I’m delighted that the to A2 or not to A2 bomb in my last post is generating so much discussion all over the blogosphere. It is obvious that people have strong opinions about this subject in one direction or another, but I hope that most everyone agrees that there is a problem. The problem is bigger than A1 vs. A2- it is a problem of shrinking total dollars, and how those total dollars are going to be distributed for the research enterprise.
One thing that I have very much appreciated in all of this is the call to activism for us basic scientists. In my daily life I’m an activist for all kinds of things, science education, public education in general, the death penalty (against), equal rights, a woman’s right to choose… but in the course of my career I think I’ve been very lax about activism that could benefit academic science. I can’t remember having lobbied my congress person about a topic related to my research career or research funding… like… ever.
I recognize that I am late to the game- but this seems like a do or die moment for all of us who run labs supported by federal tax dollars- so I’ll start right here with this plea from ASM (American Society for Microbiology) to contact my congressional representatives. I will contact them both by phone and by email, and I challenge you to do the same.
UPDATE: The gorgeous and talented Isis has posted a similar call to action at her blog today as well.
Action Alert: Federal Funding for Science and
Public Health Programs in Jeopardy
Federal funding for science and public health programs is in jeopardy as Congress begins the budget process to reduce federal spending for fiscal years 2011 and 2012.The House of Representatives is expected to consider later this week an FY 2011 funding bill (HR 1) that would make major cuts in science and public health programs.If these cuts are enacted, they will have an extremely negative impact on science and public health programs in the United States.
It is very important that Members of Congress hear from their constituents about the adverse impact of reducing federal funding for science and pubic health programs at the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Science Foundation, the US Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Energy Science Office and the Environmental Protection Agency. We ask that you contact your congressional delegation now to oppose draconian cuts to federal funding for science and public health programs.
A draft letter, which you can edit and personalize, and talking points to help you make the case for science and public health programs supported by federal funding are available on the ASM’s Legislative Action Center website.We urge you to personalize your communications and describe in personal terms how federal funding impacts your research, your institution and your community. Personal stories resonate most with policymakers.
In the coming days, we urge you to do the following, if possible:
* Call your congressional delegation in both their local and Washington offices
* Visit your elected officials’ district offices or scheduled Town Hall meetings
* Send a personalized email to your congressional delegation
The time to act is now. Please contact your Congressional delegation to reject deep reductions in federal budgets for science and public health programs.
Go to the ASM’s Legislative Action Center to send a message http://capwiz.com/asmusa/issues/alert/?alertid=27665501 <http://emessage.asm.org/emessageirs/servlet/IRSL?v=4&l=1&r=997&m=8516&e=2 <http://emessage.asm.org/emessageirs/servlet/IRSL?v=4&l=1&r=997&m=8516&e=2>>.The ASM has provided you with a draft message that you can edit with specific examples of how federally funded research benefits you, your community and the world.There are also talking points that you can reference in your message.Please add state, district, or institutional specific data that highlight the importance of federally funded research and public health programs.
President Obama released his FY 2012 budget proposal on February 14. The House of Representatives’ action on the FY 2011 Continuing Resolution (CR) is the first step in the budget process that will play out in the coming months. The ASM web site will have budget and appropriation highlights as they become available:http://www.asm.org/index.php/policy/radfy2012.html <http://emessage.asm.org/emessageirs/servlet/IRSL?v=4&l=2&r=997&m=8516&e=2 <http://emessage.asm.org/emessageirs/servlet/IRSL?v=4&l=2&r=997&m=8516&e=2>>.
Thank you for your support.
Bonnie Bassler, Ph.D., President, ASM
Roberto Kolter, Ph.D., Chair, Public and Scientific Affairs Board
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I just called my congress person, have you called yours?
This is so important! As a basic scientist it is not natural for us to come out from beyond our bench and become so involved. But there is an undeniable energy right now and call to activism that can not be ignored! I have yet to call my congress people, but I have e-mailed, multiple times. I have made this e-mails as personal as possible, drawing attention to benefits for my state. There has been a push in the last decade to communicate our science, what we do, in a more tangible language that resonates with the general public. The time to really do this well is NOW! Come on people, let’s get this done!!
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This is a silly strategy. Remember the NIH doubling? How well did that work out? How long do you think exponential growth in funding can be sustained? The only solution is to curb the greed of the university administrators by cutting indirects to a reasonable level, say 35%. Otherwise they’ll just overbuild and overhire all over again.
I agree that there is more than one way to get at the problem. There are federal grant giving agencies that already cap their overhead…. USDA for example caps allowable overhead from their grants at 28% or something, and overhead is included in the maximum award amount- which for most grants is 400K. Right now this has absolutely no effect, except that many places choose not to accept USDA grants (read 100% soft money places that normally get ALMOST 100% OVERHEAD, their investigators never apply to the USDA) because the overhead is too low.
I wonder if those people like whimple who are concerned about overhead would agree to a *proportional* reduction from the current federally negotiated levels?
And, of course, if those people like whimple have ever done the actual math to support their assertion that IDC is just “greed” and not a necessary cost of doing research. Where’s that money supposed to come from? The *state* budgets? HAHAHHAHAA!
I think a flat across-the-board indirect rate would work just fine. Don’t like it? Don’t do research. Don’t want NIH money? Apply elsewhere, if you can, or get out of the research business altogether. The goal is to contract the national research effort to sustainable levels. You can’t keep up with exponential increases in supply of NIH dollars, so eventually you have to do something to mitigate demand. Got any better suggestions?
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