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NSF & Congress
NSF Section of the VA/HUD and Independent Agencies Bill for FY 2000

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

RESEARCH AND RELATED ACTIVITIES

Appropriates $2,966,000,000 for research and related activities instead of $2,768,500,000 as proposed by the House and $3,007,300,000 as proposed by the Senate. Bill language provides up to $253,000,000 of this amount for Polar research and operations support.

The conferees have included bill language which specifies that $60,000,000 of appropriated funds are to be for a comprehensive research initiative on plant genomes for economically significant crops. Language has also been included which prohibits NSF from obligating or expending funds to enter into or extend a grant, contract, or cooperative agreement regarding the administration of the domain name and numbering system of the Internet.

Finally, the conferees have agreed to bill language which: (1) prohibits funds spent in this or any other Act to acquire or lease a research vessel with ice-breaking capability built or retrofitted outside of the United States if such a vessel of United States origin can be obtained at a cost of not more than 50 per centum above the cost of the least expensive, technically acceptable, non-United States vessel; (2) requires that the amount of subsidy or financing provided by a foreign government, or instrumentality thereof, to a vessel's construction shall be included as part of the total cost of such vessel; and (3) provides that should a U.S. vessel as set forth in the foregoing language not be available for leasing for the austral summer Antarctic season of 2002-2003, and thereafter, a vessel of any origin can be leased for a period not to exceed 120 days of that season until delivery of such a United States vessel occurs.

The conference agreement provides an increase of $196,000,000 above the fiscal year 1999 appropriated level for research and related activities, $90,000,000 of which is to be used within the Computer and Information Sciences and Engineering (CISE) directorate and $106,000,000 of which is for the remaining directorates, including Integrative Activities.

With regard to the additional funds provided for CISE, the conferees expect the Foundation to support individual and team research projects related to information technologies, specifically in the areas recommended in the PITAC report and in H.R. 2086. Among the most important of these are software research, scalable information infrastructure, software design, stability, security and reliability, as well as the need to acquire high-end computing equipment. In addition, the conferees expect an appropriate level of funding be provided for research to study privacy and access to information, and to further the understanding of the impact information technology advances have on issues that are of significant societal, ethical, and economical importance. Finally, as the NSF prepares to release CISE research funds through its normal competitive process, the conferees strongly encourage that an increased ratio of grants be issued at higher funding levels and for longer duration.

Within the amounts made available to all other directorates, $50,000,000 is for the new Biocomplexity Initiative. All other programs within the Integrative Activities directorate, except the Opportunity Fund, have been funded at the budget request. The Opportunity Fund has, without prejudice, not been funded for fiscal year 2000.

The NSF is directed to provide up to $5,000,000 for the National Oceanographic Partnership Program, and is further directed to contract with a non-federal entity to carry out a review of the merit review process of the Foundation. This review is to be completed and submitted to the Committees on Appropriations within eleven months of enactment of this Act.

The conferees have provided $25,000,000 for Arctic research support and logistics, an increase of $3,000,000 above the budget request. The conferees expect the Foundation, in conjunction and in close cooperation with the Interagency Arctic Research and Policy Committee to develop a multi-year, multi-agency plan for the implementation of joint United States-Japan Arctic research activities as envisioned by the March 1997 science and technology section of the Common Agenda agreed to by the United States and Japan. In this regard, the conferees expect the Foundation to provide up to $5,000,000 from within available funds for logistical activities in support of United States-Japan international research activities related to global climate change.

Consistent with a directive of the Senate to strengthen international cooperation in science and engineering, the conferees encourage NSF to consider providing from within available funds up to $3,000,000 to strengthen cooperative research activities between the United States and the former Soviet Union through the Civilian Research and Development Foundation.

Except as previously noted, the conferees expect that the remaining additional funds will be distributed proportionately and equitably, consistent with the ratio of the budget request level above the fiscal year 1999 funding level, among all of the remaining directorates, and request that such distribution be specifically noted in the fiscal year 2000 Operating Plan submission.

The conferees commend the Foundation for its support of the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (NHMFL) located in Tallahassee, Florida. That laboratory is an excellent example of a facility that has worked closely with teams of academic and industrial scientists from throughout the United States and abroad. The conferees strongly support the work of this important national facility and commend the NSF for its increased support and interest in the work of the NHMFL.

Finally, pursuant to recommendations made by the federally-mandated National Gambling Impact Study Commission, the conferees encourage the NSF to explore the feasibility of establishing a multi-disciplinary research program that will estimate the benefits and costs of gambling.

MAJOR RESEARCH EQUIPMENT

Appropriates $95,000,000 for major research equipment instead of $56,500,000 as proposed by the House and $70,000,000 as proposed by the Senate.

The conference agreement provides the budget request level for all projects within the MRE account, including $36,000,000 for the development and construction of a new, single site, five teraflop computing facility. The conferees expect that the competition for this project will allow for significant participation by universities and other institutions throughout the country, and will have as its goal completion of such a facility within 16 months of enactment of this Act. The conferees further expect the Foundation to provide regular, informal reports as to the progress of this project, including the funding requirements necessary to complete five teraflop capability.

The conference agreement also provides $10,000,000 to begin production of the High-Performance Instrumented Airborne Platform for Environmental Research (HIAPER). This new high-altitude research aircraft will, upon its completion, be available to support critical and outstanding atmospheric science research opportunities over the next 25 to 30 years.

EDUCATION AND HUMAN RESOURCES

Appropriates $696,600,000 for education and human resources instead of $660,000,000 as proposed by the House and $688,600,000 as proposed by the Senate.

Within this appropriated level, the conferees have provided $55,000,000 for the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) to allow for renewed emphasis on research infrastructure development in the EPSCoR states, as well as to permit full implementation awards to states which have research proposals in the planning process. In addition, the conferees have provided $10,000,000 to initiate a new Office of Innovation Partnerships. This new office, in addition to housing the EPSCoR program, will examine means of helping those non-EPSCoR institutions receiving among the least federal research funding expand their research capacity and competitiveness so as to develop a truly national scientific research community with appropriate research centers located throughout the nation.

The conferees expect that funds for these two efforts will be included in a single program office within the EHR account, under the direct supervision of the Director's office. Building upon the EPSCoR experience, the conferees also expect the new office to work with CISE to insure that all areas of the country share in advanced networking and computing activities, especially rural and insular areas with research institutions. Assistance in developing scientific research applications for use on the computing and networking systems now available as a result of earlier NSF programs is a high priority in the EPSCoR states. The conferees also expect the new office to coordinate with all research and related activities directorates.

The conference agreement also provides $10,000,000 for Historically Black Colleges and Universities through the underrepresented population undergraduate reform initiative, including $8,000,000 from the EHR account and $2,000,000 from the RRA account. Similarly, the conferees have provided the budget request level of $46,000,000 for the Informal Science Education (ISE) program. This program has acted as a catalyst for increasing the public's appreciation and understanding of science and technology in settings such as science centers, museums, zoos, aquariums, and public television. The ISE program has also been involved in the professional development of science teachers. The conferees continue to support this important program, including its focus for fiscal year 2000 on increasing access to informal learning opportunities in inner cities and rural areas that have received little exposure to science and technology.

Except as previously noted, the conferees expect that the remaining additional funds will be distributed proportionately and equitably, consistent with the ratio of the budget request level above the fiscal year 1999 funding level, among all of the remaining directorates, and request that such distribution be specifically noted in the fiscal year 2000 Operating Plan submission.

SALARIES AND EXPENSES

Appropriates $149,000,000 for salaries and expenses instead of $146,500,000 as proposed by the House and $150,000,000 as proposed by the Senate. Consistent with the position of the Senate, the conferees direct the Foundation to fund program travel only from within the salaries and expenses account. Additionally, the conferees urge the Foundation to improve its oversight activity of its many programs, using available funds from within this account.

OFFICE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL

Appropriates $5,450,000 for the Office of Inspector General instead of $5,325,000 as proposed by the House and $5,550,000 as proposed by the Senate. The conferees expect the OIG to increase efforts in the areas of cost-sharing, indirect costs, and reducing misconduct in scientific research.

 

See also:

Conference Report on H.R. 2684, House VA-HUD and Independent Agencies Bill FY 2000 (Full Report)

 

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