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Educational groups ask White House for opportunity to comment on STEM changes

Two national higher education groups have asked the White House to create a way for public interests to comment on STEM program changes in the Obama administration’s FY 2014 budget proposal.

The Association of American Universities and the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities sent a letter to the White House Office of Management and Budget and the Office of Science and Technology asking that the offices provide a formal mechanism for stakeholder engagement and comment on plans to consolidate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics educational program in only three federal agencies.

The two organizations expressed specific concerns about premature actions by some agencies to discontinue STEM programs and about decreased support for some discipline-specific fellowship programs.

The action comes in response to an April 2013 announcement from the White House that funding for STEM programs will be consolidated in only three agencies — the U.S. Department of Education, the National Science Foundation, and the Smithsonian Institution — down from 14 in the FY 2012 budget. The number STEM programs will drop from 226 to 112, but the FY 2014 budget for STEM programming will increase by 6.7% or $195 million.