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SPIE Participates in Congressional Visits Day
March 17, 2008

The message carried to Congress last week by volunteers from the International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE) and other science and technology societies was clear: Invest today in federal funding for research and education, in order to remain viable and competitive tomorrow.

Thirteen volunteers representing SPIE were among more than 250 who participated in the annual Congressional Visits Day (CVD) sponsored by the Science-Education-Technology (SET) Working Group. The working group is a coalition of organizations and industry representatives concerned about federal investment in scientific research.

They illustrated the message with firsthand stories of aging federal labs, grants that fund projects only partially through the life of the project and are not renewed, and other funding shortfalls that combine to reduce the country’s ability to be a world leader in innovation.

The American Competitiveness Initiative and America COMPETES Act lay out sound multi-year plans and need funding through appropriations, volunteers told their representatives in Congress.

SET visitors also urged Congressional support of math and science education programs, pointing to recent studies that show a serious decline in proficiency in both areas among students in America’s schools.

Visits were timed to occur while Congress is preparing its budget for fiscal year 2009, following on President Bush’s recommended budget released in early February.

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