Bethesda, MD – As the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology prepares to mark up HR 4186, the Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science and Technology (FIRST) Act of 2014, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) respectfully asks the Committee to improve the current version of the legislation.
Unlike prior, bi-partisan authorizations, the FIRST Act fails to provide a long-range vision for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and other science agencies. As FASEB noted in its April 7 letter to the Committee, the proposed NSF funding level—an increase of only 1.5 percent—falls far short of what is needed to keep pace with our international competitors.
New restrictions on the types of research to be funded are harmful and will force NSF to limit its funding to six prescribed areas of potential application. This will not serve the nation well. Researchers must be free to pursue critical scientific questions and not be constrained to narrow areas of inquiry with immediately known applications.
FASEB, its 120,000 members, and 26 member societies, urge the Committee to develop bold legislation with a longer time span, greater investment in research, and fewer new regulatory constraints. We remain hopeful that Congress will improve the FIRST Act in future deliberations.