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FYI Number 84: June 26, 2006

House Appropriators Recommend 7.9% Increase for NSF

The National Science Foundation would receive a 7.9% increase in FY 2007 under the funding bill recently approved by the House Appropriations Committee. H.R. 5672 was written by the Science, State, Justice and Commerce Appropriations Subcommittee that is chaired by Frank Wolf (R-VA); Alan Mollohan (D-WV) is the Ranking Minority Member.


H.R. 5672 fully funds the Bush Administration's request for the foundation (see http://www.aip.org/fyi/2006/023.html.) The House Appropriations Committee has now completed bills that fully fund all three of the major agency budget components of the American Competitiveness Initiatives: the DOE Office of Science's 14.1% increase (see http://www.aip.org/fyi/2006/068.html ), National Institute of Standards and Technology's research laboratory budget that would increase by 18.3% (see http://www.aip.org/fyi/2006/081.html) and the NSF funding recommendation. The Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill has already passed the House. H.R. 5672 will be considered this week by the full House. (The Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee will mark up its bill tomorrow.)

The following are excerpts from House Report 109-520 regarding the overall NSF and the Research and Related Activities and Major Research Equipment budgets. See forthcoming FYI #85 for the Education and Human Resources report language. The entire report maybe read at http://thomas.loc.gov/

NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION (Up 7.9% or $439.0 million from $5,581.2 million):

"The Committee recommendation includes a total of $6,020,012,000 for the National Science Foundation (NSF), which is $438,846,000 above the current year funding level and the same as the request."

RESEARCH AND RELATED ACTIVITIES (Up 7.7% or $334.5 million from $4,331.5 million):

"The Committee recommends a total of $4,665,950,000 for Research and Related Activities. The recommendation is $334,467,000 above the fiscal year 2006 level and the same as the request.

"The Committee strongly supports the increased funding for basic scientific research proposed in the President's American Competitiveness Initiative for fiscal year 2007. The increase provided for fiscal year 2007 is intended as the first year of a ten-year doubling of the Federal investment in innovation-enabling research supporting high-leverage fields of physical science and engineering.

"The recommendation does not include specific funding allocations for each directorate or for individual programs and activities. If there are any deviations from the allocations proposed in the President's budget request . . . the Committee shall be notified accordingly.

"The recommendation includes language providing up to $485,000,000 for Polar research and operations support, as requested. The recommendation continues the appropriation of funding to NSF for the procurement of polar icebreaking services related to NSF's mission. The Committee expects the NSF to continue to reimburse the Coast Guard for icebreaking services related to NSF's mission in fiscal year 2007. The appropriation of this funding to NSF does not transfer to NSF the responsibility for maintenance and long-term modernization costs of the Coast Guard icebreaking fleet, as such action 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 2007 requirements, the Committee expects NSF to continue efforts in pursuit of alternative, more economical, icebreaking solutions for 2007 and beyond. The Committee directs NSF to pursue the most cost-effective means of obtaining icebreaking services in the Antarctic for the 2006-2007 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. The Committee also strongly encourages NSF to continue to study and develop alternative and innovative means of meeting the logistics requirements of maintaining permanent research stations in Antarctica.

"The recommendation includes language that allows funds provided in 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. The Committee expects NSF to continue work begun in fiscal year 2006 with 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 such prizes, and report back to the Committee on plans to initiate a prize program in fiscal year 2007. 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 recommendation also includes language clarifying that the NSF has the authority to accept donations for specific prize competitions. The Committee strongly encourages NSF to leverage private sector involvement in a prize program.

"The Committee commends NSF for its Silicon Nanonelectronics and Beyond program and its partnership with the Nanoelectronics Research Initiative, which involves the sponsorship of research in the areas of information technology and electronics. The Committee encourages NSF to continue its support for such research in fiscal year 2007."

MAJOR RESEARCH EQUIPMENT AND FACILITIES CONSTRUCTION (Current year budget of $190.9 million):

"The Committee recommends a total of $237,250,000 for the major research equipment and facilities construction account for fiscal year 2007, an increase of $46,369,000 above the fiscal year 2006 funding level and $3,000,000 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 engineering.

"The Committee recommendation includes requested funding for five continuing projects, as follows: $47,890,000 [full request] for Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA); $27,400,000 [full request] for EarthScope; $28,650,000 [full request] for the IceCube Neutrino Observatory; $42,880,000 [full request] for the Scientific Ocean Drilling Vessel; and $9,130,000 [full request] for South Pole Station Modernization. In addition, the recommendation includes initial funding for three new project starts, as follows: $56,000,000 [full request] for the Alaska Region Research Vessel; $13,500,000 [full request] for the Ocean Observatories Initiative; and $11,800,000 [$12.0 million requested] for the National Ecological Observatory Network. The recommendation does not include $3,000,000 requested to reimburse the Judgment Fund of the U.S. Treasury [Antarctic Program aircraft]."

"The Committee is aware that the NSF has recently completed a detailed re-examination of the ALMA project. The United States' cost for completing the new baseline is estimated to be 45 percent higher than originally projected. Although a part of the increase is due to rising labor and material costs, some of these new liabilities are the result of management problems, in particular, the lack of partner integration and centralized decision making that can potentially cause cost growth. While the recommendation includes the full request for the ALMA project for 2007, the NSF is directed to submit a report to the Committee by October 1, 2006, on how it intends to correct the overall management and project issues. In the event that there are additional ALMA funding requirements in fiscal year 2007, the Committee expects NSF to submit a reprogramming of funds from lower priorities or new starts in accordance with the procedures set forth in section 605 of this Act."

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

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