At Last: Senate Appropriations Bill for NSF It paid to wait. Senate VA, HUD Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Christopher "Kit" Bond (R-MO) and Ranking Minority Member Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) sat on their bill until the Senate leadership found a way to provide them with more money. The result is a bill that would give the National Science Foundation an increase of 10.3% in FY 2001 funding.
And this may not be the upper limit. While Bond and Mikulski had $3.6 billion more to work with than their House counterparts, the entire bill is still about $2 billion less than what the White House is looking for. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-AK) expects that more money will be needed before the President will sign the bill. That will require the lifting of the budget caps, something which will involve considerable negotiations with fiscal conservatives in both chambers. The total difference between Congress and the President for all the appropriations bills is $23 billion. Bridging the gap will not be very elegant, but a way will be found. The current House schedule calls for the final version of H.R. 4635 to be complete by September 19. House appropriations subcommittee chairman James Walsh (R-NY), Ranking Minority Member Alan Mollohan (D-WV) and Senators Bond and Mikulski will be the key players in the resolution of the final bill.
Here are the numbers and some of the details. The committee report language is extensive; the following selections are three pages long. As an aid to the reader, a key descriptive word is capitalized within most paragraphs:
OVER-ALL NSF BUDGET: The Administration requested an increase of 17.3%. The House-passed bill would provide an increase of 4.3%, while the Senate committee bill would provide a 10.3% increase.
RESEARCH AND RELATED ACTIVITIES: The Administration requested an increase of 19.7%. The House bill would provide 5.7%, while the Senate committee bill would provide a 9.7% increase. The Senate committee report states: "The Committee supports fully the Foundation's efforts to push the boundaries of science and technology issues, especially in the areas of information technology, biotechnology, and the administration's new focus on nanotechnology. The Committee also applauds the Foundation's efforts to address the problem of science and mathematics education among K-12, undergraduate, and graduate students. However, in order for the Foundation to reach successfully its research and education goals, it must reach out to individuals and schools that have not participated fully in NSF's programs. Accordingly, the Committee remains concerned about the administration's request for programs designed to assist minorities, women, and schools that have not received significant Federal support."
"To further NSF's major initiatives, the Committee recommends an additional $125,000,000 in new funding to enhance its COMPUTER AND INFORMATION SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING ACTIVITIES consistent with the President's Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC) recommendations in its February 1999 report...."
"The Committee recommends $75,000,000 for the Foundation's BIOCOMPLEXITY initiative, an increase of $25,000,000 over last year's level...." "The Committee recommends $65,000,000 for the Plant Genome Research Program and supports the Foundation's request to initiate the new `2010 Project' and supplement the program with $20,000,000 from other basic research activities throughout the biological sciences directorate...."
"The Committee recommends $125,000,000 for the new multi-agency NANOTECHNOLOGY INITIATIVE. The Committee believes that the recommended level of funding will be adequate for the Foundation to begin this initiative in a field that is still regarded to be in its infancy. The recommended level is less than the $216,700,000 requested level due to concerns about the Foundation taking on another major interagency initiative when its administrative resources have remained relatively flat. The Committee expects the Foundation to work with the Office of Science and Technology Policy in carefully crafting a detailed, rational long-term strategy with performance outcome measurements for the nanotechnology initiative. Further, the Committee directs NSF to include in its budget justifications for fiscal year 2002, a workload-analysis plan that identifies the resources necessary for the Foundation to carry out this initiative and other current and future program responsibilities." The House report did not include specific language on nanotechnology.
"The Committee recognizes the significant infrastructure needs of our nation's research institutions, especially for SMALLER RESEARCH INSTITUTIONS that have not traditionally benefitted from Federal programs. The Committee is especially concerned about the larger schools receiving a disproportionate share of scarce Federal resources from indirect cost reimbursements to fund infrastructure needs. As a result, the Committee recommends $75,000,000 to the Foundation's Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) account to address the infrastructure needs of research institutions. NSF is encouraged to target these funds in assisting smaller research institutions."
"The Committee notes the recent 3 year, $15,000,000 cooperative agreement between NSF and the International ARCTIC Research Center (IARC). The Committee commends NSF for its commitment to the international cooperative research opportunities made available through IARC."
"The Committee notes that NSF is participating in a multi-agency effort to determine the future needs of the U.S. RESEARCH VESSEL FLEET. The Committee is aware that a replacement vessel for the R/V Alpha Helix, an arctic research vessel, has a useful life of 2 to 3 years remaining. The Committee recommends that NSF begin the design and model testing of a vessel to replace the R/V Alpha Helix and provides $1,000,000 for this purpose."
"The Committee is very concerned that NSF has not proposed to maintain adequately its existing ASTRONOMY facilities. In last year's Senate report, the Committee expressed its support for enhanced operations and maintenance and development of new instrumentation at the Very Large Array and the Very Long Baseline Array in New Mexico and continued construction of the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia. Now that the Green Bank Telescope is completed, these astronomy facilities need to be supported in their operations, and new instrumentation and upgrades must be provided to keep them as world class facilities. Accordingly, the Committee provides an additional $13,000,000 above the fiscal year 2001 request levels for the astronomical sciences subactivity for these facilities."
"The Committee is very supportive of the research and development activities being conducted at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (NHMFL). Based at Florida State University with the University of Florida and Los Alamos National Laboratory as its partners, the laboratory has attracted world-class scientists and engineers and has developed state-of-the-art facilities like no other place in the world. The NHMFL has submitted its renewal proposal to the Foundation earlier this year and is being currently reviewed by NSF and the National Science Board for final funding decisions this fall. The Committee supports strongly the laboratory and the work it has accomplished and hopes that the Foundation continues its support for this outstanding facility."
"Lastly, the Committee recognizes the Foundation's funded research in the social, behavioral, and economic sciences (SBE) area. The Committee is especially interested in SBE activities to raise SCIENCE LITERACY, which is a problem in this country that will impact the economic health and competitiveness of the nation. The Committee also encourages the continued involvement of behavioral and social science research in NSF's multi-disciplinary initiatives, including information technology and 21st Century WORKFORCE. Further, the Committee encourages NSF to formulate a plan for increasing the number of young investigators in SBE and other research areas."
MAJOR RESEARCH EQUIPMENT: "The Committee recommends an appropriation of $109,100,000 for major research equipment. This amount is $15,600,000 more than the fiscal year 2000 enacted level and $29,440,000 below the budget request. The Committee has provided $45,000,000 for a second Terascale Computing System [House: zero], $16,400,000 for the Large Hadron Collider [House: same], and $6,000,000 for the Millimeter Array [House: same]. The Committee has also provided $28,200,000 to continue the construction of the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation [House: same], and $13,500,000 for the south pole station modernization efforts [House: same]. No funding is provided for the new EarthScope or the National Ecological Observatory Network [House: same] projects as requested by the administration due to budgetary constraints."
EDUCATION AND HUMAN RESOURCES: "The Committee recommends an appropriation of $765,352,000 for education and human resources (EHR). This amount is $74,480,000 more than the fiscal year 2000 enacted level and $36,342,000 more than the budget request." Both the administration and the House bill provided essentially flat funding.
"The Committee is deeply disappointed by the administration's lack of support in its budget request for assisting SMALLER RESEARCH INSTITUTIONS AND MINORITIES The Committee is particularly troubled by the lack of support provided to the Office of Innovation Partnerships (OIP) and the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research EPSCoR)...."
"To address the importance of broadening science and technology participation to MINORITIES, the Committee recommendation includes $12,000,000 for the Historically Black Colleges and Universities--Undergraduate Program (HBCU-UP), an increase of $3,620,000 over the fiscal year 2000 enacted level and $3,000,000 more than the budget request...." "The Committee notes that Alaska and Hawaii do not provide higher education to Native students through the TRIBAL COLLEGE SYSTEM...." "The Committee also strongly supports the Foundation's programs to support WOMEN and PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES. Specifically, the Committee recommends $16,500,000 for programs designated for women and persons with disabilities."
"The Committee supports the Foundation's efforts to strengthen the nation's SECURITY OF ITS INFORMATION INFRASTRUCTURE. The Committee is providing $11,200,000 for the new Scholarships for Service program to build a cadre of individuals in the Federal sector with the skills to protect the nation's information systems."
"The Committee also continues its strong support for the INFORMAL SCIENCE EDUCATION (ISE) program. The Committee especially values the ISE program in raising interest among children and young adults in science and technology and notes the success of certain settings.... The ISE has also played a role in the development of science teachers. The Committee supports NSF's fiscal year 2001 focus on building collaborations between informal and formal science institutions, opportunities for underrepresented groups, involvement of parents, and enhancement of public understanding of mathematics."
"The Committee recognizes the importance of RESEARCH IN NUCLEAR SCIENCE. NSF's investment is primarily in basic nuclear science and NSF-supported research has led to important applications seen in medicine such as CAT scans, nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and positron emission tomography (PET scans). The Committee, however, is concerned by the declining Federal support in nuclear engineering education. Accordingly, the Committee directs the Foundation to review the academic interest in nuclear engineering education and to provide recommendations on how NSF can support this area. The findings and recommendations should be provided to the Committee by no later than March 15, 2001."
"The Committee is also concerned by the funding levels proposed by the Administration for the Foundation's GRADUATE RESEARCH EDUCATION PROGRAMS. The Committee is concerned particularly with the proposed reduction in funding for the highly successful and prestigious Graduate Research Fellowships (GRF) program. This highly competitive program has produced 18 Nobel Prize winners since 1975. The Committee is very supportive of the GRF program and provides $55,200,000 for fiscal year 2002. This will allow the Foundation to raise the annual stipend amount from its current level of $16,200 to $18,000 per award. The Committee believes that the increased stipend will improve the Foundation's ability to attract the best and brightest students into the science, mathematics, engineering, and technology fields. The Committee also urges NSF to increase the GRF program to 900 for the next competition. The Committee also provides an increase of $7,500,000 to the Graduate Teaching Fellows in K-12 Education program, raising the program level to $15,000,000 for fiscal year 2002. While this level is below the President's requested level of $28,000,000, the Committee believes that it is difficult to justify a substantial increase to a program that has only been in place for a year and whose performance has not been assessed."
Richard M. Jones