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FYI Number 17: February 13, 2002

Bush Administration FY 2003 Request for National Science Foundation

"The National Science Foundation is requesting $5.036 billion for FY 2003, $240 million or 5% more than the previous fiscal year. For the United States to stay on the leading edge of discovery and innovation, we cannot do less," declared NSF Director Rita Colwell at her briefing on the FY 2003 request.

There are three major research components to the NSF budget. Funding for Research and Related Activities would increase 5.1% to $3.78 billion. The Education and Human Resources budget would increase 3.8% to $908 million. The Major Research Equipment budget would decline 9% to $126 million.

Of note in the FY 2003 budget is the requested 11.3% increase for nanoscale science and engineering. Graduate stipends in three NSF programs would increase from $21,500 to $25,000 for the academic year 2003-2004. Two new facility projects would be started: the National Ecological Observatory Network ($12 million) and Earthscope ($35 million.) $15 million would be allocated for a climate change research initiative. Grant size would increase to an annual $120,000, up $30,000 since 1998.

A closer look at the aggregate figures shows that of the $240 million requested increase, almost one-third, or $76 million, results from the transfer of three programs from other agencies: NOAA's National Sea Grant program would be transferred to NSF for $57 million, USGS's toxic substances hydrology research program would be transferred for $10 million, and $9 million would be moved from an EPA environmental education program. An Office of Management and Budget document stated that "these transfers will take advantage of NSF's competitive culture and demonstrated quality of results." At her briefing, Colwell said that she had "no personal opinion" on the transfers, and would not predict program changes that might occur as a result of the transfers. After subtracting the transferred money, the requested increase in the NSF budget is 3.3%, or $164 million.

Comparing this 3.3% increase (or the 5.0% unadjusted increase) to other S&T agency requests provides perspective. The budget for the Department of Energy's Office of Science would remain flat. The National Institutes of Health budget would increase 15.7%.

Requests for physics-related programs follow. NSF's Education and Human Resources budget request will be covered in a later FYI. Figures compare the current budget to the requested FY 2003 budget:

PHYSICS SUBACTIVITY: Down 1.3%, or $2.57 million, to $193.31 million.

Lower priority research would be reduced $3.76 million, to be offset partially by increased funding for Physics Frontiers Centers. Facilities funding would increase by $190,000; support would be terminated for IUCF, while funding would increase for the Michigan State National Superconducting Cyclotron Lab's radioactive ion beam facility and for LIGO. This subactivity's budget would provide $60 million for high- energy physics.

MATERIALS RESEARCH SUBACTIVITY: Down 0.1%, or $0.19 million, to $219.32 million.

Funding would increase by $5.61 million to $70.93 million for Nanoscale Science and Engineering and would increase for Information Technology Research. Support would decline approximately 4% for the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory. Funding for lower priority research will be reduced.

ASTRONOMICAL SCIENCES SUBACTIVITY: Down 2.8%, or $4.61 million, to $161.25 million.

The budget document states that $64.32 million will be allocated for research and instrumentation support to advance cosmology and the origin and evolution of the universe and planet and star formation. Support for the Gemini Observatories would increase $340,000, NIAC support would decline $400,000, NOAO funding would decline $1.0 million, and the NRAO budget would decline $800,000. $4.0 million is provided for the Telescope System Instrumentation Program.

GEOSCIENCES ACTIVITY: Up 13.4%, or $81.60 million, to $691.07 million.

Within this activity are three subactivities. Atmospheric Sciences Subactivity funding would increase 8.4%, or $16.9 million, to $218.92 million. Earth Sciences Subactivity funding would increase 21.2%, or $26.74 million to $153.14 million. Ocean Sciences Subactivity funding would increase 13.5%, or $37.96 million, to $319.01 million. Note that the NOAA, USGS, and EPA programs that would be transferred to NSF would be placed in the Geosciences Activity. These transfers total $74.09 million. Subtracting this amount reduces the Geosciences Activity requested increase to 1.2%.

ENGINEERING ACTIVITY: Up 3.3%, or $15.66 million, to $487.98 million.

Within this activity are six subactivities. Bioengineering and Environmental Systems Subactivity funding would increase 5.0%, or $2.08 million, to $43.87 million. The budget for the Chemical and Transport Systems Subactivity would increase 3.8%, or $2.17 million, to $58.94 million. The Civil and Mechanical Systems Subactivity budget would increase 3.0%, or $1.69 million, to $57.75 million. The Design, Manufacture, and Industrial Innovation Subactivity budget would increase 3.7%, or $5.03 million, to $141.23 million. The budget for the Electrical and Communications Systems Subactivity would increase 2.9%, or $1.87 million, to $66.70 million. The Engineering Education and Centers Subactivity budget would increase 2.4%, or $2.82 million, to $119.49 million.

The above research is funded through the NSF's Research and Related Activities budget. Another component of the NSF budget is that for MAJOR RESEARCH EQUIPMENT AND FACILITIES CONSTRUCTION, which "supports the acquisition, construction, and commissioning of major research facilities and equipment." Planning and design, and follow on operations and maintenance expenses are provided through the Research and Related Activities budget. Funding for the MREFC budget is down 9.0%, or $12.52 million, to $126.28 million. Funding would continue for Atacama Large Millimeter Array, Large Hadron Collider, Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation, South Pole Station Modernization Project, and Terascale Computing Systems. Two new projects would be started: Earthscope and the National Ecological Observatory Network Phase I. NSF did not request funding for the IceCube R&D project and the High-performance Instrumented Airborne Platform for Environmental Research. The budget document notes that NSF is also not requesting funding for the Rare Symmetry Violating Processes (RSVP), the Ocean Observatories Initiative, and Scientific Ocean Drilling.

Another component of the NSF budget is that for U.S. POLAR PROGRAMS. The request is up 2.0%, or $6.0 million over the current year to $303.81 million. Funding for the U.S. Polar Research Programs Activity would increase 2.6%, or $6.0 million to $235.75 million. Within this activity are five programs. Arctic Research Program funding would increase 2.9%, or $1.06 million, to $37.84 million. Arctic Research Support and Logistics funding would remain constant at $26.00 million. The budget for the Arctic Research Commission would increase 5.9%, or $0.06 million to $1.08 million. The budget for the Antarctic Research Grants Program would increase 1.7%, or $0.68 million. The Operations and Science Support budget would increase 3.3%, or $4.20 million, to $130.36 million. Funding for U.S. Antarctic Logistical Support Activities would remain level at $68.07 million.

Richard M. Jones
Media and Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics,
fyi@aip.org
(301) 209-3095

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