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FYI Number 103: June 29, 2005

Senate Appropriators Recommend 1.1% Increase for NSF

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science has sent its FY 2006 funding bill, H.R. 2862, to the floor. This newly established subcommittee, chaired by Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), with Democratic Ranking Member Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), recommends an increase in the National Science Foundation budget of 1.1%. The House bill provides an increase of 3.1% (see http://www.aip.org/fyi/2005/087.html for additional House numbers and report language.)

The following selections are from Senate Report 109-88 pertaining to physics, astronomy, major research equipment and education programs. Readers wishing to read the complete report language may do so at http://thomas.loc.gov/ under "Committee Information."

OVERALL:

The Bush Administration requested $5,605.0 million, an increase of $132 million or 2.4% above this year's total budget of $5,472.8 million.

The Senate bill recommends an increase of 1.1% or $58.2 million to $5,531.0 million.

The House bill would provide an increase of 3.1% or $170.6 million to $5,643.4 million.

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 Senate bill recommends an increase of 3.0% or $124.6 million to $4,345.2 million.

The House bill would provide an increase of 3.7 % or $157.0 million to $4,377.5 million.

The Senate Appropriations Committee report states:

"The Committee has provided the budget request of $386,930,000 for polar research activities. Within this amount, no more than the base funding in the budget submission, as well as an additional $48,000,000 for ice breaking, as requested by the administration, is provided for icebreaking activities. The Committee has included bill language clarifying that the Director of NSF shall procure polar ice breaking services from the Coast Guard. However, if the Coast Guard is unable to provide ice breaking services, NSF shall procure such services from alternative sources. The Committee expects the Director of NSF, the Commandant of the Coast Guard, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy to work jointly to ensure that the Coast Guard ice breaking fleet is capable of meeting NSF's future polar ice breaking needs."

"NSF has been the lead agency for the National Nanotechnology Initiative, and will continue to contribute to this emerging technology. The Committee recommends the full funding level requested for nanotechnology. This level of funding will allow the Foundation to continue to be the leader for this initiative. NSF is encouraged to make sure that public misconceptions of this field are minimized."

"The Committee is concerned that NSF continues to underfund operations for radio astronomy. The operations, maintenance, and development of new instrumentation at the Very Large Array, the Very Long Baseline Array, and the Green Bank Telescope allows these world-class facilities to provide valuable research into the origins of the universe. The Committee recommends $51,400,000 for the operations of the National Radio Astronomy Observatories."

MAJOR RESEARCH EQUIPMENT AND FACILITIES CONSTRUCTION:

The Administration requested $250.0 million.

The Senate bill would provide $193.4 million. The Senate bill does not fund RSVP.

The House bill also would provide $193.4 million. The House bill also does not fund RSVP.

"The Committee recommends $49,240,000 for the Atacama Large Millimeter Array [ALMA] [same as House bill], $50,620,000 for EarthScope [same as House bill], $33,400,000 for the IceCube Neutrino Observatory [House bill was $50,450,000], and $57,920,000 for the Scientific Ocean Drilling Vessel [same as the House bill.] [Discrepancy in total and individual line items unexplained.]

"The Committee has chosen not to fund the Rare Symmetry Violating Processes [RSVP] project. Recent developments have caused unacceptable increases in the program. NSF is directed to apply the $14,880,000 in remaining fiscal year 2005 funds to the projects funded in fiscal year 2006, which will bring total funding for projects in this account to $208,230,000. This will allow for full funding of the four projects receiving funds in fiscal year 2006 from the Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction [MREFC] account.

"If the Foundation chooses to alter or descope the RSVP proposal which the National Science Board has already approved, the new project shall begin the process for inclusion as an MREFC project again at the directorate level within the Research and Related Activities account."

EDUCATION AND HUMAN RESOURCES:

The Administration requested a cut of 12.4 % or $104.4 million for Education and Human Resources, from $841.4 million to $737.0 million.

The Senate bill recommends a cut of 11.2% or $94.4 million to $747.0 million.

The House bill recommends a cut of 4.1% or $34.4 million to $807.0 million.

"The Committee strongly encourages NSF to continue support for undergraduate science and engineering education. At a time when enrollment in STEM fields of study continues to decline, it is important that NSF use its position to support students working towards degrees in these areas.

"NSF plays a significant role in attracting more of the best and brightest students in the Nation into the science, mathematics, engineering, and technology fields. The Committee urges NSF to work towards increasing the number of women, minorities, and other underrepresented groups to the greatest extent possible.

"To address the importance of broadening science and technology participation to minorities, the Committee recommendation includes the amounts in the budget request for the Historically Black Colleges and Universities--Undergraduate Program [HBCU-UP], the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation program and the HBCU-Research University Science & Technology [THRUST] initiative within the Centers of Research Excellence in Science and Technology [CREST] program. The Committee also supports the budget request for the Tribal Colleges and Universities program. In past years, these programs had been routinely cut, however, NSF has chosen to keep funding these programs near prior year funding levels. The Committee is supportive of this decision and anticipates that further attempts to cut these programs will not occur.

"The Committee has included $100,000,000 for the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research [EPSCoR], of which at least $65,000,000 shall be used for the Research Infrastructure Improvement [RII] component supporting research areas aligned with statewide EPSCoR science and technology priorities. [The House bill provided $97.0 million.]

"Finally, the Committee rejects the administration's continued request to have the Math and Science Partnership [MSP] program only exist at the Department of Education. Current activities initiated by MSP are only beginning to provide measurable results and have yet to be ready for implementation on a nationwide basis. The MSP program is an important asset in providing improved math and science education by partnering local school districts with faculty of colleges and universities. For this purpose an increase of $4,000,000 above the budget request is provided to the MSP program to be used to fund activities that are not being addressed by the companion program at the Department of Education." [The House bill provided the requested $60.0 million.]

 

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

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