The Bush Administration has requested a 3.0% increase for the National Science Foundation for the fiscal year starting on October 1. This represents an increase of $167.2 million over the current year budget of $5,577.8 million, to $5,745.0 million.
In describing the FY 2005 request, NSF Director Rita Colwell stated, "This year, we have had to make informed choices in a sea of mixed opportunity and constraint." Components of the budget request vary greatly in percentage changes over the current year. Research and Related Activities spending would increase 4.7%, while funding for Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction would climb by 37.6%. In contrast, the Education and Human Resources budget would be cut by 17.9%.
In its budget submission to Congress, NSF identifies three priorities:
"Strengthen NSF management to maximize effectiveness and performance." The foundation is requesting $70 million to "strengthen the NSF workforce" and for the enhancement of information technology infrastructure and related activities.
"Improve the productivity of researchers and expand opportunities for students." Emphasis will be placed on increasing grant size to an annual average of $142,000, as well as efforts to increase grant duration.
"Strengthen the nation's performance with world-class instruments and facilities." The budget document explains that "investment of all types (Tools) rises to $1.47 billion, representing 26% of the FY 2005 Budget Request."
The foundation intends to "continue to support five priority areas with promising research horizons." Only one of these areas, Nanoscale Science and Engineering, would see an increase, in this instance by 20.3% or $51.6 million. Biocomplexity in the Environment and Mathematical Sciences would each receive flat funding. Human and Social Dynamics would fall by 4.1%. A new priority, Workforce for the 21st Century, would receive $20.00 million
In describing the FY 2005 budget request, Director Colwell commented, "This year the National Science Foundation is requesting $5.745 billion dollars, an increase of $167 million, or 3 percent above the FY 2004 budget estimate. In light of the significant challenges that face the nation-in security, defense, and the economy-this increase is a tribute to the extraordinary performance of the 200,000-plus students, teachers and researchers who are directly supported by NSF each year, and a vote of confidence for the National Science Foundation's performance. Thanks to strong support for NSF's vision and mission in the Administration and Congress, the NSF budget has grown steadily-by 62 percent between FY 1998 and FY 2004."
A different view was offered by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), a senior Democrat on the House Science Committee who stated, "Two years ago, the Congress sent the President a bill authorizing a doubling of NSF's programs over 5 years. Despite signing that bill to glowing reviews, the President has sent us two successive budgets that fall far short of reaching that goal. With this budget submission we stand $3 billion below the doubling path. This marks a fundamental breach of trust with our institutions of higher education and with our children, who depend on NSF to fund the best and brightest to pursue the most promising scientific insights. The only thing more surprising is the 18% cut to the education and human resources budget account from an Administration that has claimed education of our youth as one of its rhetorical hallmarks."
Forthcoming issues of FYI will review various components of the FY 2005 NSF budget request.