Spurred by budget proposals that could severely reduce science funding (Eos, March 24, March 3, February 10), seven scientists currently serving as Congressional Science or State Department Fellows recently founded a political action committee (PAC) for scientists. The Science and Technology Political Action Committee (SCITEC-PAC) aims to make scientists more politically aware and better informed about potential legislative actions that affect research. It will also serve to ‘establish a political presence’ with respect to science, said Donald Stein, SCITEC-PAC's chairman.
The organization is not a lobbying group, explained Stein, professor of neurology and psychology at Clark University and the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. ‘Lobbyists seek to influence officials by presenting information to them,’ he said, ‘while a PAC tries to influence the outcome of elections through campaign contributions of money, time, and effort in behalf of candidates that share similar goals and aspirations.’ In other words, the PAC will be a vehicle for promoting candidates for federal office who advocate strong support for scientific research and training. In addition, the PAC will develop and study science policy and budget issues and will attempt to stimulate government and private sector interest in these issues.