OSA Members Visit Legislators on Capitol Hill to Call for Increased Investment in Federal R&D Fundin



Angela Stark
Optical Society of America

OSA Members Visit Legislators on Capitol Hill to Call for Increased Investment in Federal R&D Funding

WASHINGTON, March 5 – Optical Society of America (OSA) members from across the country are coming together on Capitol Hill today to speak with their senators and representatives about science policy issues.  The OSA members join hundreds of other scientists, engineers and graduate students as part of the annual Congressional Visits Day (CVD), sponsored by the Science-Engineering-Technology Working Group.  CVD is held each year to remind legislators of the critical nature of R&D funding and the impact that decreases in funding have on America’s ability to compete globally.  OSA is partnering with the Optoelectronics Industry Development Association (OIDA) for this year’s event.

Specifically, participants are expressing concern to lawmakers about the FY 2008 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, which flat-funds or cuts funding for key science agencies, including the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science.  They are asking legislators to commit to increased funding levels for these agencies, as well as for basic research at the Department of Defense in the FY 2009 appropriations process, underway in Congress right now.  President Bush’s FY 2009 funding request includes strong increases for the key science agencies’ budgets and is consistent with the funding authorized by last year’s America COMPETES Act, which set the course for doubling the research budgets of NIST, NSF and DOE’s Office of Science.

“The U.S. cannot afford cuts in basic research and development funding,” said Elizabeth Rogan, OSA executive director.  “Last year, we saw the Congress come together to authorize critical funds for the physical sciences through the passage of the bi-partisan America COMPETES Act.  OSA’s CVD participants are urging lawmakers to work together again in making funding for R&D a priority as they consider the appropriations bills before them this spring.  Investments in R&D give us the quality of life we enjoy today, and it is only through long-term, steady federal investment in America’s research enterprise that we will continue to be successful as a nation.” 

By sharing personal stories of their experiences as a professional in the field of optics and photonics and by pointing out specific optics-related advances that have been discovered and developed as a result of federal funding, the participants hope to show the lawmakers that increased funding is an investment in America’s future, not an expense.  Advancements like the Internet, energy efficient lighting and scanning technologies like MRI machines were all made possible by federal research funds.

About OSA

Uniting more than 70,000 professionals from 134 countries, the Optical Society of America (OSA) brings together the global optics community through its programs and initiatives. Since 1916 OSA has worked to advance the common interests of the field, providing educational resources to the scientists, engineers and business leaders who work in the field by promoting the science of light and the advanced technologies made possible by optics and photonics. OSA publications, events, technical groups and programs foster optics knowledge and scientific collaboration among all those with an interest in optics and photonics. For more information, visit www.osa.org.