House Appropriations Bill: National Science Foundation The House of Representatives is now considering the FY 2001 appropriations bill funding the National Science Foundation. Accompanying this bill, H.R. 4635, is a report prepared by the VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee containing recommendations and guidance for foundation officials. While this report language does not have the weight of law, it is important. Selections from this House Appropriations report, 106-674, follow:
RESEARCH AND RELATED ACTIVITIES:
The House bill provides an increase of 5.7% for Research and Related Activities, compared to the 19.7% requested by the administration. Recommended budgets for various subactivities are correspondingly less than the request (Mathematical and Physical Sciences: 5.9% compared to the requested 16.3%; Geosciences: 7.4% compared to 19.5%; Engineering: 5.8% compared to 19.6%) The committee report states: "The Committee's recommendation has been developed using the same percentage increase for each directorate as that proposed in the budget submission. In its distribution of funds within each directorate, the Foundation is directed to provide each program, project, and activity the same percentage as that proposed in the budget request."
The report later continues: "The Committee is concerned with the lack of research addressing linkages between human health and the world's oceans. Marine systems and processes impact public health in a variety of ways included natural disasters, waterborne diseases, and toxic algal blooms." NSF is directed to work with the "National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and other relevant agencies and research institutions to examine this [National Science Board] report and identify specific areas of cooperation that should be jointly pursued to more fully understand and mitigate the impacts of the oceans on public health, particularly in the areas of lessening the human consequences of natural disasters, minimizing the outbreak and spread of epidemics and toxic algal blooms, keeping recreational beaches and seafood safe, and extracting life-savings products from the sea."
Regarding astronomical sciences, the committee report states: "he Committee recognizes that the proposed funding allocations within the astronomical sciences are governed by an overall concern and priority for individual investigator awards. However, the facilities component of the proposed allocation is slated for an increase that is marginally above zero and is less than inflation. Noting that these outstanding facilities serve the research programs of individual investigator programs nationwide and should thus be maintained at a level necessary to enhance operations, morale, and momentum within each facility program, the NSF is strongly encouraged to provide a more appropriate balance between the individual investigator awards and facilities operations."
MAJOR RESEARCH EQUIPMENT:
The House bill reduced the administration's request for Major Research Equipment by $61.9 million. In explaining its action, the committee report states: "The Committee recommends a total of $76,600,000 for the major research equipment account for fiscal year 2001. This appropriation reflects the budget request levels of $6,000,000 for the Millimeter Array, $16,400,000 for the Large Hadron Collider, $13,500,000 for continued construction of the new South Pole Station, and $28,200,000 for the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation. The Committee has also included $12,500,000 to continue production of the High-Performance Instrumented Airborne Platform for Environmental Research (HIAPER). The Committee recognizes the atmospheric science community's need for such a new high-altitude research aircraft, and notes that this aircraft went through a multiple-year review and selection process prior to its approval and endorsement by the National Science Board. The Congress provided $10,000,000 for this important project in the fiscal 2000 appropriation, which amount was subsequently reduced disproportionately by the Foundation in an across-the-board reduction.
"Because of budget constraints, the Committee determined not to begin funding on two new research facilities proposed in the budget submission, the USArray and San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth (SAFOD), and the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON). The Committee believes both projects have great merit and notes that its action was taken without prejudice.
"The Committee has also not included $45,000,000 for a second Terascale Computing System as requested in the budget submission. The Committee is not prepared to commit resources to the construction of this additional five teraflop computing facility until the first such facility is constructed and has become operational. Once such construction is complete and operations have commenced, the Committee expects the Foundation to provide a report detailing all aspects of this activity, including pertinent and up-to-date cost data, so that an informed decision can be made on moving forward with one or more additional such facilities."
EDUCATION AND HUMAN RESOURCES:
The House bill reduced the administration's request by $34.7 million. Funded at the requested level were the following programs: Educational System Reform; Innovative Partnerships/EPSCoR; Elementary, Secondary and Informal Education; Human Resource Development; and Research, Evaluation and Communication.
Undergraduate Education received almost $30 million less, with the report stating: "Within the amount provided for Undergraduate Education, $34,250,000 has been provided for Advanced Technological Education, an increase of $5,000,000 over the fiscal 2000 level, and $13,000,000, the same as in fiscal 2000, has been recommended for the National SMETE Digital Library. No funding has been provided for the Distinguished Teaching Scholars program or for the new Scholarships for Service (SFS) program. The Committee recognizes the potential long-term value of this newly proposed SFS program. However, before financial resources are provided, the Committee is aware of several, significant operational details which must first be worked out among all interested parties."
Graduate Education was increased by $5 million over the request, with the report stating: "Within the Graduate Education programs, Graduate Teaching Fellowships in K-12 Education has been provided $19,750,000, a $10,750,000 increase over the fiscal 2000 spending level."
The Senate VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies Appropriations bill will be going to the full appropriations committee in the near future.
Richard M. Jones