Testimony before House Appropriations Committee
House Appropriations Committee
Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs, Housing and Urban Development, and Independent Agencies
Joint Testimony on
The National Science Foundation
April 28, 1999
Dr. Jerome Friedman, President, American Physical Society
Dr. Edel Wasserman, President, American Chemical Society
Dr. Felix Browder, President, American Mathematical Society
Dr. William Brinkley, President, Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Dr. Jerome Friedman, President of the American Physical Society
Mr. Chairman, Mr. Mollohan, and Members of the Subcommittee:
I am Jerome Friedman, President of the American Physical Society which represents more than 41,000 physicists who work in academia, industry and national laboratories. I am joined today by three colleagues, Dr. Edel Wasserman, President of the American Chemical Society, the largest scientific society in the world with nearly 159,000 members; Dr. Felix Browder, President of the American Mathematical Society, representing 30,000 mathematicians; and Dr. William Brinkley, President of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, an organization whose 17 member societies represent more than 56,000 life scientists.
We appreciate the opportunity to address you jointly in support of the National Science Foundation's (NSF) FY 2000 budget. By providing joint testimony--the second year we have done so--we are emphasizing that the scientific disciplines have grown highly interdependent. Consequently, we must continue to raise the funding levels of all areas of science to improve the health of our people, to sustain economic growth, and to enhance quality of life.
My colleagues will briefly elaborate on this theme, beginning with Dr. Wasserman.
Dr. Edel Wasserman, President of the American Chemical Society
Mr. Chairman, Mr. Mollohan, and Subcommittee Members, strong investments in all core disciplines--biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and engineering--are necessary to guarantee our nationís progress in science and technology.
Fifty years ago, the National Science Foundation was created to achieve such a goal with a specific mandate: to promote the progress of science; to advance national health, prosperity, and welfare; and to secure the national defense. The Foundation's success in carrying out this mission has helped the United States to become the world leader in science, technology, and engineering. The returns on our investment have been enormous.
Consider just a few examples. Since the end of World War II, more than half of our economic growth has come from technology and scientific innovation. In recent years, economists tell us that the number may be closer to 70 percent. They also tell us that the annual payback ranges from 25 to 60 percent on every dollar invested in basic research. Finally, a recent survey of American business showed that 73 percent of the citations in patent applications referenced publicly supported research.
In an era in which more than three quarters of stock-market capitalization is in technology issues, we can ill afford to disregard our investments in the sciences which drive this sector of the market. That is where Americans have placed their retirement trust. We must deliver on their expectations.
My colleague, Felix Browder will continue.
Dr. Felix Browder, President of the American Mathematical Society
Mr. Chairman, Mr. Mollohan, and Members of the Subcommittee, among federal agencies the National Science Foundation is unique, because its portfolio spans all the disciplines: the physical and life sciences, mathematics, engineering and the social sciences. The activities it supports are key to R&D performed and underwritten by all other federal agencies.
While the Foundation's share of the FY 1999 federal budget amounts to a little more than 0.2 percent, the agency has had a powerful impact on U.S. science since its inception in 1950. An impressive percentage of American Nobel laureates have been recipients of NSF support: about 50 percent of all laureates in chemistry and physics, 60 percent in economics, and 30 percent in medicine and physiology. NSF has also supported approximately 45 percent of world-wide recipients of the Fields Medal, the mathematical equivalent of the Nobel Prize. Beyond this, the agency has played a major role in the development of the Internet, which generated revenues of about US$7 billion in 1998, with an increase to US$40 billion expected by 2002.
Dr. William Brinkley will conclude our testimony.
Dr. William Brinkley, President of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Mr. Chairman, Mr. Mollohan, and Subcommittee Members, today I want to re-emphasize my organization's assertion that continued improvement in America's quality of life requires increased funding not only for the biomedical sciences but also for the other major scientific disciplines. The innovative technologies that will drive future progress in medical research will come from interdisciplinary research involving chemists, physicists, mathematicians, and engineers, working in collaboration with biomedical scientists. To maximize returns on the investment in biomedical sciences, it is essential that there also be robust support for the fundamental research in physics, chemistry, mathematics, and engineering. I join with my colleagues today to ask that your committee recognize this need and provide NSF with the FY 2000 appropriations required to accomplish this goal.
NSF has had an outstanding history of achievement, one of which all Americans can be proud. We thank you for your past support, and we urge you to maintain your committee's commitment to one of our nation's most important institutions. Thank you for according us the time to appear before you today.