Promote “Solving America’s Problems” in 10 Minutes Flat

As a member of the Midwest Political Science Association, I just got an email Action Alert–time to act!  Here is the message:

Oppose HR4186 which cuts NSF support for Social Science – Write a letter today!

The Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science and Technology Act of 2014 (FIRST Act) seeks to undermine the National Science Foundation’s (NSF’S) current high quality peer review process, as well as create additional regulations and politicize the grant-making process.  Moreover  the current version of the FIRST Act (HR 4186 ) will cut the NSF’s Social, Behavioral and Economic sciences directorate by more than $50 million-over 22 percent.

The FIRST Act was considered by the House Science, Space and Technology Committee on Wednesday, May 21, but the votes on the proposed amendments were postponed, probably until next week. Of particular concern, the Rohrabacher Amendment would cut $50 million from the SBE directorate on top of the current $50 million reduction.

Please act TODAY! Write to your Member of Congress using this link and ask that they oppose the FIRST Act. 

Further updates will be posted on the MPSA website ( You can also follow us on twitter at @MPSAnet

Please forward to colleagues with interest in social science funding. 

So I clicked on the link and I edited the script uploaded on the page. As a past legislative intern, I appreciated both the people who didn’t edit the text (i.e., place in pile and count them) and the people who edited the scripts. The personal insight often led me to better understand their sentiments regarding the issue.

Then when I hit the “copy” command, I hit the wrong key… so here’s the original message:

H.R. 4186 or the Frontiers in Research, Science, and Technology (FIRST) bill dramatically alters the high quality peer review process at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and substantially reduces the authorized funding levels for the Directorate for Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences (SBE).

As a concerned constituent, I urge you to fully fund the NSF and the SBE Science Directorate at previous levels, and oppose any effort to place new restrictions on NSF research funding. Please oppose H.R. 4186 because it has critical problems as it is currently written.

First, the bill places additional burdens on the NSF regarding its already gold-standard merit review process and requires additional, potentially duplicative, public disclosure of research grants. Second, the bill seeks to micromanage the grant application process and limits the number of awards that can be made to principal investigators, thereby undermining the merit review process that successfully determines the very best science worthy of taxpayer support. Third, the proposed authorization of appropriations for the SBE directorate is significantly below the recommended level.

Previous research funded by the SBE directorate includes the works of Nobel Prize winning researchers (the late Elinor Ostrom of Indiana University as well as Daniel Kahneman of Princeton) that examines individual and group decision making. Other work includes research on cyber-security, disasters, solving border disputes between countries, and studies on how foreign aid shocks can result in violent conflict. Research like this is of significant importance at this time.

We need to preserve our system of support for research based on scientific merit and objective peer review, without additional restriction and regulation. The United States should remain the global leader in scientific research.

My point: It took me less than 10 minutes to complete the action alert and to create and publish this post. It is essential that other people realize: In about the same time as it took you to read this; you too could have promoted our dire need to solve collective action problems (i.e., watch the news).


2 thoughts on “Promote “Solving America’s Problems” in 10 Minutes Flat

  1. Nice updating of the language with examples of useful research. Hope this works. We all have dissertations to finish, right?

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