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Summary of NSF Accounts

Research and Related Activities

The Research and Related Activities (R&RA) Account supports activities that enable the U.S. to provide leadership and promote progress across the expanding frontiers of scientific and engineering research and education. These activities support areas of inquiry critical to long-term U.S. economic strength, security, and quality of life. Research activities spur new knowledge, ideas, tools and approaches that open doors to understanding and solving problems and offer increased opportunities for economic growth. Moreover, as students work alongside senior staff performing research activities, there is a natural integration of research and education as students acquire the skills necessary to perform world-class research and become members of the next generation's workforce of scientists and engineers. NSF investments in R&RA reflect the Foundation's three strategic goals: People, Ideas and Tools.

The FY 2004 Request for R&RA totals $4.11 billion, a $323.15 million, or 8.5 percent, increase over the FY 2003 Request. In FY 2004, support is provided for research and education efforts related to broad, Foundation-wide priority areas in Biocomplexity in the Environment; Information Technology Research; Nanoscale Science and Engineering; Mathematical Sciences; Human and Social Dynamics; and Workforce for the 21st Century. NSF will also emphasize increasing the average annualized award size. Within R&RA:

  • The Biological Sciences (BIO) Activity provides support for research to advance understanding of the underlying principles and mechanisms governing life. Research ranges from the study of the structure and dynamics of biological molecules, such as proteins and nucleic acids, through cells, organs and organisms, to studies of populations and ecosystems. The biological sciences are undergoing a profound transformation. Recent advances in genomics, informatics, computer science, mathematics, physics, chemistry, engineering, and the Earth and social sciences have spawned the 21st Century Biology, which is multidimensional, multidisciplinary, data driven and education-oriented. The FY 2004 Request for BIO totals $562.22 million, a $36.60 million, or 7.0 percent, increase over the FY 2003 Request.

  • The Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) Activity supports research on the theory and foundations of computing, system software and computer system design, computer security, human-computer interaction, as well as prototyping, testing and development of cutting-edge computing and communications systems to address complex research problems. CISE also provides the advanced computing and networking capabilities needed by academic researchers for cutting-edge research in all science and engineering fields. The FY 2004 request for CISE totals $584.26 million, a $57.32 million, or 10.9 percent, increase over the FY 2003 Request of $526.94 million. This includes $218.11 million as part of NSF's Information Technology Research priority area. CISE is also requesting $20.00 million for Cyberinfrastructure intended to develop the next generation of sensors, storage systems, computers and networks to exploit the increasing availability of data in the science and engineering fields.

  • The Engineering (ENG) Activity promotes the progress of engineering in the United States in order to enable the Nation's capacity to perform. Its investments in engineering research and education aim to build and strengthen a national capacity for innovation that can lead over time to the creation of new shared wealth and a better quality of life. The FY 2004 Request for ENG totals $536.57 million, a $48.59 million, or 10.0 percent, increase over the FY 2003 Request. A major focus of ENG investments is in emerging technologies-nanotechnology, information technology and biotechnology. Support for research in these areas contributes to major advances in health care, manufacturing, business, education, and the service industry. Funds are included to meet the mandated level for the Foundation-wide Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs.

  • The Geosciences (GEO) Activity supports research in the atmospheric, earth, and ocean sciences. Basic research in the geosciences advances our scientific knowledge of the Earth and advances our ability to predict natural phenomena of economic and human significance, such as climate change, earthquakes, weather, fish-stock fluctuations, and disruptive events in the solar-terrestrial environment. The FY 2004 Request of $687.92 million, a $3.15 million, or 0.5 percent, decrease from the FY 2003 Request, will support the operation and enhancement of national user facilities as well as fundamental research across the geosciences, including emphasis on the U.S. Weather Research Program and National Space Weather Program; the U.S. Global Change Research Program; the Biocomplexity in the Environment priority area, and research on the key physical, chemical and geologic cycles within the Earth System. FY 2003 Request funding includes approximately $74.0 million in transferred programs not re-proposed in FY 2004. Excluding the transfers, GEO would increase by $70.85 million, or 11.5 percent.

  • The Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS) Activity supports research and education in astronomical sciences, chemistry, materials research, mathematical sciences and physics. Major equipment and instrumentation such as telescopes, particle accelerators, synchrontron light sources and neutron facilities are provided to support the needs of individual investigators. The FY 2004 Request of $1,061.27 million, a $119.70 million, or 12.7 percent, increase over the FY 2003 Request, will support fundamental research, state-of-the-art instrumentation, facilities, groups and centers, and the education and training of the future workforce, including bringing scientific discovery to the public. Support will also be provided for the Mathematical Sciences priority area. Progress in science and engineering is fundamentally linked with advances across the mathematical sciences; investments in the Mathematical Sciences priority area focuses on interdisciplinary efforts between mathematics and all areas of science, engineering and science education.

  • The Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE) Activity supports research to build fundamental scientific knowledge about human behavior, cognition, interaction, and social and economic systems, organizations and institutions. SBE also facilitates NSF's international activities by promoting partnerships between U.S. and foreign researchers, enhancing access to critical research conducted outside the U.S. and increasing knowledge of mutually beneficial research opportunities abroad. To improve understanding of the science and engineering enterprise, SBE supports science resources studies that are the nation's primary source of data on the science and engineering enterprise. In FY 2004, SBE's Request of $211.74 million, a $16.13 million, or 8.2 percent, increase from the FY 2003 Request, includes funding for the Human and Social Dynamics priority area. This priority area seeks to better understand the causes and ramifications of change, to increase our collective ability to anticipate the complex consequences of change (cultural, science and technology, economic, individual, political, and social), to better understand the dynamics of the human mind, to better understand the cognitive and social structures that create and define change, and to help people and organizations better manage profound or rapid change.

  • Polar Programs, which includes the U.S. Polar Research Programs and U.S. Antarctic Logistical Support Activities, supports multidisciplinary research in Arctic and Antarctic regions. These geographic frontiers - premier natural laboratories - are the areas predicted to be first affected by climate change. They are vital to understanding past, present, and future responses of Earth systems to natural and man-made changes. Polar Programs support provides unique research opportunities ranging from studies of the Earth, ice and oceans to research in atmospheric sciences and astronomy. In FY 2004 Polar Programs is proposed at $329.93 million, a $26.12 million, or 8.6 percent increase over the FY 2003 Request. FY 2004 priorities include support for emerging frontiers in polar biology; astrophysics research building on recent unprecedented observations of the early structure/development of the universe; research on the effect of arctic biogeochemical cycles and biophysical processes on arctic and global systems; and research which will yield new information on historic climate change in Antarctica. Support is also provided to sustain the science facilities and operations that make Arctic and Antarctic research possible, with FY 2004 emphases including development of an overland traverse capability in Antarctica; addressing high priority infrastructure issues based on a revised McMurdo Long Range Plan, including replacement of the power plant as well as safety, housing, and warehousing upgrades; upgrades of facilities at Toolik Field Station, Alaska; and beginning the development of a network of strategically placed U.S. Long-Term Observatories in the Arctic linked to similar efforts in Europe and Canada.

  • Integrative Activities (IA) supports emerging cross-disciplinary research and education efforts and major research instrumentation, and provides support for the Science and Technology Policy Institute (STPI). The FY 2004 Request of $132.45 million for IA, a $21.84 million, or 19.7 percent, increase over the FY 2003 Request, includes $90.0 million for Major Research Instrumentation, $20.0 million to support Science of Learning Centers, $10.0 million for Partnerships for Innovation, $4.0 million for STPI, $4.0 million for ADVANCE, $3.45 million for administrative support of the Science and Technology Centers, and $1.0 million for Disaster Response Research Teams.

Education and Human Resources

The FY 2004 Request for Education and Human Resources (EHR) is $938.04 million, a $29.96 million, or 3.3 percent, increase over the FY 2003 Request. In FY 2004, NSF's highest priorities in the Education and Human Resources (EHR) Activity are the Math and Science Partnership (MSP) and graduate student support. MSP addresses critical concerns of the Administration and the Congress that math and science learning and teaching must be improved for all preK-12 students in the U.S. Graduate stipends are no longer considered to be attractive by many students because they are viewed as inadequate to compensate for the cost of education and mounting student debt, and to offset opportunities for higher salaries offered by employers to STEM baccalaureate degree holders.

Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction

The FY 2004 Request for Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC) is $202.33 million, an increase of $76.05 million, or 60.2 percent over the FY 2003 Request. The MREFC Account supports the construction of major research facilities and equipment that provide unique capabilities at the frontiers of science and engineering. Projects supported by this account are intended to extend the boundaries of technology and open new avenues for discovery for the science and engineering community. Initial concept and development costs, and operations and maintenance costs of the facilities are provided through R&RA.

Funding for all National Science Board approved projects is requested through the MREFC Account. In FY 2004, total funding of $202.33 million is requested for the highest priority items, the seven ongoing projects proposed in the FY 2003 Request or initiated in prior years: construction of the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA); EarthScope: USArray; Plate Boundary Observatory (PBO); San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth (SAFOD); the High-performance Instrumented Airborne Platform for Environmental Research (HIAPER); the IceCube Neutrino Observatory; the George E. Brown Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES); the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON); and the South Pole Station Modernization Project (SPSM). Second priority is given to three new starts requested in FY 2005 and FY 2006. In priority order, these are: Scientific Ocean Drilling in FY 2005; Rare Symmetry Violating Processes in FY 2006; and Ocean Observatories in FY 2006.

Salaries and Expenses

The FY 2004 Request for Salaries and Expenses (S&E) is $225.70 million, a $22.75 million, or 11.2 percent, increase over the FY 2003 Request. The Salaries and Expenses Appropriation provides funds for staff salaries and benefits, and general operating expenses necessary to manage and administer NSF's growing portfolio. The requested level supports 1,200 full-time equivalents (FTE), representing no increase from the FY 2003 Request, and a focused set of investments that foster NSF's continuing commitment to customer service and leadership in eGovernment.

Office of Inspector General

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) was established to promote economy, efficiency, and effectiveness in administering the Foundation's programs; to detect and prevent fraud, waste, or abuse within NSF or by individuals that request or receive NSF funding; and to identify and resolve cases of misconduct in science. The FY 2004 Request for OIG is $8.77 million, a $1.07 million, or 13.9 percent, increase over the FY 2003 Request. The requested level supports 60 FTE.