The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) voiced its support for legislation approved by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on June 29 entitled the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (AICA). The bill, spearheaded by Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Gary Peters (D-MI) as the Senate’s effort to follow-up the America COMPETES Act of 2010, reauthorizes several key scientific agencies, including the National Science Foundation (NSF).
Among the provisions supported by FASEB, the bill reaffirms merit review at NSF as the gold standard for reviewing research proposals and the best mechanism for ensuring that funds are directed toward the most promising areas of science. Furthermore, similar to legislation introduced in the House, the bill takes strides toward reducing regulatory burden on scientists and thus would ensure that more research dollars are productively spent on scientific activities instead of regulatory compliance.
In addition to its policy directives, an amendment to the bill passed by the committee would authorize the budget for NSF at $7.5 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2017 and $7.8 billion in FY 2018. The FASEB letter notes that this is an important signal of a longer-term commitment to NSF and urged the Senate to provide further resources to bolster the capacity of NSF to fund the best science.