Minority Views of the Democratic Caucus of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology on the FY2013 Budget Request

We are pleased to see that the President’s budget for FY2013 continues to propose investments in this Nation’s future even as it takes steps to reign in the government’s long-term deficit challenge.  All of us believe that investing in the future of America--in its infrastructure, in research and innovation, and in the education of our children and workforce--represents the most important step the Federal government can do to ensure long-term economic success for the American people. 

Cutting these investments would be detrimental to our capacity to balance the budget in the long-term and to sustain a high quality of life.  Imagine parents who are able to send their children to college but choose not to do so because they want to cut back on family expenses.  Based on average outcomes, such a decision would consign those children to a lifetime of reduced earnings--the latest census finds that annual earnings for a college graduate are approximately $51,000 while those for a high school graduate are just $28,000.  So it is with the Nation.  Balancing the budget through cuts to investments in infrastructure, education, and research and development would leave us poorer as a society with a harder road towards meeting our debts and growing our economy. 

Therefore, we cannot support the Majority’s Views and Estimates that are being submitted to the Committee on the Budget. 

One overarching problem with the Majority’s Views and Estimates is their lack of consistency on the issue of basic research versus technology investments.  It seems that the only programs the Majority supports are basic research, except when the applied technology program--for example at NASA or in DOE nuclear technologies--involves a program they like.  Our view is that a broad and balanced portfolio of investments, at all levels of research and development and across the full range of fields is a necessary condition for a robust national science and engineering enterprise.  While we certainly prefer some investments over others, we have no ideological blinders when it comes to seeking benefits for the American taxpayer or American business.

Our view is informed by an appreciation that this country’s economic success has always hinged on a creative interaction between government and the private sector.  America’s historical approach towards economic development has been pragmatic.  Government--whether at the local, State, or Federal level--has taken steps to encourage private capital to support public goals and has used its revenues in part to make investments that will support private initiative.  This approach represents neither a managed economy nor free-wheeling markets.  Instead, public interest and private interest work together for mutual benefit, and the result has been one of the great economic miracles of the modern age.

Reflecting on the elaborate systems that tie our communities together into the most accomplished and dynamic country in the world, there is not a single system that has not involved significant government actions to improve its effectiveness of safety.  Our Nation’s entire infrastructure--its ports, airports, national airspace, railways, waterways, roads and highways, drinking water and sewer systems, telecommunications systems, information systems, and energy distribution systems have been established and maintained through collaboration between private capital and government.  Increasingly, successful public-private collaborations in all of those areas have benefited from federal investments in science and technology.

We thus strongly encourage the Budget Committee to work to find the space in the budget to protect a diverse, robust, and wide-ranging set of research and development activities, and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education programs.  Despite claims to the contrary, there is no evidence that any of the programs called out for cuts in the Majority’s Views and Estimates are duplicative or ineffective or stray beyond the bounds of what Congress authorized agencies to do.  While some of us have differences with the Administration on specific programs and activities, we endorse in the strongest possible terms the Obama Administration’s budget request for the broad budget functions used by the Budget Committee for the purposes of meeting your obligations under the Budget Control Act. 

We include some specific comments regarding agency-level issues as part of these Minority Views and Estimates.  While we appreciate that some of these comments are at too fine-grained a level to inform your work, we include this material to help elucidate some areas of concern or disagreement with the proposed budget or with comments made by the Majority.

PROGRAMMATIC COMMENTS ON THE FY2013 BUDGET FOR SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education

In December, the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in the Executive Office of the President released an inventory of Federal STEM programs required by the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010. In total, 13 agencies reported 252 distinct investments in STEM education for a total of $3.4 billion in FY 2010.  OSTP will complete its detailed STEM strategic plan this spring.  A recent GAO report, requested by Chairmen Kline and Hunter, is consistent with OSTP's findings and expresses support for OSTP's STEM education strategic planning and evaluation efforts.

Due to the phasing out of a large program at the Department of Education (ED) and the consolidation, and/or phasing out of a number of smaller programs across the government, the total request for FY 2013 is $2.95 billion, a 2.6 percent increase from FY 2012.  The total number of programs in FY 2013 would stand at 209.  We support this overall level of funding as well as OSTP’s ongoing effort to evaluate and lead a reorganization of these important activities.

Of the approximately $3 billion in federal funding for STEM education, one-third is spent on activities--primarily scholarships and research experiences for undergraduate and graduate students--that specifically target the unique workforce needs of science mission agencies.  As the current wave of retirements at our federal science agencies continues to be a challenge for these agencies, we support full funding for these STEM workforce development programs.

Of the remaining $2 billion spent on broader STEM education, much less than $1 billion is targeted to K-12 learning audiences and K-12 teacher professional development.  The remainder is directed to strengthening STEM education and opportunities in higher education and to education research at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and ED.  Approximately $1 billion of the total across program types and audience levels is spent on activities with the primary goal of targeting groups that are underrepresented in STEM.  We go into this level of detail primarily to serve as a counterpoint to the Majority's tendency to imply that the Federal government is spending $3 billion on K-12 STEM education alone.

A number of the mission agencies, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Department of Energy (DOE), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), take 20 percent or larger cuts to their respective STEM education budgets, while ED would see a 21.5 percent increase and NSF would see a 3.4 percent increase.  Until OSTP's STEM strategic plan is available for review and evaluation, it is hard to offer specific guidance on agency-by-agency STEM funding levels.  However, as a general matter, the Committee has had concerns in the past about over-reliance on ED for STEM initiatives because of its history of checkered accomplishment in this area.  We are aware of Secretary Duncan’s passion for this issue, but we are also mindful of organizational interests and limits that tend to outlast even the most inspiring of Cabinet Secretaries, and that leads us to believe that agencies with a stronger track record might be better positioned to keep these STEM initiatives going.

National Science Foundation (NSF)

Overall, the NSF budget request would see a 4.8 percent increase to $7.37 billion, including a 5.2 percent increase for Research and Related Activities (R&RA) and a 5.6 percent increase for Education and Human Resources (EHR). This is the first time in recent memory that EHR will see a greater relative increase than R&RA.  We support these funding requests.  Also for the first time in memory, NSF is requesting a flat budget for its Agency Operations and Awards Management.  We support this request with some reservations about the agency's ability to find such savings in operations after several years of flat funding while the research budgets have grown.  We support the proposed budget for ongoing construction of the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), as well as the funding for the remaining major research facility construction projects. 

We note the Majority's concerns that NSF needs to better explain the rescoping of the Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability program.  However, we remain supportive of NSF’s role in fundamental research on the environment and sustainability science and engineering, including areas of research critical to understanding, predicting, and responding to global climate change.  We believe that NSF’s level of support in these areas of research is appropriate given both the challenges and NSF’s mission.

The Innovation Corps (I-Corps) program is a public - private partnership that connects NSF-funded researchers with the technological, entrepreneurial, and business communities to help identify basic research that could be used as emerging technology concepts that hold the promise of transitioning, after several more steps, into new companies and jobs. The Majority calls this picking winners and losers; we could not disagree more.  I-Corps sits on the boundary of the core mission of NSF to support basic research.  But it fills a much-needed gap that no other agency is better suited to fill and that the universities themselves are too cash-strapped to fill.  We support the proposed level of funding for I-Corps.

NSF is proposing significant changes for its Education and Human Resources Directorate, including realignment of the four subdivisions of EHR and creation of two new cross-directorate initiatives: Expeditions in Education and the Core Launch Fund.   At the same time, NSF is proposing flat funding for several STEM education programs that are long-standing priorities of this Committee, including the Noyce Teacher Scholarship Fund, the Math and Science Partnerships program, the Advanced Technological Education program, and the full suite of programs targeted primarily to broadening participation in STEM.  We are particularly concerned with the significant cut to informal STEM education at a time when every science mission agency is also proposing cuts to its respective informal STEM education activities.

We support NSF's ongoing efforts to strengthen the quality, coherence, focus, and management of EHR programs.  The Expeditions in Education initiative will strengthen the collaborations between EHR and the R&RA Directorates, and between EHR and other agencies, in particular the Department of Education.  We reiterate our concern, however, that collaboration not lead to an increasing role for ED at the expense of NSF.  The Core Launch Fund is consistent with a House-passed provision in the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 that called on NSF to work with the research community to define grand challenges in education research and to make those grand challenges a priority in their education research portfolio.  Having said that, we believe that $20 million seems excessive for this effort and some of those funds might be put to better use in increasing support for the previously mentioned ongoing programs that have been cut or held flat.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Successive NASA Authorization Acts have directed that NASA implement a balanced portfolio of science, aeronautics, human spaceflight, and that NASA pursue a stepping stone approach to human exploration of the solar system that includes the Moon, near-Earth asteroids, Lagrangian points, and Mars. The overall funding level in the FY 2013 NASA budget request, while lower than a number of our Members think is needed, is reasonably good in light of the overall budget constraints. However, some of our Members are concerned that the mixed signals about programmatic priorities shifting from last year to this year need to be clarified and raise concerns about how priorities are being set for the Agency and what the Agency most hopes to achieve. 

The Administration request would fund NASA at a level of $17.7 billion, a $58.6 million reduction from the FY 2012 appropriation (when the $30 million recission is included). NASA indicates that the FY 2013 budget request is designed to fund the agency's stated priorities and major elements of the NASA Authorization Act of 2010. Within that total amount, NASA’s Science program is cut by $162.5 million, or about 3.2 percent from the FY 2012 appropriated amount and within the Science account, the funding for Planetary Exploration is cut by $309 million or about 21percent; funding for Aeronautics is cut by about 2 percent; funding for the Space Launch System/Multipurpose Crew Vehicle (SLS/MPCV) is cut by several hundred million dollars or about 12.5 percent; NASA's Education program is cut by $36 million or about 26 percent; and funding for the institutional needs of the agency and its field Centers is cut by almost 5 percent. The account that is increased the most in the budget request is the Commercial Crew Program, whose budget would more than double (from an FY 2012 appropriation of $406 million to a requested level of $830 million). In addition, the Space Technology account (which includes SBIR/STTR as well as technology R&D programs) would be increased by about $125.3 million (21.8 percent). When compared to the NASA Authorization Act of 2010, both the proposed cuts and the proposed increases are inconsistent with the Act’s authorization levels for the accounts mentioned above.

Mars Exploration. In the area of Mars exploration, the Administration is signaling a significant departure from prior plans. The FY 2013 budget request for Mars exploration is $361 million, a $226 million decrease (about 39 percent) from the amount appropriated in FY 2012. More significantly, projections for future year budgets show even more drastic reductions. NASA has indicated it will no longer participate with the European Space Agency in previously agreed-to collaborative Mars missions in 2016 and 2018 and has initiated an analysis of how it can implement an integrated strategy for long-term human and robotic exploration of Mars. We are concerned that this course of action will result in a stand-down in developing Mars missions, or at least those that address top scientific priorities, and could also result in a loss of highly critical capabilities in landing and operating spacecraft on Mars, a capability that at present only the United States possesses.  We are also concerned about the potential negative message we send to our long-term partners by stepping back from planned collaborations on joint missions with them, especially at a time when fiscal pressures argue for increased and enhanced international collaboration in undertaking challenging missions.

Human Spaceflight and Supplying the International Space Station (ISS). The Administration’s funding request for development of a Multipurpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) and a Space Launch System (SLS) is hundreds of millions of dollars less than the amount appropriated in FY 2012 and significantly below the authorized amounts for those programs in FY 2013. Making such cuts is typically not consistent with providing programmatic stability to an ongoing vehicle development program. NASA indicates that the FY 2013 funding requested for the MPCV and SLS, coupled with projected funding through FY 2017, will enable the agency to conduct unmanned test flights in FY 2014 and 2017. Despite direction in the NASA Authorization Act of 2010 that the MPCV/SLS system be developed on a timetable to allow it to serve as a back-up transportation system for crew and cargo to the ISS, NASA so far has taken no steps nor allocated any funding to address that Congressional requirement.

As noted above, the request for development of commercial crew transportation capabilities to low Earth orbit and the ISS is more than twice the FY 2012 appropriation level and $330 million higher than that authorized for FY 2013. This increased request for commercial crew development comes shortly after conferees noted in the Joint Explanatory Statement accompanying the FY 2012 appropriations that “significant unanswered questions remain about the long-term viability of the commercial space market” and provided $406 million for FY2012, less than half the requested amount for that year.  NASA has not yet provided an independent cost and schedule estimate for its commercial crew program.       

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

The FY 2013 budget for NIST includes an increase of $106.2 million (14.1 percent) from FY 2012.

Manufacturing.  More than half of the proposed increase in funding would be focused on advanced manufacturing research.  As part of this expanded focus on manufacturing, the budget proposes the creation of the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Consortia (AMTech) which would be focused on the creation of industry-led public-private consortia to identify research projects supporting long-term, precompetitive industrial research needs in advanced manufacturing. AMTech was first proposed as part of the FY 2012 budget, but was ultimately not funded by Congress. We believe that the Majority has not been supportive of the concept due to concerns about the appropriate role of the Federal Government in funding research by the private sector. The budget also proposes $1 billion in mandatory funding to NIST for the establishment of a National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (NNMI). The budget describes NNMI as collaboration between NIST, the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, and the National Science Foundation to promote the development of manufacturing technologies with broad applications. While we await more details on this collaborative proposal, as a general matter we strongly encourage the Budget Committee to provide sufficient allocations to fund manufacturing technology initiatives designed to create American jobs and support American businesses.

Cybersecurity.  The budget request for FY 2013 once again supports NIST's important cybersecurity activities.  We strongly support NIST's longstanding responsibilities relating to cybersecurity and remain committed to ensuring that NIST's technical expertise in this area, particularly as it relates to the development of cybersecurity standards and guidelines for Federal agencies and U.S. industry, continues to be an integral part of the Federal Government's cybersecurity efforts. 

Forensic Science.  Since the release of the National Research Council's report on forensic science more than three years ago, we have been committed to improving forensic science in the United States and have been particularly interested in identifying the appropriate role for NIST in accomplishing this goal.  For this reason, we are pleased that the FY 2013 budget request focuses on enhancing the scientific validity of forensic evidence and enabling reliable and accurate forensic practice through the development of new measurement tools and stronger measurement methodologies. 

Technology Innovation Program. Our Members are disappointed that, for the first time in 25 years, NIST will not be operating a program providing early stage investment to accelerate the development of innovative technologies with the potential for significant commercial payoffs.  While we understand that the decision to end the Technology Innovation Program (TIP) was forced upon NIST by Congress in the FY 2012 appropriations bill, we are concerned about the void created by the termination of this promising program and its future implications for economic growth and jobs.   We hope to work with the Budget Committee, our other colleagues in Congress, and the Administration in finding an appropriate replacement for TIP as soon as possible. 

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) budget request for FY 2013 is $5.1 billion, a 3 percent increase ($154 million) over the FY12 enacted levels. The President’s Request for NOAA reflects numerous tough choices, resulting in program terminations and budget cuts that include cutting the NOAA Education Program by more than half (a $14 million decrease) and terminating the National Mesonet.

Satellites. The bulk of the NOAA increase is for the Procurement, Acquisition, and Construction of the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite – R Series (GOES-R), which gets a $186 million increase.  GOES-R is scheduled to be launched in 2015.  There is a decrease of $34 million for the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS), formerly the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite (NPOESS) and its climate sensors We understand and support the necessity of this ramp-up in funding for GOES-R in order to ensure that it is ready for launch by 2015. However, we remain concerned about ensuring adequate funding requests to keep JPSS-1 on track, as well as the potential data gap between the current Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP) satellite and the launch of JPSS-1.

National Weather Service. The National Weather Service is the only line office within the agency to receive a significant decrease in funding. In the FY 2013 budget request, NWS receives a $30 million decrease in the operations and research budget for local warnings and forecasts during a time of increased severe weather around the country.

While we generally support the President’s request for NOAA, we are concerned that funding for the NWS and JPSS may be insufficient to meet the Nation’s needs and provide the best warnings and forecasts, but we must await more details from the agency before we can make a final decision on these specific requests.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

The EPA R&D account includes a modest $8 million increase that reflects investments in many of our Committee’s priorities. The Science and Technology account shifts priorities, with increases in some areas and decreases in others. The proposed decreases will still allow EPA to maintain much of its intramural research activities.

Despite claims in the Majority’s Views that they have conducted oversight revealing weak science at EPA, the record reviewed to date largely reveals that EPA’s problems with science have been a result of underfunding of its research enterprise and lack of a sufficient degree of independence to carry out its day-to-day activities.  No facts that have been brought before the Committee would lead to a reasoned conclusion that the way to fix EPA is to cut its science budget.  We support the Administration’s request for EPA's R&D account.

Department of Energy (DOE)

We understand that prioritization is important in a time of fiscal austerity. This theme appears to be reflected throughout the Department of Energy's budget as a number of programs are slated to sustain large cuts while others see significant boosts in support. This is a significant departure from budget requests of recent years which typically included steady increases of varying degrees for most programs. In fact, the overall request of $27.1 billion for DOE is considerably less ambitious than last year’s request of $29.5 billion. Generally, we agree with the budget's shift towards more of a focus on emerging "clean" energy technology research, and less of a focus on technology development for the conventional and commercially-mature energy sectors. However, we do not agree that this is the appropriate time to make substantial cuts to fundamental basic research activities within the Office of Science, and we urge the Budget Committee to allocate sufficient funding to sustain the research communities and world-class facilities it supports.

Our over-reliance on foreign, heavily-polluting, and finite sources of energy and on a rapidly aging energy infrastructure threaten our national security, economic well-being, and environmental health, as well as our standing as the world leader in technology development. Now, more than ever, it is critical for the U.S. to invest in an energy research and innovation system that matches the scale and complexity of the energy challenges we face. The path is simple. Federal investment in research leads to technological innovation, which in turn leads to economic development, well-paying jobs, and a more sustainable future.

The DOE Office of Science is the nation’s primary supporter of basic research in the physical sciences, operating 10 of DOE’s National Laboratories, and supporting roughly 25,000 government, academic, and industry researchers from all 50 states in facilities both here and abroad. It supports research in fields as diverse as materials science, biology, nanotechnology, plasma science, and supercomputing – all of which are essential to the development of advanced energy technologies - as well as fundamental research in particle and nuclear physics.  The Office of Science oversees the construction and operation of some of the world's most advanced R&D user facilities, including supercomputers, particle accelerators, x-ray light sources, and neutron scattering facilities that enable the examination of materials and chemical processes for a wide range of industrial and basic energy research applications.  We are concerned that a number of cuts proposed in this budget will force these facilities to reduce, suspend, or terminate operations, and thus greatly hinder our ability to maintain U.S. technological competitiveness, develop new energy solutions, and educate the next generation of scientists, innovators, and technicians.

We support the request for the Office of Science's Biological and Environmental Research (BER) and feel strongly that its activities are consistent with the Department's mission. BER focuses on generating breakthroughs in biological system science critical to development of biomass-based liquid transportation fuels, biobased products, and bioenergy. Furthermore, BER conducts research to understand the fundamental science associated with climate change, as well as DOE’s environmental challenges related to legacy nuclear waste management. Congress authorized DOE to conduct climate research in the Global Change Research Act of 1990. As with the other agencies in the US Global Change Research Program, there are unique and indispensable technical and scientific capabilities found only at DOE. Furthermore, in its charge to support the development of a national energy system that is both secure and environmentally sound, the Department must anticipate the effect of these systems on the future global climate.  We do not agree that climate change is a subject unworthy of study and reasoned action based on knowledge. 

Investments in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy serve to strengthen U.S. scientific and economic leadership by advancing innovation in a range of technology areas, supporting the next generation of scientists and technology leaders, seeding the industries of tomorrow, and ultimately laying the groundwork for a cleaner, more sustainable energy future.  We do not agree with those in the Majority who think that increased investments in energy efficiency or in non-fossil fuel sources of energy are ill-considered.  We recognize that precious taxpayer dollars are better leveraged in a constrained budgetary environment by increased investment in research on the clean energy technologies that EERE focuses on, and less on the conventional energy sectors that have already enjoyed decades of government support and resulting commercial success.  While we commend the Administration for prioritizing its innovation programs by shifting some resources away from commercially-mature areas within EERE, we are concerned that additional cuts to EERE would limit the program's ability to pursue emerging research areas, and ultimately do lasting harm to our ability to meet our energy objectives and compete in the global marketplace.

Every Member feels the pressure to act to bring down energy prices now and insulate our economy from future price shocks. With less than 8% of technically-recoverable global oil reserves, the U.S. cannot drill its way to energy independence, regardless of the technological advances in drilling.  Furthermore, oil, gas, nuclear, and coal have benefitted from decades of direct taxpayer support and are now among the most profitable industries in the world. Members recognize the value of these industries to the U.S. economy, and understand that some continued taxpayer-funded research can yield improvements in efficiency and environmental impact.  However, Democratic Members believe that a better balance must be achieved within the DOE research portfolio.

It is also time to take seriously the need to modernize our energy infrastructure and transition away from outdated technologies.  We have extended the lifetimes and stretched the infrastructure’s capacity to the point where massive new investments will be needed in the near future.  We understand we must take this opportunity and leverage our resources to transition to a new, cleaner, more efficient, and "smarter" energy grid that gives both energy suppliers and consumers more control, and therefore we support the President's request for the Office of Electricity Deliverability and Energy Reliability.

Finally, ARPA-E has been an undeniable success.  If allowed the time and resources to thrive, ARPA-E may well represent the first of a new generation of smaller, more agile and effective, and more efficient research programs.  ARPA-E is oversubscribed, seeing far more good ideas than it can afford to sponsor. For ARPA-E to be effective, it must continue to grow beyond its relatively modest current level of $250 million, and because of its structure it is well-suited to do so.  Therefore we support the proposed increase in the President's budget request.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

The FY 2013 budget for the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate is $831.5 million, a $163.5 million (24.5 percent) increase over FY 2012 levels. This funding level would return the S & T Directorate to its FY 2011 funding level, which was still $180 million less than the funding level in FY 2010.

As the Directorate has experienced sharp decreases in funding in recent years, it has been forced to prioritize some research areas over others and fund only its top priorities (biological defense, cybersecurity, explosive detection, and first responder technologies) with its limited resources. With the proposed increase in funding, the Directorate has identified a number of additional priorities (border security, chemical attack resiliency, counterterrorism, and information sharing and interoperability) as areas for which it will resume funding.

We support the level of the President’s request and believe that the Congress should expand DHS’s research enterprise back to its FY2011 level with an eye to stabilizing it in that range for the coming years.  The yo-yoing of funding that has occurred to date is disruptive to the agency and damages its research enterprise.

Department of Transportation

Research and development at the Department of Transportation (DOT) has historically often been conducted in a stove-piped manner, meaning that research projects are very specific to the needs of a specific mode (i.e. railroads, freight, or mass transit). The stove-piped nature of DOT research has resulted in research gaps, duplication, and a fragmented national agenda.  Our Committee has tried to improve the coordination of research across DOT’s components through the establishment of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA). While RITA is charged with coordinating DOT’s research programs and advancing the deployment of cross-cutting technologies, its impact has been limited in part by a lack of prominence within DOT.  The President’s FY2013 budget request proposes to address these concerns by transforming RITA into a new office, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology within the Office of the Secretary, funded at $14 million.  According to the proposal, this will strengthen research functions across DOT by providing a prominent centralized focus on research and technology.  We certainly support these goals and look forward to learning more about the proposal.  We remain committed to ensuring an effective and coordinated research strategy at DOT.

Economic Development Administration

The FY 2013 budget also requests $25 million in dedicated funding for the Regional Innovation Strategies Program at the Economic Development Administration (EDA).  This program, which was authorized in the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010, will encourage the development of new businesses, products, or services through strategic investments that help communities leverage their regional assets to spur innovation.  Although dedicated funding was also requested for this program in FY 2012, Congress chose instead to require EDA to support these activities out of its Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) account.  We strongly support the request for a separate account line for the Regional Innovation Strategies Program.  A distinct line of funding will enable EDA to carry out this program as intended in the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act without being unnecessarily constrained by the limitations inherent in the EAA program.