WASHINGTON, Feb. 25, 2013 — With across-the-board federal spending cuts — known as the sequester — set to take effect March 1, The Optical Society (OSA) announced Monday that it will organize a "week of action" for the scientific community.
Under the sequester, US agencies such as the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Department of Energy's Office of Science stand to face hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts, which would result in layoffs, fewer research grants, and the elimination of much-needed facility upgrades in national labs.
OSA said it has collaborated with the American Institute of Physics to create a community letter to members of Congress on the spending cuts and the potential impact on federal funding for scientific research and development. It also said it will work in cooperation with scientific groups, encouraging them to alert their memberships of the pending deadline and enlist their grassroots support to advocate for the protection of science and technology investments through initiatives including letters to Congress, a letter to the editor campaign, and phone calls to legislators.
"In his recent State of the Union address, President Obama reminded policy makers of the critical role science and technology plays in economic growth, such as the potential 3-D printing has to revolutionize American manufacturing and lead to job creation in the high-tech sector, or the fact that every dollar the federal government invested to map the human genome returned $140 to the economy," said OSA CEO Elizabeth Rogan. "These types of science and engineering investments, along with an increased focus on public-private partnerships, will lead to long-term prosperity for the US. However, there has to be a clear degree of consistency in funding to ensure this happens. With this week of action, OSA and our partners are once again calling on Congress to continue to prioritize spending on science and technology, even in the face of these challenging budgetary decisions."
Other organizations that have pledged their support of the week of action include the American Astronomical Society, American Geosciences Institute, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Council on Undergraduate Research, Research!America, and Stand with Science, OSA said.
For more information, or to register for OSA's annual Congressional Visits Day scheduled for March 12-13, visit: www.osa.org