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APLU Statement on House Panel’s Approval of FIRST Act

May 29, 2014—APLU President Peter McPherson issued the following statement regarding the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology’s passage of the Frontiers in Research, Science and Technology (FIRST) Act. Two months ago, McPherson wrote to the committee’s chairman, Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX), urging him to strengthen the bill to better meet the country’s scientific research needs, ensure long-term economic growth, and close the innovation deficit

“Public universities are deeply concerned with the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology’s passage of the FIRST Act. This bill does not provide the increased investments in research for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) needed to maintain our role as the world’s innovation leader. The measure also undervalues social, behavioral, and economic science research and layers on unnecessary regulations.

“The research that NSF and NIST fund at public universities and elsewhere has proven to be an excellent investment for the United States. The discoveries that come from this research drive our economic growth, strengthen our national security, and enhance the quality of life for our citizens. Slowing down on investments in these areas while adding unnecessary regulatory burdens and limiting the scope of research will grow our nation’s innovation deficit, particularly at a time when other nations such as China, Korea, and Singapore are dramatically increasing their investments. And it’s not a far off concern. Unless Congress increases research investments, China’s government spending on R&D could surpass that of the United States within the next decade.

“We are pleased with an amendment added to the bill during mark-up that would restore a shorter embargo period for public access to published articles resulting from federally funded research. Public universities strongly support public access and believe the public should not have to wait longer to obtain access to these articles. Despite this improvement, however, the bill is deeply flawed and we urge members of the House to oppose it when it comes to a vote in the chamber.”

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