The Senate Appropriations Committee has completed work on the FY 2003
VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies Appropriations Act. S. 2797 provides
funding for the National Science Foundation, NASA, and a wide range
of other federal departments and agencies. The Senate appropriations
report language on NSF was expansive. Below are selected passages from
Senate Report 107-222. Readers are urged to consult the report at http://thomas.loc.gov/
for report language on reprogramming, computer and information science,
broadband, mathematical science and biological sciences. A forthcoming
FYI will be issued on the Education and Human Resources section of the
report. Note that the House has not acted on its version of this legislation.
A conference between House and Senate appropriators will occur in September.
First, the numbers:
The total NSF budget would increase 11.8%, or $564.1 million, from
$4,789.2 million to $5,353.4 million.
The Research and Related Activities (R&RA) budget would increase
14.8%, or $533.0 million, from $3,598.6 million to $4,131.6 million.
Within the R&RA category, the Mathematical and Physical Sciences
budget would increase 14.8%, or $136.1 million, from $920.5 million
to $1,056.6 million.
Within the R&RA category, the Geosciences budget would increase
12.3%, or $75.0 million, from $609.5 million to $684.5 million.
Within the R&RA category, the Engineering budget would increase
20.3%, or $95.7 million, from $472.3 million to $568.0 million.
The Education and Human Resources budget would increase 8.3%, or $72.7
million, from $875.0 million to $947.8 million.
The Major Research Equipment and Facilities budget would decline 42.9%,
or $59.5 million, from $138.8 million to $79.3 million.
The following are selections from the committee report:
COMMITTEE'S APPROACH TO FUNDING NSF:
"The Committee was guided in its allocation of resources for the
Foundation by two central considerations." "First, productivity
growth, powered by new knowledge and technological innovation, makes
the economic benefits of a comprehensive fundamental research and education
enterprise abundantly clear. New products, processes, entire new industries,
and the employment opportunities that result, depend upon rapid advances
in research and their equally rapid movement into the marketplace. In
today's global economy, continued progress in science and engineering
and the transfer of the knowledge developed is vital if the United States
is to maintain its competitiveness.
"In addition, the events of September 11 and subsequent anthrax
attacks demonstrate that a nation strong in science and technology can
respond rapidly and effectively to crises and changing national circumstances.
Fundamental research across the full spectrum of science and engineering
disciplines in an appropriately balanced manner, together with the highly
skilled workforce that makes research and innovation possible, provides
the intellectual capital for the nation to draw upon in times of need.
A growing stock of knowledge focused on the frontiers of research increases
the options available for response. A diverse, internationally competitive,
and globally engaged science and engineering workforce accelerates the
development of new technologies to meet unexpected needs."
RESEARCH AND RELATED ACTIVITIES:
"The Committee is concerned that the size and number of awards
made by the Foundation are far below what is needed to enable our research
scientists and engineers to meet the challenges presented by our global
competitors. The Committee urges the Foundation, to the maximum extent
possible, to use the growth in resources being provided to make a marked
and substantial increase in the average award, as well as increase the
number of awards being made with special efforts made to include those
individuals and institutions not well represented in the Nation's research
"The Committee's recommendation provides $567,980,000 for engineering.
This is $80,000,000 more than the request. These additional funds are
to strengthen the nanoscience and engineering initiative in the engineering
"The Committee is providing $1,056,570,000 for the mathematical
and physical sciences. The Committee has increased the fiscal year 2003
request for the physics, chemistry, astronomy, materials research and
multidisciplinary research subactivities by a total of $135,000,000.
The Committee remains concerned that support for the physical sciences
has not kept pace with the growth in other disciplines. Yet it is the
sustained investment in these disciplines that has enabled the development
of today's advanced weapon systems, state-of-the-art medical diagnostic
equipment, and improved communications systems. The Committee's recommendation
will strengthen the core research and instrumentation programs in these
subactivities as well as adequately support the national astronomy centers
in West Virginia, New Mexico, and elsewhere, and other NSF physical
science facilities. The Committee also directs NSF to provide adequate
support for preparatory work for the Giant Segmented Mirror Telescope
(GSMT). The GSMT was one of the highest priorities recommended in the
National Academy of Sciences Astronomy and Astrophysics Committee's
"The Committee also encourages NASA and NSF to work together on
the Large-aperture Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST). The LSST was highly
recommended in the recent National Academy of Sciences decadal survey
and is designed to survey the visible sky to a much fainter level than
that reached by existing surveys. It is expected to catalog 90 percent
of the near-Earth objects larger than 300 meters and assess the threat
they pose to life on Earth. Its ability to find and catalog primitive
objects in the Kuiper Belt is expected to significantly aid in the success
of NASA's Pluto-Kuiper Belt Explorer mission.
"From the additional funds provided for the mathematical and physical
sciences directorate, the Committee is adjusting the request by providing
an additional $7,300,000 for the national radio astronomy observatories,
$4,200,000 for the national optical astronomy observatories, and $14,500,000
for the Indiana University Cyclotron Facility, the National High Magnetic
Field Laboratory, the Wisconsin Synchrotron Radiation Center, and other
facilities. The Committee's recommendation also includes the $4,000,000
requested for the continuation of the Telescope System Instrumentation
Program which was initiated by the Committee in fiscal year 2002."
"The Committee's recommendation provides $684,490,000 for geosciences
research. This is $75,020,000 more than the fiscal year 2002 level.
The Committee has rejected the Administration's proposal to transfer
programs from NOAA, EPA and the USGS. In lieu of the transfer, the Committee
is directing that the funds provided be used to augment high priority
research activities in the earth, atmospheric, and ocean sciences. The
Committee supports the efforts being made to develop multi-year strategic
plans in the atmospheric sciences and in ocean drilling. As a result,
the Committee expects NSF will use $15,000,000 of the increase to augment
support for the national user facilities in this directorate and move
forward on the integrated ocean drilling program.
"The Committee supports the important research being performed
at the International Arctic Research Center (IARC). The Committee understands
that the cooperative agreement between the Foundation and the International
Arctic Research Center (IARC) will expire on April 30, 2003. Accordingly,
the Committee urges NSF to work with the Center and the University of
Alaska to renew the cooperative agreement.
"The Committee provided funds in fiscal year 2001 to begin the
design and model testing of a vessel to replace the R/V Alpha Helix
. . . . "
"The Committee has also increased the request for U.S. polar research
programs by $10,000,000 to support priority research and infrastructure
"As a key part of the Administration's climate change research
initiative, the Committee recognizes the Nation needs substantially
better information on the current and future state of the ocean and
its role in environmental change. Adequate predictive capability is
a prerequisite to the development of sound policies at the national
and regional level, policies ranging from maritime commerce to public
health, from fisheries to safety of life and property, from climate
change to national security. The Committee urges NSF to move ahead to
support an ocean observatories initiative that is tightly integrated
with the Administration's interagency climate change science program."
"The Committee is providing an additional $50,000,000 to augment
the request for the major research instrumentation program. The Committee
reiterates its long-standing concern about the infrastructure needs
of developing institutions, historically black colleges and universities;
and other minority-serving colleges and universities. The Committee
directs NSF to use these additional funds to support the merit-based
instrumentation and infrastructure needs of these institutions.
"The Committee's recommendation includes an additional $10,000,000
for the innovation partnership program. With these funds, NSF is to
support competitive, merit-based partnerships, consisting of States,
local and regional entities, industry, academic institutions, and other
related organizations for innovation-focused local and regional technology
MAJOR RESEARCH EQUIPMENT AND FACILITIES CONSTRUCTION:
"Within this account, the Committee's recommendation includes
funding for the following projects: $20,000,000 for Earthscope; $30,000,000
for the Atacama Large Millimeter Array telescope; $9,720,000 for the
Large Hadron Collider; $13,560,000 for the Network for Earthquake Engineering
Simulation; and $6,000,000 for South Pole Station."
"The Committee remains concerned about the Foundation's management
of large scale construction projects and the priority setting process
used to select projects to be funded. The Committee received a report
from NSF required by Public Law 107-73 which addressed a number of issues
of concern to the Committee. However neither the report nor the budget
justifications addressed the way in which criteria are used by the agency
and the National Science Board in setting priorities among new and potential
new starts. A recent audit by the Inspector General identified a number
of issues in both the financial management and project management of
previously funded projects . . . ."
"The Committee also supports provisions under consideration by
the authorizing committees to establish a more transparent process for
the establishment of priorities with respect to the funding of major
research equipment and facilities construction. The Committee believes
a more open and understandable process, which includes National Science
Board and NSB Committee meetings, are important aspects of such a priority
"In addition, despite repeated concerns expressed by the Congress
and the Inspector General, NSF has not addressed adequately the management
and funding problems associated with large research facilities funded
through the major research equipment and facilities construction account
(formerly named the major research equipment or MRE account). . . ."
"The Committee notes that NSF is proposing to spend $40,000,000
over the next 3 years to develop two National Ecological Observatory
Network (NEON) sites. The Committee notes that NSF considers this the
first phase of NEON. Information on the full NEON concept, including
cost estimates, has yet to be provided to the Committee. In the absence
of such information, and without prejudice, the Committee is not prepared
to recommend funding for NEON at this time.
"The Committee urges NSF to continue moving forward with the IceCube
Neutrino Detector Observatory. The technology developed by IceCube's
precursor project has proven successful at detecting high-energy atmospheric
neutrinos. Continued development is expected to lead to a new era in
astronomy in which researchers will have unique opportunities to analyze
some of the most distant and significant events in the formulation and
evolution of the universe."