Budget Agreement Provides Opportunity for Needed Research Investments

Wednesday, Nov 04, 2015, 4:00pm

by Semiconductor Industry Association

President Obama this week signed into law bipartisan legislation that establishes a new budget agreement and raises the government’s debt limit until 2017. SIA and a coalition of business, scientific, and academic leaders have urged congressional leaders to take advantage of funding increases called for in the new law to bolster federal investments in scientific research.

The new budget legislation provides for a $25 billion increase to non-defense discretionary funding in fiscal year 2016. Members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees will soon begin drafting legislation to allocate the new investments to various government agencies.


In a recent letter to the leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, SIA president and CEO John Neuffer called for substantial increases in basic research conducted at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Department of Energy (DOE):

“Past investments in basic research, along with a collaborative partnership among government, industry, and universities, have achieved remarkable successes in driving innovation and enabling the industry to produce ever faster, higher performing, lower energy, and less expensive semiconductors. Significant investments in research programs at NSF and DOE are needed to drive the innovations of the future in this foundational technology and enable the United States to derive the economic and security benefits of this technology for decades to come.”

Echoing SIA’s letter, a coalition of 300 academic, business, and scientific organizations this week urged congressional appropriators to significantly increase federal research investments:

“Sequestration and the failure of federal research and development funding to keep pace with inflation in recent years are eroding our nation’s capacity to innovate. Federal agencies’ ability to fund cutting-edge research and recruit and retain scientific talent for intramural research has suffered and so has our nation’s ability to capitalize on discoveries that could benefit society in ways not yet realized.”

Research enables economy-boosting innovation in the semiconductor industry and across the tech sector. Semiconductor companies invest about one-fifth of revenues in R&D annually – a greater share than any other industry. The federal government is an important partner in conducting basic scientific research, and NSF and DOE are particularly critical due to ongoing and new semiconductor-focused research programs at those agencies.

As congressional leaders consider how to allocate funding established by the recent budget agreement, they should make it a top priority to invest ambitiously in research.