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FY 2012 National Science Foundation Budget Request

Richard M. Jones
Number 18 - February 18, 2011  |  Search FYI  |   FYI Archives  |   Subscribe to FYI

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National Science Foundation Director Subra Suresh’s opening remarks at Monday’s FY 2012 budget presentation provided the context for the 13.0 percent increase (as compared to FY 2010) the Administration has requested.  Said Suresh:

“In these challenging fiscal times, when difficult financial choices have to be made to return our nation to solid financial footing, this budget request reflects the confidence that the President is placing in NSF as an agency.

“While domestic discretionary spending is being frozen overall, the President targets scarce federal resources to the areas critical to winning the future. NSF is one such investment.

“This budget acknowledges that NSF not only innovates through its support of fundamental research in all of the disciplinary areas, but also, through that innovation, generates jobs, grows the economy, adds immeasurably to the global store of knowledge and educates our workforce.”

NSF, the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, and the research programs of the National Institute of Standards and Technology have been put on a budget doubling track.  President Barack Obama is continuing an initiative launched by President George W. Bush in 2006 to double funding for these agencies to ensure U.S. leadership in science and technology.  Recommendations to double this funding were made in the Rising Above the Gathering Storm reports, and were the foundation for the original America COMPETES Act, and its recent reauthorization.  

An FY 2011 NSF appropriation bill has not been enacted.   The Administration is comparing its FY 2012 budget request to an adjusted FY 2010 appropriation, utilized in the below summary of selected program budget changes.  Further information on the Administration’s budget request is available here.

Total National Science Foundation:

Up 13.0 percent or $894.5 million from the FY 2010 adjusted level of $6,872.5 million to $7,767.0 million.

There are six major components within the foundation’s budget request.  The first is:

Research and Related Activities:

Up 12.4 percent or $689.6 million from $5,563.9 million to $6,253.5 million.

Within the Research and Related Activities Account are the following selected Directorates:

Engineering: Up 22.1 percent or $164.4 million from $743.9 million to $908.3 million.

Geosciences: Up 10.1 percent or $89.5 million from $889.6 million to $979.2 million.

Mathematical and Physical Sciences: Up 6.0 percent or $80.9 million from $1,351.8 million to $1,432.7 million.

Within this Directorate are six Subactivities, including:

  • Astronomical Sciences: Up 1.4 percent or $3.4 million from $245.7 million to $249.1 million.
  • Materials Research: Up 6.0 percent or $18.1 million from $302.7 million to $320.8 million.
  • Physics: Up 3.7 percent or $10.9 million from $290.0 million to $300.9 million.

A second Account is:

Education and Human Resources:

Up 4.4 percent or $38.4 million from $872.8 million to $911.2 million.  A future FYI will provide further information on the Administration’s STEM request.

The third Account is:

Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC): 

Up 91.6 percent or $107.4 million from $117.3 million to $224.7 million. 

NSF requested the following construction funding for five projects:

  • Advanced LIGO:  $21.0 million
  • Advanced Technology Solar Telescope: $10.0 million
  • Atacama Large Millimeter Array: $3.0 million.  The budget document states this is “the last year of an eleven-year project totaling an estimated $499.26 million.”
  • National Ecological Observatory Network: $87.9 million
  • Ocean Observatories Initiative: $102.8 million

The budget document explains: “No MREFC funds are requested for the Alaska Region Research Vessel (ARRV). The remaining project balance was provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).”  Also, “No MREFC funds are requested for the IceCube Neutrino Observatory in the FY 2012 Budget Request.  The FY 2010 Budget Request to Congress requested $950,000, which represented the final amount necessary to complete funding for the ten-year project, totaling an estimated $279.47 million.”

Other budget Accounts include Agency Operations and Award Management, National Science Board, and Office of Inspector General.

Richard M. Jones
Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics