Our Work

Research Ecosystem

APLU promotes federal research and science investment and policies that stimulate new discoveries that improve the health, quality of life, and economic growth of our communities, our nation, and our world. APLU’s Office of Governmental Affairs engages federal agencies and lawmakers to advance policies that enhance the effectiveness of research undertaken at public research universities, including policies that support safe, secure, effective, and transparent research.

Federally funded research is the heartbeat of American innovation, laying the building blocks for life-saving biomedical treatments, pathbreaking technological innovation addressing the world’s most vexing challenges, and breakthrough discoveries that advance understanding of the world. The internet, GPS, and life-saving immunotherapies all grew out of discoveries supported by investment in university-based research. APLU regularly engages lawmakers for increased appropriations for federal research and science agencies. Sustained and robust investment in research is necessary to ensure the U.S. maintains its place as the world’s leading economy with broadly shared prosperity.

Over the past several decades, federal investment in research and development has flatlined as a share of the economy even as our global competitors have jumpstarted innovation and economic growth through such investment. When measured as a share of the economy, U.S. investment in these areas is just a third of what it was at its peak. In 2022, Congress passed and President Biden signed into law the Chips and Science Act, which reauthorized several federal research agencies, created a new use-inspired research directorate at the National Science Foundation, and outlined goals for new investment in federal research. APLU hailed enactment of the legislation and called on Congress to follow through on the goals of the legislation with actual dollars to support pathbreaking research.

APLU continues to urge lawmakers to increase federal investment in research agencies. This includes providing tens of billions of dollars in new funding for federal research as well as new resources for STEM scholarships, fellowships, and traineeships to support new workforce pathways as well as new programs to support research capacity at HBCUs and other Minority Serving Institutions.

Open and collaborative fundamental research has served as a scientific and economic boon to the U.S. and the world. APLU fosters the development of globally competent students, internationally engaged faculty, and institutions capable of addressing global challenges. The science and education enterprise, however, is put at risk when other governments endeavor to benefit from it without upholding the values of openness, transparency and reciprocal collaboration. The nation’s public research universities have a unique, long-standing partnership with the federal government conducting research on behalf of the American people.

This research represents one of the nation’s greatest assets, which is why public research universities have an ironclad commitment to preventing undue foreign influence on research. To help institutions enhance research protocols, APLU and the Association of American Universities have surveyed member institutions to identify and elevate effective research security practices. APLU continues to advocate for federal research security policies that bolster security, are appropriate in scope, and not duplicative.

APLU Statement February 2022: APLU Hails Passage of the America Competes Act
Comparison Chart February 2022: USICA and COMPETES Science Provision Comparison Chart
APLU Priorities for U.S. Competitiveness (August 2021)