FY 2014 House Appropriations Committee Report: National Science Foundation

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Publication date: 
24 July 2013
Number: 
127

The House and Senate Appropriations Committees have approved their versions of the FY 2014 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Bills.  These bills provide funding to the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

The amount of money available to the committees differed, with the House committee operating with a significantly lower figure.  The House Appropriations Committee has just released the final version of its report accompanying its bill.

This FYI will excerpt selections from the House committee report accompanying this bill regarding the National Science Foundation on pages 70 - 73.  Committee report language does not have the force of law, but agencies usually adhere to it closely.  Conflicts in funding and policy between the House and Senate versions will be resolved in a conference committee.  See FYI #123 for comparable Senate report language.  Senate report numbers are used below.

Total National Science Foundation:

The FY 2013 budget (not including the mandatory 5 percent reduction) is $7,239.8 million
The FY 2014 request is $7,625.8 million, an increase of $386.0 million or 5.3 percent
The Senate recommendation is $7,425.9 million, an increase of $186.1 million or 2.6 percent
The House recommendation is $6,995.1 million, a decrease of $244.7 million or 3.4 percent

The House report had no introductory language on NSF.

 

Research and Related Activities:

The FY 2013 budget (not including the mandatory 5 percent reduction) is $5,859.2 million
The FY 2014 request is $6,212.3 million, an increase of $353.1 million or 6.0 percent
The Senate recommendation is $6,018.3 million, an increase of $159.1 million or 2.7 percent
The House recommendation is $5,676.2 million, a decrease of $183.0 million or 3.1 percent

The report language follows:

Program changes. -- Consistent with the Committee's position on the proposed STEM education restructuring, the recommendation does not support the establishment of the new Catalyzing Advances in Undergraduate STEM Education (CAUSE) program or the transition of the Graduate Research Fellowship (GRF) program into the interagency National GRF.

“Proposed program reductions not related to the establishment of CAUSE have been accepted. The funds made available through these reductions, together with more than $132,000,000 provided above NSF's R&RA current plan level, will allow NSF to expand or enhance its other research activities in order to address a selection of national priorities.

Neuroscience. -- NSF is uniquely positioned to advance the nonmedical aspects of cognitive science and neuroscience, particularly through interdisciplinary research, computational models, visualization techniques, innovative technologies, and the underlying data and data infrastructure needed to transform our understanding of these areas. The Committee encourages NSF to continue to work in conjunction with the IWGN as well as the other agencies participating in the BRAIN Initiative to accelerate our understanding of how the brain functions. To support these activities, the recommendation provides the requested increase of $13,850,000 for new, cross-Foundation investments in cognitive science and neuroscience research.

Advanced manufacturing. -- The recommendation includes the proposed funding level for NSF's advanced manufacturing initiative. Future economic prosperity in the United States will depend largely on our ability to develop and manufacture new products based on advanced technologies, both for the domestic market and for export. Basic research supported through NSF and other Federal science agencies is critical to this effort because it will help provide the foundation for the development of such new products and technologies by the private sector.

Lyme disease. -- NSF has previously supported a variety of research intended to learn more about the prevalence of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. The Committee encourages NSF to continue these efforts by funding meritorious Lyme disease research proposals that fully meet NSF's peer review standards.

United States Antarctic Program (USAP). -- The Committee supports NSF's decision to temporarily reduce funding for Antarctic science in order to provide funds for the implementation of important safety-related and efficiency-promoting recommendations of the USAP Blue Ribbon Panel.

“International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP). -- The Committee encourages NSF to continue funding the IODP at no less than the level contained in the agency's fiscal year 2013 current plan.”

 

Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction

The FY 2013 budget (not including the mandatory 5 percent reduction) is $192.1 million
The FY 2014 request is $210.1 million, an increase of $18.0 million or 9.4 percent
The Senate recommendation is $210.1 million, an increase of $18.0 million or 9.4 percent
The House recommendation is $182.6 million, a decrease of $9.5 million or 5.0 percent

The report contained no language.

 

Education and Human Resources:

The FY 2013 budget (not including the mandatory 5 percent reduction) is $877.0 million
The FY 2014 request is $880.3 million, an increase of $3.3 million or 0.4 percent
The Senate recommendation is $880.3 million, an increase of $3.3 million or 0.4 percent
The House recommendation is $825.0 million, a decrease of $52.0 million or 5.9 percent

The report stated:

Program changes. -- Consistent with the Committee's position on the proposed STEM education restructuring, the recommendation does not support the establishment of the new CAUSE program or the transition of the GRF program into the interagency National GRF.

“Proposed program reductions not related to the establishment of CAUSE have been accepted. The reallocation of funds from these reduced programs will allow NSF to expand other efforts in strategic education research, workforce development and short-term, goal-oriented education partnerships.

Broadening participation programs. -- To broaden the participation of underrepresented populations in STEM education programs and, ultimately, the STEM workforce, the Committee has provided the requested level for the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Undergraduate Program, the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation and the Tribal Colleges and Universities Program.

“The Committee has previously asked NSF to consider the concept of creating a program within EHR to focus on Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs). Having heard from NSF about the logistical difficulties of establishing and managing such a program, the Committee now directs NSF to report instead on existing and planned efforts to meet the specific needs of HSIs through NSF's other programs. This report, which shall also include recommendations for further action, shall be submitted no later than 120 days after the enactment of this Act.

Advanced Technological Education (ATE). -- The recommendation includes the requested level for the ATE program.

Best practices in K-12 STEM education. -- NSF shall continue working to disseminate the findings of the NRC's 2011 report entitled Successful K-12 STEM Education: Identifying Effective Approaches in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and to develop and carry out a tracking and evaluation methodology to assess the implementation of the recommendations contained in that report.

STEM-focused K-12 schools. -- Last year, the Committee included direction in the House Report for NSF to promote opportunities for collaboration between universities or non-profit research institutions and STEM-focused schools serving K-12 students. The Committee understands that NSF's response to this direction has focused more on the study of STEM-focused schools than on the establishment of collaborative partnerships involving them. The Committee once again encourages NSF to promote partnership opportunities between STEM-focused schools and universities or non-profit institutions and directs NSF to report to the Committee on how it is doing so no later than 180 days after the enactment of this Act.”

 

Agency Operations and Award Management:

“Program changes. -- The Committee urges NSF to prioritize available funds toward improvements to evaluation capabilities and requested merit review process improvements.

“Grant impact. -- NSF needs to improve its ability to articulate the value and scientific merit of its research grants and explain the peer review process that results in research funding decisions. No later than 90 days after the enactment of this Act, NSF shall report to the Committee on steps it is taking to better explain and communicate the impact and relevance of its research grants, both collectively and individually.

“Cross-Foundation activities. -- The Committee remains interested in seeing NSF achieve a sensible balance between support for newer cross-Foundation initiatives and longstanding, core programs and activities. In addition, discussions with the academic and nonprofit research community suggest that better standards and guidance on the administration of cross-Foundation initiatives are still necessary, as discussed in more detail in the fiscal year 2013 House report.

“Management of large research facility projects. -- NSF recently undertook a major review of its policies and processes for managing the construction and operation of large facilities. This review, although broader in scope, will assess many of the practices previously identified as problematic by the OIG in its examinations of construction contingency funding and cost surveillance for cooperative agreements. NSF shall provide a copy of the results of this review and any associated recommendations for action to the Committee as soon as possible.”

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