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AAU Statement on Senate Introduction of COMPETES Act Reauthorization Bill

Following is a statement by the Association of American Universities on the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act, which was introduced last week in the Senate.

AAU applauds Chairman Jay Rockefeller and his colleagues on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee for their introduction of legislation to reauthorize the America COMPETES Act. This legislation is very much in the spirit of the original COMPETES Act, which established a vision for revitalizing the nation’s research and innovation enterprise. If this bill were enacted and its recommendations for funding and policy adopted, it would be a major step forward in closing the nation’s innovation deficit.

The new legislation in important respects aligns with the guiding principles for reauthorization of the COMPETES Act endorsed last year by more than 100 business, scientific, and higher education organizations. It would establish the kind of robust but sustainable funding increases for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institute of Standards and Technology that are critical to fostering the nation’s innovation enterprise. It underscores the value of research across disciplines, including the social and behavioral sciences, which have been under inappropriate attack. And it recognizes the past success and continuing importance of the NSF’s merit review process.

Finally, the bill establishes a process for the executive branch to make recommendations for reducing the costs and administrative burdens associated with competing for and reporting on Federal research grants. Such measures can make the research enterprise more productive by reducing the extraordinary paperwork burden that is placed on university faculty conducting research on behalf of the federal government.

The America COMPETES Reauthorization Act deserves bipartisan support, and we hope the Senate will take it up in this Congress.

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The Association of American Universities is a nonprofit association of 60 U.S. and two Canadian preeminent public and private research universities. Founded in 1900, AAU focuses on national and institutional issues that are important to research-intensive universities, including funding for research, research and education policy, and graduate and undergraduate education.