For those of you that are not science policy wonks, competitiveness is a term that is often applied to science funding. For future reference, another code word for science funding is innovation. Anyway, a spate of supra-majority supported legislation has emerged from the Democratic controlled congress that would increase allocations to just about every federal agency that funds science. (Note that the National Institutes of Health is funded by its own mechanisms and is not touched by these bills.) The Bush Administration is committed to a veto because of "excessive and inappropriate" spending levels and that the bills create "unnecessary bureaucracy."
What's the scoop on these veto-proof measures?
S.761 "America COMPETES" passed 88-8 and would:
- Double National Science Foundation funding in 5 years
- Boost funding at the Dept. of Energy and Nat'l Institute of Standards and Technology
- Increase funding for science education programs from K-graduate school.
H.R. 363 would increase financial support for young investigators (that's me!) and passed 389-22.
The House also has some upcoming votes on science funding for NSF, NIST, DOE, DOD, XYZ and LMNOP.
In contrast, the executive branch would have NSF's and others' funding double in 10 years as part of the 2006 State of the Union-touted American Competitiveness Initiative. It turns out that the Congress has followed the 2005 National Academies' recommendation much more closely than the Administration.
But really, what do you expect that scientists will ask for when asked other than more money?
A good chunk of my information for this entry came from the subscription-only Science Magazine.