The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent agency in the executive branch of the U.S. federal government. It doesn't conduct research of its own; rather it makes support grants to qualified educational and nonprofit institutions, awards fellowships to individuals, and supports a variety of projects including the U.S. Antarctic Program, the Ocean Drilling Program, and programs in global geoscience. It supports the development of improved science curriculum materials and fosters the interchange of scientific ideas nationally and internationally.
It's my opinion that our scientific future depends on funding agencies such as the NSF. In 2002, Congress renewed legislation to reauthorize the NSF, which included legislation to support the doubling of the NSF budget over a 5-year period. This "NSF Authorization Act" approved a fiscal roadmap of 15% per year increase in the NSF budget from 2003 to 2007.
However, budget requests for NSF have fallen short of expectations so far. In terms of percentage increase over budget, this year's request is only 3% over 2004 funding levels. This increase, if implemented, would be the lowest in over a decade. This could set a dangerous precedent.
Unless folks make themselves heard now, the NSF budget may fail to grow significantly for the next several years. This would completely undermine the doubling plan, and would do irreparable damage to the scientific research enterprise.
If this scenario concerns you, please write or call your congressman and senator. Alert them that you are concerned about follow-through on "The NSF Authorization Act." Every email, every call, and every letter counts.
Contact information for your legislators:
I feel pretty strongly about this, and I'm sure there are other folks out there who do, too.
Do feel free to pass this along :)