House Appropriators Send FY 2008 NSF Funding Bill to Floor

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Publication date: 
24 July 2007
Number: 
78

The House Appropriations Committee has sent to the floor a bill that would increase the FY 2008 budget for the National Science Foundation by 10.0 percent or $591.8 million to $6,509.0 million.

The bill was written by the House Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee. The subcommittee is chaired by Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV); the Ranking Member is Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ).

House Committee Report 110-240 accompanies H.R. 3093. Excerpts from this report pertaining to the National Science Foundation follow. The complete report is available at http://thomas.loc.gov/ See http://www.aip.org/fyi/2007/071.html for a review of the counterpart Senate Committee Report language.

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 House Appropriations Committee recommended $6,509.0 million, an increase of 10.0 percent or $591.8 million to $6,509.0 million.

The House Appropriations Committee report stated:

"This level of funding will support the doubling of the NSF budget in 10 years as part of a long-term, sustained commitment to investment in basic research and development which provides the foundation for innovation and future technologies."

RESEARCH AND RELATED ACTIVITIES:

The FY 2007 budget for Research and Related Activities is $4,666.0 million.
The Bush Administration requested $5,131.7 million, an increase of 10.0 percent or $465.7 million..
The Senate Appropriations Committee recommended $5,156.1 million, an increase of 10.5 percent or $490.1 million. (The Committee agreed to the Administration's request to transfer EPSCoR from Education and Human Resources to this account; the Administration request was $107.0 million.)
The House Appropriations Committee recommended $5,139.7 million (which also includes EPSCoR funding), an increase of 10.2 percent or $473.7 million.

The House Appropriations Committee report contained language regarding the EPSCoR program, new program mechanisms, funding across all disciplines, tranformative research, the Academic Research Fleet, astronomical facilities, multidisciplinary research, and semiconductor research. Selections follow:

"The Committee has provided an additional $8,000,000 above the budget request for a total of $115,000,000 for the EPSCoR program. The Committee is pleased that the Director has chosen to give higher visibility to the EPSCoR program by relocating it to the Office of Integrative Activities within the Office of the Director as this will allow the EPSCoR program greater leverage for improving the research infrastructure, planning complex agendas, and developing talent for the 21st Century. As indicated by the Foundation, the development of science and technology talent is both competitive and robust and all regions of the country must have the tools and resources to participate in order for the Nation to stay competitive in science and engineering.

"Of the $8,000,000 provided above the budget request, the funds should be applied as follows:

"+$4,000,000 for Research Infrastructure Improvements Awards (RII), for a total of $65,000,000;

"+$1,000,000 for co-funding, for a total of $37,000,000; and

"+$3,000,000 for new program mechanisms including Small Grants for Exploratory Research (SGER), Traineeships to Increase Participation of U.S. Citizens in Science and Engineering Careers, Experimental Regional Innovation Awards, and Special Networking Areas programs. The Committee directs NSF to submit a report on its distribution of funds within 90 days of enactment of this Act. Additionally, the Committee is supportive of the budget request for SBIR/STTR funding at $2,700,000, Outreach, Technical Support and Administration funding at $1,300,000 and SBRC funding at $6,000,000.

"The Committee strongly supports increases for the math and physical sciences, computer sciences, and engineering directorates in fiscal year 2008 for research and related activities (R&RA). However, the Committee also believes the Foundation should maintain comparable growth in fiscal year 2008 for the biological sciences, geosciences, and social, behavioral and economic sciences directorates. As the Innovation Agenda moves forward, it is important to note that maintaining U.S. competitiveness will depend on advances in, and the interactions among, all fields of science. The Committee expects NSF to ensure that the biological sciences, geosciences, and social, behavioral, and economic sciences directorates receive increases in fiscal year 2008 that are comparable to the other directorates.

"From within the funds provided, $10,000,000 shall be for a new and dedicated program emphasizing transformative research. Transformative research is revolutionary and considered 'cutting edge.' Based on several reports including the National Science Board's (NSB) 'Enhancing Support of Transformative Research at the National Science Foundation' as well as statements made by witnesses at the Committee's hearing on science funding, the Committee believes it is critical to address this emerging area. As stated in the NSB's report, 'The underlying concern of these reports and, indeed, of this one is that failure to encourage and to support revolutionary ideas will jeopardize not only our Nation's ability to compete in today's and tomorrow's global economy, but also the progress of science as a whole.' The Committee acknowledges that the Foundation currently conducts research that could be considered transformational, but as noted in the NSB's report, no funds are dedicated for this express purpose. The Committee directs that the Foundation establish a new program that is a distinct and separate Foundation-wide program designed specifically to solicit and to support transformational proposals. The Foundation is expected to provide to the Committee, 90 days after enactment of this Act, a plan for the distribution of these funds. This plan should include the Foundation's definition of transformative research.

"The cost of the operational support of the Academic Research Fleet, primarily supported by the Geosciences directorate, has risen significantly, forcing the number of ship operating days to be reduced from 3,000 days in 2003 to only about 2,000 today, thus diminishing the amount of science conducted. Based on calculations by the Foundation, the cost of returning the fleet to 3,000 ship operating days would require between $23 and $28 million for operations alone. Similar levels of funding would be required to fund research projects. The Committee understands that two acquisitions are underway to address the Foundation's most pressing needs and that there is a long-term plan to address the remainder of the aging fleet. The Foundation is urged to request additional funding in its fiscal year 2009 submission to Congress to address this problem.

'The Committee commends the NSF for including funds in the fiscal year 2008 request to begin implementing the recommendations of the 'Senior Review' of NSF astronomy facilities. The funds are primarily intended to improve science instrumentation at these facilities, and the Committee urges the Foundation to continue this effort in the future. From within the total amount provided for this account, the Committee urges that additional funds be allocated to Atmospheric Sciences for weather and atmospheric facilities, Earth Sciences for seismology and hydrology, and other earth science infrastructure facilities and Astronomical Sciences for radio and optical facilities. These funds should be used for physical infrastructure improvements and restoration of facilities that were largely developed and constructed more than 20 years ago. This is in keeping with the Committee's concern that many facilities created in the 1960's and 1970's, and which are still in active use today, have failed to receive sufficient resources to maintain a safe and updated physical plant. The Committee will review the Foundation's response to this important activity in the FY 2008 operating plan following the final enactment of this Act.

"The Committee encourages the NSF to provide continued support for multidisciplinary research and educational approaches in emerging fields, such as service science. The Foundation should review what is currently being done in this area and explore what, and if, more should be done. The Committee understands that this topic will be reviewed in more depth by the authorizing committees.

"Given the economic importance and pervasive impact of semiconductors, the Committee supports NSF's continued sponsorship of the Nanoelectronics Research Initiative and other programs to advance semiconductor technology to its ultimate limits and to find a replacement technology to further information technology advances once these limits are reached. The Committee encourages NSF to continue its support for such research in fiscal year 2008."

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 House Appropriations Committee recommended 244.7 million, the same as the request and the Senate recommendation.

The House Appropriations Committee report stated:

"The Committee recommendation includes requested funding of $244,740,000 for the following continuing projects: $102,070,000 for Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA); $42,000,000 for the Alaska Region Research Vessel; $22,380,000 for the IceCube Neutrino Observatory; $8,000,000 for the National Ecological Observatory Network; $30,990,000 for the Ocean Observatories Initiative; and $6,550,000 for South Pole Station Modernization. In addition, the recommendation includes initial funding for one new project start: $32,750,000 for Advanced LIGO.

"While the recommendation includes the full request for the ALMA project for FY08, the Committee is concerned about the increased costs associated with this project. The NSF is directed to submit a report to the Committee by October 1, 2007, on how it intends to correct the overall management and project issues and to provide the Committee with updated cost estimates for ALMA."

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 House Appropriations Committee recommended $822.6 million, an increase of 3.3 percent or $25.9 million.

The House Appropriations Committee report stated:

"The amount above the request should be applied as follows:

"+$36,000,000 for a total of $46,000,000 for the Robert Noyce Scholarship program;

"+$20,000,000 for a total of $66,000,000 for Math and Science Partnership program;

"+$4,000,000 for a total of $86,850,000 for Undergraduate/Graduate Student Support account;

"+$2,000,000 for a total of $49,000,000 for Graduate Teaching Fellowships in K-12; and

"+$10,000,000 for a climate change education program.

"NSF not only includes research, but also shares in the responsibility for promoting quality math and science education as intertwining objectives at all levels of education across the United States. Math and science educators play a major role in keeping the U.S. competitive in the 21st century. Our future economic health depends on our investments in math and science education today.

"Increasing the number of highly qualified K-12 math and science teachers is critical to the creation of a new generation of innovators. Recommendations included in the National Academies' 'Rising Above the Gathering Storm' report discussed the importance of expanding programs to enhance the undergraduate education of the future science and engineering workforce. The Robert Noyce Scholarship program encourages talented Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) undergraduate students and postgraduate professionals to become K-12 mathematics and science teachers. Because of the importance of this activity, the Committee is providing $36,000,000 above the budget request for a total of $46,000,000.

"The Committee is providing an increase of $20,000,000 for the Math and Science Partnership (MSP) program. This is a five percent increase above the FY07 level. The Math and Science Partnership program was established in 2002 to integrate the work of higher education with K-12 to strengthen and reform mathematics and science education. Recent assessment data on MSP projects indicate this program has been effective in increasing student performance at all levels assessed – elementary, middle and high school.

"The National Science Foundation shall report to Congress, not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, a detailed breakdown of funding disbursements, including the quantification of grants that reach rural recipients for the Graduate Teaching Fellowships K-12, Math and Science Partnership, and Robert Noyce Scholarship Program for fiscal year 2006. The Committee encourages the NSF to work within its peer-reviewed process for these programs to incorporate rural communities, universities, and school districts so that they may also attract highly qualified math and science professionals to educate the youth of rural America.

"The Committee is providing a total of $86,850,000, a five percent increase above the request of $82,850,000 for the programs that make up the Undergraduate/Graduate Student Support account. These programs include the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP), the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Undergraduate Program (HBCU-UP), and the Tribal Colleges and Universities Program (TCUP). It is expected that the monies for these programs will be proportionately distributed.

"The Foundation is urged to broaden Hispanic participation in the Nation's STEM education. The Committee is aware that the authorizing committees are currently reviewing this issue and the House version of the reauthorizing bill includes language directing the National Academies to look at how this task might be accomplished. The Committee supports such direction and expects NSF to begin to address this issue in its operating plan.

"The Graduate Research Fellowship program prepares the most promising science, mathematics, and engineering students in the U.S. for a broad range of disciplinary and cross-disciplinary careers. The Committee is providing an increase of $2,000,000, or five percent, for this program.

"The Committee has provided $10,000,000 for a new activity in the Education and Human Resources Directorate: education and training in the use of Earth observations and information derived from those observations, which includes assistance to educators in inspiring and training students in this area. As called for in the National Academies' 'Earth Science and Applications from Space: National Imperatives for the Next Decade and Beyond', the training of future scientists who are needed to interpret observations, and who will turn the measurements into knowledge and information is critical. The Foundation should work with the National Academies in the development of a plan for the distribution of these funds.

"The Committee supports the FY08 request of $51,600,000 for the Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program. This program is a valuable tool for promoting education in community colleges and contributing to the pool of technology specialists available to the public and private sectors.

"Finally, the Committee is supportive of the requested increase of $4,530,000 for the Centers of Research Excellence in Science and Technology (CREST) program which assists in strengthening research and education in minority-serving institutions."