Support Funding for the National Science Foundation

Please contact your U.S. Senators by June 22, 2012, and urge them to support social science research funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

View our sample letter to get started.

Background

The U.S. House of Representatives voted on May 10, 2012, on a bill that would fund the NSF for fiscal year 2013. The House bill included a provision, offered by Representative Jeff Flake (R-AZ) that eliminates funding for political science research funded by NSF.  According to Flake, his provision was “oriented toward ensuring, at the least, that the NSF does not waste taxpayer dollars on a meritless program.”  Last year, there were similar threats to defund the entire Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE) at NSF.  These “meritless” programs and grants have been and should be determined by NSF’s merit review process and not politics. Flake’s provision disregards what scientific community views as good science, and may be a sign of future attacks on NSF social science programs if the scientific community does not act soon.

The Senate is now considering its version of the bill that funds NSF and its research programs. Reports indicate that the Senate will finish its bill by the end of June.

After the Senate approves its version of the bill, Senate and House negotiators will work in a conference committee to finalize NSF’s final program funding levels for next year.

Call to Action

Letters are needed today to ensure that the Senate does not agree to Representative Flake’s provision to eliminate the political science program and circumvent NSF’s merit review system.

Please go to www.senate.gov to locate your Senators’ contact information. We recommend sending an email letter (see sample letter) using the web forms found on their websites. 

Thank you for your support.

Sample Letter

Please feel free to edit this letter as you wish.

As a sociologist and member of the American Sociological Association, I am deeply concerned about the National Science Foundation’s FY 2013 funding level and the implicit attack on scientific peer review. I urge you to provide robust funding for the Foundation and protect the integrity of the scientific enterprise that has benefited this country for so long.

Research funded by the National Science Foundation is a critical part of the research infrastructure in the United States, providing approximately 20% of all federally supported fundamental research conducted in America's colleges and universities. NSF is the only federal agency whose mission includes support for all fields of fundamental science and engineering—including sociology, political science, and economics. The agency identifies the most promising ideas for advancing science through a rigorous and objective merit review process that uses independent scientific review panels.

The U.S. House recently voted to eliminate funding for all fundamental research in political science. According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), "NSF political science research grants have contributed to important research on democratization, radicalization and terrorism, disaster response, and voting behavior."

I urge you to oppose any efforts to eliminate funding for particular areas of science NSF’s when the appropriations bill reaches the Senate floor. In addition, I urge you to encourage your colleagues to restore funding to political science programs when NSF’s appropriations bill moves to conference committee.

NSF-funded research advances the frontiers of knowledge that keep the United States safe and competitive. In addition its research provides our nation with an understanding of humans and human behavior, which is used as a foundation for all successful technologies.

Please vote to protect the integrity of the scientific process by ensuring that NSF's independent expert panels determine the best scientific ideas. I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,