FYI: The AIP Bulletin of Science Policy News

Senate FY 2010 National Science Foundation Funding Bill

Richard M. Jones
Number 84 - June 30, 2009  |  Search FYI  |   FYI Archives  |   Subscribe to FYI

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The Senate Appropriations Committee has released the report accompanying the FY 2010 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Bill. This report, 111-34, sets forth the committee’s funding and policy recommendations. The House of Representatives has already passed its version of this legislation.

This bill provides funding for a wide variety of federal departments and agencies, among which are the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and NASA. This FYI provides selections from the committee report pertaining to the National Science Foundation; NIST and NASA will be reviewed in coming issues. The entire Senate report will be available here.

Total NSF:

The FY 2009 appropriation was $6,490.4 million.
The Administration's request was $7,045.0 million, an increase of 8.5 percent or $554.6 million.
The House bill provides $6,936.5 million, an increase of 6.9 percent or $446.1 million.
The Senate Appropriations Committee bill provides $6,916.8 million, an increase of 6.6 percent or $426.4 million.

Most of the committee report language in this introductory section described the foundation’s mission and programs.

Research and Related Activities:

The FY 2009 appropriation was $5,183.1 million
The Administration's request was $5,733.2 million, an increase of 10.6 percent or $550.0 million.
The House bill provides $5,642.1 million, an increase of 8.9 percent or $459.0 million.
The Senate Appropriations Committee bill provides $5,618.1 million, an increase of 8.4 percent or $435.0 million.

The committee report stated:

“The Committee's fiscal year 2010 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.’

“Icebreaking.--NSF shall transfer $54,000,000 to the Coast Guard. . . . For fiscal year 2011, the Committee expects the operating and maintenance budget authority and 400 FTP/FTE to be included in the Coast Guard's request.

“Scientific Facilities and Instrumentation.--A critical component of the Nation's scientific enterprise is the infrastructure that supports researchers in discovery science. Recent significant investments to advance the frontiers of research and education in science and engineering in the fiscal year 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act and in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will increase the number of research grants and the success rate of funding meritorious research proposals. The Committee expects the NSF to fully fund world-class U.S. scientific research facilities and instruments to adequately support scientists and students engaged in ground-breaking research as a consequence of these increased investments in research.

“National Radio Astronomy Observatory- The Committee recommendation provides the full budget request of $67,090,000. This level of funding will provide adequate funding for operations of the Green Bank Observatory with its now operational radio telescope, science center, and associated student facilities.

“Severe Storm Research- The Committee recognizes the collaborative efforts between NSF and NOAA to study tornadoes with the research project VORTEX2. This project is scheduled to continue through June 2010. At this time the study only focuses on storms that occur in the Midwestern United States. However, NOAA data shows that more damage is caused by severe weather in the Southeastern portion of the United States than any other region of the country. The Committee directs NSF to take into account this information and to incorporate tornado activity in the Southeastern United States as part of the collaboration with NOAA on this research.”

Education and Human Resources:

The FY 2009 appropriation was $845.3 million
The Administration's request was $857.8 million, an increase of 1.5 percent or $12.5 million.
The House bill provides $862.9 million, an increase of 2.1 percent or $17.6 million.
The Senate Appropriations Committee bill provides $857.8 million, the Administration request.

The committee report stated:

“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.

“Informal Science Education- The Committee maintains its strong support for NSF's informal science education program. A recent report from the National Academy of Sciences, ‘Learning Science in Informal Settings’, found evidence that nonschool science programs involving exhibitions, media projects, emerging learning technologies, and other informal education programs stimulate students and increase their interest in STEM education. The Committee encourages NSF to increase its support for the development of online accessible repositories of digital media and other materials to assist teachers and students in STEM education.

“Promoting STEM Education Through Competition- The future of U.S. competitiveness rests on our ability to train the next generation of scientists and engineers. The Committee has acted on the ‘Above the Gathering Storm’ recommendation to improve K-12 STEM education by robustly funding the National Science Foundation and other science agencies. The Committee also recognizes the important contributions of groups and organizations that have developed nationwide STEM robotics competitions to inspire and train America's students. The Committee directs NSF to set aside $2,000,000 for a competitive program of grants to promote STEM education through robotics competition. Within 60 days of enactment of this act, the National Science Foundation is directed to provide a report and spend plan to the Appropriations Committees, which details the scope of the program and the criteria and methodology the agency will employ to award these grants.

“Professional Science Master's [PSM] Degree.--The Committee strongly encourages NSF to continue support for the Professional Science Master's [PSM] degree programs funded through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (Public Law 111-5) as authorized in the America COMPETES Act (Public Law 110-69). To remain competitive in the global economy, America needs to develop more expertise in STEM fields; the PSM provides a pathway for students with undergraduate degrees in STEM fields and is a critical program for preparing future science professionals and leaders. The Committee strongly recommends that NSF incorporate requests for funding in fiscal year 2011 budget and beyond.”

Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction:

The committee report stated:

“The Committee recommendation includes funding at the requested level for the following five ongoing projects: the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory [AdvLIGO]; the Atacama Large Millimeter Array [ALMA]; the IceCube Neutrino Observatory; the Ocean Observing Initiatives; and the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope [ATST], for which the Committee provides an additional $5,000,000 for this project.”

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