For the last year, AcademyHealth has been fighting alongside our partners in the social and behavioral science community in the ongoing "war on social science," where some in Congress attempt to micromanage discovery and pit discipline against discipline. Now, we're gearing up for the latest skirmish. This Thursday, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology's Subcommittee on Research and Technology will mark up the Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science and Technology Act of 2014 (H.R. 4186), or "FIRST Act."
Introduced by Congressman Larry Bucshon (R-IN), the bill serves as reauthorization legislation for the National Science Foundation (NSF). Unfortunately, the bill includes a number of problematic provisions. Of particular concern is the proposal to cut the authorized funding level for NSF's Social, Behavioral and Economic (SBE) sciences directorate by nearly 42 percent. In addition, the bill seeks to micromanage the grant application process and limit the number of awards that can be made to principal investigators, which would undermine the merit review process that successfully determines the best and brightest science.
Organizations in the science community are lining up to oppose the bill, including the Association of American Universities (AAU). As AAU explains in their official statement:
"...the bill does little to close the nation's innovation deficit, but it also does some things to widen it, including significant funding cuts to social, behavioral, and economic research. The social and behavioral sciences play a vital role in this nation's research portfolio. They contribute significantly to understanding and solving our nation's economic, health, and security challenges, and they increase the efficiency and efficacy of the cures, technologies, and discoveries made in other disciplines."
AcademyHealth joins our colleagues in the scientific community in opposition to this bill, and we urge our members to do the same. If you'd like to lend your voice to the debate, you can send a message to Congress via the Consortium of Social Science Associations by clicking here.
You can also Tweet about the issue using #VoteNoHR4186.