FYI: The AIP Bulletin of Science Policy News

Senate FY 2009 National Science Foundation Funding Bill

Richard M. Jones
Number 69 - June 25, 2008  |  Search FYI  |   FYI Archives  |   Subscribe to FYI

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House and Senate Appropriators are starting to release their initial versions of the FY 2009 appropriations bills. As the committee reports accompanying these bills become available, FYI will excerpt relevant sections and provide recommended funding changes. The first of these reports has just been released for the Senate Commerce, Justice, Science FY 2009 Appropriations Bill. This bill provides funding for the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. It is not yet known when this bill will be considered by the full Senate.

The Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee is chaired by Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD); Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) is the Ranking Member. The introduction of the committee's report, 110-397, states:

"Competitiveness. This bill makes critical investments in scientific research and technology to improve America’s competitiveness. The Committee has followed the recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences 'Rising Above the Gathering Storm,' making significant investments in our science agencies that will pay dividends for our future.

"Research. The Committee recommends funding for research that will create new products and processes that support job creation. Specifically, the Committee recommends investing over $809,499,000 in the National Institute of Standards and Technology [NIST] for highly leveraged research that will contribute to the development of new innovative products and processes. The Committee also provides over $6,854,100,000 for basic research through the National Science Foundation [NSF].

"Education. The 'Rising Above the Gathering Storm' report emphasized that the future of U.S. competitiveness rests on our Nation’s ability to train the next generation of scientists and engineers. For this reason, the Committee has invested over $790,410,000 in National Science Foundation [NSF] education and training programs, a $64,810,000 increase above the fiscal year 2008 enacted level. This is a critical investment to ensure that our Nation leads the world in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics from kindergarten to post graduate levels."

NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION:

There are six pages in the committee report devoted to the NSF. The entire report is available at this Library of Congress site.

OVERALL:

Senate appropriators provided the full FY 2009 Administration request for the National Science Foundation, recommending an increase of 13.0 percent or $789.1 million, from $6,065.0 million to $6,854.1 million.

RESEARCH AND RELATED ACTIVITIES:

Senate appropriators provided the full Administration request for Research and Related Activities, an increase of 16.0 percent or $772.5 million, from $4,821.5 million to $5,594.0 million.

The report explains the committee's rationale, while also commenting on the outcome of last year's appropriations cycle:

"The Committee recommendation provides significant increases for investments to advance the frontiers of research and education in science and engineering. The recommendation provides a nearly 14 percent increase over the fiscal year 2008 enacted level. The Congress conveyed its clear determination to build on America’s success as a world leader in discovery and innovation through the passage of the America COMPETES Act last year. The Committee’s fiscal year 2008 recommendation for NSF was to have been the first phase of delivering on the promises and policies outlined by this landmark legislation. Unfortunately, as the fiscal year 2008 appropriation cycle progressed, it was clear that the administration was unwilling to compromise with the Congress. This intransigence forced the Congress to reluctantly reduce the proposed increases for NSF in order to avoid devastating consequences to other domestic programs.

"The Committee’s fiscal year 2009 recommendation renews its commitment to Federal long-term basic research that has the potential to be transformative to our economy and our way of life. As such, the recommendation provides the full funding requested for the four major cross-foundation investments of Cyber-enabled Discovery and Innovation, Science and Engineering Beyond Moore’s Law, Adaptive Systems Technology, and Dynamics of Water Processes in the Environment. Each of these programs aim to have a transformative impact across science and engineering, especially in areas of national priority first outlined by the National Academies Report 'Rising Above the Gathering Storm.'"

The committee report has language about a review of EPSCoR, improving the scientific utilization of the U.S. Antarctic Program, the establishment of a Mathematical Science Research Institute, a plant genome research program, and the funding recommendation for Astronomical Sciences funding.

MAJOR RESEARCH EQUIPMENT AND FACILITIES CONSTRUCTION:

Senate appropriators provided the budget request for the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory, the Atacama Large Millimeter Array, and the IceCube Neutrino Observatory. The report has supportive language regarding the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope, the Alaska Regional Research Vehicle, and the Ocean Observatories Initiative.

EDUCATION AND HUMAN RESOURCES:

The committee provided the Administration's request of $790.4 million, an increase of 8.9 percent or $64.8 million, from $725.6 million to $790.4 million.

The report explains:

"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.

"Robert Noyce Fellowship Program. – Encourages talented Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics undergraduates and professionals to become K-12 mathematics and science teachers through scholarships and stipends. The Committee recommendation provides a total of $55,000,000 for the Noyce program of which $45,000,000 shall be for activities authorized by section 10A of the National Science Foundation Authorization Act of 2002 (42 U.S.C. 1862n-1a)."

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