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Senate FY 2011 National Science Foundation Appropriations Bill

Richard M. Jones
Number 80 - July 23, 2010  |  Search FYI  |   FYI Archives  |   Subscribe to FYI

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Yesterday the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the FY 2011 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Bill. S. 3636 provides funding for the National Science Foundation. Accompanying this bill is Senate Report 111-229, selections from which follow. The House Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee has approved its version of this bill and issued a one-page funding table, and will release its report after its bill is approved by the full House Appropriations Committee.

National Science Foundation:

FY 2010 appropriation: $6,872.5 million (adjusted figure for Coast Guard transfer)
FY 2011 Administration request: $7,424.4 million
House subcommittee recommendation: $7,424.4 million, an increase of $551.9 million or 8.0 percent above this year.
Senate full committee recommendation: $7,353.4 million, an increase of $480.9 million or 7.0 percent above this year.

The introductory Senate Committee report language described the foundation’s mission and reiterated reprogramming requirements.

Within the foundation’s budget are the following selected categories:

Research and Related Activities:

FY 2010 appropriation: $5,563.9 million (adjusted figure for Coast Guard transfer)
FY 2011 Administration request: $6,018.8 million
House subcommittee recommendation: $5,960.6 million, an increase of $396.7 million or 7.1 percent above this year.
Senate full committee recommendation: $5,967.2 million, an increase of $403.3 million or 7.3 percent above this year.

The Senate Committee report stated:

“The Committee's fiscal year 2011 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 major cross-foundation investments of Cyber-enabled Discovery and Innovation and Science and Engineering Beyond Moore's Law. 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. The Committee notes the budget request did not include transfer of operating and maintenance funds for the polar icebreakers from the NSF to the Coast Guard as directed in the conference report accompanying the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2010 (Public Law 111-117). Despite increased security needs in the Arctic, both heavy icebreakers, the Polar Star and the Polar Sea, are currently out of service. For fiscal year 2012, the Committee expects the operating and maintenance budget authority and 400 FTP/FTE to be included in the Coast Guard's request and will not entertain an NSF request for this funding. The two agencies shall update the existing Memorandum of Agreement [MOA] to reflect this change in budget authority and submit the updated MOA to the Committee before December 31, 2010.

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 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.

Astronomical Sciences- The Committee is aware of the need to increase access to 8-meter class telescopes for the U.S. astronomical community. Demand for observing time on large telescopes currently exceeds the available time by a factor of 3 to 4. The Committee recognizes that there is an opportunity to meet this need through an increased U.S. share of the Gemini program and provides an additional $2,000,000 above the request for increased time on Gemini either through a direct increase in the U.S. share or by providing instruments for Gemini.

“The Committee encourages NSF to pursue the astronomy and astrophysics decadal survey's recommendation to develop a giant segmented mirror telescope and to develop that telescope on domestic soil as a public-private partnership inclusive of international partners, through the agency's major research equipment and facilities construction process. This will help to continue America's leadership in optical astronomy, while supporting scientific and technical jobs to maintain our level of excellence in this field.

National Radio Astronomy Observatory [NRAO]- The Committee recommendation provides the full budget request of $81,803,000 for NRAO research and related activities and construction. The Committee notes that progress has been made in identifying valuable dual use capabilities of the Very Long Baseline Array [VLBA] and the Green Bank Telescope and encourages NSF to work with other Federal agencies in tapping these national scientific assets to meet program requirements.

Cybersecurity- The Committee recommendation includes the full request of $144,550,000 for cybersecurity research, including $55,000,000 for NSF's contribution to the Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative. NSF provides 82 percent of the total Federal support for basic computer science research at academic institutions. As government, business and society become more interconnected and dependent on computers, mobile devices, and the Internet, it becomes more important that those systems be reliable, resilient and resistant to attacks. The discovery and innovation in cybersecurity supported by NSF will form the intellectual foundations for practical applications that make our information networks safer, more secure, and better able to protect our information.

Experimental Program To Stimulate Competitive Research [EPSCoR].--Within the amount provided, the Committee provides $157,400,000 for EPSCoR, an amount that is approximately 7 percent higher than the fiscal year 2010 amount.”

Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction:

FY 2010 appropriation: $117.3 million
FY 2011 Administration request: $165.2 million
House subcommittee recommendation: $165.2 million, an increase of $47.9 million or 40.8 percent above this year.
Senate full committee recommendation: $155.2 million, an increase of $37.9 million or 32.3 percent above this year.

The Senate Committee report stated:

“The Committee's recommendation includes funding at the requested level for the following four ongoing projects: the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory [AdvLIGO]; the Atacama Large Millimeter Array [ALMA]; the Ocean Observing Initiatives; and the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope [ATST]. This amount also includes $10,000,000 to initiate construction of the National Ecological Observatory Network [NEON].”

Note: NSF requested $20.0 million for NEON.

Education and Human Resources:

FY 2010 appropriation: $872.8 million
FY 2011 Administration request: $892.0 million
House subcommittee recommendation: $958.4 million, an increase of $85.6 million or 9.8 percent above this year.
Senate full committee recommendation: $892.0 million, an increase of $19.2 million or 2.2 percent above this year.

The Senate 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 ‘Rising 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.

Robert Noyce Scholarship Program- The Committee has provided the requested level of $55,000,000 for the Robert Noyce Scholarship program. This program helps fill the critical need for STEM teachers in elementary and secondary schools by funding institutions of higher education to provide scholarships, stipends, and programmatic support to recruit and prepare STEM majors and professionals to become K-12 teachers. Scholarship and stipend recipients are required to complete 2 years of teaching in a high-need school district for each year of support.

Federal Cyber Service: Scholarships for Service- At the same time that more Americans rely on the Internet and networked systems for business and pleasure, threats to those systems are growing. The Federal Cyber Service: Scholarships for Service program helps the Federal Government respond to threats to our information technology infrastructure by providing scholarships to train cyber security professionals. In return, scholarship recipients agree to serve in a Federal Government agency position, building the Government's capacity to understand, respond to, and prevent cyber threats. More than 900 students have completed the program which was initiated in fiscal year 2001; 92.6 percent of students have placed with more than 120 Federal agencies. The Committee provides $45,000,000, which is $30,000,000 above the requested level, to expand the Federal Cyber Service: Scholarships for Service program.

“Not less than $20,000,000 of the additional amount should be used specifically for graduate candidates, to include master's and doctoral students.

Informal Science Education- The Committee maintains its strong support for NSF's informal science education program. A 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, nonschool science programs, 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 `Rising 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 competitions. Within 60 days of enactment of this act, the National Science Foundation is directed to provide a report and spend plan to the Committee, 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 2012 budget and beyond.

Broadening Participation- The Committee denies the NSF's request to merge initiatives to broaden participation by consolidating three existing programs, the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Undergraduate Program [HBCU-UP], the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation [LSAMP] and the Tribal Colleges and Universities Program [T-CUP]. These three programs each have different purposes and engage students and colleges and universities in a different manner. One size will not fit all. The Committee directs NSF to maintain HBCU-UP at $32,000,000; LSAMP at $44,750,000; and T-CUP at $14,000,000. Any remaining funding available for Undergraduate/Graduate Student Support may be used for an integrated broadening participation of undergraduates in STEM that includes institutions eligible for these three programs as well as institutions eligible under section 7033 of the America COMPETES Act (Public Law 110-69).”

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