SOURCE: SPIE

July 10, 2008 13:32 ET

Science and Engineering Budgets Benefit From Supplemental Budget Approval

SPIE Members Provide Strong Advocacy

BELLINGHAM, WA--(Marketwire - July 10, 2008) - A Department of Defense (DoD) Supplemental Spending bill for fiscal year 2008 signed by President Bush on 30 June replaces some funding lost late last year for agencies targeted by the America COMPETES Act of 2007.

Goals of the America COMPETES (Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science) Act are to ensure innovation leadership by strengthening scientific education and research, improving technological enterprise, attracting a talented workforce, and providing progressive job training.

America COMPETES agencies granted emergency funding via the June supplemental bill included:

--  DoE Office of Science: $62.5 million for Basic Energy Sciences, Fusion
    Energy Sciences including partial funding of ITER, High-Energy Physics, and
    Nuclear Physics
--  NSF: $22.5 million for research and grants
--  NSF Education and Human Resources programs: $40 million for
    scholarship and fellowship programs
    

In addition to the COMPETES-related agencies, funding was also provided for:

--  NASA: $62.5 million to bolster science accounts that have been
    strained in recent years to pay for the return to flight of the Space
    Shuttle after the Columbia disaster
--  NIH: $150 million for program spending
    

The supplemental bill did not provide funding for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), another COMPETES agency.

SPIE members and leadership have been working with other scientific and engineering societies and industry and Congressional leaders in advocating for healthy budgets for science and engineering research and education.

In May, the Engineering R&D Symposium on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, convened leaders of the U.S. engineering community to discuss priorities for science and technology leadership. Intel chairman Craig Barrett told the group that "We have debated long enough: now it's time to act on science and energy needs."

SPIE was a cosponsor of the R&D symposium, held in conjunction with the National Academy of Engineering Convocation and American Association of Engineering Societies awards dinner. The Society was represented by SPIE President Kevin Harding of GE Global Research, Past President Brian Culshaw of Strathclyde University, Board Member Kristina Johnson of Johns Hopkins University, and CEO Eugene Arthurs.

Barrett's message was reiterated by other association as well as Congressional speakers at the R&D event, who called for:

--  funding of the America COMPETES Act and increased federal funding for
    basic scientific and engineering research
--  reform of U.S. visa and immigration policies to facilitate scientific
    exchange and recruitment of top talent
--  more emphasis on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics
    (STEM) education
--  commitment to development of clean energy sources
    

In addition to letters and individual visits, SPIE members also have sought funding support in Washington during Congressional Visits Day in March, at a STEM education caucus sponsored by SPIE in April, and through sessions of the Council of Scientific Society Presidents last fall.

An action agenda issued in December by ASTRA (The Alliance for Science and Technology Research in America) titled "Riding the Rising Tide: A 21st Century Strategy for U.S. Competitiveness and Prosperity" outlines specific policy recommendations aimed at strengthening the innovation environment in the U.S. Read the report, funded in part by SPIE, at http://usinnovation.org/pdf/ASTRARisingTide121107.pdf.

The ARISE ("Advancing Research In Science and Engineering") report issued in June by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences reiterated the message that programs and policies that support early-career investigators and high-risk, high-reward research are needed in order to preserve U.S. leadership in science and technology.

For more detailed reports from SPIE on U.S. public policy, see http://spie.org/x23266.xml.

About SPIE

SPIE is an international optics and photonics society founded in 1955 advancing light-based technologies. Serving the interests of its more than 188,000 active constituents representing 138 different countries, SPIE acts as a catalyst for collaboration among technical disciplines for information exchange, continuing education, publishing opportunities, patent precedent, and career and professional growth. As the organizer and sponsor of approximately 25 major conferences and education programs annually in North America, Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific, SPIE provides publishing, speaking, and learning opportunities on emerging technologies. For more information, visit http://SPIE.org.

Contact Information