Key Program Functions AND SELECTED PRIORITY AREAS
NSF’s investments are distributed across four key program functions. These functions encompass the primary activities that NSF undertakes. The functions are interdependent, and work in concert to support NSF’s goals.
NSF Budget by Key Program Function
(Dollars in Millions)
Numbers may not add due to rounding.
Funding for Research Project Support totals $2,316 million in FY 2000, an increase of 8.0 percent over FY 1999. Research projects provide research and instrumentation support for individuals and small groups devoted both to disciplinary research in traditional fields and to cross-disciplinary areas. Also included within this function is support for centers, based on the premise that some scientific questions and research problems can best be addressed through the long-term, coordinated efforts of many researchers. Support for centers totals $284 million in FY 2000.
Investments in Research Project Support fund the cutting edge research that yields new discoveries. These investments help to maintain the nation’s capacity to excel in science and engineering, particularly in academic institutions. The store of knowledge produced by NSF-funded research projects also provides a rich foundation for broad and useful applications of knowledge and the development of new technologies. Research projects contribute to the education and training of the next generation of scientists and engineers by giving them the opportunity to participate in discovery-oriented projects. NSF centers provide an alternate and enhanced environment for broad interdisciplinary education at all levels.
Support for Research Facilities totals $744 million in FY 2000, an increase of 1.9 percent over FY 1999. NSF supports large, multi-user research facilities that are characteristically complicated and expensive, requiring long-term commitments of support. The principal focus is providing access to state-of-the-art capabilities that might otherwise be unavailable to U.S. researchers. Funding includes support for facilities construction, as well as ongoing operations, maintenance, and upgrades.
Investments in research facilities provide physical and institutional capabilities necessary for scientists and engineers to carry out world-class research. NSF-supported facilities also stimulate research-driven technological breakthroughs in instrumentation, and are the site of research and mentoring for many science and engineering students. Because of their visibility and accomplishments, facilities also enhance public awareness of science and the goals of scientific research.
Education and Training totals $704 million in FY 2000, an increase of 3.2 percent over FY 1999. NSF's education and training programs support activities from pre-kindergarten through postdoctoral levels, including public science literacy.
Investments in Education and Training help ensure an adequate, well-trained workforce of scientists and engineers that can maintain leadership in science and technology, both now and in the future. NSF’s programs produce scientists and engineers knowledgeable about the most recent scientific and technical advances. These highly trained people then reach every sector of society, and actively disseminate and use that knowledge in the service of innumerable social goals. NSF also emphasizes helping all students to achieve the mathematics and science skills needed to thrive in an increasingly technological society. In addition, the Foundation supports the development of timely, relevant data and analyses on the national and international science and engineering enterprise.
Administration and Management totals $190 million in FY 2000, an increase of 5.0 percent over FY 1999. This function provides operating funds to support the NSF workforce in implementing activities in all key program areas.
Administration and Management encompasses efforts to adopt advanced information technologies, enhance customer service, and ensure financial integrity. Investments in this function are critical to NSF’s performance as it faces a workload that is increasing in quantity and complexity.
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Investments in Selected Priority Areas
Priority multidisciplinary areas for FY 2000 include Information Technologies, which builds on the previous support of fundamental research in computer and information science and engineering under the Knowledge and Distributed Intelligence rubric; Biocomplexity in the Environment, which grows out of previous activities called Life and Earth's Environment; and Educating for the Future. These efforts represent areas for investment, across key program functions, that combine exciting opportunities in research and education with immense potential for benefits to society.
Although there is inevitably some overlap in scope, the multidisciplinary areas are distinguished from each other by the general nature of the activities undertaken. The following descriptions summarize representative activities proposed for FY 2000.
Advances in computing and communications theory and practice, and their implementation in technology, have made information technologies the transcendent technologies of the second half of the twentieth century. These advances have touched everyone, influencing how we live, work, play, and interact with one another. With the current convergence of computing and communications, we find ourselves on the cusp of an exciting future.
NSF has played a significant role in the development of key elements of the information age such as the Internet, supercomputing, research in computer and information science and engineering, learning technologies, computational science and engineering, high-performance computing, digital libraries, and database development. Through programs of research, infrastructure development and access, and education and training, NSF supports activities that advance leading edge capabilities in computing, communications and information, and endeavors to have all areas of science and engineering make optimal use of these capabilities to advance their fields.
NSF’s research and education programs have enabled academic scientists and engineers to both create and work at the leading edge of the revolution in computing, communications and information. Increasingly, NSF programs have drawn together researchers in these fields with others working in areas of applications where requirements for discovering, collecting, representing, transmitting, sharing and applying information raise new questions and provide opportunities for testing new ideas.
NSF’s investments in information-related research and education are guided by three principles: (1) investment in long-term, high-risk activities; (2) an interdisciplinary approach to complex information-based issues and problems; and (3) a recognition that future programs must evolve rapidly to take advantage of promising new windows of opportunity.
Information Technology for the Twenty-First Century (IT2). NSF has been asked to serve as lead agency for the Administration’s FY 2000 Information Technology for the Twenty-First Century (IT2) initiative. IT2 grew from the efforts of several agencies and responds to recommendations made by the President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC), which termed federal support for information technology “dangerously inadequate”. Partner agencies include the Departments of Defense and Energy, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. IT2 involves a total federal investment of approximately $366 million in FY 2000.
NSF’s FY 2000 investment in IT2 totals $146 million. This includes $110 million funded through NSF’s Computer and Information Science and Engineering Activity for research in software systems, scaleable information infrastructure, and high-end computing. Included within this is $10 million for research on the socioeconomic and workforce impacts of emerging technologies. An additional $36 million for development of terascale computing systems is funded through the Major Research Equipment account.
NSF research activities will focus on the PITAC assessment that, for all our ability to push the high end frontiers and to continually expand the role of computers embedded in all types of devices, we do not have a theory of software development, nor do we fully understand how all the pieces work together or how failure of some pieces influences the working of the whole. The demands placed on today’s computing systems and networking technologies are beyond the capabilities for which they were designed. As a result, modifications are often made in an ad hoc way, without being able to predict the performance of the overall system.
IT2 research and education activities will build on the symbiotic relationship between leading edge research and technology in computers, communications, and information and forefront science and engineering. They will include:
· Software research, including “no-surprise,” performance-engineered software systems to deliver functionality, predictability and security; developing hardware/software co-design to help build vertically integrated electronic systems that may be contained on a single chip; and building high-confidence systems.
· Efforts in human-computer interactions and information management such as multiplying individual physical and mental capabilities via computer sensors, actuators and control devices; meeting, working, and collaborating in cyberspace; and building a ubiquitous content infrastructure that enables seamless retrieval of text, data, visual, and other available information in all subject areas by all citizens.
· High-end computing research that will focus on algorithm development; addressing important problems that emerge only at large scales; and enabling computational discovery in many fields of science and engineering.
· Expanding understanding of the impact of social, ethical, economic, political, and legal factors on the development of information technology and vice versa.
The $36 million infrastructure component of IT2 will provide machine capabilities in the multi-teraflop range, permitting researchers to address problems of scope and scale that are inaccessible with current computer systems. Throughout all IT2 activities, NSF will emphasize development of a workforce capable of handling all that the information age has to offer so as to maintain national competitiveness.
Related NSF IT Activities: NSF’s strong base of continuing activities led to its designation as lead agency for the IT2 initiative. The $146 million increment for IT2 will strengthen the broader NSF activities related to information technologies, estimated at about $700 million in FY 1999. Support in FY 2000 for all information technologies efforts across the Foundation -- including IT2 and information-based activities complementing and building on IT2 -- totals approximately $840 million.
Computer and Information Science and Engineering. NSF has focused its research activities related to computing and communications in the Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) Activity. Because of its strong ongoing activities, CISE will manage the Foundation’s IT2-related efforts to ensure that there is good interaction between continuing programs and the new initiative. NSF regards a strong linkage capability between participating research organizations as essential to the success of IT2. NSF's vBNS and Partnerships for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (PACI) are key elements in that capability. NSF is committed to maintaining and enhancing these investments in addition to IT2.
Knowledge and Distributed Intelligence and Related Information-Based Activities. In its past efforts to reap the benefits of advances in information technology for all of science and engineering, and vice versa, NSF developed an increasingly linked set of activities titled Knowledge and Distributed Intelligence (KDI). KDI activities were supported across the Foundation, grouped into three areas: Knowledge Networking, Learning and Intelligent Systems, and New Challenges in Computation. A focused KDI competition was held in FY 1998 and a second is underway in FY 1999. KDI was successful in encouraging the interplay of activity related to information technology across science and engineering. Two years of focused competitions have enabled all NSF Activities to develop a strong platform for advancing the information-related interests of their researchers.
Other Interagency IT Activities: Two on-going federal activities are particularly relevant to NSF’s emphasis on information: the High Performance Computing and Communications (HPCC) program and its adjunct, the Next Generation Internet (NGI) program. These programs provide a solid core of federal activity leading to IT2, with NSF as an active participant. They will continue in FY 2000, with plans for IT2 to move in complementary directions.
Biocomplexity in the Environment (BE) describes an NSF-wide set of increasingly coordinated activities in environmental science, engineering, and education. It includes both focused initiatives and core research programs aimed at fostering research on the complex interdependencies among the elements of specific environmental systems and the interactions of different types of systems. NSF’s FY 2000 investment for BE totals about $670 million, an increase of $70 million over the FY 1999 level of approximately $600 million.
BE reflects the evolution of NSF thinking about how NSF-supported research on the environment can best take advantage of opportunities provided by advances throughout science and engineering and, at the same time, be most valuable to the developing program of federal activities related to the environment. It incorporates and provides greater context for the suite of activities described in earlier years under the rubric Life and Earth’s Environment (LEE). The key connector for BE activities is complexity – the idea that research on the individual components of environmental systems provides only limited information about the behavior of the systems themselves. Careful attention to the interplay among components is critical to obtaining the level of credible predictive information on which management and regulatory decisions must be made. It is also critical to advancing the fields of research that focus on environmental challenges.
Biocomplexity: At the heart of BE is understanding the complex interdependencies among living organisms and the environments that affect, sustain, and are modified by them. In FY 2000, NSF will sponsor a $50 million focused initiative on biocomplexity that facilitates interdisciplinary efforts that span temporal and spatial scales, consider multiple levels of biological organization, cross conceptual boundaries, use contemporary and emerging technologies, and link research to environmental decision making.
The dynamics of biological complexity and its role in environmental systems are critical to a full understanding of living organisms and of the vital natural resources such as food and fiber that biological systems provide, and upon which humans depend. Advancing our understanding of the nature and role of biological complexity demands increased attention and new collaborations of scientists from a broad spectrum of fields — including biology, physics, chemistry, geology, hydrology, mathematics, statistics, engineering, computation, and social sciences. Such collaborations can capitalize on the advent of powerful new and emerging technologies, including genome sequencing, new computational algorithms and mathematical methods, sensors and monitoring devices, and remote sensing, that have greatly enhanced our ability to understand ecosystem complexity and dynamics. The multidisciplinary biocomplexity initiative will apply the latest tools and insights developed across all fields of science and engineering to the study of environmental systems.
The FY 2000 competition will emphasize enhancing our analytical and predictive capabilities by integrating knowledge across disciplines. Observational capabilities will be expanded and upgraded to support such integrated efforts.
Key Research Activities in BE: Three overlapping and highly interactive categories of research activity describe NSF’s ongoing efforts related to the environment: Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (BED); Environment and the Human Dimension (EHD); and Global Environmental Change (GEC). In all of these, resources are committed to development of measurement tools, observatories, databases, predictive models, international connections, integration of education, and other cross-cutting concerns. Many environmental activities cross the boundaries of these areas. For instance, work on the carbon cycle or the hydrologic cycle could have implications for BED, EHD, and GEC. From this point of view, each category can be understood as a lens through which complex environmental questions are viewed.
· Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics: BED researchers seek to understand the dynamic processes of terrestrial and marine ecosystems, the diversity of life on Earth, and responses to long-term changes in land, air, and water. Research focuses on interdisciplinary work to probe the complex interplay of chemical, biological, and physical factors in Earth’s many geographically distinct regions, including extreme environments. Robotics, remote sensing, and genomics are contributing to advances in this area. Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) sites provide a platform for ecological studies, including those in arctic and antarctic zones. Ecological inventories, watershed investigations, and biogeochemistry are also included. NSF will provide about $238 million in FY 2000 for BED efforts, including $50 million for the focused Biocomplexity initiative.
· Environment and the Human Dimension: The role that humans play in contributing to changes in the environment and in mitigating the effects of environmental change is significant. Funding for EHD in FY 2000 totals about $151 million to support research activities aimed at developing scientific and engineering capabilities as well as information, computation, and communication technologies to address environmental challenges. The results are relevant to sustaining both quality of life and the environment. Examples include urban communities research, including two LTERs located in urban areas that identify complex factors enabling vigorous, healthy urban communities; natural hazard mitigation; environmental statistics; and human dimensions of global change.
· Global Environmental Change: GEC activities focus on understanding physical processes in the environment and are responsive to many societal concerns about use of natural resources and the impact of human activities on natural processes. They include such areas as climate modeling, Earth system history, tectonics, glaciology, and hydrology. Often supported by geographic information and visualization systems, investigations are directed toward understanding the dynamics, rates, and linkages of fluxes in mass and energy between the atmosphere, the land, the oceans, and the biosphere. NSF will provide approximately $282 million in FY 2000 for GEC activities.
Support for Interagency Programs: NSF works through the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) to cooperate in the development of interagency programs of activity that require fundamental science and engineering research for their success. Two are directly related to BE activities.
· U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP). Investment in the U.S. Global Change Research Program addresses interactions among physical, biological, ecological and human systems at varying scales. A total of approximately $187 million, an increment of nearly $6 million over FY 1999, will allow NSF to continue to support activities ranging from major international collaborative field programs for collection of critical data to the development, testing, and application of improved models encompassing varying geographic and temporal scales and to emphasize research on human contributions and responses to global change. Within the USGCRP framework, NSF will place additional research emphasis on the carbon cycle and on how changes in climate at a global level influence change at the local and regional level.
· Integrated Science for Ecosystem Challenges (ISEC). Investment in the multiagency ISEC effort will improve understanding of habitats and ecosystems of particular importance to the national interest, and will link biological, chemical, geological, and physical investigations with social and economic considerations. ISEC will focus on invasive species, biodiversity, and species decline; harmful algal blooms, hypoxia, and eutrophication; habitat conservation and ecosystem productivity; and information management, monitoring, and integrated assessments. The Biocomplexity initiative described above, while not directly part of ISEC, will contribute to applying the latest tools and insights developed in all fields of science and technology to the study of ecosystem challenges. NSF estimates $109 million in FY 2000 for research in ISEC priority areas, an increase of $8 million over FY 1999.
Educating for the Future
Educating for the Future (EFF) is a broad theme that includes a range of programs supporting innovative approaches to meeting the challenge of educating students for the 21st century. A total of nearly $475 million will be provided in FY 2000, an increase of about $30 million over the FY 1999 level of $445 million, to areas including:
NSF Graduate Teaching Fellows in K-12 Education: The NSF Graduate Teaching Fellows program, initiated in FY 1999, will provide $7.50 million in FY 2000 to continue support of graduate and advanced undergraduate science, math, engineering and technology majors as content resources for K-12 teachers. These Fellows will assist teachers in the science and mathematics content to be used in instruction, demonstrate key science and mathematics concepts, and connect elementary and secondary learning to the habits and skills required for collegiate study. This activity brings the acknowledged excellence of U.S. graduate education to the service of K-12 teaching and learning.
National Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology Education Digital Library. A total of $13.0 million will accelerate development of the National Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology Education Digital Library, a national resource to increase the quality, quantity, and comprehensiveness of internet-based K-16 educational resources. This virtual facility will link students, teachers, and faculty, and provide broad access to standards-based educational materials and learning tools for K-16 schools and academic institutions nationwide.
Systemic Reform of K-16 Education. As this century draws to a close, the working and living environment is changing dramatically and irreversibly. To meet these challenges, NSF aims to weave together a number of activities required for the systemic reform of K-12 science, mathematics, engineering, and technology (SMET) education as well as undergraduate SMET education within colleges and universities. In the K-12 arena, NSF places emphasis on broadening program eligibility improvements in K-12 science, mathematics, and technology learning. Districts will form innovative partnerships with institutions of higher education. A new Urban Systemic Program includes innovative options where K-12 districts will collaborate with (1) two-year colleges in developing exemplary improvements in technical education and (2) four-year academic institutions in improving teacher preparation programs and developing research enrichment opportunities for K-12 students. Spending of about $160 million in FY 2000 will support expansion of K-16 systemic reform efforts.
Education Research Initiative (ERI). The information revolution creates opportunities for more effective science, mathematics, engineering and technology education in both formal and informal educational settings. NSF’s FY 2000 Request includes $25.0 million for an Education Research Initiative. Initiated in FY 1999 in partnership with the Department of Education and the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development, FY 2000 NSF funding will support continuing research efforts in areas including school readiness for learning reading and mathematics, K-3 learning in reading and mathematics, and K-12 teacher education in reading, mathematics, and science. Special emphasis is placed on application of educational technologies to K-12 education.
Integration of Research and Education. NSF will continue to emphasize and enhance support for a range of activities that provide exemplary opportunities for the integration of research and education. Approximately $260 million will support programs such as: Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER), Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT), Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU), Grants for Vertical Integration of Research and Education in the Mathematical Sciences (VIGRE), and Collaborative Research in Undergraduate Institutions (C-RUI) in the biological sciences.
In addition, about $8.7 million in FY 2000 will support NSF’s partnership with the Department of Education on K-8 Mathematics and the Children’s Research Initiative.
National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) Crosscuts
The National Science Foundation will continue its active participation in the NSTC crosscut areas, supporting research on High Performance Computing and Communications (totaling $434 million); the U.S. Global Change Research Program (totaling $187 million); and Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (totaling $51 million). In addition, the interagency initiative Integrated Science for Ecosystem Challenges (ISEC) will be supported at a level of $109 million.
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Strategic Intent and Performance Planning
NSF's continuing mission is set out in the preamble to the National Science Foundation Act of 1950 (Public Law 81-507):
To promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense; and for other purposes.
The Act authorizes and directs NSF to initiate and support:
· Basic scientific research and research fundamental to the engineering process;
· Programs to strengthen scientific and engineering research potential;
· Science and engineering education programs at all levels and in all the various fields of science and engineering; and
· An information base for science and engineering appropriate for development of national and international policy.
In support of its mission, NSF invests in research and education activities that drive progress, productivity, and innovation across our society. NSF investments are targeted to promote five overarching outcome goals described in NSF's GPRA Strategic Plan:
· Discoveries at and across the frontier of science and engineering;
· Connections between discoveries and their use in service to society;
· A diverse, globally‑oriented workforce of scientists and engineers;
· Improved achievement in mathematics and science skills needed by all Americans; and
· Timely and relevant information on the national and international science and engineering enterprise.
The GPRA Strategic Plan provides information on key strategies for investment in support of each of these outcome goals and discusses critical factors in management of the agency that are important to progress toward them. NSF's FY 2000 Request implements these strategies, emphasizing those that have the greatest likelihood of promoting progress and that are ripe to take advantage of opportunities provided by advances throughout science and engineering. Six strategies that influence progress toward all of the outcome goals receive particular attention:
· Broad support for activities across science and engineering research and education using competitive merit review with peer evaluation to identify the most promising ideas from the strongest researchers and educators;
· Integrating research and education to strengthen both;
· Extending NSF's reach to underserved communities, including enhancing diversity in the human resource base for science and engineering;
· Emphasis on emerging opportunities, particularly those that drive science and engineering forward at disciplinary interfaces while adding to the knowledge base in areas of national interest;
· Building partnerships with other agencies and other sectors; and
· Assuring that both NSF and the research and education communities reap optimal benefit from and contribute to the revolution in information, communications and computing technologies.
NSF deploys its resources in support of the outcome goals and strategies through programs in support of research and education activities (Research and Related Activities and Education and Human Resources accounts); capital investment (Major Research Equipment account); and administration, management, and oversight (Salaries and Expenses and Office of Inspector General accounts). Functionally, the agency structures its resources according to four key program functions: Research Project Support, Research Facilities, Education and Training, and Administration and Management.
NSF's GPRA performance goals fall into three broad categories:
· "Results" goals define the expected outcomes from NSF programmatic investments in research and education.
· "Investment process" goals provide information on the means and procedures NSF uses in support of its results goals, including merit review, openness of the award process, human resource development, and award size, among others.
· "Management" goals define standards NSF must achieve in preparing, processing, and reviewing proposals; hiring staff; and making use of computer/communications systems and technologies to ensure that the agency operates effectively and efficiently.
The performance goals for results are largely in the alternative, narrative format provided for in GPRA legislation and approved for NSF use in FY 1999. The investment process and management performance goals are largely quantitative. The budget and GPRA performance plan are integrated for FY 2000. Each of the sections on key program functions contains the most relevant performance goals.