The recently passed omnibus appropriations bill, H.R. 83 ("For better or worse, spending bill passes," Dec. 15), provides critical funding to federal research agencies and supports research programs that have a positive impact on our state and our universities. The efforts of Sen. Barbara Mikulski, Rep. Steny Hoyer and other state leaders who helped pass this legislation should be applauded. The fact is that, despite controversy about some provisions in the bill, H.R. 83 secures valuable funding that will help ensure that the U.S. continues to be a global innovation leader and that Maryland continues to play a central role in contributing to our national research productivity and economic development.
With the passage of H.R. 83, increased funding has been budgeted for NASA, the National Science Foundation, the National Institute for Standards and Technology and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration among others. These agencies award grants to academic institutions like the University of Maryland to engage in leading edge research, supporting scientists and students in their quest to make new discoveries and develop innovations that help improve the quality of human life.
Without this support, continued advances in cyber security, environmental science, space research, weather and climate monitoring, commerce, tech transfer and new manufacturing would simply not be possible.
Internationally, other nations are investing heavily in research. China's research and development budget has increased by 23 percent a year on average over the past decade. If we are to maintain our place as the innovation leader, we must continue to invest in research programs, and H.R. 83 will help us keep the pace.
We are grateful for the efforts of our state leaders to ensure continued support for the scientific enterprise that is critically important to the nation, our state and our universities.
Patrick G. O'Shea, College Park
The writer is vice president and chief research officer for the University of Maryland.