The Clinton Administration has requested a 3.0% increase in the
National Science Foundation Fiscal Year 1996 budget. This is an
increase of $96.35 million over the current budget of $3,263.65
million to $3,360.00 million.
NSF Director Neal Lane described this request as "good news in
tight times." In his budget presentation earlier this week, Lane
called the 7.6% requested increase for Research and Related
Activities "the highlight of the budget." Percentage increases for
Activities within this category are relatively even; the
Geosciences budget would increase by 7.6%, the Mathematical and
Physical Sciences budget by 8.3%. U.S. Polar Research Programs
funding would increase by 8.5% to $172.28 million. NSF is giving a
high priority to support of individuals and small research groups
in this Research and Related Activities budget.
The Gemini Telescope program was fully funded in FY 1995; no new
money is requested. LIGO would receive $70 million next year,
which is in accordance with the revised construction schedule
approved by the National Science Board.
The Education and Human Resources budget would decline by 1.2% in
FY 1996, or $6.97 million, to $599.00 million. Lane cited the
almost 600% increase in this budget over the last decade, saying
that since many systemic reform programs are now operating, a
period of monitoring is appropriate.
The Academic Research Infrastructure request would decline by
15.3%, or $18.13 million. This calculation is based on a proposed
administration rescission (or giving back) of $131.87 million from
this year's budget. While cognizant of infrastructure needs, NSF
has not increased the FY 1996 request to congressional targets
since it would, said Lane, "greatly distort our priorities."
Providing this $250 million that Congress wanted NSF to request
this year for infrastructure would necessitate a reduction in
Research and Related Activities funding, Lane warned. If Congress
agrees to the rescission request, this year's infrastructure budget
will be $118.13 million. In FY 1994, funding was $105.38 million.
NSF is requesting $100 million for FY 1996.
Almost two-thirds of NSF's support for fundamental research and
education in FY 1996 is in seven interdisciplinary strategic areas:
advanced materials and processing (up 6.0% in FY 1966);
biotechnology (up 6.2%); civil infrastructure systems (up 5.1%);
environment and global change (up 7.9%); high performance computing
and communications (up 5.6%); manufacturing (up 6.2%); and science,
math, engineering and technology education (up 1.4%).
NSF's share of total federal R&D spending is approximately 3%.
Nevertheless, it supports almost 50% of all federal non-medical
basic research at colleges and universities. An estimated 210,400
people will be involved in NSF supported projects in FY 1996.
Future FYIs will detail the foundation's budget request.