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FYI Number 98: July 27, 2001

Appropriations Report Language on NSF: Major Research Equipment

As noted in FYI #97, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have released their reports accompanying the FY 2002 VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies Appropriations Bills. Below is the full report language pertaining to Major Research Equipment, excerpted from House Report 107-159 and Senate Report 107-43. Readers wishing to view the entire text of both reports may do so here. See FYI #97 for additional discussion of major research equipment in the reports' sections on Research and Related Activities. House and Senate appropriators will meet to decide on final language before a final vote is taken on this legislation in both chambers.


"The Committee recommends a total of $135,300,000 for the major research construction and equipment account for fiscal year 2002. This appropriation reflects the budget request levels of $16,900,000 for the Large Hadron Collider, and $24,400,000 for the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation.

"In addition, the Committee has provided $35,000,000 for Terrascale Computing Systems, $35,000,000 for continued development of the High-Performance Instrumented Airborne Platform for Environmental Research (HIAPER), $15,000,000 for initiation of the IceCube Neutrino Detector project, and $9,000,000 to maintain ongoing development activities for the Atacama Large Millimeter Array.

"With regard to HIAPER, the Committee's recommendation is expected to provide for the purchase of the appropriate airframe as well as preliminary planning, development and/or acquisition of necessary modifications of the airframe for research purposes, instrumentation, data systems, and engineering activities.

"The Committee has also included $15,000,000 to initiate the IceCube Neutrino Detector physics/astronomy project recently approved by the National Science Board. This project, building on the successful AMANDA demonstration, is designed to more fully develop knowledge of the origins of the universe as well as the fundamental nature of physical matter using its unique polar telescope. This device will allow scientists to measure, quantify and analyze neutrino particles and their role in these basic questions of science. The amount provided for fiscal 2002 will support development and acquisition of new generation technology, including new polar drilling equipment, and other steps necessary to begin construction of IceCube as soon as possible.

"The Committee recognizes that the statutory language utilized to make appropriations for both the Research and Related Activities account and the Major Research Construction and Equipment account has provided significant flexibility for the Foundation to provide adequate resources to ongoing projects and programs. The Committee also recognizes that certain aspects of such projects or programs can reasonably be considered appropriately funded from either of these two accounts. "

"Nevertheless, the Committee believes that for the Foundation to maintain clear and distinct records of spending activities related to each aforementioned account, it is necessary to provide definitive guidance throughout the Foundation as to which specific activities are to be accounted for within each account. Therefore, the Committee directs the Foundation to develop such guidance, which shall be submitted to the Committees on Appropriations for review no later than October 31, 2001. In this regard and to better define the activities within this account, the Committee has recommended that the Major Research Equipment account be retitled Major Research Facilities Construction and Equipment."


"The Committee recommends an appropriation of $108,832,000 for major research equipment. This amount is $12,498,000 less than the fiscal year 2001 appropriation and $12,500,000 above the budget request.

"The Committee has provided $16,900,000 for the Large Hadron Collider, $24,400,000 for the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation, $55,000,000 for Terascale Computing Systems, and $12,500,000 for initial construction of the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) radio telescope.

"The Committee supports initiation of construction of the ALMA radio telescope and has provided the necessary resources to start construction. ALMA has conducted thorough design and development, established management systems for proper technical and organizational support, and entered into international cooperative agreements. ALMA is also listed as one of the highest priority projects in ground based astronomy.

"Nevertheless, due to problems raised by the Inspector General in a recent audit report on another large scale project, the Committee directs NSF to withhold the expenditure of the ALMA funds until it has been able to adequately assure the Committee that NSF has established management and financial controls so that capital construction expenditures are derived solely from the major research equipment appropriation account. The Committee directs the Foundation to include details of its management and financial controls at the earliest opportunity but no later than the fiscal year 2002 operating plan submission.

"The Committee directs NSF to continue to provide multi-year budgets and milestones in the Justification of Estimates for all projects funded or proposed to be funded through the major research equipment account. Additionally, the Committee directs the Foundation to also include within the Justification of Estimates for the major research equipment account information on potential new starts that are undergoing planning and development.

Displayed in priority order, the information on these potential projects should include multi-year budget estimates, the status of the project's development, a time line for its consideration by the NSF including National Science Board review and approval, the rationale for its priority ranking, and other relevant information such as contingency funding needs, if necessary. The Committee appreciates that scientific opportunities and technological modifications may become available unexpectedly that could lead to changes in project readiness and priority within this account. By including the requested information in each year's annual budget, the Foundation will keep the Committee more adequately informed of such developments.

"The Committee encourages the Foundation to move forward with the South Pole Station Antarctic Muon and Neutrino Detector (AMANDA) project to its next phase, called IceCube. The Committee is advised the National Science Board has recently approved this project. AMANDA's technological approach has proven successful at detecting high-energy atmospheric neutrinos. Continued development is expected to lead to a new era in astronomy in which scientists will have unique opportunities to analyze some of the most distant and significant events in the formation and evolution of the universe."

Richard M. Jones
Public Information Division
American Institute of Physics
(301) 209-3095

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