Coalition Supports FY 2012 Budget Request for the National Science Foundation

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Publication date: 
30 June 2011

A week from today, the House  Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Subcommittee is scheduled to consider  its FY 2012 funding bill.  The  subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) has an allocation of $50,237  million to spend on a diverse range of departments and agencies under its  jurisdiction, an amount that is $3,090 million less than the current year.

The Obama Administration  requested $7,767.0 million for the National Science Foundation for FY 2012).  When discussing this request, NSF Director  Subra Suresh commented “In these challenging fiscal times, when difficult  financial choices have to be made to return our nation to solid financial  footing, this budget request reflects the confidence that the President is  placing in NSF as an agency.   While domestic  discretionary spending is being frozen overall, the President targets scarce  federal resources to the areas critical to winning the future. NSF is one such  investment.”  Suresh appeared before Wolf’s  subcommittee on March 10.  Appropriators expressed strong support  for the foundation at this hearing.

The Coalition for National  Science Funding   is a broadly-based organization that advocates for the National Science  Foundation.  Among its members are the  American Institute of Physics and several of its Member Societies: American  Association of Physics Teachers, American Astronomical Society, American  Geophysical Union, American Physical Society, and the Optical Society of  America.  The Coalition issued the  following statement in support of the FY 2012 request for the foundation:

“The Coalition for National  Science Funding (CNSF) thanks Congress for its past support of the National  Science Foundation (NSF). We recognize that Congress is facing difficult  decisions with respect to our national fiscal health. As discussions on FY 2012  appropriations begin, we encourage Members of Congress to make continued  federal funding for NSF a priority. Robust federal support for NSF, the  cornerstone of America’s research enterprise, is absolutely critical to the  nation’s economic health and global competitiveness.

“CNSF recommends an FY 2012  NSF budget of $7.767 billion. This budget level is consistent with the FY 2012  Budget Request and with the America COMPETES Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-358), signed  into law on January 4 of this year. This level is also compatible with the  funding schedule initiated by the previous administration’s American  Competitiveness Initiative and with the original America COMPETES Act (P.L.  110-69) passed in August 2007.

“Many of our global  competitors are increasing their financial support for scientific and  engineering research while the rate of growth of funding for research in the  U.S. is slowing. The U.S. must maintain its leadership position in high level  scientific research and education and NSF is critical to this endeavor. Even  under tight budget constraints, it is imperative to have robust annual budget  levels for NSF. Dependable funding levels will enable the Foundation and the  science and engineering communities to plan, develop infrastructure, maintain a  steady pipeline of graduate and postdoctoral students, and facilitate a  continuous stream of high level research and researchers that in turn will  support the level of technological development needed for economic growth.

“The National Commission on  Fiscal Responsibility and Reform noted that while it is necessary to make  budget cuts, ‘at the same time we must invest in education, infrastructure, and  high value research and development to help our economy grow, keep us globally  competitive, and make it easier for businesses to create jobs.’ NSF is the only  federal agency that supports research and education across all fields of  science, engineering, and mathematics and at all educational levels. Research  and education programs supported by NSF increase and develop the knowledge base  needed for pushing the frontiers of science, mathematics, and engineering  disciplines, contribute to the development of the future science and technology  workforce, develop new fields of inquiry, and promote interdisciplinary  research and education, all of which facilitate technological innovation.

“In FY 2010, over 90 percent  of NSF’s budget went to support research, facilities, and education projects in  colleges and universities in all 50 states. The Foundation evaluated over  55,600 proposals through its merit review process, funding 13,000 of these  proposals. This is a success rate of 23 percent, indicating the competitiveness  of NSF grants. The success rate will continue to fall if NSF budgets don’t grow  and potential substantial research and education results will not be realized.  A healthy NSF is necessary for maintaining a prosperous innovation pipeline  that ultimately leads to the development of new technologies, leading to new  products and improvement of existing products.”