NSF & Congress
Summary: National Science Foundation Fiscal 2003 Budget Request
June 6, 2001
On Wednesday, June 6, 2001, the House Research Subcommittee
held a hearing on the FY'02 NSF R&RA budget request
with an emphasis on plant genome research activities.
- Dr. Joseph Bordogna, Deputy Director,
- Dr. Mary Clutter, Assistant Director
of Biological Sciences
- Dr. Vicki Chandler, Professor of Plant
Sciences and Molecular & Cellular Biology,
University of Arizona
- Dr. Daphne Preuss, Assistant Professor
of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology, University
Chairman Nick Smith, Rep. E.B. Johnson, Rep. Gil Gutknecht,
Rep. Tim Johnson, Rep. Steve J. Israel, Rep. Etheridge,
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Rep. Lynn Rivers, Rep. John Larson,
and Rep. Felix J. Grucci, Jr.
Chairman Smith: The hearing will discuss what impact
the requested funding level will have on current or
future research programs at NSF; how priorities are
determined and addressed within the budget process,
and how input and direction from the Committee helps
shape that process. Chairman Smith noted that he has
introduced legislation to establish regional genome
and genomic expression research and development centers.
Rep. E.B. Johnson: "Disappointing" is the most generous
term she can use in describing the proposed NSF research
Dr. Bordogna testified on the NSF budget, emphasizing
the R&RA account component. (The
testimony is here.)
Dr. Clutter reported on the NSF's role in the plant
Dr. Chandler testified that genomics has completely
altered the processes and direction of biological
research. She said that core research programs are
the major reason for our nation's worldwide lead in
science and economics. No other country supports basic
science the way NSF does and their science programs
reflect that shortcoming. NSF sets its research priorities
through thorough consultation with the scientific
Chairman Smith: Which, after the U S, are the four
or five leading countries in genomic biology?
Dr. Preuss: The UK, Japan, and Germany followed by
France and other EU countries.
Smith: Without an authorization bill, what weight would
resolutions and other suggestions from the Science
Committee be given by NSF?
Dr. Bordogna: A great deal of weight.
Chairman Smith: How can the NSF prioritization process
Dr. Chandler: I think that the NSF does a great job
in balancing priorities within the constraints of
Rep. EB Johnson: What was NSF's budget request as submitted
Dr. Bordogna: NSF has a long-range plan going out 10
years. OMB looks at that and sets budget request priorities
from that plan within the context of the overall federal
Rep. Gutknecht: Why does the NSF request have a significant
increase in salaries and expenses but no request for
Dr. Bordogna: The NSF has been pursuing a strategy
of upgrading and improving its infrastructure, computerization
etc., in order to meet increased workloads, requests
for personnel increases will follow. The agency is
presently evaluating the impact of staff turnover
because of impending retirements and other, non-mission-related
Rep. Gutknecht: How does the NSF interact with other
federal research agencies?
Dr. Bordogna: We have a strong and active collaborative
relationship with each of the other federal research
Rep. Etheridge: The Administration's Budget doesn't
reflect its expressed commitment to basic research.
NASA Administrator Goldin says that America's economic
future and security depend on its ability to integrate
new technologies into the economy. How do you assess
Dr. Bordogna: Research in nanotechnology, terascale
computing, biocomplexity, and learning are the essential
to our nation's future. That's why these are the NSF's
priority areas. Rep Rivers: What was the original
request from each of the directorates going to OMB?
Dr. Bordogna: As a general rule of thumb you can assume
that our priority areas each require about 200 million
annually over the next five years. Lofgren: Can you
provide the subcommittee with a copy of the long-term
plan to which you have referred? Can and should NIH
replicate NSF's research role?
Dr. Bordogna: The research programs of NIH and NSF
are and should be complimentary and not duplicative.
NSF and NIH have a good cooperative relationship in
determining their respective research priorities.
Rep. Grucci: The RSVP project: has it been ranked for
funding and what is the status?
Dr. Bordogna: The MRE board has approved RSVP.
Chairman Smith: When will the sequencing of the Arabadopsis
Dr. Preuss: The genome has been sequenced. We know
where the genes are. The next step is to understand
what the individual genes actually do
Chairman Smith: What is the status of the rice genome
Dr. Clutter: We expect to have the rice genome sequenced
by 2004. Things may slow because of complications
arising from possible commercial applications.
Dr. Chandler: Genome sequencing needs to be done with
federal dollars and data must be made public as soon
as it is available.
Chairman Smith: The Subcommittee requests of the Director
that NSF provide the Subcommittee with a report on
the consequences of NSF supported research on the
work of other federal agencies such as DOD, DOE, NIH,