and entitlement reform in addressing the federal deficit. There have been many bipartisan commission proposals that have recommended such strategies, and we urge you to come together on just such a balanced solution. Federal nondefense R&D funding has already declined by 5% in the past two years, after remaining flat for the past decade, and continued cuts significantly threaten U.S. leadership in these areas. Our message is that a balanced plan must be one of shared contributions to a sound fiscal future, including strong support for our nation’s science and technology enterprise.

We collectively and individually stand ready to help in any way we can as you tackle these vital issues.



American Association for the Advancement of Science

American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)

American Astronomical Society

American Chemical Society

American College of Sports Medicine

American Educational Research Association

American Geophysical Union

American Geosciences Institute

American Institute of Biological Sciences

American Mathematical Society

American Peptide Society

American Society for Microbiology

American Society of Agronomy

American Society for Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics

American Society of Plant Biologists

American Sociological Association

American Statistical Association

Analog Devices, Inc.

American Society of Civil Engineers


Association of American Geographers

Association of American Universities

Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI)

Association of Environmental& Engineering Geologists (AEG)

Association of Population Centers

Association for Psychological Science

Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU)

Association of Research Libraries

Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography (ASLO)

Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy

Association for Women in Mathematics

Association for Women in Science (AWIS)

BASIC- Bay Area Science and Innovation Consortium

Behavior Genetics Association

Biophysical Society

Clemson University

Coalition for Academic Scientific Computation (CASC)

Computing Research Association

Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA)

Consortium of Universities for the Advancement of Hydrologic Science, Inc.

Council of Energy Research and Education Leaders (CEREL)

Council of Environmental Deans and Directors (CEDD)

Council on Undergraduate Research

Crop Science Society of America

Duke University

Ecological Society of America

Engineering Deans Council of the American Society for Engineering Education

Environmental Mutagen Society (EMS)

Federation of Associations in Behavioral & Brain Sciences (FABBS)

Federation of Materials Sciences

Florida State University

Freescale Semiconductor

Fusion Power Associates

Genetics Society of America (GSA)

Geological Society of America

Georgia Institute of Technology

IBM Research

Human Factors and Ergonomics Society


Indiana University

International Society for Developmental Psychobiology

Materials Research Society

Mathematical Association of America

Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Museum of Science, Boston

National Academy of Neuropsychology

National Association of Marine Laboratories

National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE)

National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), Inc.

National Ground Water Association (NGWA)

National Postdoctoral Association

National User Facility Organization (NUFO)

Natural Science Collections Alliance

New York University

Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine

Oak Ridge Associated Universities

Population Association of America

Purdue University

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute


Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

SAMCEDA—San Mateo County Economic Development Association

Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA)

Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC)

Social and Affective Neuroscience Society

Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology

Society for Computers in Psychology

Society for Developmental Biology

Society of Experimental

Social Psychology (SESP)

Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM)

Society for Multivariate Experimental Psychology

Society for Neuroscience

Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology

Society of Personality and Social Psychology

Society for Psychophysiological Research

Society for Research in Child Development

Society for Research in Psychopathology

Society for Text and Discourse

Soil Science Society of America

Southeastern Universities Research Association

SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics

Stanford University

Stony Brook University

Task Force on American Innovation

Teratology Society

The American Society of Bone and Mineral Research

The Protein Society


University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

University of Central Florida

University of Colorado Boulder

University of Florida

University of Idaho

University of Maryland

UNM—University of New Mexico

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

University of Oregon

University of Rhode Island

University of Washington

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Vanderbilt University

Van Fleet & Associates

Washington University in St. Louis

West Virginia University

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Yale University


Read the entire text of the letter. [PDF]