Wednesday, 25 February 2009

US Congress passes science stimulus package

Analysis by the American Association for the Advancement of Science reports that the finalised $790 billion economic recovery bill will allocate $21.5 billion for federal R&D. The $21.5 billion will give $18 billion to federal agencies for the conduct of R&D and $3.5 billion for R&D facilities and large equipment. For a federal research portfolio that has been declining in real terms since FY 2004, the final stimulus bill provides an immediate boost that allows federal research funding to see a real increase for the first time five years.

High priorities are basic competitiveness-related research, biomedical research, energy R&D and climate change programmes. The National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy Office of Science (DOE OS), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the three agencies highlighted in the America COMPETES Act of 2007 and President Bush’s American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI), will all receive significant boosts to their budgets. The final stimulus bill challenges the major R&D funding agencies to spend these large stimulus appropriations quickly, while at the same time spending them well. There will be unusual scrutiny of how and how fast the money will be spent. Scrutiny will be made possible by extensive accountability and transparency mandates in the bill, including separate appropriations for agency inspectors general and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to monitor stimulus spending.

Read the comprehensive AAAS report in full.

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