FIU stands with coalition against current COMPETES Act draft

May 20, 2015

With a current draft for the America COMPETES Act reauthorization up for vote soon, FIU has taken the lead along with the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), comprised of 238 institutions and have found issue with the following:


Prescribing the exact levels for each directorate is where the disagreement exists.  Reauthorization in its current state would limit areas that might be targets of opportunity.  (Akin to limiting a venture capitalist on what innovations to fund?)  The National Science Foundation has a rich history of engaging with the scientific community to prioritize programs and establish budget priorities. 


Social and Behavioral Directorate

  • The social, behavioral and economic sciences significantly contribute to competitiveness by addressing the ethical, legal and social implications of scientific inquiry as well as advancing our understanding of the intersection of humans with science and technology. All of the last 51 U.S. winners of the Nobel Prize in Economics have been funded by the research divisions in the Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences, which is slated for a 58% cut in H.R. 1806. NSF's newer cross-directorate initiatives (e.g., Food-Energy-Water nexus, Risk & Resilience, Understanding the Brain) all depend on the inclusion of the social and behavioral sciences to advance knowledge in the physical, biological, computer and geological sciences, as well as in engineering. Significant challenges facing the nation, such as cybersecurity, require a fundamental understanding of human behavior and social interaction.

STEM Education/Workforce

  • The U.S. can ill afford to lose its edge in educating a STEM workforce. H.R. 1806 (Section 103) includes "expanding the pool of scientists and engineers in the United States, including among segments of the populations that have been historically underrepresented in STEM fields." Section 112 of this bill is wholly devoted to "expanding STEM opportunities." Yet H.R. 1806 would cut the budget line for the Directorate for Education and Human Resources by 10%. This is the Directorate, which significantly funds the developing STEM workforce and STEM education, and drives new approaches that would broaden participation in STEM fields by people of all backgrounds. With this and the cut to OIA, more than 250 Graduate Research Fellowships are at risk, limiting support for students identified as the future innovators of the U.S.



Geosciences Directorate

  • H.R. 1806 (Section 101) would decrease support for the Directorate for Geosciences, which includes polar sciences (Arctic and Antarctic research), by 12%. The geosciences include the disciplines that help us predict extreme weather events, disasters, and changes to the planet’s land, atmosphere, and oceans. In an era when we see natural disasters on a giant scale happening all over the planet, we have more, not less, need for scientific understanding.

International Activities

  • H.R. 1806 (Sections 103 and 303) attempts to highlight the importance of international activities and calls on NSF to maintain international relationships with premier research institutions. Yet the budget cut of 25% posed by H.R. 1806 to NSF's Office of International Science and Engineering would deny hundreds of U.S. students, postdoctoral fellows and scientists opportunities to advance their research abroad and inhibit professional networking by limiting access to top-notch laboratories, facilities and field sites outside the U.S.


FIU supported amendment

  • FIU and HACU do however support a proposed bi-partisan Amendment #7 by Rep. Crowley (co-sponsored by Rep. Hurd of TX), which aims to build capacity at our Hispanic-Serving Institutions. As COMPETES move forward, we would hope to have the amendment below included:
    • Requires the National Science Foundation to establish a STEM grant program for Hispanic-serving institutions as authorized in the America COMPETES Act of 2007 (42 U.S.C. 1862o-12)


To view the COMPETES Act click here.

To view FIU and STEM click here.

To view FIU’s STEM success click here.

To view FIU’s Federal Priorities click here.