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NSF & Congress
NSF Section of H.Rept. 105-175, the House VA/HUD Committee Report

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Research and Related Activities
Major Research Equipment
Education and Human Resources
Salaries and Expenses
Office of Inspector General

NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

Fiscal year 1998 recommendation

$3,487,000,000

Fiscal year 1997 appropriation

$3,270,000,000

Fiscal year 1998 budget request

$3,367,000,000

Comparison with fiscal year 1997 appropriation

+$217,000,000

Comparison with fiscal year 1998 request

+$120,000,000

The National Science Foundation was established in 1950 and received its first appropriation of $225,000 in 1951. The primary purpose behind its creation was to develop a national policy on science, and support and promote basic research and education in the sciences filling the void left after World War II.

The Committee recommends a total of $3,487,000,000 for fiscal year 1998. The amount recommended is $217,000,000 above the fiscal year 1997 appropriation and $120,000,000 above the President's budget request.

Of the amounts approved in the following appropriations accounts, the Foundation must limit transfers of funds between programs and activities to not more than $500,000 without prior approval of the Committee.

Further, no changes may be made to any account or program element if it is construed to be policy or a change in policy. Any activity or program cited in this report shall be construed as the position of the Committee and should not be subject to reductions or reprogramming without prior approval of the Committee. Finally, it is the intent of the Committee that all carryover funds in the various appropriations accounts are subject to the normal reprogramming requirements outlined above.

RESEARCH AND RELATED ACTIVITIES

Fiscal year 1998 recommendation

$2,537,700,000

Fiscal year 1997 appropriation

$2,432,000,000

Fiscal year 1998 budget request

$2,514,700,000

Comparison with fiscal year 1997 appropriation

+$105,700,000

Comparison with fiscal year 1998 request

+$23,000,000

The appropriation for Research and Related Activities covers all programs in the Foundation except Education and Human Resources, Salaries and Expenses, NSF Headquarters Relocation, Major Research Equipment, and the Office of Inspector General. These are funded in other accounts in the bill. The Research and Related Activities appropriation includes United States Polar Research Programs and Antarctic Logistical Support Activities and the Critical Technologies Institute, which were previously funded through separate appropriations. Beginning with fiscal year 1997, the President's budget provided funding for the instrumentation portion of Academic Research Infrastructure in this account.

The Committee recommends a total of $2,537,700,000 for Research and Related Activities in fiscal year 1997, an increase of $23,000,000 to the budget request. The increased funding is to be used only for the programs identified below.

Knowledge and Distributed Intelligence

Knowledge and distributed intelligence (KDI) is a major Foundation-wide research and education initiative that could have a profound impact on the research and education enterprise in this country by dramatically improving access to and organization of scientific, technical, and educational information and data. Inherent in this initiative is the expectation that high speed data communications and networking will continue to move forward so that data and information become more readily available to researchers and educators regardless of their geographic location. The Committee strongly supports the Foundation's role in interagency efforts to enhance development of very high speed networking systems as well as the KDI initiative. The Committee notes that KDI, and the collaborative potential it represents, could revolutionize the way we communicate and educate ourselves, and create entirely new areas of economic growth and individual opportunity. The manner in which KDI is expected to promote interaction among behavioral, social, physical, and computer scientists and engineers is of particular interest to the Committee as it encourages the Foundation to continue developing innovations which all of society can appreciate.

Next Generation Internet

The Committee has included a total of $23,000,000 for the National Science Foundation's effort associated with development of the Next Generation Internet. The funding provided is an increase of $13,000,000 to the budget request for this item. The Committee action is in recognition of recent changes in this multi-agency effort and is consistent with how the program will be executed during fiscal year 1998.

Internet Registration

The Committee is aware that the Foundation has a cooperative agreement with a company to provide Internet domain name registration services and to collect fees to recover the cost of such registration. The fees collected in this process, to the extent they are in excess of costs, are to be placed in a fund to support Internet research. The Committee expects to be fully informed as to the Foundation's plans for the disposition of this fund prior to any final actions.

Supercomputer Centers

In late March of 1997 the National Science Board met to evaluate proposals for Partnerships for Advanced Computational Infrastructure. At that meeting two partnerships were selected and two other partnership proposals, with two existing supercomputer centers as lead, were not selected. The Board took the further action at that time of providing for phase-out of the two centers over a period of up to two years. This action was taken in recognition of the substantial investments made by the United States in those two centers, and to keep those resources available to the user community during a period of transition to the new partnership structure. The Committee does not disagree with the decision of the Board to begin the new partnerships, but the Committee is concerned that inadequate funding is allocated for phase-out of the two centers which were not selected to lead new partnerships. Accordingly, the Committee has provided an additional $5,000,000 to be used only for the orderly phase-out of operations.

World Congress On Information Technology

The committee is supportive of the upcoming World Congress on Information Technology. Should the Foundation receive a proposal requesting support for this endeavor, the Committee urges the Foundation to give it consideration consistent with established program guidelines and evaluation procedures.

U.S./Mexico Foundation For Science

The Committee recommends $1,000,000 for the U.S./Mexico Foundation for Science which has a goal of improving U.S. and Mexican scientific and technological cooperation.

National High Magnetic Field Laboratory

The Committee notes the accomplishments of the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory and its innovative collaborations with private businesses. However, the Committee recognizes that other countries are making strides for world leadership in the nuclear magnetic resonance field. The chemical, biological, and materials advances that could result from such an initiative could have major commercial and economic benefits. The Committee therefor directs the National Science Foundation to review and evaluate recent foreign initiatives in nuclear resonance; develop, in cooperation with the Office of Science and Technology Policy and other agencies, appropriate federal responses to these initiatives, with particular attention to instrumentation and interagency cooperation; and report its findings to the Committee by February 1, 1998.

The Committee is aware that the Foundation recently extended their support for the Laboratory for an additional five years and increased the level of support substantially. However, the Foundation was unable to fund the research areas related to structural biology and aspects of magnetic resonance. The Committee encourages the Foundation to work with the Laboratory, its partner, and new collaborators such as the University of Miami, to more effectively explore the applications of this important technology through an interagency, financial, collaborative agreement with the National Institutes of Health. The Committee requests that the Foundation report on progress made in assisting the Laboratory and the National Institutes of Health to work together as partners.

Ocean Sciences

The Committee notes the worldwide interest in ocean sciences to meet the global challenges related to global climate change, biodiversity, world ecological balance, as well as many other national and international science objectives. The Committee is aware that ocean research continues to be an underpinning of U.S. economic expansion, national security, and world scientific leadership. The Committee believes that ocean sciences should be a priority for the Nation and deserves appropriate funding to address these challenges within the agencies which have fiduciary and oversight responsibilities for research.

National Institute For The Environment

The Committee has been impressed by the proposal for a non-regulatory National Institute for the Environment with a mission to improve the scientific basis for making decisions on environmental issues. The Committee is very interested in the idea of establishing an institute that provides a major role for stakeholders in defining questions needing scientific attention and which funds ongoing knowledge assessments, extramural research, on-line information dissemination, and education and training through a competitive peer reviewed process. The National Science Foundation has the authority to advance such an Institute. Therefore, the Committee directs the Foundation to study how it would establish and operate such an institute, including the potential cost of such an institute, and report to the Committee by april 1, 1998.

Gemini Telescope Program

The Committee recommendation includes $4,000,000 for the U.S. share of technical enhancements approved for the Gemini telescopes currently under construction in Hawaii and Chile. The Committee continues to be pleased with the excellent performance of the project team. After more than five years, the project remains on schedule and virtually within the original budget estimate of $176,000,000. Given the requirement to work with a variety of national and cultural backgrounds, this represents a significant achievement and should serve as a model for future international cooperative program.

Research Support

The Committee supports the Foundation's efforts in North Greenland and urges the cost effective use of research support/capabilities currently available from existing entities, including non-profit wildlife research organizations with ongoing projects in the area.

MAJOR RESEARCH EQUIPMENT

Fiscal year 1998 recommendation

$175,000,000

Fiscal year 1997 appropriation

$80,000,000

Fiscal year 1998 budget request

$85,000,000

Comparison with fiscal year 1997 appropriation

+$95,000,000

Comparison with fiscal year 1998 request

+$90,000,000

This account provides funding for the construction of major research facilities that provide unique capabilities at the cutting edge of science and engineering.

The Committee recommends a total of $175,000,000 for the major research equipment account for fiscal year 1998. This level reflects $26,000,000 for construction of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO), $25,000,000 for the Polar Cap Observatory, $9,000,000 for the Millimeter Array, and $115,000,000 for maintenance and construction of facilities in Antarctica. The Committee recommendation for LIGO, Polar Cap Observatory, and the Millimeter Array is the same as requested in the President's budget request.

U.S. Antarctic Program

The National Science Foundation established the U.S. Antarctic Program External Panel in 1996 and gave the Panel the task of examining the Antarctic Program from both a scientific as well as a facilities point of view. The Panel completed its work in early 1997 and issued its final report in April. The conclusions of the Panel include the following:

  1. The geopolitical importance assigned to a permanent U.S. presence in Antarctica, particularly the South Pole, appears fully warranted.
  2. The research being performed in Antarctica is comparable in its high quality and relevance to that being supported elsewhere by the Foundation.
  3. The Antarctic program is well managed.
  4. Impressive cost-reductions have been taken in recent years and further opportunities exist for additional savings.
  5. Further life-extension efforts devoted to the existing South Pole facility are neither cost effective nor conducive to the effective operation of a remote station.
  6. Communications to and from Antarctica, and especially the South Pole, are dated and tenuous and require improvement to meet standards of a modern research facility.
  7. Joint ownership of core facilities does not appear to be in the best interest of the U.S. role in promoting political stability.
  8. The quality of many U.S. facilities in Antarctica, and particularly at the South Pole is not in keeping with the standard reasonably expected and the facilities are becoming increasingly unsafe.
  9. The Panel's principal conclusion is that the South Pole Station needs to be replaced soon for economic, safety and operational reasons and the modest upgrades are needed at Palmer and McMurdo Stations.

After reviewing the report of the Panel, the Committee endorses the conclusions reached by the Panel and agrees with its principal recommendations. The Committee appreciates the time and effort expended by the members of the Panel and places great value on their expertise and recommendations. However, the Committee believes that full funding of the South Pole Station replacement and other improvements in Antarctica, rather than incremental funding as proposed by the Panel, could lead to more efficient management of the refurbishment efforts.

The Committee has therefore recommended providing $115,000,000 in fiscal year 1998 for construction and refurbishment of facilities in Antarctica. When combined with program savings from logistics operations over the next five years, this amount will result in total funding of $145,000,000 available for the "optimized" South Pole Station and infrastructure improvements at McMurdo and Palmer Stations. The Committee directs the Foundation to highlight logistics savings when they are expected to materialize so that future funding for the refurbishment can be traced to those savings.

EDUCATION AND HUMAN RESOURCES

Fiscal year 1998 recommendation

$632,500,000

Fiscal year 1997 appropriation

$619,000,000

Fiscal year 1998 budget request

$625,500,000

Comparison with fiscal year 1997 appropriation

+$13,500,000

Comparison with fiscal year 1998 request

+$7,000,000

The Foundation's Education and Human Resources activities are designed to encourage the entrance of talented students into science and technology careers, to improve the undergraduate science and engineering education environment, to assist in providing all pre-college students with a level of education in mathematics, science, and technology that reflects the needs of the nation and is the highest quality attained anywhere in the world, and extend greater research opportunities to underrepresented segments of the scientific and engineering communities. For fiscal year 1998, the Committee recommends $632,500,000, an increase of $7,000,000 to the President's budget request and $13,500,000 above the fiscal year 1997 appropriation.

Systemic Initiative

The National Science Foundation has made considerable progress with its state, urban, and rural systemic initiatives designed to promote reform of K 12 math and science education. Early results show significant math and science student achievements in NSF funded sites. The Committee believes each program should be sustained as appropriate and in particular, the Urban Systemic Initiative should be fully funded in fiscal year 1998. The funding level for this initiative should take into consideration its role in the recently announced excellent performance of U.S. students in 4th grade math and science.

Alliance For Minority Participation And Summer Science Camps

The Committee notes the national model which the Alliance for Minority Participation program has become for producing minority scientists and engineers. This very important national initiative should be sustained, as well as the K 12 programs that serve as feeders to it. One such program, the summer science camp program, serves as a stimulant for interest in math and science and is the foundation for future interest in these subject areas.

Advanced Technological Education Program

Although only established within the past few years, the Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program is viewed as crucial to ensuring a highly competent technical workforce. The Committee is pleased that the Foundation has forged effective partnerships with the relevant, local scientific and technical business sector to further expand the scope and significance of the program. The Committee encourages continued growth of this important activity. In order to foster this growth, the Committee has provided an additional $2,000,000 for the program in fiscal year 1998.

Over the next ten years, it is forecast that the demand for technically skilled transportation workers will increase significantly. The Committee commends the National Science Foundation for its success to date with the ATE program, and it believes that NSF, through the ATE program can help the Nation develop a more technically competent, highly skilled transportation workforce. The Committee recognizes that NSF solicits ATE proposals from all areas of science and engineering and that the transportation area is one field, among many, in which proposals are submitted and awards are made. Nonetheless, the Committee directs NSF to work with the Department of Transportation to identify opportunities for possible ATE and other collaborative activities that can enhance technician training and education in the transportation field.

Teacher Preparation

Efforts to achieve high quality math and science performance in the K-12 sector is highly dependent upon the quality of the teacher workforce and, especially in urban and rural school systems, there is a growing inadequacy of highly qualified math and science teachers. Accordingly, the Committee strongly urges the National Science Foundation to strengthen and significantly expand its math and science teacher preparation programs.

Technology Education

Increasingly the purposeful applications of technology is regarded as an integral and value-added component of high quality math, science, engineering and technology education. The National Science Foundation is urged to increase its investments in research and development that undergird learning technologies and their application in math, science, engineering, and technology education sites at the K 12, two year and community colleges, and undergraduate levels.

Doctorate Science and Engineering Degrees

The Committee remains concerned about the low number of doctorate science and engineering degree recipients from under-represented minority populations. To address this critical science and engineering human resource issue, the Committee directs the Foundation to develop a comprehensive plan for graduate education of under-represented minorities. While the report of this plan should be provided to the Committee by February 1, 1998, $5,000,000 is provided for the initiation of an effort designed to improve the production of science and engineering doctorates drawn from these under-represented groups.

SALARIES AND EXPENSES

Fiscal year 1998 recommendation

$136,950,000

Fiscal year 1997 appropriation

$134,310,000

Fiscal year 1998 budget request

$136,950,000

Comparison with fiscal year 1997 appropriation

+$2,640,000

Comparison with fiscal year 1998 request

0

The Salaries and Expenses activity provides for the operation, support and management, and direction of all Foundation programs and activities and includes necessary funds that develop, manage, and coordinate Foundation programs. Also included in this account beginning in fiscal year 1997 is funding for NSF headquarters relocation. The Committee recommends an appropriation of $136,950,000 for salaries and expenses and headquarters relocation in fiscal year 1998, the same as the President's budget request. The amount provided is $2,640,000 above the fiscal year 1997 appropriation.

OFFICE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL

Fiscal year 1998 recommendation

$4,850,000

Fiscal year 1997 appropriation

$4,690,000

Fiscal year 1998 budget request

$4,850,000

Comparison with fiscal year 1997 appropriation

+$160,000

Comparison with fiscal year 1998 request

0

This account provides National Science Foundation audit and investigation functions to identify and correct management and administrative deficiencies which could lead to fraud, waste, or abuse. For fiscal year 1998, the Committee has recommended $4,850,000 for the Office of Inspector General. This amount is $160,000 above the fiscal year 1997 level and is the same as the President's budget request.

 

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