Thursday, 22 June 2017 08:03

ASM Letter to Congress Regarding FY 2018 Funding for the NSF

The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) urges Congress to continue bipartisan support of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and reject the Administration’s FY 2018 proposed budget for the NSF, the only Federal agency that funds research and education in all fields of science and engineering. The ASM recommends that Congress approve $8 billion for the NSF FY 2018, about 4 percent above the FY 2016 enacted level. The President’s FY 2018 budget request would reverse years of steady growth by cutting 11.2 percent from the NSF’s budget. Sustaining momentum in US innovation across all fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) is key to the Nation’s future security and well being. Underfunding NSF programs in FY 2018 would halt or hinder efforts across all STEM disciplines.

Investments by Congress in NSF funded discoveries have strengthened the science and technology sectors of the US economy, boosted workforce development and ensured America’s global market competitiveness. The NSF has excelled in its congressionally mandated mission “to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; and to secure the national defense.” As stated in its 2014-2018 Strategic Plan, the NSF vision is “a Nation that creates and exploits new concepts in science and engineering and provides global leadership in research and education.” To achieve this goal, it is critical that the FY 2018 budget adequately fund NSF projects that contribute to US academic institutions and the Nation’s public and private R&D enterprise.

Under the Administration’s budget request, NSF would fund approximately 8,000 new research grants selected from anticipated 50,500 submitted proposals. This is a reduction from the 8,800 new research grants NSF funded in FY 2016. The ASM is concerned that the FY 2018 budget would weaken, not strengthen, US leadership in STEM based innovation. Cutting the NSF budget has real economic and academic consequences for the more than 1,800 US colleges, universities and other public and private institutions that rely upon NSF support for research and education. The NSF budget represents 27 percent of the total federal budget for basic research annually. Each year, NSF provides the majority of Federal support for basic research in individual STEM fields like biology (69 percent) and computer science (83 percent).

The ASM urges Congress to support the Nation’s continued excellence in innovation and discovery by increasing, not decreasing, the NSF budget in FY 2018. We understand that Congress must address today’s fiscal constraints, but ASM believes strongly that consistently solid investments in NSF are vital to sustaining US successes in science and technology.


Susan Sharp, Ph.D., President, American Society for Microbiology
Ronald M. Atlas, Ph.D., Chair, ASM Public and Scientific Affairs Board
Stefano Bertuzzi, Ph.D., M.P.H., CEO, American Society for Microbiology