FY2010 National Science Foundation Appropriations
(6/26/09)

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The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 "to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense…" NSF serves as the funding source for about 20 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities. Key programs of interest to the Earth sciences are mainly within the Research and Related Activities, including the Geosciences Directorate, Climate Research, Climate Change Science Program, and Office of Polar Programs. Earth sciences are also covered in the Education and Human Resources Directorate, and research equipment funding. For more background information on NSF and programs within, visit the AGI Federal Agencies policy page.

For analysis of hearings held by Congress on NSF appropriations, click here.

FY10 NSF Appropriations Process

Account

FY09 Current
($million)
House Action
($million)
Senate Action
($million)
National Science Foundation (total)
6,490.4
7,045
6,936
6,917
6,926.5
Research & Related Activities
5,183.1
5,733.2
5,640
5,618
5,549.9
Geosciences Directorate
807.13
909.0
not specified
not specified
not specified
Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences
244.6
269.16
not specified
not specified
not specified
Earth Sciences
171.0
186.85
not specified
not specified
not specified
Ocean Sciences
330.36
359.07
not specified
not specified
not specified
Integrative & Collaborative Education & Research
61.17
93.92
not specified
not specified
not specified
-- Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology
12
12.36
not specified
not specified
not specified
-- EarthScope operations
24.31
25.05
not specified
not specified
not specified
-- Academic Research Fleet
98.68
87.58
not specified
not specified
not specified
-- Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP)
43.41
43.41
not specified
not specified
not specified
Climate Research*
0
197.26
197.26
not specified
not specified
Climate Change Science Program*
219.57
299.91
310
not specified
not specified
Office of Polar Programs
470.67
516
not specified
not specified
not specified
Major Research Equipment & Facilities (MREFC)
152.01
117.29
114
122.3
117.3
--Alaska Region Research Vessel (ARRV)
0
0
not specified
not specified
0
--Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) &
0
14.28
14.28
14.28
14.28
Education & Human Resources
845.26
857.76
863
858
872.8
-- Math and Science Partnerships
61
58.22
not specified
not specified
not specified

*Funds are drawn from multiple directorates. For Climate Research, $46 million would come from the Geosciences Directorate and does not represent additional new funds.

& OOI would receive $11 million from Ocean Sciences in FY10 in addition to these funds from MREFC.

President's Request

The President's budget request for fiscal year 2010 (FY10) proposes a robust increase of $555 million for the National Science Foundation (NSF) for a total budget of $7.045 billion.The request would keep the NSF close to the doubling of its budget within 7 years as authorized in the America COMPETES Act of 2007 (Public Law 110-69). The law calls for a total budget of $8.132 billion for NSF in FY10. The President's proposal calls for continued increases for NSF with totals in out years increasing to $7.2 billion in FY11 and $8.5 billion in FY12. The plan would reach $11.2 billion in FY16. For more information about the NSF budget proposal, please visit the NSF FY10 budget web site.

In addition to a robust increase for FY10, NSF received an additional $3 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA). Please see AGI's Stimulus 2009 NSF web page for more information about the ARRA funds for NSF and comparisons with FY09 and FY10. The comparisons in the summary below do not include the ARRA funds, unless stated.

In an overview of the FY10 budget proposal, NSF states its priorities as supporting highly rated research proposals, encouraging high-risk, transformative research, creating and sustaining research jobs, training and developing the careers of STEM undergraduates, teachers and professionals, strengthening the nation's cyberinfrastructure and meeting facilities and infrastructure needs.

In an overview section entitled "Learning and Workforce Development", NSF notes that 215,000 people will be directly involved in projects related to FY10 NSF funds and in addition, many millions of people will be indirectly impacted through informal and formal educational and outreach efforts. To sustain and enhance learning and professional development, NSF will support four major programs: 1. Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT) (9 percent increase to $68.88 million); 2. Discovery Research K-12 ($108.50 million); 3. Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program ($55.0 million); and 4. The Math and Science Partnership (MSP) program (4.6 percent decrease to $58.22 million, but $25 million was provided by ARRA in 2009).

Major initiatives in research across NSF in the proposal would include: Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) (36.6 percent increase to $299.91 million), Climate Research ($197.26 million; new NSF-wide focus), Cyber-enabled Discovery and Innovation (CDI) (44.7 percent increase to $102.63 million), Cybersecurity (8.6 percent increase to $126.70 million), Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) (10.6 percent increase to $147.12 million; $50.0 million from the Recovery Act), Homeland Security Activities (2.2 percent increase to $385.50 million), Networking and Information Technology R&D (10.6 percent increase to $1,110.80 million), and National Nanotechnology Initiative (6.5 percent increase to $422.96 million).

The Geosciences Directorate would see a 12.6 percent increase (+$101.9 million) for a total budget of $909 million for FY10. According to the NSF overview document on the Geosciences Directorate, the directorate will emphasize climate science research and climate science education and many of the increases will be directed toward the Climate Change Science Program and the new NSF-wide Climate Research program.Other areas emphasized in the overview include "Fundamental research in the geosciences advances scientific knowledge of resources such as fresh water, energy, minerals, and biological diversity, leading to improved future quality of life."

Geosciences-wide major projects would include: Climate Research ($46.0 million, new in FY 2010), GEO/EHR Collaboration ($6.0 million, new in FY 2010), CAREER (+$1.69 million, to a total of $12.22 million), Climate Change Education ($1.50 million, new in FY 2010), and Graduate Research Fellowships ($1.0 million, new in FY 2010 to support nine students).

Earth Sciences would receive an increase of 9.3 percent (+$15.85 million) for a total budget of $186.85 million. About $183.9 million would be for research and education grants with $7 million devoted to the new Climate Research activitites. Besides focusing on climate research, the document notes that Earth Sciences covers "the processes leading to the formation of fossil fuels" and other topics. The Incorporated Research Institutes for Seismology (IRIS), the National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics (NCED) and Earthscope operations would see small increases, while the Sustainability of Semi-Arid Hydrology and Riparian Areas (SAHRA) Science and Technology Center (STC) would end following 10 successful years of operation.

Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences would receive an increase of 10 percent (+$24.56 million) for a total budget of $269.2 million. About $259 million would be for research and education grants with $12 million to support the new Climate Research activity. The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) would receive $100 million and the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center would receive $3 million.

Ocean Sciences would receive an increase of 8.7 percent (+$28.7 million) for a total budget of $359.1 million. About $339.7 million would be for research and education grants with $12 million to support the new Climate Research activity. About $11 million would be devoted to support initial operation of the Ocean Observatories Initiative project, which is being constructed through the MREFC account. About $4.5 million would be for Long-term Ecological Research Centers and another $4 million for science and technology centers.

House Action

The House approved of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for 2010 (H.R. 2847) on June 18, 2009. The National Science Foundation would receive $6,936 million, an increase of $446 million over FY 2009, but $108 million less than the President’s request. About $5.64 billion would be for research, an increase of $460 million over FY 2009, but $91 million less than the President’s request. Of these research funds, nearly $310 million would be for climate change programs, $70 million would be for polar research and as much as $54 million would be available for polar icebreaking services. About $114 million would be available for Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction, a decrease of about $38 million below FY 2009 and about $863 million would be provided for education and human resources, an increase of about $18 million over FY 2009. For agency operations and management, about $300 million would be provided in FY 2010.

The committee noted the need for a mechanism to bring together the hydrology community to enhance observations and modeling. The committee cited the National Center for Atmospheric Research as a good example of a mechanism that brought together the atmospheric community and the committee would like a list of recommendations from NSF on how to help integrate the hydrology community. The committee noted the potential problems of ocean acidification and called for research consistent with the Federal Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring Program.

The House of Representatives considers funding for the National Science Foundation in the subcommitte for Commerce, Justice and Science Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee. Chaired by Representative Mollohan (D-WV), other members include Representatives Kennedy (D-RI), Fattah (D-PA), Ruppersberger (D-MD), Schiff (D-CA), Honda (D-CA), Visclosky (D-IN), Serrano (D-NY), Obey (D-WI), Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), Culberson (R-TX), Aderholt (R-AL), and Lewis (R-CA).

Senate Action

The Senate has not approved of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for 2010, however, the Appropriations Committee has approved of the bill and provided a committee report for the public record (111-034). The Senate committee recommends $6,917 million for the National Science Foundation, about $426 million more than FY09 and $128 million less than the President's request. The Senate committee recommendation is also less than the House mark by about $20 million. Within the Research and Related Activities (R&RA) account, the committee supports full funding requested for the four major cross-foundation investments of Cyber-enabled Discovery and Innovation, Science and Engineering Beyond Moore’s Law, Adaptive Systems Technology, and Dynamics of Water Processes in the Environment. The committee also calls for the transfer of $54 million of R&RA funds to the Coast Guard for the operation and maintenance of polar icebreakers as directed in the joint explanatory statement accompanying the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2009 (Public Law 110–329). After 2010, the budget authority would be transferred to the Coast Guard.

Within the Major Facilities account, the committee recommends full funding for five ongoing projects: the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory [AdvLIGO]; the Atacama Large Millimeter Array [ALMA]; the IceCube Neutrino Observatory; the Ocean Observing Initiatives; and the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope [ATST]. ATST would also receive an additional $5 million.

Within Education and Human Resources, the report offers the following recommendation: "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 2011 budget and beyond."

The Senate considers funding for the National Science Foundation in the Commerce, Justice and Science Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Chaired by Senator Mikulski (D-MD), other members include Senators Inouye (D-HI), Leahy (D-VT), Kohl (D-WI), Dorgan (D-ND), Feinstein (D-CA), Reed (D-RI), Lautenberg (D-NJ), Nelson (D-NE), Pryor (D-AR), Shelby (R-AL), Gregg (R-NH), McConnell (R-KY), Hutchison (R-TX), Brownback (R-KS), Alexander (R-TN), Voinovich (R-OH) and Murkowski (R-AK).

Conference Committee Action

Congress passed H.R. 3288, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2010 on December 13, 2009. This bill provides funding for six separate appropriations bills consolidated into the Transportation/HUD bill. It includes funding for science agencies (NSF, NASA, NOAA and NIST) and the Department of Education. President Obama signed the bill into law (Public Law 111-117) on December 16. Department of Defense appropriations were handled separately in a later bill and signed into law by the President at a later date. The conference committee provided a joint explanatory statement to explain their budgetary choices in H.R. 3288 in House Report 111-366.

The report calls for several general accounting requests from federal science agencies. NSF, NASA and the Departments of Commerce and Justice must provide the House and Senate committees on Appropriations with quarterly accounts of cumulative balances of any unobligated funds and must submit spending plans within 60 days of enactment of the bill. In addition these agencies and departments must notify Congress about any cost increases of 10 percent or more for projects with initial costs of $75 million or more.

Congress expresses concern in the report about future funding for NSF to maintain a doubling of the agency's budget over about a 10 year period as authorized in the America COMPETES Act of 2007 (Public Law 110-69). Legislators support at least a seven percent increase for NSF in the FY 2011 budget request in the conference report. Congress directs NSF to transfer $54 million to the Coast Guard for icebreaking services for FY 2010, but expects the Department of Homeland Security to request such funding in the future.

Congress does not specify funding levels within NSF programs in general, but the report does request NSF to maintain funding levels for climate change, cyber-enabled discovery and innovation, science and engineering beyond Moore's law, adaptive systems technology, dynamics of water processes and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. The report specifies support for high-risk, high-reward research, graduate research fellowships, ocean acidification research, climate change education, and EPSCoR.

The report directs NSF to consider integration within the hydrology community. The report states: "The conferees see the need for an appropriate mechanism to bring together the hydrology research community and better integrate the different types of data and observing systems and enhance support of hydrology modeling, and to institutionalize this mechanism. The conferees also see the need for an appropriate mechanism to bring together the terrestrial ecology and soils research communities. NSF is directed to report its recommendations on the need for and establishment of mechanisms in these two areas with the budget request for fiscal year 2011."

Congress provides a significant increase for Education and Human Resources with an increase of $10 million for K-12 discovery research, +$2.5 million for research and evaluation on education in science and engineering and +$2.5 million for courses, curriculum and laboratory improvement. The legislators direct NSF to work to improve geographic literacy through partnerships with organizations with expertise in geography.

Appropriations Hearings

 

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Sources: NSF Budget Information website and Thomas

Please send any comments or requests for information to the AGI Government Affairs Program at govt@agiweb.org.

Prepared by Linda Rowan, AGI Government Affairs Staff.

Last updated June 26, 2009