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FY2002 Appropriations: VA/HUD and Independent Agencies (06-30-01)

**For most recent update see the AGI website for the 107th Congress**

The Veterans Affairs, Housing and Urban Development, and Independent Agencies (VA/HUD) Appropriations bill funds several programs important to the geosciences, including the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  The House Appropriations Committee allocated $76.194 billion in discretionary, or 302(b), allocations, and the Senate Appropriations Committee allocated $76.226 billion.  The budget request for the entire VA/HUD bill was $84.477 billion.  The Geoscience Directorate is the key section at NSF for earth scientists.  The earth sciences would also benefit from a request in the NSF-wide Major Research Equipment budget for the EarthScope initiative.  NSF requested a 17% increase over fiscal year (FY) 2000 enacted levels.  At NASA, the Earth Science Enterprise (ESE), which requested a 2.6% decrease from last year,  hosts the majority of geoscience activities at the agency.  Because of the restriction on discretionary spending (nearly all funding for science-related programs) that Congress agreed to in their budget resolution, the battle for science funding is expected to be intense, despite federal surpluses and a booming economy.

Most Recent Action

A VA/HUD Subcommittee hearing was held on June 7, 2001 to discuss funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the fiscal year (FY) 2002 budget.  The new Chairman, Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and the now Ranking Member, Christopher Bond (R-MO), repeatedly expressed their support for doubling NSF's budget over the next five years.  Also, they recognized the need for basic research funding to be more in-line with support given to the National Institute of Health (NIH).  If and how the NSF budget will be increased this year is still not clear.


 House Action   Senate Action   Conference Action 

House Action
 



Senate Action

Hearing on the National Science Foundation FY2002 Budget
Senate Appropriations Committee
VA/HUD Subcommittee
June 7, 2001

The Bottom Line
A VA/HUD Subcommittee hearing was held to discuss funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF) in the fiscal year (FY) 2002 budget.  The new Chairman, Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and the now Ranking Member, Christopher Bond (R-MO), repeatedly expressed their support for doubling NSF's budget over the next five years.  Also, they recognized the need for basic research funding to be more in-line with support given to the National Institute of Health (NIH).  If and how the NSF budget will be increased this year is still not clear.

Hearing Summary
In opening statements, Senators Mikulski and Bond voiced their support for increasing the NSF budget beyond the 1.3% requested by the Bush Administration.  Mikulski noted that of approximately 30,000 research proposals NSF receives each year, only 9,000 are funded.  Both she and Bond recognized the value of funding basic research, making reference to a "Dear Colleague" letter they sponsored that calls for doubling the NSF budget.   Other science administrators, including the former director of NIH and the science advisor to President George Bush, agree with the need to double the NSF budget.  Bond also mentioned his concern about support for smaller research institutions, the current state of the peer review system, and efforts to include more opportunities for women and minorities.  He also emphasized his interest in supporting biotechnology programs.

Testifying before the committee were Dr. Eamon Kelly, Chairman of the National Science Board; Dr. Rita Colwell, Director of the National Science Foundation; and Dr. Christine Boesz, Inspector General for NSF.

According to Dr. Kelly, the NSB endorses the NSF budget request for FY2002.  However, NSB is concerned with the state of environmental research, international science and engineering, and science education for K-16, and feels that perhaps more funding should be used in these areas.  Kelly thanked the committee for their support of basic research, and agreed that NSF should have a budget more comparable with NIH.

In her testimony, Dr. Colwell discussed the NSF budget plan with regards to a proposed educational Math and Science Partnership Initiative and an increase in graduate student stipends from $18,000 to $20,500.  Developing research intiatives in four priority areas -- Biocomplexity and the Environment, Information Technology Research, Nanoscale Science and Engineering, and Learning for the 21st Century -- is also an important NSF objective.  When pressed by Mikulski about exactly how much funding NSF really needs, Colwell provided a vague reply, saying, "doubling [the NSF budget] remains important to us."

Dr. Boesz, in her testimony, stated that NSF and NSB need to improve basic awards administration, management of large infrastructure projects, and improved oversight of cost-sharing awards.  She further noted that better communication between NSF program officers and NSF grant and contract officers would improve management effectiveness.

During Q&A, Mikulski indicated that a $600 million increase this year would be very difficult.  Domenici (R-NM) briefly attended the hearing to ask about funding of the VLA and ALMA astronomy programs.  Bond also questioned Colwell on the lack of high tech workers in the U.S., and NSF's partnership with private industry.



Conference Action


Sources: House Appropriations Committee website, Senate Appropriations Committee website, USBudget.com, EENews Publications, NSF website, NASA website, EPA website, CNSF, American Institute of Physics FYI Bulletin of Science Policy News, and the Library of Congress.

Please send any comments or requests for information to the AGI Government Affairs Program.

Contributed by Margaret Baker, Government Affairs Program and Chris Eisinger, AGI/AIPG

Posted June 22, 2000; Updated on October 30, 2000


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