Press Release

AIP FYI #97: Appropriations Report Language on NSF: Research and Related Activities

By SpaceRef Editor
July 27, 2001
Filed under ,

Both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have
released their reports accompanying the VA, HUD, and
Independent Agencies Appropriations Bills. There is extensive
language in each report on the National Science Foundation.
This is the first of three FYIs that will quote extensively
from these reports. This FYI will include language from both
reports on Research and Related Activities. Future FYIs will
provide report language on Major Research Equipment, and
Education and Human Resources. Appropriators from both
subcommittees will conference to determine the final language.

FYI #93 reported that Senate appropriators had a higher
allocation than did their House counterparts. The opposite
was true: House appropriators had an allocation that was 4.5%
above the current year, while Senate appropriators had an
allocation that was 4.4% higher.

The following report language is taken from House Report 107-
159 and Senate Report 107-43. Since these passages are
extensive, capitalized headings have been added. Note that
some of the issues discussed below also relate to education,
and research equipment. Only those sections directly related
to FYI’s coverage are included; readers wishing to view the
entire text of both reports may do so at http://thomas.loc.gov

HOUSE REPORT: ASTRONOMICAL SCIENCES

“Funds provided under this heading in the budget request to
maintain ongoing activities of the Atacama Large Millimeter
Array have been provided as a new appropriation within the
Major Research Facilities Construction and Equipment account.
Within the additional funds thus available for astronomical
sciences, not less than $2,000,000 shall be used for the
Telescope Systems Instrumentation Program (TSIP). In addition,
the Foundation is expected to aggressively continue its
program, begun last year, of upgrading on a priority basis its
astronomical facilities and equipment.”

“The Committee is aware that the Foundation has plans to
retire certain national facilities in radio astronomy despite
considerable community interest and research need, until
construction of the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) is
completed. The Committee strongly urges the Foundation to
consider innovative proposals to privatize these facilities
operations as a cost-effective way to maintain critical
community access to them while lowering the overall financial
resources needed to do so.”

HOUSE REPORT: NANOTECHNOLOGY

“Within the general Nanotechnology Science and Engineering
program area, the Committee urges NSF to consider a stronger
emphasis on research that explores biological mechanisms at
the molecular force level and then translates these findings
up through hierarchical scales of structure and organization
to provide unique designs for engineered devices. The primary
technological impact of such research will be the development
of enabling technologies to create new `adaptive/smart’
sensing and actuation devices with applications that will
directly impact technological advancement and the economy,
including bio-inspired propulsion, locomotion, and actuation
for robotics in the aeronautics, marine, defense, and space
industries; and miniature and functionally complete mechanical
systems for integration with silicon electronics.”

SENATE REPORT: ASTRONOMICAL SCIENCES

“The National Academy of Sciences Astronomy and Astrophysics
Committee’s Decadal Survey has recommended, as one of its most
important priorities, the Telescope Systems Instrumentation
Program. This effort is to provide cutting edge
instrumentation and other infrastructure improvements to the
Nation’s astronomy observatories as well as provide access to
non-federally funded telescopes for the general astronomy
community. The Committee notes that the astronomy subactivity
request included $9,000,000 for the ALMA radio telescope.
Since the Committee has addressed support for ALMA in the
major research equipment account, these resources should be
redirected into the astronomical sciences program element with
$4,000,000 to be used for the TSIP initiative and $5,000,000
to augment individual investigator support. The Committee has
also provided the budget request for the additional
operational enhancements for the Very Long Array (VLA) radio
telescope in Socorro, New Mexico, and the Green Bank
Observatory and Robert C. Byrd Radio Telescope in West
Virginia. The Committee expects the Foundation will continue
its support for both Green Bank and the VLA in future years.
Finally, the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope (ATST) has
been identified as the most important initiative in
ground-based astronomy over the next decade in the Decadal
Survey. It will play a major role in our understanding of
stellar structure, plasma physics, and sun-earth interactions
and will complement many planned space missions. The NSF is
urged to support preparatory work for the ATST, including a
survey of adequate sites and development of adaptive optics
technologies, at a sufficient level to enable this program to
be undertaken by 2005.”

SENATE REPORT: NANOTECHNOLOGY

“The Committee has provided an additional $25,000,000 to the
request for nanoscience and engineering. Nanotechnology
represents the next frontier in science and engineering with
the possibility of revolutionizing nearly every aspect of
society–from manufacturing to disease diagnosis and treatment
to computing and communications. These funds will allow the
Foundation to expand research at the molecular and atomic
scales and develop new techniques to aid in the application of
nanotechnology research results. The Committee is strongly
supportive of the Foundation’s efforts in this area and
expects the Administration will continue to emphasize this
initiative as part of its inter-agency R&D planning process.”

SENATE REPORT: GRADUATE STIPEND LEVELS

“The Committee applauds the Foundation’s proposal for
increasing the stipend levels for graduate students in its
education programs. The Committee’s support for this issue is
reflected in the education and human resources account.
However, the Committee notes the Foundation supports four
times as many graduate students through its research and
related activities appropriation than it does through its
graduate programs in the education and human resources
appropriation. The Committee urges the Foundation to also
emphasize, through its research grants, contracts, and
cooperative agreements, enhanced stipend levels for graduate
students and post-doctoral students. The fiscal year 2002
operating plan should provide information detailing how the
Foundation will achieve this objective.”

SENATE REPORT: MINORITY INSTITUTION INSTRUMENTATION

“The Committee has provided $75,000,000 for the major research
instrumentation program. This is $25,000,000 more than the
request and equal to the fiscal year 2001 funding level. The
Committee continues to remain concerned about the ability of
smaller institutions to adequately participate in the
Foundation’s programs. Of particular interest to the Committee
is the infrastructure needs of non-PhD degree and minority
institutions. The Committee directs the Foundation to use the
additional $25,000,000 to specifically support the merit-based
instrumentation needs of these smaller research institutions.”

SENATE REPORT: HOMESTAKE MINE LABORATORY

“The Committee is aware that a unique opportunity may be
available to acquire the Homestake Mine in Lead, South Dakota
for a world-class underground laboratory for physics, geology,
and extreme biology. The Committee has provided $10,000,000 in
this appropriation explicitly for the work necessary to
maintain the site’s integrity, complete the review and
determine the feasibility of this project. The Committee
expects that this review will be completed expeditiously and
that a decision regarding this proposal will be reflected in
the fiscal year 2003 budget. The Committee also expects that
any funding provided to preserve the integrity of the site
will be subject to appropriate peer-review, and directs that
such review take place expeditiously given the need to
preserve the site and address workforce needs.”

SENATE REPORT: POLAR ACTIVITIES

“The Committee supports the continued funding of the
International Arctic Research Center (IARC) under a recently
approved 3 year, $15,000,000 cooperative agreement between NSF
and the Center. The Committee recognizes the contributions of
IARC, which has become one of the leading research
institutions on global climate change in the arctic region.
The Committee held a field hearing on May 29, 2001 in
Fairbanks, Alaska on global climate change in the arctic
region to highlight the importance of this issue. Witnesses
from both the Federal Government and research community
stressed the importance of increasing our knowledge and
understanding of climate change impacts and potential
consequences. The Committee acknowledges the importance of
this research and urges the Foundation to work with other
Federal agencies and increase its research support for the
arctic region.

“The Committee commends the Foundation’s Office of Polar
Programs for its support on global climate change research in
the arctic region. The Committee directs the Foundation to
consult with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration to determine the feasibility of establishing
the Barrow Arctic Research Center and submit a report to the
House and Senate Committees on Appropriations with its
recommendations, including cost estimates, by April 1, 2002.”

SENATE REPORT: PEER REVIEW SYSTEM

“The Committee is troubled by the recent findings by the
National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) on the
Foundation’s peer review system. In its February 2001 report,
`A Study of the National Science Foundation’s Criteria for
Project Selection,’ NAPA found that NSF is unable to assess
the criteria to encourage a broader range of institutions or
greater participation of under-represented minority
researchers. In other words, while NSF claims to be making
efforts to assist smaller research institutions and
minorities, in practice, this does not occur. NAPA recommended
that NSF should institute broader-based review panels by
bringing in participants from a wider range of institutions,
disciplines, and under-represented minorities. The Committee
urges NSF to immediately institute changes to its peer review
process that reflect these recommendations.”

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Richard M. Jones

Public Information Division

The American Institute of Physics

fyi@aip.org

(301) 209-3095

http://www.aip.org/gov

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SpaceRef staff editor.