FY 2012 National Science Foundation Appropriations Bill Signed Into Law

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Publication date: 
18 November 2011

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Yesterday the House and Senate passed H.R. 2112, providing funding  for the National Science Foundation.  The  President signed this appropriations bill into law today.  Accompanying this bill is the Joint  Explanatory Statement of the Committee of Conference, which is the second  section of House Report 112-284.  This  statement provides important language setting forth the recommendations and  specific guidance of House and Senate appropriators. 

The following selections  are taken from the Joint Explanatory Statement.  The section on NSF starts on PDF page 266. 

Note that introductory language in the Statement includes the  following:

“The committee of conference approves report language included in House Report 112–169 or Senate Report 112–78 that is not changed by the conference. The  statement of managers, while repeating some language for emphasis, is not  intended to negate the language referred to above unless expressly provided  herein. In cases where both the House and Senate reports address a particular issue  not specifically addressed in the conference report or joint statement of  managers, the conferees have determined the House report and the Senate report  are not inconsistent and are to be interpreted accordingly.”

National  Science Foundation (total):

The  FY 2011 budget was $6,859.9 million     The  Administration requested $7,767.0 million     The  FY 2012 appropriation provides $7,033.1 million, an increase of $173.2 million  or 2.5 percent

There  is no introductory language regarding the foundation. 

Research  and Related Activities (R&RA):

The  FY 2011 budget was $5,563.9 million     The  Administration requested $6,253.5 million     The  FY 2012 appropriation provides $5,719.0 million, an increase of $155.1 million  or 2.8 percent

The Statement explains:

Research  Priorities -- The conferees appreciate NSF’s commitment to reviewing its  portfolio of programs and proposing reductions or terminations where  appropriate. Such proposals provide a more fiscally sustainable way to support  new or expanded programs.  Accordingly,  the conference agreement incorporates all of NSF’s R&RA termination and  reduction proposals except for the requested reduction to the radio astronomy  program.

“By  accepting NSF’s proposal to eliminate funding for the Deep Underground Science  and Engineering Laboratory (DUSEL), the conference agreement completes a  multi-year phase-out of NSF involvement in this project. NSF is directed to  report to the Committees on Appropriations about future efforts or commitments,  if any, to collaborate with the Department of Energy on a deep underground lab.

Advanced  manufacturing. -- The conference agreement adopts, by reference, language in  the House report regarding advanced manufacturing.

Neuroscience.  -- NSF is uniquely positioned to advance the nonmedical aspects of cognitive  sciences and neurosciences, particularly through interdisciplinary science,  computational models, visualization techniques, innovative technologies, and  the underlying data and data infrastructure needed to transform our  understanding of these areas, and the conferees encourage NSF to sustain and  expand its investments in these areas. In addition, to better focus the  agency’s efforts and guide future budget submissions, NSF is encouraged to  establish a cognitive sciences and neurosciences crosscutting theme. The  conferees note that language is included under the OSTP heading encouraging  OSTP to establish a NSTC working group to coordinate Federal investments in  neuroscience research. [See PDF page 255 for the OSTP language.]

Giant  Segmented Mirror Telescope (GSMT). --The direction in this section is provided  in lieu of any language in the Senate report relating to the GSMT program. NSF  has decided to proceed with the selection of a viable GSMT project, consistent  with the National Research Council’s (NRC) 2010 astronomy and astrophysics decadal  survey recommendations. The conferees expect that this selection will be made  expeditiously and utilize a fully competitive process, with a solicitation  issued no later than the end of calendar year 2011 and a result announced no  later than July 31, 2012.

Cybersecurity  research. -- The conference agreement adopts, by reference, language from the  Senate report regarding cybersecurity research.”

Major  Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC):

The  FY 2011 budget was $117.1 million     The  Administration requested $224.7 million     The  FY 2012 appropriation provides $167.1 million, an increase of $50.0 million or  42.7 percent

The  statement explains:

Project  priorities. -- With the MREFC funding provided either directly or via potential  transfer from the R&RA account, NSF will be able to achieve significant  progress on its current portfolio of construction projects, but some  prioritization of funds will still be necessary. The conferees expect that NSF  will dedicate funds first to the completion of projects that are already in the  final stages of construction, with remaining funds allocated to projects in  earlier phases of development.

Project  funding profiles. -- NSF should promptly review its current portfolio of MREFC  projects and their outyear funding profiles to ensure they are consistent with  fiscal year 2011 and 2012 appropriations.   If adjustments to the portfolio in either of those fiscal years will  necessitate a revision of the outyear funding profiles for any current or  planned project, NSF is directed to immediately report the revised profiles to  the Committees on Appropriations and to include the new profiles in the fiscal  year 2013 budget request.

Construction  funding management. -- The conferees remain concerned about how NSF and its  grantees are defining, estimating and managing construction funding,  particularly contingency funds.  Stronger  management and oversight of these funds could result in improved project  efficiencies and, ultimately, cost savings. NSF is directed to report to the  Committees on Appropriations on the steps it is taking to impose tighter  controls on the drawdown and use of contingencies, as well as steps intended to  incentivize grantees to complete construction under budget, for projects  managed through the MREFC appropriation and for other large facility projects.  This report should be submitted no later than 90 days after the enactment of  this Act.”

Education  and Human Resources (EHR):

The  FY 2011 budget was $861.0 million     The  Administration requested $911.2 million     The  FY 2012 appropriation provides $829.0 million, a reduction of $32.0 million or  3.7 percent

The  statement explains:

Program  changes. -- In parallel with terminations and reductions proposed in the R&RA  account, NSF has proposed a number of program reductions or terminations within  EHR. For the most part, these cuts were proposed not due to any dissatisfaction  with the programs in question but rather because NSF would prefer to implement  new initiatives. The conferees have no objection to this approach, with the  exception of the proposed reductions to the Robert Noyce Scholarship Program  and the Math and Science Partnership program. The conferees do not believe that  those cuts are warranted solely to make room for new activities.

Broadening  Participation at the Core. -- The conference agreement adopts, by reference,  language from the House report regarding funding levels for the existing  Broadening Participation at the Core programs.

Best  practices in K–12 STEM education. -- NSF is encouraged to find more effective  mechanisms for disseminating the results of its education research to the K–12  STEM education community. Such mechanisms could include partnerships with  nonprofits and professional associations, Webinars, newsletters and workshops,  drawing when possible on the resources of existing networks.

“In  particular, NSF is directed to ensure that the NRC report entitled Successful  K–12 STEM Education: Identifying Effective Approaches in Science, Technology, Engineering,  and Mathematics [see FYI #126] is widely  distributed within the educational and scientific communities.  In addition, NSF is directed to begin work to  identify methods for tracking and evaluating the implementation of the  recommendations in the NRC’s report. NSF and its collaborators should provide  an evaluation plan to the Committees on Appropriations within 12 months of the  enactment of this Act that describes these methods and recommends the necessary  steps that should be taken by NSF and other Federal agencies to implement that  plan.  Within the amounts available in  this account, up to $500,000 should be used for the formulation of the  evaluation plan.

Hispanic  Serving Institutions. -- The conference agreement adopts, by reference,  language from the House report on Hispanic Serving Institutions.

Federal  Cyber Service: Scholarships for Service. -- The conferees adopt the Senate  recommendation to expand the Federal Cyber Service: Scholarships for Service  program. The agreement provides $45,000,000 for this program, which is  $20,000,000 above the requested       level.”


The  Statement also includes brief language on PDF page 269 regarding appropriations  for Agency Operations and Award Management, Office of the National Science  Board, Office of Inspector General, and Administration Provision (pertaining to  the transfer of funds.)

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