Committee on Science and Technology
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Press Releases :: May 14, 2009

Committee, Presidential Science Advisor Discusses Role of Science in New Administration

(Washington, DC) – Today, the House Committee on Science and Technology held a hearing to discuss the role of science in the new Administration, including reviewing the Administration’s proposed FY 2010 budget for federal research, development, demonstration, and commercial application programs. Specifically, the hearing examined funding for the R&D programs, such as those established by the America COMPETES Act (P.L. 110-69), within the agencies that fall under the Committee’s jurisdiction. At the hearing Members received testimony from Dr. John P. Holdren, Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).

“I’d like to begin today by congratulating Dr. Holdren on his new position, and thank him for the excellent work he has done in planning for aggressive new science and technology policies and budgets. I also want to thank him for taking a strong leadership role on science integrity,” stated Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN). “We just got the budget a week ago, so we are still absorbing the details. But so far I am impressed that President Obama has committed the resources to back up his eloquent words about the importance of science to our society.”

The proposed FY 2010 budget allocates $147.6 billion for research and development (R&D) across all agencies – a $555 million or 0.4 percent increase over the 2009 enacted amount. This figure does not include any of the estimated $21.5 billion in R&D funding in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

According the Administration, the proposed FY 2010 budget would invest in four key R&D priorities:

  • Basic science at the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Department of Energy’s Office of Science;
  • Clean Energy R&D;
  • Biomedical and health research; and
  • Safety and security R&D.

At the hearing Dr. Holdren discussed with Committee Members plans for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration including the blue ribbon panel, an independent review of planned U.S. human space flight activities with the stated goal of “ensuring that the nation is on a vigorous and sustainable path to achieving its boldest aspirations in space.” The review will be conducted by a panel of experts led by Norman Augustine, the former CEO and Chairman of Lockheed Martin, who served on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology under Democratic and Republican presidents and led the 1990 Advisory Committee on the Future of the U.S. Space Program as well as a number of other high-profile national commissions.

Dr. Holdren and Members also discussed the president’s recent pledge to increase R&D to 3 percent of the national GDP, which would bring it above the peak of 2.9 percent during the Space Race. Currently, R&D investment is at 2.6 percent of GDP. Dr. Holdren discussed the need not only to increase government investments, which accounts for one-third of the R&D done in this country, but also the need to provide incentives to boost private investments in R&D.

Members discussed the role of OSTP in helping to coordinate and lead many interagency initiatives, including for biofuels, STEM education, and international science cooperation.

“So far this year, this Committee has reported out legislation on STEM education, nanotechnology, information technology, water resources, electronics recycling, design of green buildings, and international cooperation. Every one of those bills is bipartisan, and all but two have already passed the House. What they share in common is that they address broad, multidisciplinary, multi-sector issues that require resources, leadership, and planning across several – and often a dozen or more – of our Federal agencies,” said Gordon.

“We’ve been putting a lot of responsibilities on OSTP in our legislation, but I also want to assure Dr. Holdren, and remind everybody else, that the burden is not entirely on OSTP. These enormous tasks we confront, such as strengthening STEM education and improving management of our water resources, require leadership and willingness to coordinate, cooperate and share information on the part of many federal agencies,” added Gordon.

For more information, visit the Committee’s website.

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News from the House Science and Technology Committee
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Bart Gordon, Chairman
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