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FYI Number 71: July 9, 2007

Senate Appropriators Recommend 10.8 Percent Increase for NSF in FY 2008

The Senate Appropriations Committee has sent to the floor an FY 2008 appropriations bill that would increase the National Science Foundation's budget by 10.8 percent. The full House Appropriations Committee is poised to pass its version of the same bill, which would increase the foundation's budget by 10.0 percent.

Only a few details of the House version of the Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill have been circulated since the House subcommittee drafted its bill several weeks ago. The full House committee is tentatively scheduled to vote on its bill this Thursday, after which the accompanying report will be released. FYI will cover the House bill after the report becomes available.

Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) is the chair of the Senate Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee; Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) is the Ranking Member. The bill is S. 1745; the accompanying report is 110-124. The full text of each can be found at http://thomas.loc.gov/home/approp/app08.html Selections from this report on NSF follow. Future FYIs will provide report language on NASA and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

OVERALL NSF:

The FY 2007 budget for the National Science Foundation is $5,917.2 million.
The Bush Administration requested $6,429.0 million, an increase of 8.7 percent or $511.8 million.
The Senate Appropriations Committee recommended $6,553.4 million, an increase of 10.8 percent or $636.2 million.

The Senate Committee report states:

"NSF is the principal Federal agency charged with promoting science and engineering education from pre-kindergarten through career development. This helps ensure that the United States has world-class scientists, mathematicians and engineers, and well-prepared citizens for today and the future. 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. NSF is at the leading edge of the research and discoveries that will create the jobs and technologies of the future.

"The Committee is fully supportive of the American Competitiveness Initiative [ACI]. The funding levels anticipated for NSF will certainly provide the vital funding that will broaden the Nation's understanding in fundamental science disciplines. However, the Committee feels that the ACI neglects the education work NSF does in support of research across the country. Broadening participation to underrepresented groups, such as women and minorities, in the sciences will only further the goals of the ACI as proposed in the budget request."

RESEARCH AND RELATED ACTIVITIES:

The FY 2007 budget for the Research and Related Activities is $4,666.0 million.
The Bush Administration requested $5,131.7 million.
The Senate Appropriations Committee recommended $5,156.1 million, an increase of 10.5 percent or $490.1 million. Note that funding for EPSCoR was transferred from Education and Human Resources to this account; the Administration request was $107.0 million.

The Senate Committee report states:

"The Committee is aware of several new and ongoing NSF initiatives that address priorities outlined in the National Academies 'Rising Above the Gathering Storm' report and to promote research that will drive innovation, and competitiveness. The Committee supports NSF's targeted programs in cyberinfrastructure, engineering, mathematics, and the computing and physical sciences."

"Cyber-enabled Discovery and Innovation - The Committee is supportive of the new NSF initiative in Cyber-enabled Discovery and Innovation [CDI]. This initiative aims to explore radically new concepts, approaches, and tools at the intersection of computational and physical or biological worlds to address such challenges. The rapidly emerging world of petascale computers - operating at 1 quadrillion calculations per second - massive data flows, and enormous databases pose exceptional challenges that require capabilities well beyond those available today. The Committee funds this initiative at the requested amount of $52,000,000.

"Nanotechnology - Nanotechnology is an emerging field of immense promise, with ramifications for manufacturing, medicine, and next-generation computing. NSF has been the lead agency for the National Nanotechnology Initiative, and will continue to contribute to this important emerging technology. The Committee recommends the full funding level of $389,900,000 for nanotechnology.

"The Committee is pleased about the Foundation's new multidisciplinary focus on fundamental research on the environmental, health, and safety impacts of nanomaterials. The Committee has funded a similar effort focused on measurements and reference materials at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and directs the NSF to collaborate with NIST in this emerging field.

"Ocean Research - Understanding the interactions between society and the ocean is vital to ensuring a clean, healthy, and stable ocean environment. The budget request identifies significant research challenges needed to understand ocean dynamics, forecast ocean events, and manage ocean resources. The Committee provides $18,400,000 above the request to research into the complex dynamics that control and regulate marine ecosystem processes; the variability of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation; the response of coastal ecosystems to extreme and abrupt events; and the development of new sensors to improve ocean observations. The Committee expects the Foundation to work closely with NOAA's lead on this effort to ensure a robust and effective Federal effort in this area.

"The Committee recommends the requested amount of $52,740,000 for the operations of the National Radio Astronomy Observatories. The operations, maintenance, and development of new instrumentation at the Very Large Array, the Very Long Baseline Array, and the Green Bank Telescope allow these world-class facilities to provide valuable research into the origins of the universe.

"The Office of International Science and Engineering [OISE] has worked to ensure that U.S. researchers are involved with leading research across the globe. As research becomes more collaborative - with partnerships reaching across nations, the work of this office - identifying research opportunities around the globe - will grow. The Committee supports the fiscal year 2008 funding request for OISE in order to keep U.S. research at the forefront of global science."

MAJOR RESEARCH EQUIPMENT AND FACILITIES CONSTRUCTION:

The FY 2007 budget for Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction is $190.9 million.
The Bush Administration requested $244.7 million.
The Senate Appropriations Committee recommended $244.7 million.

The Senate Committee report states:

"The Committee recommendation includes funding at the requested level for the following six ongoing projects; the Atacama Large Millimeter Array [ALMA]; the IceCube Neutrino Observatory; the National Ecological Observatory Network [NEON]; the Ocean's Observatories Initiative [OOI]; for South Pole Station Modernization; and the Alaska Regional Research Vessel [ARRV], which shall be home-ported in the same location as the vessel it is replacing, the Alpha Helix. The Committee also provides $32,750,000 for the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory [AdvLIGO], a gravitational wave observatory that will improve by a factor of 10 the sensitivity of current earth-based facilities."

EDUCATION AND HUMAN RESOURCES:

The FY 2007 budget for Education and Human Resources is $796.7 million.
The Bush Administration requested $750.6 million, a cut of 5.8 percent or $46.1 million.
The Senate Appropriations Committee recommended $850.6 million, an increase of 6.8 percent or $53.9 million.

The Senate Committee report states:

"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.

"Creating a strong science and engineering workforce for the future is vital to maintaining the Nation's competitive edge. As the recent National Academies Report 'Above the Gathering Storm,' and before that, the Hart-Rudman report on 'Road Map for National Security: Imperative for Change' so illustratively point out – the future of U.S. competitiveness rests on our ability to train the next generation of scientists and engineers.

"Given the demands of our knowledge-based economy, the United States needs to increase the number and diversity of our scientific and technical workforce and facilitate an understanding of basic scientific principles among non-scientists. For this reason, the Committee has focused on a set of NSF programs that relate to education and training at all levels of math and science education.

"The Committee recommendation provides $25,000,000 for the The Robert Noyce Scholarship program, aimed at promoting the development of a world-class math and science teaching corps. Improving undergraduate education is a key to increasing the American technological workforce, improving overall science literacy, and strengthening K-12 math and science education. The Noyce program provides scholarships to math and science majors in return for a commitment to becoming a K-12 mathematics and sciences teachers.

"The Committee recommendation provides $75,000,000 for the Math and Science Partnership program, which is an important asset in providing improved math and science education by partnering local school districts with faculty of colleges and universities. Traditional approaches to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education does not take full advantage of communications technologies, new concepts and tools, and convergence among disciplines. Yet, recent analysis of NSF's Math and Science Partnership program showed that participating elementary, middle- and high-school students improved in mathematics and science proficiency over the 3-year survey period. Projects in the current MSP portfolio are expected to impact more than 141,000 science and mathematics teachers and 4.2 million students in 550 local school districts. [Note: FY 2006 funding was $63.2 million. The FY 2008 Administration request was $46.0 million.]

"The Committee recommendation provides $15,000,000 for the NSF Academies for Young Scientists program which funds programs that will create, implement, evaluate, and disseminate effective models to attract K-8 students to, prepare them for, and retain them in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics [STEM] disciplines, leading to an increase in the pool of students continuing in STEM coursework in high school and considering careers in STEM fields.

"To address the importance of broadening science and technology participation is of concern to the Committee and the recommendation provides funding amounts for the following programs: $37,200,000 for Historically Black Colleges and Universities--Undergraduate Program [HBCU-UP]; $50,000,000 for the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation program; and $40,000,000 for the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Talent Expansion program."

Of note under the section entitled AGENCY OPERATIONS AND AWARD MANAGEMENT, for which the full request of $285.6 million was provided, is the following report language:

"The Committee reiterates its long-standing interest in improving the outreach functions of the National Science Foundation, and the importance of conveying to the taxpayer the importance, and relevance, of scientific research. In order for science to be supported by the public, in must be communicated to them clearly. The Committee would request that the Foundation tap their Public Affairs office for an increased role in communicating science broadly to the public by making complex science issues relevant and easily understood. Additionally, the Committee would like to see the office take on a larger role in the important aspect of educating and training NSF grant recipients on communicating effectively the importance of their taxpayer supported work. The Committee directs the Foundation to report back to the Committee within 90 days after the enactment of this act on how best their Public Affairs office might take on this increasingly important function, including any potential cost implications."

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

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