Update on the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014
Please urge your Senators to support the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014 (H.R. 3547). This bill does not include the restrictions on the National Science Foundation Political Science Program imposed by the so-called Coburn amendment.
Why Does Political Science Face Restrictions at NSF?
On March 20, 2013, after a multi-year effort, Tom Coburn (R-OK) succeeded at getting the United States Senate to pass a modified amendment to H.R. 933 (Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013) which restricts NSF funding for Political Science to research projects that promote the “national security or the economic interests of the United States.”
The original amendment he offered, and his ongoing efforts, sought to remove all NSF funding for Political Science research. Since the current restrictions are only in place for duration of the Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013, it’s assumed Colburn and his allies will attempt to keep the NSF from funding all Political Science research in the next budget.
Will unfunding Political Science reduce the deficit?No. Political Science had been accounting for about $11 million of the NSF’s $7 billion annual budget, which remains unchanged. While Political Science research only makes up a small slice of the federal research money, it is a major source of funding within the discipline.
On June 7 2013, the National Science Foundation’s Directorate for Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences issued Notice 13-101 Implementation of the 2013 Federal Continuing Appropriations Act provisions affecting the NSF Political Science Program regarding proposals for Political Science for the remainder of FY2013:
[NSF] will continue to engage panels to review [Political Science] grant proposals, using the two National Science Board approved merit review criteria (Intellectual Merit and Broader Impacts). Panels will also be asked to provide input on whether proposals meet one or both of the additional criteria required for exceptions under P.L. 113-6, i.e., promoting national security or the economic interests of the United States.
Based on the advice of the review panels, NSF Program Officers will make funding recommendations. All PIs will receive the customary communications from NSF about funding decisions. Note, however, that due to the provisions stipulated by P.L. 113-6, funding decisions for Political Science proposals may be delayed.
Further coverage can be found at Inside Higher Ed: Wiggle Room for Political Science?
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On November 4 2013, the NSF SBE program issued Notice NSF 14-010, Dear Colleague Letter: Political Science Program:
The Political Science Program at NSF will be holding its regular and dissertation competitions this spring. As usual, the deadline for both competitions is January 15th with results being announced between the middle of May and early June.
When developing proposals for these two competitions, please keep in mind that the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013 (P.L. 113-6, enacted on March 26, 2013) stipulates that projects funded through the Political Science Program must either promote national security or the economic interests of the United States. The relationship of the proposed research to these goals should be addressed both in the broader impacts section of the project summary and within the project description.
Read the whole letter.
Who Supports Political Science at NSF?
Academic associations, individual researchers, and pundits have all spoken up for the importance of NSF funding for Political Science and the United States.
Jane Mansbridge, President and Michael Brintnall, Executive Director, American Political Science Association:
Grounding political science scholarship at the National Science Foundation assures political independence, rigorous peer review by experts in the field, interdisciplinary linkages, and long-term commitment to building scholarly capacity for the future. Removing the political science program at NSF would eliminate an invaluable source of knowledge for identifying, explaining, and resolving domestic and international issues of peace, freedom, and democracy; weaken the national science agenda; and threaten the integrity of the National Science Foundation and the independence of science policy. The nation cannot afford to lose this investment.
↳ APSA letter to Congress (March 15, 2013)
Rick Wilson, editor of The American Journal of Political Science:
[W]e are concerned with providing scientific evidence with which to answer fundamental social and political problems. To cut the political science program at NSF is a shortsighted strategy. It eliminates a critical source of independent funding for basic research to answer fundamental questions. In the long run this will hamper decision makers who will face even more complicated choices in a complex world.