from the federal funding agencies,3 the committee came to a set of conclusions and recommendations that can guide U.S. policy makers and funding agencies as they distribute precious resources in difficult times. The conclusions are in the final section of this chapter.


The key U.S. agencies supporting the field (DOE, NIST, and NSF) have recognized the recent extraordinary achievements in AMO physics and have responded well to the new opportunities that have emerged, with budget increases in real terms (that is, in constant FY2005 dollars) of 26 percent over the last decade (Table 8–1). These increases, which required difficult choices by program staff, are all the more notable given the inflation-adjusted flat budgets for physical science over the same period (as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI)).4 The result of these investments has been an outpouring of excellent science. Indeed, the AMO example is an interesting case study for the benefits of federal investments in science generally: Good funding of excellent science leads to an excellent return on investment, which in turn leads to new opportunities.

In contrast, there has been a worrisome trend in the Department of Defense (DOD) science agencies to cut back on funds for research generally and for basic research in AMO physics in particular. This policy, which reflects heightened priorities for national security and homeland defense, cannot be justified as a wise or effective long-term strategy if the goal is maximizing the overall strength of the nation. This judgment on the importance of S&T to our overall national security (broadly defined) has been asserted many times over the years in a number of major reports,5


The committee prepared a questionnaire for the federal agencies that support AMO research in order to collect information on the current trends in AMO science, personnel, training, and funding. The agencies involved are the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), the Army Research Office (ARO), the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Department of Energy (DOE), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the Office of Naval Research (ONR). Appendix A contains the questionnaire and Appendixes B-F contain the responses.


For a guide to R&D funding data by science and engineering discipline, see the Web site of the American Association for the Advancement of Science at <>.


See the following reports: House Committee on Science, Unlocking Our Future: Toward a New National Science Policy (1998), available at <>, accessed June 2006; Before It’s Too Late (Glenn Commission) (2000), available at <>, accessed June 2006; The United States Commission on National Security/21st Century, Road Map for National Security: Imperative for Change (2001), also known as the Hart-Rudman Report, available at <>, accessed June 2006; National Science Foundation, The Science and Engineering Workforce: Realizing America’s Potential (2003), available at <>, accessed June 2006; U.S. Domestic

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