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FYI Number 43: April 11, 2001

National Science Foundation FY 2002 Request

"We feel our major needs are being met," said National Science Foundation Director Rita Colwell at Monday's briefing on the Bush Administration's $4.47 billion NSF request for FY 2002. Saying that it was to credit of the administration that it was holding the line on discretionary spending, Colwell characterized the foundation as being "fortunate" in this budget cycle.

President Bush has requested a 1.3%, or $56 million increase in the foundation's budget for FY 2002. Research and Related Activities funding would decline 0.5%, which Colwell said would enable NSF to maintain its current level of support. Education and Human Resources funding is the "Highlight" in the request Colwell declared, which would increase 11.0%. There would be no new starts under the foundation's Major Research Equipment activity.

The budget submission to Congress identifies several Highlights and Priorities. The first is a $200 million Math and Science Partnership Initiative. NSF will lead this initiative that would, according to the budget document, "provide funds for states and local school districts to join with institutions of higher education, particularly with their departments of mathematics, science, and engineering, to strengthen K-12 math and science education." NSF also requests $8 million to increase from $18,000 to $20,500, for academic year 2002-2003, the stipends for Graduate Research Fellowships, the Graduate Teaching Fellowships in K-12 Education, and the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship programs. NSF hopes this will attract more students into graduate education in science and engineering.

Interdisciplinary Mathematics will be a "centerpiece" of NSF's core investments in FY 2002. "This emphasis on the mathematical sciences recognizes its increasingly critical role in advancing interdisciplinary science," states the budget document. This budget would increase by 16.5%. Four interdependent priority areas are identified. Each will receive funding increases to maintain the momentum of previous foundation investments, Colwell said. One of these is Nanoscale Science and Engineering, which would increase 16.1%. Identified as an Additional FY 2002 Highlight is the support NSF provides for the Large Hadron Collider, Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation, and the Terascale Computing System.

In responding to questions, Colwell said that the FY 2002 request "lays the foundation for sustained increases over the long term." She said that further work needs to be done in Washington and across America to fully explain the importance of the research supported by NSF. Colwell's response to a question about NIH's 13.5% requested increase concentrated on the foundation's own initiatives. "I do think that future looks bright," she declared, calling on the scientific community to work together to present what she called a powerful message about the importance of scientific research.

Forthcoming FYIs will detail physics-related programs in the FY 2002 NSF request.

Richard M. Jones
Media and Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics
(301) 209-3095

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