Congress returns to Washington next week. House and Senate appropriators
will then begin drafting the FY 2004 appropriations bills. In many cases
the House version of these thirteen bills will likely have the lower
budget figure in this fall's House and Senate conference committees.
Getting the highest possible number in the House bills for S&T budgets
will be important. That is why the April 2 letter sent by House Science
Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) to House VA, HUD Appropriations
Subcommittee Chairman James Walsh (R-NY) is of great interest.
Walsh and Boehlert, both Republicans from adjoining districts in upstate
New York, are strong supporters of the National Science Foundation.
Where sometimes the relationship between authorizers and appropriators
is not as smooth as civics textbooks describe, these two key chairmen
work well together. In his letter, Chairman Boehlert expresses disappointment
in the calculated 3% requested budget increase for NSF and recommends
an increase of 20.4%, or $1,081 million in the foundation's budget.
Boehlert's letter highlights the importance of the Mathematics and Science
Education Partnership Program, Robert Noyce Scholarship Program, the
STEP Program, cyber security, and nanotechnology. The full text of the
Dear Chairman Walsh,
Over the course of the last month, I have been reviewing
the President's fiscal year 2004 budget request for the National Science
Foundation (NSF). I know that you share my disappointment that the
Administration requested only a 3 percent increase for NSF.
I recommend that Congress increase NSF's total budget to
$6,390,832,000, the amount authorized by the National Science Foundation
Authorization Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-368). This appropriation would
increase funding for NSF's core science programs, such as information
technology and nanotechnology, and it would enable the Foundation
to begin fully funding K-12 and undergraduate education programs,
and the large facility projects that have already been approved by
the National Science Board.
Funding the authorization of appropriations included in P.L.
107-368 would enable the third year of funding for the Mathematics
and Science Education Partnership Program, helping to assure that
math and science education reforms undertaken in the context of the
President's No Child Left Behind initiative will be grounded in sound
science. I strongly support this initiative and I request that you
fund it at the level requested by the President, $200 million.
Likewise, I ask that you fund the Robert Noyce Scholarship
Program at the authorized level of $20 million. This university-based
program will provide one- or two-year scholarships to undergraduate
mathematics and science majors who commit to teach elementary or secondary
mathematics math or science for two years for each year that they
receive a scholarship.
I also ask that you fund the Science, Mathematics, Engineering,
and Technology Talent Expansion Program (STEP) at the authorized level
of $30 million. STEP will fund innovative programs at institutions
of higher education to increase the number of students enrolled in
undergraduate science, mathematics, engineering, and technology degree
programs, particularly in fields that have faced declining enrollment
in recent years. Together with the Math and Science Education Partnership
Program and the Robert Noyce Scholarship Program, STEP will help the
reverse the decline in the number of American students pursuing careers
that require a high level of scientific and technical skill.
There are two areas of research at NSF that I believe deserve
special attention: cyber security and nanotechnology. Cyber security
research has assumed greater importance as the threats posed by cyber
terrorism and cyber crime have grown more rapidly than our capability
to counter them. Last year's Cyber Security Research and Development
Act (P.L. 107-305) authorized $105 million for cyber security research
at NSF in fiscal year 2004, including a cyber security research grants
program, a program to establish multidisciplinary Centers for Computer
and Network Security Research, and a program of capacity building
grants to establish or improve undergraduate and master's degree programs
in computer and network security. I believe cyber security research
should be among the Foundation's highest priorities and I urge you
to fund this research at the authorized level.
Nanotechnology is one of the most exciting and promising
scientific research endeavors underway today with widespread potential
benefits in information technology, medical improvements, military
systems, and energy production and distribution. NSF is the lead agency
in the President's multi-agency National Nanotechnology Initiative
and, as such, helps assure U.S. scientific leadership in an area that
is expected to underpin our future industrial competitiveness. Congress
authorized $350 million for nanoscale science and engineering (nanotechnology)
research at NSF. I request that you fund this activity at the authorized
Thank you for your consideration of my recommendations. I
look forward to working closely with you and with the Administration
to ensure that our nation makes the investments in education, research,
and development required to maintain America's scientific and engineering
Sherwood L. Boehlert,