Both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have released their
reports accompanying the VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies Appropriations
Bills. There is extensive language in each report on the National Science
Foundation. This is the first of three FYIs that will quote extensively
from these reports. This FYI will include language from both reports
on Research and Related Activities. Future FYIs will provide report
language on Major Research Equipment, and Education and Human Resources.
Appropriators from both subcommittees will conference to determine the
FYI #93 reported
that Senate appropriators had a higher allocation than did their House
counterparts. The opposite was true: House appropriators had an allocation
that was 4.5% above the current year, while Senate appropriators had
an allocation that was 4.4% higher.
The following report language is taken from House Report 107- 159
and Senate Report 107-43. Since these passages are extensive, capitalized
headings have been added. Note that some of the issues discussed below
also relate to education, and research equipment. Only those sections
directly related to FYI's coverage are included; readers wishing to
view the entire text of both reports may do so at http://thomas.loc.gov/.
HOUSE REPORT: ASTRONOMICAL SCIENCES
"Funds provided under this heading in the budget request
to maintain ongoing activities of the Atacama Large Millimeter Array
have been provided as a new appropriation within the Major Research
Facilities Construction and Equipment account. Within the additional
funds thus available for astronomical sciences, not less than $2,000,000
shall be used for the Telescope Systems Instrumentation Program (TSIP).
In addition, the Foundation is expected to aggressively continue its
program, begun last year, of upgrading on a priority basis its astronomical
facilities and equipment."
"The Committee is aware that the Foundation has plans to
retire certain national facilities in radio astronomy despite considerable
community interest and research need, until construction of the Atacama
Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) is completed. The Committee strongly
urges the Foundation to consider innovative proposals to privatize
these facilities operations as a cost-effective way to maintain critical
community access to them while lowering the overall financial resources
needed to do so."
HOUSE REPORT: NANOTECHNOLOGY
"Within the general Nanotechnology Science and Engineering
program area, the Committee urges NSF to consider a stronger emphasis
on research that explores biological mechanisms at the molecular force
level and then translates these findings up through hierarchical scales
of structure and organization to provide unique designs for engineered
devices. The primary technological impact of such research will be
the development of enabling technologies to create new `adaptive/smart'
sensing and actuation devices with applications that will directly
impact technological advancement and the economy, including bio-inspired
propulsion, locomotion, and actuation for robotics in the aeronautics,
marine, defense, and space industries; and miniature and functionally
complete mechanical systems for integration with silicon electronics."
SENATE REPORT: ASTRONOMICAL SCIENCES
"The National Academy of Sciences Astronomy and Astrophysics
Committee's Decadal Survey has recommended, as one of its most important
priorities, the Telescope Systems Instrumentation Program. This effort
is to provide cutting edge instrumentation and other infrastructure
improvements to the Nation's astronomy observatories as well as provide
access to non-federally funded telescopes for the general astronomy
community. The Committee notes that the astronomy subactivity request
included $9,000,000 for the ALMA radio telescope. Since the Committee
has addressed support for ALMA in the major research equipment account,
these resources should be redirected into the astronomical sciences
program element with $4,000,000 to be used for the TSIP initiative
and $5,000,000 to augment individual investigator support.
The Committee has also provided the budget request for the
additional operational enhancements for the Very Long Array (VLA)
radio telescope in Socorro, New Mexico, and the Green Bank Observatory
and Robert C. Byrd Radio Telescope in West Virginia. The Committee
expects the Foundation will continue its support for both Green Bank
and the VLA in future years. Finally, the Advanced Technology Solar
Telescope (ATST) has been identified as the most important initiative
in ground-based astronomy over the next decade in the Decadal Survey.
It will play a major role in our understanding of stellar structure,
plasma physics, and sun-earth interactions and will complement many
planned space missions. The NSF is urged to support preparatory work
for the ATST, including a survey of adequate sites and development
of adaptive optics technologies, at a sufficient level to enable this
program to be undertaken by 2005."
SENATE REPORT: NANOTECHNOLOGY
"The Committee has provided an additional $25,000,000 to
the request for nanoscience and engineering. Nanotechnology represents
the next frontier in science and engineering with the possibility
of revolutionizing nearly every aspect of society--from manufacturing
to disease diagnosis and treatment to computing and communications.
These funds will allow the Foundation to expand research at the molecular
and atomic scales and develop new techniques to aid in the application
of nanotechnology research results. The Committee is strongly supportive
of the Foundation's efforts in this area and expects the Administration
will continue to emphasize this initiative as part of its inter-agency
R&D planning process."
SENATE REPORT: GRADUATE STIPEND LEVELS
"The Committee applauds the Foundation's proposal for increasing
the stipend levels for graduate students in its education programs.
The Committee's support for this issue is reflected in the education
and human resources account. However, the Committee notes the Foundation
supports four times as many graduate students through its research
and related activities appropriation than it does through its graduate
programs in the education and human resources appropriation. The Committee
urges the Foundation to also emphasize, through its research grants,
contracts, and cooperative agreements, enhanced stipend levels for
graduate students and post-doctoral students. The fiscal year 2002
operating plan should provide information detailing how the Foundation
will achieve this objective."
SENATE REPORT: MINORITY INSTITUTION INSTRUMENTATION
"The Committee has provided $75,000,000 for the major research
instrumentation program. This is $25,000,000 more than the request
and equal to the fiscal year 2001 funding level. The Committee continues
to remain concerned about the ability of smaller institutions to adequately
participate in the Foundation's programs. Of particular interest to
the Committee is the infrastructure needs of non-PhD degree and minority
institutions. The Committee directs the Foundation to use the additional
$25,000,000 to specifically support the merit-based instrumentation
needs of these smaller research institutions."
SENATE REPORT: HOMESTAKE MINE LABORATORY
"The Committee is aware that a unique opportunity may be
available to acquire the Homestake Mine in Lead, South Dakota for
a world-class underground laboratory for physics, geology, and extreme
biology. The Committee has provided $10,000,000 in this appropriation
explicitly for the work necessary to maintain the site's integrity,
complete the review and determine the feasibility of this project.
The Committee expects that this review will be completed expeditiously
and that a decision regarding this proposal will be reflected in the
fiscal year 2003 budget. The Committee also expects that any funding
provided to preserve the integrity of the site will be subject to
appropriate peer-review, and directs that such review take place expeditiously
given the need to preserve the site and address workforce needs."
SENATE REPORT: POLAR ACTIVITIES
"The Committee supports the continued funding of the International
Arctic Research Center (IARC) under a recently approved 3 year, $15,000,000
cooperative agreement between NSF and the Center. The Committee recognizes
the contributions of IARC, which has become one of the leading research
institutions on global climate change in the arctic region. The Committee
held a field hearing on May 29, 2001 in Fairbanks, Alaska on global
climate change in the arctic region to highlight the importance of
this issue. Witnesses from both the Federal Government and research
community stressed the importance of increasing our knowledge and
understanding of climate change impacts and potential consequences.
The Committee acknowledges the importance of this research and urges
the Foundation to work with other Federal agencies and increase its
research support for the arctic region.
"The Committee commends the Foundation's Office of Polar
Programs for its support on global climate change research in the
arctic region. The Committee directs the Foundation to consult with
the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to determine the
feasibility of establishing the Barrow Arctic Research Center and
submit a report to the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations
with its recommendations, including cost estimates, by April 1, 2002."
SENATE REPORT: PEER REVIEW SYSTEM
"The Committee is troubled by the recent findings by the
National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) on the Foundation's
peer review system. In its February 2001 report, `A Study of the National
Science Foundation's Criteria for Project Selection,' NAPA found that
NSF is unable to assess the criteria to encourage a broader range
of institutions or greater participation of under-represented minority
researchers. In other words, while NSF claims to be making efforts
to assist smaller research institutions and minorities, in practice,
this does not occur. NAPA recommended that NSF should institute broader-based
review panels by bringing in participants from a wider range of institutions,
disciplines, and under-represented minorities. The Committee urges
NSF to immediately institute changes to its peer review process that
reflect these recommendations."
Richard M. Jones
Public Information Division
American Institute of Physics