NSF & Congress
Dr. Rita Colwell
National Science Foundation
National Science Foundation
Before the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation
Subcommittee on Science, Technology, and Space
May 22, 2002
Chairman Wyden, Senator Allen, and Members of the Subcommittee,
thank you for providing this opportunity to discuss
the President's budget request for the National Science
America's present and future strength, prosperity and
global preeminence depend directly on fundamental
research. Every year, the Foundation's optimal use
of limited public funds has relied on two conditions
-- number one, ensuring that our research and education
investments are aimed - and continuously re-aimed
- at the frontiers of understanding. And number two,
certifying that virtually every dollar goes to competitive
merit-reviewed, and time-limited awards with clear
criteria for success. NSF puts the greatest share
of its resources where they will do the most good:
in the nation's colleges and universities where, in
addition to generating the truly new ideas that define
the future, every dollar invested contributes to recruiting
and training the next generation of researchers.
NSF has been proactive in implementing the President's
Management Agenda, and we welcome -- and apply
-- input from many sources to continuously improve
the way we manage programs at NSF.
When these conditions are met, our nation gets the
most intellectual and economic leverage from its research
and education investments.
The National Science Foundation is requesting $5.036
billion for FY2003, $240 million or five percent more
than the previous fiscal year. For the United States
to stay on the leading edge of discovery and innovation,
we cannot do less.
Before providing a few highlights of the budget, let
me stress that the priority setting process at NSF
results from continual consultation with the research
community. New programs are added or enhanced only
after seeking the combined expertise and experience
of the science and engineering community, the Director
and Deputy, and the National Science Board.
Programs are initiated or enlarged based on considerations
of their intellectual merit, broader impacts of the
research, the importance to science and engineering,
balance across fields and disciplines, and synergy
with research in other agencies and nations. NSF coordinates
its research with our sister research agencies both
informally -- by program officers being actively informed
of other agencies' programs - and formally, through
interagency agreements that spell out the various
agency roles in research activities. Moreover, through
our Committee of Visitors process there is continuous
evaluation and feedback of information about how NSF
programs are performing.
One of the highlights of the budget is a second installment
of $200 million for the national five-year, $1 billion
Math and Science Partnership Program. The program
links local schools with colleges and universities
to improve pre-K -12 math and science education, train
teachers, and create innovative ways to raise the
performance of all students and schools.
An investment of approximately $37 million will increase
annual stipends for graduate fellows to $25,000 to
attract more of the nation's most promising students
to science and engineering.
The budget also includes funding for six priority areas,
including $221 million for nanotechnology research,
$286 million for information technology research,
and $60 million as part of a new priority area in
mathematical and statistical sciences research that
will ultimately advance interdisciplinary science
and engineering. $185 million is directed toward NSF's
Learning for the 21st Century Workforce priority area
- including $20 million to fund three to four new
multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional Science of
Learning Centers to enhance our understanding of how
we learn, how the brain stores information, and how
we can best use new information technology to promote
We are also requesting $10 million to seed a new priority
area in the social, behavioral, and economic sciences
to explore the complex interactions between new technology
and society so that we can better anticipate and prepare
for their consequences.
The budget requests $79 million for research on biocomplexity
in the environment. This builds upon past investments
to study the remarkable and dynamic web of interrelationships
that arise when living things at all levels interact
with their environment. Research in two new areas
this year -- microbial genome sequencing and ecology
of infectious diseases -- will help develop strategies
to assess and manage the risks of infectious diseases,
invasive species, and biological weapons.
I should add that as part of the Administration's new
multi-agency Climate Change Research Initiative, we
will implement a $15 million research program to advance
understanding in highly focused areas of climate science,
to reduce uncertainty and facilitate policy decisions.
Our budget also includes $76 million for programs
slated to be transferred to NSF from NOAA, EPA, and
Although we did not seek these transfers, we take considerable
pride in the fact that of the 26 Federal agencies
judged by OMB in five key management areas, only the
National Science Foundation received a green light.
NSF is noted for its expertise and success in funding
competitive research, and this was certainly a factor
in this recognition. Sea Grant, which originated at
NSF, is a valuable program; and should Congress and
the Administration agree to such a shift, we would,
of course, do our best to make it even more effective.
In large facilities, we will continue support for the
next phase of construction of the Atacama Large Millimeter
Array (ALMA). New construction projects in the FY2003
budget include two prototype sites of the National
Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) at a cost of
$12 million to analyze data to detect abrupt changes
or long-term trends in the environment. The budget
also requests $35 million for EarthScope to detect
and investigate earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and
landslides on the North American continent.
The events following September 11 demonstrated our
capacity to engage the research community in ways
that are immediately responsive to national needs.
We owe this flexibility to a highly trained scientific
and engineering workforce capable of selecting the
most interesting and challenging problems for their
research. It is this flexibility, enabled by the merit
review system, that makes ours a model of scientific
support that is the envy of the world.
Mr. Chairman, if there are no objections, I would like
to include a copy of the NSF budget summary as part
of my testimony, and I would be pleased to respond
to any questions that the committee may have.