Tomorrow, the House of Representatives starts its consideration of
the FY 2006 Science, State, Justice, Commerce appropriations bill. The
accompanying House Report 109-118 was just released, with its recommendation
for a 3.1% increase in funding for the National Science Foundation over
Below is the report language pertaining to the foundation, generally;
the Research and Related Activities; and Major Research Equipment sections
of the report. A forthcoming FYI will provide the report language on
Education and Human Resources.
OVERALL NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION:
As detailed in http://www.aip.org/fyi/2005/017.html,
the Bush Administration requested $5,605.0 million, an increase of $132
million or 2.4% above this year's budget of $5,472.8 million. The bill
written by appropriations subcommittee chairman Frank Wolf (R-VA) would
provide an increase of 3.1%. The report states:
"The Committee recommendation includes a total of $5,643,370,000
for the National Science Foundation (NSF), which is $170,546,000 above
the current year funding level and $38,370,000 above the request.
"Established in 1950, the National Science Foundation's
primary purpose was to develop a national policy on science, and support
and promote basic research and education in the sciences filling the
void left after World War II. The Committee is committed to keeping
the Foundation's current activities true to the founding purpose of
supporting basic scientific research."
RESEARCH AND RELATED ACTIVITIES:
The Administration requested a 2.7% or $113 million increase for Research
and Related Activities, from $4,220.6 million to $4,333.5 million. The
FY 2006 bill would provide an increase of 3.7%. The report contains
important language on polar icebreaking ships, nanoelectronics, and
a new inducement award, and is as follows:
"The Committee recommends a total of $4,377,520,000
for Research and Related Activities. The recommendation is $156,964,000
above the fiscal year 2005 level and $44,030,000 above the request.
"The recommendation does not include specific funding
allocations for each directorate or for individual programs and activities.
The Foundation is directed to submit a proposed spending plan to the
Committee for its consideration within 30 days of enactment of this
Act that addresses the Foundation's highest priority research requirements.
This spending plan shall be subject to the reprogramming procedures
in section 605 of this Act.
"Language is included that provides up to $425,000,000
for Polar research and operations support, as requested. The recommended
funding level in this account acknowledges the decision of the Administration
to shift funding for polar icebreaking from the budget of the Coast
Guard to that of the NSF. Language is included allowing the NSF Director
to use funds under this account to reimburse the Coast Guard for services
provided in support of the NSF's mission. Additional language is included
requiring that any such reimbursement be treated as a reprogramming
of funds under section 605. The Committee believes that burdening
the NSF with the responsibility for maintenance and long-term modernization
costs of the Coast Guard icebreaking fleet would irresponsibly jeopardize
the nation's primary source of funding for critical basic scientific
research. While using Coast Guard capabilities may be necessary to
meet fiscal year 2006 requirements, the Committee expects NSF to immediately
begin a concurrent pursuit of alternative, more economical, icebreaking
solutions for 2006 and beyond. The Committee directs NSF to pursue
the most cost-effective means of obtaining icebreaking services in
the Antarctic for the 2005-2006 season, including, but not limited
to, reimbursing the Coast Guard on a mutually agreed upon basis for
the operations and maintenance of the U.S. polar icebreaking fleet.
NSF is specifically given the flexibility to pursue alternatives to
current operations. Should NSF continue to utilize the Coast Guard
for icebreaking capabilities in fiscal year 2006, the Committee would
expect NSF to model a reimbursement agreement with the Coast Guard
on their successful Memorandum of Understanding with the Defense Department.
"The Committee is aware of studies currently underway
to review the Nation's icebreaking needs and to examine options for
supporting the presence the United States has maintained in the Antarctic
for the past four decades. The Committee directs NSF to immediately
inform the Committee when the results and recommendations from these
studies become available. The Committee anticipates a preliminary
report on options for meeting long-term icebreaking needs from the
National Academies in September. No later than December 31, 2005,
the Committee expects a report from the Office of Polar Programs advisory
committee outlining options and potential costs for alternative means
of providing logistical support to the McMurdo and South Pole stations
in the event that icebreaking capabilities are not available.
"The Committee commends NSF for its Silicon Nanoelectronics
and Beyond program which involves the sponsorship of research in the
areas of information technology and electronics. The Committee encourages
NSF to continue the support of such research in fiscal year 2006.
"The Committee is aware that NSF's Children Research
Initiative has assisted important interdisciplinary collaborations
that are making important contributions to research in child development.
The Committee expects NSF to continue its research efforts in this
area in FY 2006.
"The recommendation includes language that allows funds
provided under this account to be available for innovation inducement
prizes. The concept of inducement awards to encourage broad involvement
in solving a specifically stated scientific problem has been a catalyst
for scientific advancement since at least the early 18th century.
In 1999, a National Academies workshop on this topic encouraged Federal
agencies to make more extensive use of this mechanism to pursue particular
scientific and technological objectives. The Committee expects NSF
to engage the National Academies to craft a prize or categories of
prizes that would be of an appropriate scale and to develop the rules
and conditions for awarding prizes, and to report back to the Committee
on plans to initiate a prize program in fiscal year 2006. The Committee
strongly encourages NSF to use this mechanism, particularly in programs
that specifically emphasize innovation, to focus on high risk/high
payoff research projects. The Committee also expects NSF to encourage
private sector involvement in the effort to create a prize program."
MAJOR RESEARCH EQUIPMENT AND FACILITIES CONSTRUCTION:
The Administration requested $250.0 million for FY 2006. The House
bill does not include the requested $41.78 million for the Rare Symmetry
Violating Processes; all other projects would be funded at the requested
level. The report language in its entirety states:
"The Committee recommends a total of $193,350,000 for
the major research equipment and facilities construction account for
fiscal year 2006, an increase of $19,700,000 above the fiscal year
2005 funding level and $56,660,000 below the request. This account
provides funding for the construction of major research facilities
that provide unique capabilities at the cutting edge of science and
"The Committee recommendation assumes that, in addition
to new fiscal year 2006 appropriations, at least $14,880,000 will
be available from prior year appropriations, for a total available
funding level of $208,230,000. The Committee recommendation includes
funding for the following major projects: $49,240,000 for Atacama
Large Millimeter Array construction; $50,620,000 for EarthScope; $50,450,000
for the IceCube Neutrino Observatory; and $57,920,000 for the Scientific
Ocean Drilling Vessel. The recommendation does not provide for any
new project starts, as none were requested."
Richard M. Jones
Media and Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics