Science Policy Issues

Science Policy Issues

Of the many public policy issues being addressed in the U.S. Congress, one area that affects the lives of every American is science. Advancements in scientific research and development provide better health care, a more secure homeland and defense system, advanced technologies in transportation, medicine, military capabilities and energy efficiency.

Many of these advancements would not be possible without federal funding of research & development (R&D) and science education. OSA monitors actions of Congress on issues of interest to OSA members and to the larger scientific community, such as:


OSA advocates research and development in alternative and efficient energy generation and conservation. Toward that end, OSA supports government funding and incentives that spur innovation in optics and photonics in order to foster new energy technologies.

Research & Development Funding

OSA believes a robust scientific enterprise benefits economic development and well-being. OSA, therefore, supports increased federal funding of science, math, engineering and technology basic and applied research and development across all federal agencies, particularly optics and photonics research and development. The U.S. Congress, through the America COMPETES Act, calls for the doubling of budgets at three key scientific agencies within the federal government - the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Department of Energy Office of Science - over a period of 10 years.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Education

OSA supports increased funding for K-16 STEM education. OSA recognizes that the future of science rests with today's children. OSA also supports efforts that advocate for the teaching of evolution in public schools. OSA believes presenting alternative proposals related to the development of species, such as creationism or "intelligent design," is not appropriate as part of the science curriculum for public schools.

Visa Issues for Travel

OSA supports efforts to call on the U.S. Departments of State and Homeland Security to fix visa backlogs and expedite visa processes for individuals intending to travel to the United States. OSA is specifically concerned with the ability of international scientists and scholars to visit the U.S.

Public Access to Government Funded Research

OSA is committed to making publicly funded research results accessible. Therefore, OSA supports public policy practices that enable public access to government funded scholarly works. Such policies must recognize the value added by non-profit scientific publishers to the process of research and development as well as the legitimate costs incurred by that effort.

Elemental Resources

OSA recognizes the important role that elemental resources play in modern optics and photonics research, engineering, and manufacturing.  For example, limited supplies of rare earth elements, high purity metals, and liquid helium have led to market disruptions and imbalances.  Industrial practice and governmental policies must be mindful of these needs as they directly impact technological progress across many vital areas. OSA advocates for consistent access to elemental resources and encourages conservation, sustainable practices, and an open marketplace.

Federal Travel Restrictions for Scientific and Technical Conferences

Other areas of potential interest to OSA members include:


Many OSA Corporate Member companies and OSA individual members employed at small businesses rely on federal government support to carry out high technology R&D. Congress allocates funds for two programs - Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) - via the Small Business Administration (SBA). More information on these programs is available on the SBIR Web site.

Deemed Exports/Export Controls

A number of OSA Corporate Member companies are subject to the U.S. Department of Commerce's Export Administration Regulations (EAR), which place controls on high technology commercial exports that may or may not have national security implications or military uses. More information on export controls is available on the U.S. Department of Commerce's Web site.

Resources for learning more about specific science policy issues:

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