FYI: The AIP Bulletin of Science Policy News

House Appropriators' Document Provides S&T Rationale in Stimulus Funding Bill

Richard M. Jones
Number 7 - January 23, 2009  |  Search FYI  |   FYI Archives  |   Subscribe to FYI

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A "Discussion Draft" produced by the House Appropriations Committee provides insight into how millions of dollars of science and technology funding are to be spent by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy's Office of Science, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the U.S. Geological Survey. The wording in this draft is subject to change before it is released as an official committee report. Note that there is extensive draft language on various DOE's energy programs that is not included in this FYI because of space considerations.

House appropriators completed work on their section of The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on Wednesday. The $825 billion bill will be on the House floor next week. The Senate is scheduled to release its version of this legislation next week. Congressional leadership wants to have this bill on President Obama's desk before Congress takes a one-week break on February 16.

Complete selections from the Discussion Draft follow; quotation marks were not used:

TITLE III - COMMERCE, JUSTICE, AND SCIENCE

Subtitle A - Commerce

DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF STANDARDS AND TECHNOLOGY

SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL RESEARCH AND SERVICES

Scientific and Technical Research and Services
Recovery funding: $100 million

The STRS program is an intramural research program made up of laboratories and technical programs and national research facilities. Funding will be used to establish environmental measurements and standards, including remote sensing for climate change; develop metrics, tools, and data supporting "green" building technologies; improve energy efficiency and electrical distribution through "smart grid" and advanced energy and renewable technologies; accelerate cost-effective improvements to the safety, security, and disaster resilience of buildings, occupants, first responders, and communities; support increased bandwidths and data transmission rates to enhance advanced applications such as tele-presence for manufacturing and medicine; and enable innovation and enhance manufacturing competitiveness by increasing efficiencies throughout the supply-chain and production cycle.

INDUSTRIAL TECHNOLOGY SERVICES

Manufacturing Extension Partnership and Technology Innovation Program
Recovery funding: $100 million

Industrial Technology Services includes the Manufacturing Extension Partnership and the Technology Innovation Program: $30 million is for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) and $70 million is for the Technology Innovation Program (TIP). These programs make up the Industrial Technology Services within NIST. MEP consists of a network of centers that provide business support and technical assistance services, and helps improve the productivity and competitiveness of small manufacturers. MEP leverages private resources in the creation and retention of jobs, thereby increasing economic output as well as Federal revenues. TIP was established in the COMPETES Act and TIP grants will speed the development of high-risk, transformative research targeted to address key societal challenges. Funding is provided to small and medium-sized businesses, institutions of higher education or other organizations, such as national laboratories and nonprofit research institutions. TIP is a competitive grants program that has recently awarded its first grants. There are considerably more projects than funding provided in previous years and additional funding would allow for additional projects to be funded.

CONSTRUCTION OF RESEARCH FACILITIES

Research Science Building Construction Grants
Recovery funding: $300 million

This program is a competitive construction grant program for research science buildings. These grants are awarded to colleges, universities, and other nonprofit, science research organizations on a merit basis. The first three awards were made in November 2008, out of 90 applications. Additional funding at this level will allow for another competition and the funding of approximately 30 research science buildings. These research buildings create jobs during construction and after completion, provide high-paying scientific positions.

Subtitle C - Science

NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION

SCIENCE

Science
Recovery funding: $400 million

Investments in the areas of Earth science, planetary science, heliophysics and astrophysics seek to answer fundamental questions concerning the ways the Earth’s climate is changing; the comparison of the Earth with other planets in the solar system and around other stars; and the connections among the Sun, Earth and heliosphere. These investments are critically important to understanding climate change and mitigation.

Within the funds provided, not less than $250 million will be used to accelerate the development of the Tier 1 set of Earth science/climate research missions recommended by the National Academies decadal survey as being critically important for answering key Earth science/climate research questions. Funds are also provided to restore the Total Solar Irradiance Sensor to an NPOESS satellite, which measures solar radiation and is critical to understanding climate change; and to add a thermal infrared sensor to the Landsat Continuing Mapper necessary for water management (e.g., soil moisture and water use) particularly in the western states. It is estimated by NASA that these investments will support in excess of 2,600 jobs.

NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

RESEARCH AND RELATED ACTIVITIES

Research and Related Activities
Recovery funding: $2.500 billion

Sustained, targeted investment by NSF in basic research in fundamental science and engineering advances discovery and spurs innovation. Such transformational work holds promise for meeting the social, economic, and environmental challenges facing the Nation, and for competing in an increasingly intense global economy. To meet these challenges, the America COMPETES Act proposed to double funding for the NSF in seven years. The funding provided in the recovery will return and exceed appropriated levels to the levels assumed in the COMPETES Act. The $2.5 billion proposed for research and related activities (R&RA) is estimated to support an additional 3,000 highly-rated, new awards and would immediately engage 12,750 senior personnel, post doc-, graduate and undergraduates. In addition, the funds provided are expected to restore the funding rate for NSF awards to pre-2000 levels. Since fiscal year 2000, NSF’s funding rate has declined from over 30 percent to 25 percent. This investment would restore the funding rate to 32 percent.

Within the R&RA appropriation, $300 million is provided for the Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) program. The MRI program, in an effort to increase research and training in institutions of higher education, museums and science centers, and non-profit organizations, assists with the acquisition and development of shared research instrumentation that is, in general, too costly and/or not appropriate for support through other NSF programs. When awards are made, instruments are expected to be operational for regular research use by the end of the award period. The funding provided in the recovery bill will address a key recommendation of a 2006 National Academies report on “Advanced Research Instrumentation and Facilities” (ARIF) to expand the MRI program so that it includes “mid-scale” instrumentation whose capital costs are greater than $2 million.

The National Science Foundation estimates that academic institutions have about $3.6 billion in deferred projects to repair and renovate science and engineering research space (fiscal year 2005 Survey of Science and Engineering Research Facilities). About half of these deferred projects are in the biological and medical sciences, and about half are in other sciences and engineering. These projects are included in institutional capital plans. The recovery package includes $200 million to restart its facilities program covering physical and other sciences and engineering at the Nation’s institutions of higher education, museums and science centers, and non-profit organizations.

EDUCATION AND HUMAN RESOURCES

Education and Human Resources
Recovery funding: $100 million

$100 million is provided for Education and Human Resources at the NSF. Within this amount, $60 million is provided for the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship program and $40 million for Math and Science Partnerships. These two programs are significant components of the America COMPETES Act, and underpin the Nation’s achievements in research, development and technology.

The Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship program encourages talented science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors and professionals to become K-12 mathematics and science teachers. The program provides funds to institutions of higher education to support scholarships, stipends, and academic programs for undergraduate STEM majors and postbaccalaureate students holding STEM degrees who commit to teaching in high-need K-12 school districts. A new component of the program supports STEM professionals who enroll as NSF Teaching Fellows in master's degree programs leading to teacher certification by providing academic courses, professional development, and salary supplements while they are fulfilling a four-year teaching commitment in a high need school district. This new component also supports the development of NSF Master Teaching Fellows by providing professional development and salary supplements for exemplary math and science teachers to become Master Teachers in high need school districts. The $60 million included in the recovery package, together with other appropriations, provides the full authorized level in the America COMPETES Act. This program has been cited as a key factor in ensuring US long-term competitiveness. Funds can be awarded very quickly using existing competitive grant applications and will support new scholarships and stipends.

The Math and Science Partnership (MSP) program is a major research and development effort that supports innovative partnerships to improve K-12 student achievement in mathematics and science. MSP projects are expected to raise the achievement levels of all students and significantly reduce achievement gaps in the mathematics and science performance of diverse student populations. In order to improve the mathematics and science achievement of the Nation's students, MSP projects contribute to what is known in mathematics and science education and serve as models that have a sufficiently strong evidence/research base to improve the mathematics and science education outcomes for all students. NSF's MSP program coordinates its effort with the Mathematics and Science Partnerships program of the U.S. Department of Education in the expectation that effective innovations in mathematics and science education will be disseminated into wider practice. This program has been cited as a key factor in ensuring US long-term competitiveness. Funds can be awarded very quickly using existing competitive grant applications.

MAJOR RESEARCH EQUIPMENT AND FACILITIES

CONSTRUCTION

Construction and Development of Major Research Equipment and Facilities
Recovery funding: $400 million

Funds will be used to accelerate the construction and development of major research facilities that provide unique capabilities at the cutting edge of science. Funds will be used for previously approved investments and those nearing their completed design reviews.

TITLE V - ENERGY AND WATER

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY

SCIENCE

Science
Recovery funding: $2.000 billion

The Office of Science at the Department of Energy is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, providing more than 40 percent of total funding for this vital area of national importance. It oversees - and is the principal federal funding agency of - the Nation’s research programs in high-energy physics, nuclear physics, and fusion energy sciences. Independent scientific research provides the foundation for innovation and future technologies. But U.S. federal funding for research and development has declined steadily over the last decade. This funding will support improvements to DOE laboratories and scientific facilities to provide the foundation for research and development efforts. Within this amount, $400 million is included for the Advanced Research Project Agency – Energy to support high-risk, high-payoff research to accelerate the innovation cycle for both traditional and alternative energy sources and energy efficiency. The Department of Energy estimates that this amount of funding will support 50,000 jobs through research and construction of laboratory facilities.

TITLE VIII - INTERIOR AND ENVIRONMENT

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

UNITED STATES GEOLOGICAL SURVEY

SURVEYS, INVESTIGATIONS, AND RESEARCH

Repair and Restoration of Science Facilities and Scientific Equipment
Recovery funding: $200 million

The U.S. Geological Survey is the Nation’s preeminent natural science agency, with responsibility for stream and river gauges, earthquake detection and monitoring, ground water evaluation, plant and wildlife ecology and biology, mineral and petroleum assessments, global climate change research, and the National Map. There is an extensive backlog in USGS scientific equipment capability, which is hampering our Nation’s ability to respond to a changing climate and environment. In addition, there is a need for upgraded imagery and computing capacity to aid the National Map and remote sensing for Federal land management. Much of the workload is technical in nature, requiring scientific equipment and quantitative support; funds will be distributed based on need, potential for science improvement, and capacity. The Department anticipates that 5,000 jobs will be created nation-wide. The increased scientific capacity will help the country cope with changes in a reliable and accurate manner, and better manage the Nation’s ecosystems and natural resources. The increased earthquake, volcano, and stream monitoring capacity, on a real-time basis, will increase community safety and allow better management of precious water resources.

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