Ongoing Battle over 2011 U.S. Budget May Affect President's Plan for Additional Science Investment in 2012


As the debate over the budget for Fiscal Year 2011 continues, questions regarding plans for increased science funding in 2012 linger.

As the United States Congress continues to debate the budget for Fiscal Year 2011, it remains unclear how the results will affect the increased science funding for 2012 proposed by President Barack Obama in his “Plan for Science and Innovation” released in February.

That plan called for doubling the budgets of three key science agencies, the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy’s Office of Science (DOE SC), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) laboratories. The president proposed $13.9 billion in total funding for those three agencies, an increase of $1.5 billion or 12.2 percent above the 2010 enacted total.

Since then, however, Congress has been unable to reach agreement on the overall 2011 budget, and has passed several continuing resolutions to keep the government running while the debate continues. In the past two continuing resolutions (5th & 6th), $10 billion was cut from the overall budget and the latest intelligence suggests that an additional $30 billion in cuts may be made. If those cuts do take effect, they are sure to have an impact on the science portfolio for 2011. They would also affect the baseline budget numbers on which 2012 science funding will be based.

Several nonprofit science associations, including the American Chemical Society (ACS, Washington, D.C.) expressed strong support for the president’s proposed increases in science funding, and hope that such funding will be maintained in spite of current budget challenges.

“ACS and its members continue to remind our elected officials that reliable and sustained funding is critical to innovation, competitiveness, and the U.S. economy,” said Glenn S. Ruskin, director of the Office of Public Affairs at ACS. “We hope that as budget adjustments are made to address the nation's increasing debt and deficit that prudent choices will be made to preserve support for programs that help grow and sustain the economy.”

The ACS recently adopted a policy statement that outlines policy recommendations in the areas of tax and trade; intellectual property; technology transfer and commercialization, and small business and entrepreneurship that, if adopted, would help create a more favorable environment for new, science-based jobs here in the United States.

In that statement, titled, “A Competitive U.S. Business Climate: the Role of Chemistry,” ACS recommends that national leaders take several key steps: Simplify the nation’s tax codes, reform intellectual property laws, mitigate start-up and retooling costs that industries and small businesses face, and enact trade policies that properly balance security and job creation (see below).

“The scientific and technological innovation that underpins U.S. economic competitiveness inspired the rest of the world to become excellent in science,” ACS President Nancy B. Jackson, Ph.D., said in a recent public statement. “We need both sustained and predictable investments in science and technology and business policy reform.”

American Chemical Society’s Policy Recommendations for the U.S. Government

Tax and Trade

ACS supports efforts to foster U.S. corporate tax and trade policies that will make American firms competitive with our international rivals:

  • Making the Research and Experimentation tax credit internationally competitive, compelling, and permanent
  • Providing tax incentives to spur U.S. science and technology investment and job creation and assisting displaced science and technology workers with retraining and finding new employment
  • Reducing the incentives to locate businesses or jobs outside the United States to avoid taxation
  • Advocating a more flexible international trade framework to better balance security considerations with the partnerships that advance science and technology development

Intellectual Property

ACS supports reforms to the U.S. patent and intellectual property framework that will promote, not impede, innovation:

  • Staffing the US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) so as to expedite the evaluation of patent applications and reducing the patent backlog
  • Allowing the PTO to apply all fees directly to a more efficient patent review process
  • Strengthening intellectual property protection in trade policy to reduce instances of foreign violation of American copyright and patent holdings

Technology Transfer and Commercialization

ACS supports policies designed to improve technology transfer and commercialization of breakthroughs spurred by federal research investments:

  • Expanding university research infrastructure and developing communities of innovation centered on academic research environments and national laboratories
  • Providing grants, low-interest loans, and accelerated depreciation tax incentives to mitigate the high start-up or retooling costs associated with high technology businesses
  • Expanding federal programs that provide targeted support for commercialization activities at science research agencies

Small Business and Entrepreneurship

ACS supports policies that foster the growth of small research and development businesses and encourage entrepreneurship:

  • Expanding funding for the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR), Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR), and Small Business Investment Companies (SBIC) programs and reforming these programs to make direct research funding for small businesses more easily available
  • Providing incentives for larger companies to expand investments in start-up research and development businesses
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