The FY 1999 Budget Request for the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE) Activity is $150.26 million, an increase of $19.60 million, or 15.0 percent, over the FY 1998 Current Plan of $130.66 million.

(Millions of Dollars)

The Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE) Activity supports research to build fundamental scientific knowledge about human characteristics and behavior. SBE also supports the Foundationís international activities, providing U.S. scientists and engineers with access to centers of excellence in science and engineering research and education throughout the world. To improve understanding of the science and engineering enterprise, SBE provides informational tools for tracking the human and institutional resources that make up the nationís science and engineering infrastructure.

NSF is one of the main sources of support for fundamental research in the social, behavioral and economic sciences. This work advances our scientific knowledge of human social and cognitive behavior, and social and economic systems and organizations. For some fields such as anthropology, archaeology and political science, NSF supports essentially all of the federally-funded basic scientific research. In other fields, such as sociology and social psychology, the proportion is more than half. In economics, NSF supports over one third of the fieldís federally-funded basic research. The 1997 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences was awarded to Robert C. Merton of Harvard University, a researcher supported in the Social, Behavioral and Economic Research (SBER) Subactivity. Merton shared the award with Myron S. Scholes, Stanford University, for their work on developing a new method to determine the value of derivatives. Their methodology has paved the way for generating new areas of research for economic valuations, new types of financial instruments and facilitating more efficient risk management in society.

Through the International Cooperative Scientific Activities (INT) Subactivity, NSF provides international research opportunities for U.S. scientists and engineers and promotes new partnerships with their foreign colleagues. INT also supports a variety of activities enabling the next generation of U.S. researchers to gain a global outlook through international research experiences early in their careers.

The Science Resources Studies (SRS) Subactivity is the nationís primary source of quantitative data on the inputs, outputs, impacts, partnerships and linkages of the science and engineering enterprise. SRS designs, collects, analyzes and disseminates data on U.S. and international resources devoted to science and technology. SRS's mission is to provide policymakers, researchers, and other decision-makers with high quality data and analyses for making informed decisions about the nation's science and technology.

Key Program Functions

SBE supports its new and ongoing activities through the following key program functions:

(Millions of Dollars)
Research Project Support

Research projects funded by SBE typically include support for individuals and small groups of researchers, along with associated costs for graduate and undergraduate student assistants, postdoctoral associates, supplies, and equipment. SBE also supports multiple-investigator research centers, multi-user research collections, and research instrumentation. Over 85 percent of SBE's funding is directed to Research Project Support. Over 1800 awards are made each year, with an average annual award size of about $52,900 and a duration of approximately 2 years.

FY 1999 estimated support for research projects totals $131.0 million, a $18.07 million increase over the FY 1998 Current Plan. The increased funding will be directed primarily toward research on Knowledge and Distributed Intelligence (KDI), Life in Earth's Environment (LEE), Educating for the Future (EFF), and research on the acquisition, development, and deployment of human capital through the Human Capital Initiative (HCI). SBE will also seek to increase both the average size and the duration of awards.

SBE support of the U.S.- Mexico Foundation for Science will increase to a total of $2.0 million.

Knowledge and Distributed Intelligence (KDI): In FY 1999, SBE will include an increase of $11.88 million for KDI. Projects to be supported with this increment include:

 Life in Earthís Environment (LEE): In FY 1999, SBE will provide an increment of $6.30 million for LEE. Projects to be supported with this increment include: Educating for the Future (EFF): In FY 1999, EFF will increase $8.90 million. EFF includes a range of programs supporting innovative approaches to meeting the challenge of educating students for the 21st century. Major emphases for FY 1999 include: Human Capital Initiative (HCI): HCI provides an intellectual bridge across the Foundation themes, applying the expertise of social and behavioral scientists to common problems related to KDI, LEE and EFF. SBE is spearheading the development of a research agenda for investigating intellectual issues in human capital formation. The agenda brings together multidisciplinary research models and methods, training opportunities including international assignments for students from the undergraduate to the postdoctoral level, and systematic efforts to ensure dissemination of research results between institutions and sectors.

Award Size and Duration. In FY 1999, SBE will implement efforts to address Foundation-wide concerns about grant sizes by increasing the average size and duration of the awards and providing more support for researchers, with particular attention to new investigators. These efforts will also contribute to increasing the efficiency of the Foundation's merit review process and achieve greater cost-effectiveness for both NSF and the university community.

SBE supports multi-disciplinary research, training and data dissemination through a number of research centers in which the social, behavioral, and economic sciences are the core approaches.

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Two SBE centers conduct research on the Human Dimensions of Global Change: In addition, SBE supports the development of "virtual centers," through the International Cooperative Scientific Activities (INT) Subactivity, that employ state-of-the-art communications to link researchers in several nations. These include U.S.-Japan cooperation in Earthquake Engineering Research, an International Long-Term Ecological Research Network, and a North American regional Virtual Center for Materials Research.

Research Infrastructure: Instrumentation and Large Data Bases. Instrumentation support has an important and expanding role in research conducted in the social, behavioral, and economic sciences. SBE support for advanced computer systems is needed to enable the scale and complexity of multi-disciplinary, team research. Advances in instrumentation have permitted research breakthroughs in understanding the processes of human adaptation through improved dating of archeological materials; preservation and analysis of human genetic materials; and new methods for studying physiological aspects of human cognition, perception and decision making. SBE supports long-term projects to develop longitudinal data required to track social, political, and economic change. The General Social Survey, the National Election Studies, and the Panel Study of Income Dynamics provide valuable data for research into the very nature of American life and institutions. During FY 1999, NSF will seek to develop additional data infrastructure and linkages among American and international data.

Education and Training

 (Millions of Dollars)

Support for Education and Training totals $17.67 million in FY 1999, an increment of $1.45 million over FY 1998. Education and training programs are supported across the SBE Activity. Within the SBER Subactivity, the focus is on developing advanced research skills for graduate students and enhancing the skills of experienced researchers and educators. SBER also emphasizes research opportunities for undergraduates, by exposing a wide population of students to research methods, findings, and training opportunities in the social, behavioral, and economic sciences.

Post-doctoral training is supported through both the SBER and INT Subactivities. INT supports international postdoctoral fellowships and international opportunities for graduate students, such as the Summer Institutes in Japan and Korea. These programs give U.S. science and engineering graduate students research experiences at foreign academic, government, and corporate research institutions. INT programs emphasize international collaborative experiences for U.S. researchers early in their careers.

Funding for the Science Resources Studies (SRS) Subactivity totals $14.85 million in FY 1999, an increase of $1.35 million over FY 1998. The Science Resources Studies (SRS) Subactivity collects data on science and engineering students and graduates by field, relationships between education and employment, employment activities of scientists and engineers, foreign participation in U.S. education and employment, and the experiences of underrepresented groups. In FY 1999, SRS will continue to design, develop, and implement new data sources on graduate education and its outcomes in the U.S..

Administration and Management

The Administration and Management key program function includes the cost of Intergovernmental Personnel Act appointments and contractors performing administrative functions.