WASHINGTON, Jan. 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Astronomical Society (AAS), the national organization of professional astronomers in the United States, with more than 7500 members, has taken a formal position on how the U.S. government should establish and maintain priorities in conducting scientific programs. The position statement, enclosed below, was endorsed by all five Divisions of the AAS as well as by the parent society. (Division members include persons who are members of the Society as well as other affiliated scientists). The Divisions are: the Division for Planetary Sciences, Division on Dynamical Astronomy, High Energy Astrophysics Division, Historical Astronomy Division, and the Solar Physics Division. AAS President Dr. J. Craig Wheeler, who is Samuel T. and Fern Yanagisawa Regents Professor of Astronomy at the University of Texas, at Austin, commented, "The American Astronomical Society has recently ratified a set of policies under which the Society will strive for the most productive science with finite resources. We feel that the best way to accomplish this is to have broad community input in establishing scientific priorities based on realistic cost estimates. Our statement also makes clear that the Society does not condone attempts by individual facilities or missions to engineer specific directed congressional language that has the likelihood of subverting those priorities arrived through broad community input such as the decadal surveys sponsored by the National Research Council." Here is the AAS position statement: On Community-based Priority Setting in the Astronomical Sciences Adopted 24 January 2008 The American Astronomical Society and each of its five divisions strongly endorse community-based priority setting as a fundamental component in the effective federal funding of research. Broad community input is required in making difficult decisions that will be respected by policy makers and stake-holders. The decadal surveys are the premier examples of how to set priorities with community input. Other National Academy studies, standing advisory committees, senior reviews, and town hall meetings are important components. Mid-decade adjustments should also be open to appropriate community input. Pleadings outside this process for specific Congressional language to benefit projects or alter priorities are counterproductive and harm science as a whole. The American Astronomical Society opposes all attempts to circumvent the established and successful community-based priority-setting processes currently in place.
SOURCE American Astronomical Society