U.S. Representatives Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), and Robert J. Dold (R-Ill.) today joined several business, university, scientific and public policy organizations at a Capitol Hill press conference to announce the creation of the Golden Goose Award.
The new award will highlight the often unexpected or serendipitous nature of basic scientific research by honoring federally funded researchers whose work may once have been viewed as unusual, odd or obscure, but has produced important discoveries benefitting society in significant ways. Other members of Congress supporting the Golden Goose Award include Representatives Jason Altmire (D-Pa.), Rush Holt (D-N.J.) and Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.).
"We've all seen reports that ridicule odd-sounding research projects as examples of government waste," said Rep. Cooper, who had the original idea for the award. "The Golden Goose Award does the opposite. It recognizes that a valuable federally funded research project may sound funny, but its purpose is no laughing matter. I hope more of my colleagues will join us in supporting, not killing, the goose that lays the golden egg."
The name of the award is based on the fable about the goose that laid the golden egg. Its sponsors view America's federally funded research enterprise as an extremely valuable goose whose golden eggs are the innovations and discoveries born from basic research that transform lives and fuel the economy.
It also references the "Golden Fleece Award," bestowed by the late Senator William Proxmire (D-Wisc.), on examples of what he considered to be wasteful spending. Sen. Proxmire often targeted federally funded research with his award.
"Federal support for basic scientific research creates jobs, fosters innovation, and improves the American people's quality of life," said Rep. Dent. "As the Golden Goose Award will demonstrate, research supported by the federal government has led to remarkable breakthroughs and valuable scientific developments that affect our lives on a daily basis. As winners of the Golden Goose are determined by the Selection Committee, I look forward to learning more about the incredible achievements made possible by federal investment in research."
"The need for productive scientific research is something that we can all agree on. Providing the tools necessary to support innovative research is an important investment for the health of our country and the world," said Rep. Dold. "Science plays an important role in our economy, as many jobs in this field go unfilled. We must continue to invest in this field and similar fields so that more people have the resources they need to find a job."
Building from Rep. Cooper's original idea to highlight seemingly obscure research that has led to major breakthroughs and significant societal impact, a coalition of scientific, business, university and public policy groups have organized to launch the Golden Goose Award. These groups share the belief that federally funded basic scientific research is the cornerstone of American innovation and essential to the nation's economic growth and global competitiveness. They include: the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the Association of American Universities (AAU), the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), the Breakthrough Institute, the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI), The Science Coalition (TSC), and the Task Force on American Innovation.
"Research is the seed corn of technology development, innovation, and economic growth. Indeed as much as half of U.S. economic growth since World War II has been the result of advances in science and technology," said Dr. Alan Leshner, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. "Yet there is an urgent need to inform policymakers and the public about the nature of basic scientific research and about the relationship between that research and the economy - we can't grow our economy if we don't fund the scientific research that supports it. This is why the message behind the Golden Goose Award is so important."
The Golden Goose Award will honor federally funded researchers whose work, though seemingly obscure or odd-sounding when it took place, contributed to an important discovery or breakthrough, including development of life-saving medicines and treatments; game-changing social and behavioral insights; and major technological advances related to national security, energy, the environment, communications, and public health. Such breakthroughs may also have resulted in economic growth through the creation of new industries or companies. All of the work will have occurred in the past as the Golden Goose Award is not intended to honor current research that might lead to future breakthroughs.
The first Golden Goose Awards are expected to be announced in September 2012. Awardees will be selected by a panel of outside experts. These individuals bring a broad range of perspectives to the task of assessing the significance of work done by the nominees. They include: Bruce Alberts, editor-in-chief, Science; Wendy Baldwin, President/CEO, Population Reference Bureau and former Deputy Director for Extramural Research, National Institutes of Health; Mel Bernstein, senior vice provost for research and graduate education, Northeastern University; Steve Fluharty, senior vice provost for research, University of Pennsylvania; Dennis Hall, vice provost for research and dean of the graduate school, Vanderbilt University; Sharon Hays, Vice President, Office of Science and Engineering at CSC and Associate Director for Science in the Office of Science and Technology Policy under George W. Bush; Burton Richter, Nobel Prize-winning physicist; and Leslie Tolbert, senior vice president for research, University of Arizona.
About the Golden Goose founding organizations:
American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS): The American Association for the Advancement of Science is an international non-profit organization dedicated to advancing science around the world by serving as an educator, leader, spokesperson and professional association. In addition to organizing membership activities, AAAS publishes the journal Science, as well as many scientific newsletters, books and reports, and spearheads programs that raise the bar of understanding for science worldwide.
Association of American Universities (AAU): The Association of American Universities is an association of 59 preeminent U.S. research universities and two Canadian counterparts organized to develop and implement effective national and institutional policies supporting research and scholarship, graduate and professional education, undergraduate education, and public service in research universities.
Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU): Founded in 1887, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (A۰P۰L۰U) is an association of public research universities, land-grant institutions, and many state public university systems. Its 219 members enroll more than 4.7 million students, award nearly one-million degrees annually, and conduct nearly two-thirds of all academic research, totaling more than $34 billion annually. As the nation's oldest higher education association, A۰P۰L۰U is dedicated to excellence in learning, discovery and engagement.
Breakthrough Institute: The Breakthrough Institute is a paradigm-shifting think tank committed to modernizing liberal thought for the 21st Century. Our core values are integrity, imagination and audacity. Our goal is to accelerate the transition to a future where all the world's inhabitants can enjoy secure, free, prosperous, and fulfilling lives on an ecologically vibrant planet.
Progressive Policy Institute (PPI): The Progressive Policy Institute is an independent, innovative and high-impact D.C.-based think tank founded in 1989. As the original "idea mill" for President Bill Clinton's New Democrats, PPI has a long legacy of promoting break-the-mold ideas aimed at economic growth, national security and modern, performance-based government. Today, PPI's unique mix of political realism and policy innovation continues to make it a leading source of pragmatic and creative ideas. PPI is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization.
The Science Coalition (TSC): The Science Coalition is a non-profit, nonpartisan organization of the nation's leading public and private research universities. It is dedicated to sustaining strong federal funding of basic scientific research as a means to stimulate the economy, spur innovation and drive America's global competitiveness.
Task Force on American Innovation: The Task Force is a coalition of businesses and business organizations, scientific societies, and higher education associations founded in 2004 to advocate for greater federal investments for basic research in the physical sciences and engineering. The group focuses on the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy Office of Science, the Department of Defense research budget, the National Institute of Standards and Technology labs at the Department of Commerce, and NASA.