2014 has been a very challenging year. As you know from our updates throughout this year, federal budgets supporting science have continued to remain flat, at best, and in many cases were reduced. There were also several attacks on the value of science to the nation and the soundness of the peer-review process. In reviewing our efforts of 2014, I found that we spent considerable time trying to block bills and amendments that were harmful to the scientific process rather than advocating for new and exciting science. It is indeed a new world.
Under the current funding situation in Washington, it has been a major success to hold the line on science budgets, though Ocean Leadership has continued to do what it can to encourage increases, where possible. Over the past few years, Congress has focused on the increasing rise in the U.S. debt and increased its desire for quick results that would be helpful to them in their re-election process. This has had significant effects on the funding for scientific research. I summarized my concerns and thoughts regarding this “new paradigm” for federal research funding, along with the new threats to the peer-review system, in an AGU Eos opinion piece for the AGU Science Policy Forum and for Sea Technology.
In 2014, these serious federal funding issues have required Ocean Leadership to be front and center on federal agency budget discussions on the Hill and especially with Appropriations Committee staffs. And, this effort needs to continue well into next year since the Senate and House agendas for the 2015 budget have different and competing priorities, which will impact the availability of peer-reviewed research dollars.
Please continue reading for specific details on our key advocacy and programmatic efforts and accomplishments in 2014. Overall, this last year was a productive and busy one for Ocean Leadership. There are many challenges ahead, but this organization is prepared to continue to have a positive impact on them.
This is my last President’s Corner of 2014, so I want to wish you a wonderful and safe holiday season and a happy new year. Talk to you next year!