This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

If you are a user of my textbook and would like to suggest a blog post idea, please email me at: john.weeks@sdsu.edu

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Don't Let Congress Cut NSF Funding

Here's an important message I received today that needs to be passed on, before Congress acts on it:

This is a time sensitive request. You are receiving this message because your Representative serves on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee.

The Committee is expected to mark up the Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science and Technology Act of 2014 (H.R. 4186), or FIRST Act in the next two weeks. The bill serves as reauthorization legislation for the National Science Foundation (NSF), an important source of federal funding for population scientists. There are a number of problematic provisions within this bill and we ask that you contact your Representative and register your opposition to the bill.

Of greatest concern to PAA members is the proposed cut to NSF’s Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic (SBE) Sciences. The bill, as introduced, cut the SBE directorate by over 40 percent, from $257 million in fiscal year 2014 to $150 million in FY 2015. An amendment in subcommittee restored $50 million, but still leaves SBE unacceptably underfunded. SBE is one of only two directorates targeted for budget cuts. Geoscience, the other directorate targeted for cuts, funds research on climate change.

PAA and APC join the broader science community in opposition to the bill’s attempts to authorize funding levels by directorate at NSF. Even if funding for SBE is restored, the broader science community is unlikely to support the bill. Therefore, we will focus on the issue of authorizing by directorate in your message to your Representative. Authorizing by directorate reduces the flexibility of the agency and prevents the scientist reviewers for NSF from determining which grants to fund based on what they identify to be the very best science. Furthermore, it has not been the practice for numerous decades.

In addition, while the authors of the bill state that the legislation is not intended to interfere with the NSF merit review process, which they recognize as the internationally recognized gold standard, we believe that it will have an impact. After being selected by the peer review process, each grant will be evaluated on its ability to serve the national interest. While this is an important goal for the NSF, it is difficult to define at the individual grant level as opposed to within the context of the broader NSF portfolio.

The bill could be taken up by the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee at any moment. Please write to your Representative today and ask that they oppose the FIRST Act.

Send an Email

You can read about the bill http://beta.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/4186/text?q={%22search%22%3A[%224186%22

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