Oppose Politics at the National Science Foundation

April 1, 2013 • United States, News

Last week the Senate passed an amendment, introduced by Senator Coburn (OK), to H.R. 933, the Fiscal Year 2013 Continuing Resolution. The amendment requires the NSF Director to certify each political science grant, with explanation, “as promoting national security or the economic interests of the United States.” This sets a dangerous precedent, singling out a particular field of science and interfering with the peer review process.

We encourage you to contact your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representative to express your opposition to the Coburn amendment and to any attempt to interfere with the peer review process at NSF.

CLICK HERE TO GET ACTIVE

Below is a more detailed explanation and simple steps and talking points for making a quick call to your members of Congress.

Background

On March 20, you received an urgent action alert, asking you to contact your U.S. Senators to urge a NO vote on a Coburn amendment to H.R. 933, the Fiscal Year 2013 Continuing Resolution. As you may recall, this amendment would have transferred the $10 million in the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) political science research portfolio to the National Cancer Institute and overall federal deficit reduction. We asked PAA members to urge a no vote on the amendment because of the dangerous precedent it would set, creating a false dichotomy between medical research and research in the social sciences. As an organization we believe the National Institutes of Health (NIH) overall deserves more funding, but it should not come at the expense of diverting money from another scientific agency or specific area of social science research.

Thanks to all of you who responded so quickly! We wanted to give an update on the outcome of this vote.

 

Outcome of Coburn Amendment

Prior to offering his amendment, Senator Coburn modified the text. The amendment was altered so that it did not divert funding from the NSF to the NIH. However, the amendment’s text still affected adversely the NSF in that it requires the NSF Director to certify each political science grant, with explanation, “as promoting national security or the economic interests of the United States.” The U.S. Senate adopted the Coburn amendment by voice vote (meaning no roll call vote was taken). H.R. 933 was passed by the House and is awaiting President Obama’s signature. Enactment of the bill is necessary to keep the federal government funded past March 27.

 

After passage of the Coburn amendment, the American Political Science Association issued a press release in which it decried the Coburn amendment as “…a devastating blow to the integrity of the scientific process at the National Science Foundation (NSF).” The release also stated that “singling out any one field of science is short-sighted and misguided, and poses a serious threat to the independence and integrity of the National Science Foundation.”

 

As members of a number of coalitions, including the Consortium of Social Science Associations and the Coalition to Promote Research, PAA will be working to ensure the Coburn language expires once the continuing resolution does on September 30, 2013.

 

Recommended Action

We encourage our members to contact their U.S. Senators and U.S. Representative to express concerns about the adoption of the Coburn amendment and to urge the U.S. Congress to stop future attempts to interfere in the NSF peer review process.

 

  • Hello, my name is __________ and I am a constituent of Senator/Congressman __________.
  • Last week the Senate passed an amendment to H.R. 933 that requires the NSF Director to certify each political science grant, with explanation, “as promoting national security or the economic interests of the United States.”
  • As a scientist at the University of __________, I am calling to express my concern about this amendment.
  • I believe singling out any one field of science is problematic. Having Congress determine what is a worthwhile science and what isn’t poses a serious threat to the independence and integrity of the National Science Foundation.
  • Thank you for taking the time to consider my opinion.

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