House appropriations subcommittee chairman Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Senate appropriations subcommittee chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) and their colleagues have completed work on the FY 2006 Science, State, Justice and Commerce Appropriations Act for FY 2006. This bill, providing funding for the fiscal year that began on October 1, provides the National Science Foundation with a calculated 3.0% increase. Set against an overall Bush Administration plan to reduce domestic discretionary spending by -1.0%, this outcome for NSF is considerably better than expected.
This is not the last word on NSF funding, as Congress is exploring a range of options to pay for Gulf Coast hurricane damage. One alternative is reaching back to reduce all FY 2006 appropriations by two or three percent. The 3.0% increase for NSF in H.R. 2862 puts the foundation in a better position than many federal agencies and departments will be in to absorb any reduction.
Here are the numbers. Note that the FY 2006 outcomes have been reduced by a mandated 0.28 rescission:
Total NSF: The FY 2005 budget was $5,472.8 million. The Administration requested $5,605.0 million. The new (tentative) budget is $5,637.6 million, an increase of 3.0% or $164.8 million.
Research and Related Activities: The FY 2005 budget was $4,220.6 million. The Administration requested $4,333.5 million. The new (tentative) budget is $4,375.2 million, an increase of 3.7% or $154.6 million.
Education and Human Resources: The FY 2005 budget was $841.4 million. The Administration requested $737.0 million. The new (tentative) budget is $804.7 million, a cut of 4.4% or $36.7 million.
Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction: The FY 2005 budget was $173.7 million. The Administration requested $250.0 million. The new (tentative) budget is $192.9 million (which includes a carryover of money from last year), an increase of 11.1% or $19.2 million.
The conference report provides the following recommendations. It is important to note that figures in these quotations have not been adjusted:
RESEARCH AND RELATED ACTIVITIES
"The conference agreement includes language allowing funds under this heading to be available for polar icebreaking services. The conferees expect the NSF to reimburse the United States Coast Guard for such services pursuant to a memorandum of agreement. The conference agreement includes, by reference, language in the House report regarding the submission of a report on alternatives for long-term icebreaking needs and future options for supporting the United States presence in the Antarctic. [See http://www.aip.org/fyi/2005/087.html.]
"The conference agreement includes, by reference, language in the House report on innovation inducement prizes. The conference agreement also includes, by reference, language in the Senate report on the Plant Genome Research program and radio astronomy. [See http://www.aip.org/fyi/2005/103.html.]
"The conferees agree that funding for the Children's Research Initiative research centers program shall continue at least at the fiscal year 2005 level. The conferees commend NSF for its Silicon Nanoelectronics and Beyond program and its partnership with the Nanoelectronics Research Initiative, which involves the sponsorship of research in the areas of information technology and electronics. The conferees encourage NSF to continue its support for such research in fiscal year 2006 at the same level as fiscal year 2005."
MAJOR RESEARCH EQUIPMENT AND FACILITIES CONSTRUCTION
"The conference agreement includes $193,350,000 [not adjusted] for the Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC) account, as proposed by the House and Senate. In addition, the conferees are aware that unobligated balances of at least $14,880,000 are available from fiscal year 2005, resulting in a total funding availability of $208,230,000 [not adjusted] under this account. The conferees agree to the following distribution of available resources, which fully funds all requested MREFC projects for fiscal year 2006:
Conference agreement [Dollars in thousands] [not adjusted]
Atacama Large Millimeter Array: $49,240
IceCube Neutrino Observatory: $50,450
Scientific Ocean Drilling Vessel: $ 57,920"
EDUCATION AND HUMAN RESOURCES
"The conferees agree to the following distribution of funds under this account for fiscal year 2006:
Conference agreement [Dollars in thousands] [not adjusted]
Math and Science Partnerships: $64,000
Elementary, Secondary & Informal Education: $172,500
Undergraduate Education: $146,000
Graduate Education: $155,000
Human Resource Development: $120,000
Research, Evaluation and Communication: $49,500"
"Within the amount provided for Human Resource Development, the conferees agree that $25,800,000 shall be for the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation program and $35,800,000 shall be for the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Undergraduate Program. In addition, the amount provided for Human Resource Development continues funding for the Tribal Colleges and Universities program, and the HBCU-Research University Science and Technology initiative within the Center of Research Excellence in Science and Technology program.
"NSF plays a significant role in attracting more of the best and brightest students in the Nation into the science, mathematics, engineering, and technology fields. The conferees urge NSF to work towards increasing the number of women, minorities, and other underrepresented groups to the greatest extent possible.
"Within the amount provided for Undergraduate Education, the conference agreement continues funding for the Robert Noyce Scholarship program and the Advanced Technological Education program.
"The conference agreement includes, by reference, language in the Senate report regarding the Math and Science Partnership (MSP) program. [See http://www.aip.org/fyi/2005/103.html.]
"Within the funding provided under this account, the conferees direct the NSF to initiate a demonstration program to provide seed money for new projects with the goal of increasing the pool of individuals pursuing science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers through programs that catalyze and maintain interest of K-8 students in math and science. The projects must stimulate interest and provide exciting but challenging educational experiences in math and science that are continuous and seamless from initial contact and throughout high school. The conferees agree that the NSF shall conduct a merit-based peer review process to select projects for funding, and that each project shall involve sustainable coalitions of industry/business, colleges of education, and educational agencies."
Also of note, under "SALARIES AND EXPENSES . . . . The conference agreement includes full requested funding for 23 new positions, and includes, by reference, guidance in the House report regarding priority areas for the allocation of additional personnel. The conferees agree that at least three positions shall be allocated to the Office of the Deputy Director of Large Facility Projects to improve oversight of large research facility projects."