Status Report

AIP FYI # 110: At Last: Senate Appropriations Bill for NSF

By SpaceRef Editor
September 15, 2000
Filed under


The American Institute of Physics Bulletin of Science Policy
News Number 110: September 15, 2000

It paid to wait. Senate VA, HUD Appropriations Subcommittee
Chairman Christopher “Kit” Bond (R-MO) and Ranking Minority
Member Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) sat on their bill until the Senate
leadership found a way to provide them with more money. The
result is a bill that would give the National Science Foundation
an increase of 10.3% in FY 2001 funding.

And this may not be the upper limit. While Bond and Mikulski had
$3.6 billion more to work with than their House counterparts, the
entire bill is still about $2 billion less than what the White
House is looking for. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman
Ted Stevens (R-AK) expects that more money will be needed before
the President will sign the bill. That will require the lifting
of the budget caps, something which will involve considerable
negotiations with fiscal conservatives in both chambers. The
total difference between Congress and the President for all the
appropriations bills is $23 billion. Bridging the gap will not
be very elegant, but a way will be found. The current House
schedule calls for the final version of H.R. 4635 to be complete
by September 19. House appropriations subcommittee chairman
James Walsh (R-NY), Ranking Minority Member Alan Mollohan (D-WV)
and Senators Bond and Mikulski will be the key players in the
resolution of the final bill.

Here are the numbers and some of the details. The committee
report language is extensive; the following selections are three
pages long. As an aid to the reader, a key descriptive word is
capitalized within most paragraphs:

OVER-ALL NSF BUDGET: The Administration requested an increase of
17.3%. The House-passed bill would provide an increase of 4.3%,
while the Senate committee bill would provide a 10.3% increase.

RESEARCH AND RELATED ACTIVITIES: The Administration requested an
increase of 19.7%. The House bill would provide 5.7%, while the
Senate committee bill would provide a 9.7% increase. The Senate
committee report states: “The Committee supports fully the
Foundation’s efforts to push the boundaries of science and
technology issues, especially in the areas of information
technology, biotechnology, and the administration’s new focus on
nanotechnology. The Committee also applauds the Foundation’s
efforts to address the problem of science and mathematics
education among K-12, undergraduate, and graduate students.
However, in order for the Foundation to reach successfully its
research and education goals, it must reach out to individuals
and schools that have not participated fully in NSF’s programs.
Accordingly, the Committee remains concerned about the
administration’s request for programs designed to assist
minorities, women, and schools that have not received significant
Federal support.”

“To further NSF’s major initiatives, the Committee recommends an
additional $125,000,000 in new funding to enhance its COMPUTER
with the President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee
(PITAC) recommendations in its February 1999 report….”

“The Committee recommends $75,000,000 for the Foundation’s
BIOCOMPLEXITY initiative, an increase of $25,000,000 over last
year’s level….” “The Committee recommends $65,000,000 for the
Plant Genome Research Program and supports the Foundation’s
request to initiate the new `2010 Project’ and supplement the
program with $20,000,000 from other basic research activities
throughout the biological sciences directorate….”

“The Committee recommends $125,000,000 for the new multi-agency
NANOTECHNOLOGY INITIATIVE. The Committee believes that the
recommended level of funding will be adequate for the Foundation
to begin this initiative in a field that is still regarded to be
in its infancy. The recommended level is less than the
$216,700,000 requested level due to concerns about the Foundation
taking on another major interagency initiative when its
administrative resources have remained relatively flat. The
Committee expects the Foundation to work with the Office of
Science and Technology Policy in carefully crafting a detailed,
rational long-term strategy with performance outcome measurements
for the nanotechnology initiative. Further, the Committee directs
NSF to include in its budget justifications for fiscal year 2002,
a workload-analysis plan that identifies the resources necessary
for the Foundation to carry out this initiative and other current
and future program responsibilities.” The House report did not
include specific language on nanotechnology.

“The Committee recognizes the significant infrastructure needs of
our nation’s research institutions, especially for SMALLER
RESEARCH INSTITUTIONS that have not traditionally benefitted from
Federal programs. The Committee is especially concerned about the
larger schools receiving a disproportionate share of scarce
Federal resources from indirect cost reimbursements to fund
infrastructure needs. As a result, the Committee recommends
$75,000,000 to the Foundation’s Major Research Instrumentation
(MRI) account to address the infrastructure needs of research
institutions. NSF is encouraged to target these funds in
assisting smaller research institutions.”

“The Committee notes the recent 3 year, $15,000,000 cooperative
agreement between NSF and the International ARCTIC Research
Center (IARC). The Committee commends NSF for its commitment to
the international cooperative research opportunities made
available through IARC.”

“The Committee notes that NSF is participating in a multi-agency
effort to determine the future needs of the U.S. RESEARCH VESSEL
FLEET. The Committee is aware that a replacement vessel for the
R/V Alpha Helix, an arctic research vessel, has a useful life of
2 to 3 years remaining. The Committee recommends that NSF begin
the design and model testing of a vessel to replace the R/V Alpha
Helix and provides $1,000,000 for this purpose.”

“The Committee is very concerned that NSF has not proposed to
maintain adequately its existing ASTRONOMY facilities. In last
year’s Senate report, the Committee expressed its support for
enhanced operations and maintenance and development of new
instrumentation at the Very Large Array and the Very Long
Baseline Array in New Mexico and continued construction of the
Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia. Now that the Green Bank
Telescope is completed, these astronomy facilities need to be
supported in their operations, and new instrumentation and
upgrades must be provided to keep them as world class facilities.
Accordingly, the Committee provides an additional $13,000,000
above the fiscal year 2001 request levels for the astronomical
sciences subactivity for these facilities.”

“The Committee is very supportive of the research and development
activities being conducted at the National High Magnetic Field
Laboratory (NHMFL). Based at Florida State University with the
University of Florida and Los Alamos National Laboratory as its
partners, the laboratory has attracted world-class scientists and
engineers and has developed state-of-the-art facilities like no
other place in the world. The NHMFL has submitted its renewal
proposal to the Foundation earlier this year and is being
currently reviewed by NSF and the National Science Board for
final funding decisions this fall. The Committee supports
strongly the laboratory and the work it has accomplished and
hopes that the Foundation continues its support for this
outstanding facility.”

“Lastly, the Committee recognizes the Foundation’s funded
research in the social, behavioral, and economic sciences (SBE)
area. The Committee is especially interested in SBE activities to
raise SCIENCE LITERACY, which is a problem in this country that
will impact the economic health and competitiveness of the
nation. The Committee also encourages the continued involvement
of behavioral and social science research in NSF’s
multi-disciplinary initiatives, including information technology
and 21st Century WORKFORCE. Further, the Committee encourages NSF
to formulate a plan for increasing the number of young
investigators in SBE and other research areas.”

MAJOR RESEARCH EQUIPMENT: “The Committee recommends an
appropriation of $109,100,000 for major research equipment. This
amount is $15,600,000 more than the fiscal year 2000 enacted
level and $29,440,000 below the budget request. The Committee
has provided $45,000,000 for a second Terascale Computing System
[House: zero], $16,400,000 for the Large Hadron Collider [House:
same], and $6,000,000 for the Millimeter Array [House: same]. The
Committee has also provided $28,200,000 to continue the
construction of the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation
[House: same], and $13,500,000 for the south pole station
modernization efforts [House: same]. No funding is provided for
the new EarthScope or the National Ecological Observatory Network
[House: same] projects as requested by the administration due to
budgetary constraints.”

EDUCATION AND HUMAN RESOURCES: “The Committee recommends an
appropriation of $765,352,000 for education and human resources
(EHR). This amount is $74,480,000 more than the fiscal year 2000
enacted level and $36,342,000 more than the budget request.”
Both the administration and the House bill provided essentially
flat funding.

“The Committee is deeply disappointed by the administration’s
lack of support in its budget request for assisting SMALLER
particularly troubled by the lack of support provided to the
Office of Innovation Partnerships (OIP) and the Experimental
Program to Stimulate Competitive Research EPSCoR)….”

“To address the importance of broadening science and technology
participation to MINORITIES, the Committee recommendation
includes $12,000,000 for the Historically Black Colleges and
Universities–Undergraduate Program (HBCU-UP), an increase of
$3,620,000 over the fiscal year 2000 enacted level and $3,000,000
more than the budget request….” “The Committee notes that
Alaska and Hawaii do not provide higher education to Native
students through the TRIBAL COLLEGE SYSTEM….” “The Committee
also strongly supports the Foundation’s programs to support WOMEN
and PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES. Specifically, the Committee
recommends $16,500,000 for programs designated for women and
persons with disabilities.”

“The Committee supports the Foundation’s efforts to strengthen
Committee is providing $11,200,000 for the new Scholarships for
Service program to build a cadre of individuals in the Federal
sector with the skills to protect the nation’s information

“The Committee also continues its strong support for the INFORMAL
SCIENCE EDUCATION (ISE) program. The Committee especially values
the ISE program in raising interest among children and young
adults in science and technology and notes the success of certain
settings…. The ISE has also played a role in the development of
science teachers. The Committee supports NSF’s fiscal year 2001
focus on building collaborations between informal and formal
science institutions, opportunities for underrepresented groups,
involvement of parents, and enhancement of public understanding
of mathematics.”

“The Committee recognizes the importance of RESEARCH IN NUCLEAR
SCIENCE. NSF’s investment is primarily in basic nuclear science
and NSF-supported research has led to important applications seen
in medicine such as CAT scans, nuclear magnetic resonance imaging
(MRI), and positron emission tomography (PET scans). The
Committee, however, is concerned by the declining Federal support
in nuclear engineering education. Accordingly, the Committee
directs the Foundation to review the academic interest in nuclear
engineering education and to provide recommendations on how NSF
can support this area. The findings and recommendations should be
provided to the Committee by no later than March 15, 2001.”

“The Committee is also concerned by the funding levels proposed
by the Administration for the Foundation’s GRADUATE RESEARCH
EDUCATION PROGRAMS. The Committee is concerned particularly with
the proposed reduction in funding for the highly successful and
prestigious Graduate Research Fellowships (GRF) program. This
highly competitive program has produced 18 Nobel Prize winners
since 1975. The Committee is very supportive of the GRF program
and provides $55,200,000 for fiscal year 2002. This will allow
the Foundation to raise the annual stipend amount from its
current level of $16,200 to $18,000 per award. The Committee
believes that the increased stipend will improve the Foundation’s
ability to attract the best and brightest students into the
science, mathematics, engineering, and technology fields. The
Committee also urges NSF to increase the GRF program to 900 for
the next competition. The Committee also provides an increase of
$7,500,000 to the Graduate Teaching Fellows in K-12 Education
program, raising the program level to $15,000,000 for fiscal year
2002. While this level is below the President’s requested level
of $28,000,000, the Committee believes that it is difficult to
justify a substantial increase to a program that has only been in
place for a year and whose performance has not been assessed.”

Richard M. Jones
Public Information Division
American Institute of Physics
(301) 209-3095

SpaceRef staff editor.