Status Report

Statement of Dr. Rita R. Colwell, Director, National Science Foundation, before the House Science Committee

By SpaceRef Editor
February 13, 2002
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Chairman Boehlert, Ranking Member Hall, and Members of the Committee, thank you for providing this opportunity to discuss the President’s budget request for the National Science Foundation.

Every year, the Foundation’s optimal use of limited public funds has relied on two conditions: Ensuring that our research and education investments are aimed Ð and continuously re-aimed Ð at the frontiers of understanding; and certifying that every dollar goes to competitive, merit-reviewed, and time-limited awards with clear criteria for success.

When these two conditions are met, our nation gets the most intellectual and economic leverage from its research and education investments.

The National Science Foundation is requesting $5.036 billion for FY2003, $240 million or five percent more than the previous fiscal year. For the United States to stay on the leading edge of discovery and innovation, we cannot do less.

ÊBefore providing a few highlights of the budget, let me stress that the priority setting process at NSF results from continual consultation with the research community. New programs are added or enhanced only after seeking the combined expertise and experience of the science and engineering community, the Director and Deputy, and the National Science Board.ÊÊ Programs are initiated or enlarged based on considerations of their intellectual merit, broader impacts of the research, the importance to science and engineering, balance across fields and disciplines, and synergy with research in other agencies and nations. NSF coordinates gyrresearch with our sister research agencies both informally — through the active monitoring by program officers of other agencies’ programs Ð and formally, through over 150Ê MOUs and Interagency Agreements that spell out the various agency roles in research activities.

One of the highlights of the budgetÊ is a second installment of $200 million for the national five-year, $1 billion Math and Science Partnership Program. The program links local schools with colleges and universities to improve pre-K -12 math and science education, train teachers, and create innovative ways to raise the performance of all students and schools.

An investment of approximately $37 million will increase annual stipends for graduate fellows to $25,000 to attract more of the nation’s most promising students to science and engineering.

The budget will also include funding for six priority areas, including $221 million for nanotechnology research, $286 million for information technology research, and $60 million as part of a new priority area in mathematical and statistical sciences research that will ultimately advance interdisciplinary science and engineering. $185 million is directed toward NSF’s Learning for the 21st Century Workforce priority area Ð including $20 million to fund three to four new multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional Science of Learning Centers to enhance our understanding of how we learn, how we remember, and how we can best use new information technology to promote learning.

We are also requesting $10 million to seed a new priority area in the social, behavioral, and economic sciences to explore the complex interactions between new technology and society to better anticipate and prepare for their consequences.

Finally, the budget requests $79 million for research on biocomplexity in the environment. This builds upon past investments in the study of the remarkable and dynamic web of interrelationships that arise when living things at all levels interact with their environment. Research in two new areas this year — microbial genome sequencing and ecology of infectious diseases — will help develop strategies to assess and manage the risks of infectious diseases, invasive species, modified organisms, and biological weapons.

Additionally, as part of the Administration’s new multi-agency Climate Change Research Initiative, we will implement a $15 million research program to advance understanding in highly focused areas of climate science, to reduce uncertainty and facilitate policy decisions.ÊÊ Our budget also includes $76 million forÊ programs slated to be transferred to NSF from NOAA, EPA, and the USGS. The Administration believes that there are advantages to locating these programs at NSF, which has an outstanding record in administering merit-based research and education.

In large facilities, we will continue supportÊ forÊ the next phase of construction of the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA). New construction projects in the FY2003 budgetÊ include two prototype sites of the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) at a cost of $12 million to analyze data to detect abrupt changes or long-term trends in the environment. The budget also requests $35 million for EarthScope to detect and investigate earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and landslides on the North American continent.

Mr. Chairman, if there are no objections, I would like to include a copy of the NSF budget summary as part of my testimony, and I would be pleased to respond to any questions that the committee may have.

SpaceRef staff editor.