Approved by the Infrastructure and Research Policy Committee on April 15, 2021
Approved by the Public Policy and Practice Committee on May 5, 2021
Adopted by the Board on Direction on July 16, 2021
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) believes that science and engineering play a critical role in the development of federal, state, and local policies.
ASCE believes that scientists and engineers employed or sponsored funded by government organizations should be given autonomy to conduct their research unencumbered by political influence. ASCE further believes that the above referenced scientists and engineers should be permitted to communicate and share their unclassified findings and assessments not only with their colleagues but also with policymakers and to the public in an unfettered and timely manner.
The federal research enterprise has been tremendously successful over the decades because, unlike in many other countries, it has largely remained insulated from political pressures and interference. It is among the roles of government and government funded scientists and engineers to provide the factual basis for the decisions made by government policy makers and the public. Without the use of objective facts, decision makers cannot be assured of making decisions which reflect the most currently accepted scientific knowledge and may make decisions which will ultimately harm the public health, safety, welfare, and the environment.
The United States continues to have the largest global share of research and development (R&D) in the world. This is accomplished through a combination of investments by the government and the business sector. Since 2000, the share of R&D sponsored by the federal government has declined and it has mostly been replaced by investments from the business sector. The government sponsored R&D is crucial to the higher education sector as well as the nation’s basic research enterprise. (Source: Science and Engineering Indicators 2020).
The civil engineering profession relies on scientific and engineering advances funded by the federal government, among others, to develop objective facts leading to new products and processes to better protect the public health, safety, and welfare of our society. Additionally, other professions rely on the steady advancement in science and engineering to provide for our national prosperity and a better quality of life, as well as present and future sustainability through improvements in a range of fields including medicine, energy, computing, manufacturing, agriculture, construction, aeronautics, technology, and many others.
ASCE Policy Statement 550
First Approved 2017