Status Report

AIP FYI #89: Senate Appropriators Vote 11.8% Increase for National Science Foundation

By SpaceRef Editor
July 31, 2002
Filed under , ,

The Senate Appropriations Committee has completed work on the
FY 2003 VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies Appropriations Act.
S. 2797 provides funding for the National Science Foundation,
NASA, and a wide range of other federal departments and
agencies. The Senate appropriations report language on NSF
was expansive. Below are selected passages from Senate Report
107-222. Readers are urged to consult the report at for report language on reprogramming,
computer and information science, broadband, mathematical
science and biological sciences. A forthcoming FYI will be
issued on the Education and Human Resources section of the
report. Note that the House has not acted on its version of
this legislation. A conference between House and Senate
appropriators will occur in September.

First, the numbers:

The total NSF budget would increase 11.8%, or $564.1 million,
from $4,789.2 million to $5,353.4 million.

The Research and Related Activities (R&RA) budget would
increase 14.8%, or $533.0 million, from $3,598.6 million to
$4,131.6 million.

Within the R&RA category, the Mathematical and Physical
Sciences budget would increase 14.8%, or $136.1 million, from
$920.5 million to $1,056.6 million.

Within the R&RA category, the Geosciences budget would
increase 12.3%, or $75.0 million, from $609.5 million to
$684.5 million.

Within the R&RA category, the Engineering budget would
increase 20.3%, or $95.7 million, from $472.3 million to
$568.0 million.

The Education and Human Resources budget would increase 8.3%,
or $72.7 million, from $875.0 million to $947.8 million.

The Major Research Equipment and Facilities budget would
decline 42.9%, or $59.5 million, from $138.8 million to $79.3

The following are selections from the committee report:


“The Committee was guided in its allocation of resources for
the Foundation by two central considerations.” “First,
productivity growth, powered by new knowledge and
technological innovation, makes the economic benefits of a
comprehensive fundamental research and education enterprise
abundantly clear. New products, processes, entire new
industries, and the employment opportunities that result,
depend upon rapid advances in research and their equally rapid
movement into the marketplace. In today’s global economy,
continued progress in science and engineering and the transfer
of the knowledge developed is vital if the United States is to
maintain its competitiveness.

“In addition, the events of September 11 and subsequent
anthrax attacks demonstrate that a nation strong in science
and technology can respond rapidly and effectively to crises
and changing national circumstances. Fundamental research
across the full spectrum of science and engineering
disciplines in an appropriately balanced manner, together with
the highly skilled workforce that makes research and
innovation possible, provides the intellectual capital for the
nation to draw upon in times of need. A growing stock of
knowledge focused on the frontiers of research increases the
options available for response. A diverse, internationally
competitive, and globally engaged science and engineering
workforce accelerates the development of new technologies to
meet unexpected needs.”


“The Committee is concerned that the size and number of awards
made by the Foundation are far below what is needed to enable
our research scientists and engineers to meet the challenges
presented by our global competitors. The Committee urges the
Foundation, to the maximum extent possible, to use the growth
in resources being provided to make a marked and substantial
increase in the average award, as well as increase the number
of awards being made with special efforts made to include
those individuals and institutions not well represented in the
Nation’s research enterprise.”

“The Committee’s recommendation provides $567,980,000 for
engineering. This is $80,000,000 more than the request. These
additional funds are to strengthen the nanoscience and
engineering initiative in the engineering directorate.

“The Committee is providing $1,056,570,000 for the
mathematical and physical sciences. The Committee has
increased the fiscal year 2003 request for the physics,
chemistry, astronomy, materials research and multidisciplinary
research subactivities by a total of $135,000,000. The
Committee remains concerned that support for the physical
sciences has not kept pace with the growth in other
disciplines. Yet it is the sustained investment in these
disciplines that has enabled the development of today’s
advanced weapon systems, state-of-the-art medical diagnostic
equipment, and improved communications systems. The
Committee’s recommendation will strengthen the core research
and instrumentation programs in these subactivities as well as
adequately support the national astronomy centers in West
Virginia, New Mexico, and elsewhere, and other NSF physical
science facilities. The Committee also directs NSF to provide
adequate support for preparatory work for the Giant Segmented
Mirror Telescope (GSMT). The GSMT was one of the highest
priorities recommended in the National Academy of Sciences
Astronomy and Astrophysics Committee’s decadal survey.

“The Committee also encourages NASA and NSF to work together
on the Large-aperture Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST). The
LSST was highly recommended in the recent National Academy of
Sciences decadal survey and is designed to survey the visible
sky to a much fainter level than that reached by existing
surveys. It is expected to catalog 90 percent of the
near-Earth objects larger than 300 meters and assess the
threat they pose to life on Earth. Its ability to find and
catalog primitive objects in the Kuiper Belt is expected to
significantly aid in the success of NASA’s Pluto-Kuiper Belt
Explorer mission.

“From the additional funds provided for the mathematical and
physical sciences directorate, the Committee is adjusting the
request by providing an additional $7,300,000 for the national
radio astronomy observatories, $4,200,000 for the national
optical astronomy observatories, and $14,500,000 for the
Indiana University Cyclotron Facility, the National High
Magnetic Field Laboratory, the Wisconsin Synchrotron Radiation
Center, and other facilities. The Committee’s recommendation
also includes the $4,000,000 requested for the continuation of
the Telescope System Instrumentation Program which was
initiated by the Committee in fiscal year 2002.”

“The Committee’s recommendation provides $684,490,000 for
geosciences research. This is $75,020,000 more than the
fiscal year 2002 level. The Committee has rejected the
Administration’s proposal to transfer programs from NOAA, EPA
and the USGS. In lieu of the transfer, the Committee is
directing that the funds provided be used to augment high
priority research activities in the earth, atmospheric, and
ocean sciences. The Committee supports the efforts being made
to develop multi-year strategic plans in the atmospheric
sciences and in ocean drilling. As a result, the Committee
expects NSF will use $15,000,000 of the increase to augment
support for the national user facilities in this directorate
and move forward on the integrated ocean drilling program.

“The Committee supports the important research being performed
at the International Arctic Research Center (IARC). The
Committee understands that the cooperative agreement between
the Foundation and the International Arctic Research Center
(IARC) will expire on April 30, 2003. Accordingly, the
Committee urges NSF to work with the Center and the University
of Alaska to renew the cooperative agreement.

“The Committee provided funds in fiscal year 2001 to begin the
design and model testing of a vessel to replace the R/V Alpha
Helix . . . . ”

“The Committee has also increased the request for U.S. polar
research programs by $10,000,000 to support priority research
and infrastructure needs.

“As a key part of the Administration’s climate change research
initiative, the Committee recognizes the Nation needs
substantially better information on the current and future
state of the ocean and its role in environmental change.
Adequate predictive capability is a prerequisite to the
development of sound policies at the national and regional
level, policies ranging from maritime commerce to public
health, from fisheries to safety of life and property, from
climate change to national security. The Committee urges NSF
to move ahead to support an ocean observatories initiative
that is tightly integrated with the Administration’s
interagency climate change science program.”

“The Committee is providing an additional $50,000,000 to
augment the request for the major research instrumentation
program. The Committee reiterates its long-standing concern
about the infrastructure needs of developing institutions,
historically black colleges and universities; and other
minority-serving colleges and universities. The Committee
directs NSF to use these additional funds to support the
merit-based instrumentation and infrastructure needs of these

“The Committee’s recommendation includes an additional
$10,000,000 for the innovation partnership program. With these
funds, NSF is to support competitive, merit-based
partnerships, consisting of States, local and regional
entities, industry, academic institutions, and other related
organizations for innovation-focused local and regional
technology development strategies.”


“Within this account, the Committee’s recommendation includes
funding for the following projects: $20,000,000 for
Earthscope; $30,000,000 for the Atacama Large Millimeter Array
telescope; $9,720,000 for the Large Hadron Collider;
$13,560,000 for the Network for Earthquake Engineering
Simulation; and $6,000,000 for South Pole Station.”

“The Committee remains concerned about the Foundation’s
management of large scale construction projects and the
priority setting process used to select projects to be funded.
The Committee received a report from NSF required by Public
Law 107-73 which addressed a number of issues of concern to
the Committee. However neither the report nor the budget
justifications addressed the way in which criteria are used by
the agency and the National Science Board in setting
priorities among new and potential new starts. A recent audit
by the Inspector General identified a number of issues in both
the financial management and project management of previously
funded projects . . . .”

“The Committee also supports provisions under consideration by
the authorizing committees to establish a more transparent
process for the establishment of priorities with respect to
the funding of major research equipment and facilities
construction. The Committee believes a more open and
understandable process, which includes National Science Board
and NSB Committee meetings, are important aspects of such a
priority setting process.

“In addition, despite repeated concerns expressed by the
Congress and the Inspector General, NSF has not addressed
adequately the management and funding problems associated with
large research facilities funded through the major research
equipment and facilities construction account (formerly named
the major research equipment or MRE account). . . .”

“The Committee notes that NSF is proposing to spend
$40,000,000 over the next 3 years to develop two National
Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) sites. The Committee
notes that NSF considers this the first phase of NEON.
Information on the full NEON concept, including cost
estimates, has yet to be provided to the Committee. In the
absence of such information, and without prejudice, the
Committee is not prepared to recommend funding for NEON at
this time.

“The Committee urges NSF to continue moving forward with the
IceCube Neutrino Detector Observatory. The technology
developed by IceCube’s precursor project has proven successful
at detecting high-energy atmospheric neutrinos. Continued
development is expected to lead to a new era in astronomy in
which researchers will have unique opportunities to analyze
some of the most distant and significant events in the
formulation and evolution of the universe.”

Richard M. Jones
Media and Government Relations Division
The American Institute of Physics
(301) 209-3095

SpaceRef staff editor.