KEY PROGRAM FUNCTIONS
In response to the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) of 1993, NSF has been planning for increased examination of the results of its portfolio of investments. This section of the budget is organized to provide, simultaneously, a substantive justification of the FY 1997 request and a preliminary picture of how NSF will use performance in the budget process in the future.
NSF's investments are expressed in terms of key program functions: Research Project Support (which includes Research Projects and Centers), Research Facilities, Education and Training, and Administration and Management. This categorization is an extension of what NSF has previously exhibited as "Modes of Support" resulting from intense examination of NSF activities through the GPRA and National Performance Review processes.
Budget by Key Program Functions
(Dollars in Millions)
The key program functions themselves are mutually reinforcing, working in concert to support NSF's goals. While the NSF budget has been divided into support for particular key functions, many activities actually cut across even this very streamlined structure. For purposes of providing a more complete description of NSF activities, this section also includes a component on activites that cut across the research and education subtotal (that is the portfolio of investments NSF makes) in the table above.
Research Project Support
Support for research projects totals $1,659 million in FY 1997, an increase of $106 million, or 6.8 percent, over the FY 1996 Estimate. Research projects provide support for individuals and small groups devoted both to disciplinary research in traditional fields and to cross-disciplinary fields. Also included within this function is support for centers, based on the premise that some scientific questions and research problems can best be addressed through the multidisciplinary, long-term, coordinated efforts of many researchers. Support for centers totals $209 million in FY 1997, an increase of $7 million, or 3.6 percent, over the FY 1996 Estimate.
Support for Research Facilities totals $661 million in FY 1997, a decrease of $3 million, or 0.4 percent, from the FY 1996 Estimate. NSF supports large, multi-user research facilities that are characteristically large, complicated, and expensive, requiring long-term commitments of support. The principal focus is providing access to state-of-the-art capabilities that might otherwise be unavailable to U.S. researchers.
Education and Training
Education and Training totals $657 million in FY 1997, an increase of $33 million, or 5.3 percent, over the FY 1996 Estimate. NSF's education and training component supports activities from pre-kindergarten through postdoctoral levels, including public science literacy, aimed at enabling U.S. students to become scientifically literate citizens and well-trained members of the nation's workforce.
Cross-Cutting Activities in Research and Education
Many activities cut across the key program functions described above. For example, one might argue that all NSF programs have an education and training component since they develop participants' knowledge and skills. Explicit examples of research project support activities with significant education and training components include Research Experiences for Undergraduates, Research in Undergraduate Institutions, and the Faculty Early Career Development program (CAREER). Likewise, there are cross-cutting interdisciplinary activities, many of great importance in delivering benefits to the nation, that merit attention. Examples include earthquake research, which incorporates components of all the key program functions. Other areas where NSF specifically coordinates activities across program functions and organizations include biotechnology, civil infrastructure systems, environment and global change, high performance computing and communications, manufacturing, and materials. These coordinated activities interact vigorously with one another and with a complementary focused activity on science, math, engineering and technology education.
Administration and Management
Administration and Management totals $139 million in FY 1997, an increase of $2 million or 1.5 percent above the FY 1996 Estimate. This program function provides operating funds to support NSF staff in efforts to achieve strategic goals by implementing programs in all key program areas. NSF programs require both a high-level professional workforce and an effective management and support staff.
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