National Science Foundation

Fiscal Year 2000 Budget Request




The National Science Foundation requests $3.95 billion for Fiscal Year 2000, a 5.8 percent increase over FY 1999.  This investment encompasses more than 19,000 forward-looking research and education projects that extend across the frontiers of science, engineering, and technology. The entire NSF budget is part of the 21st Century Research Fund, reflecting the Administration's strong commitment to basic research.



NSF Funding by Appropriation

(Millions of Dollars)


1 Includes $27 million in FY 1999 and $33 million in FY 2000 from H-1B Nonimmigrant Petitioner Fees.



Advances in science and engineering have opened new frontiers for discovery, learning, and innovation.  We can build materials atom by atom, track viruses as they invade healthy cells, see galaxies as they form, detect extra-solar planets, observe the “circuitry” of the human brain, tap the power of genetic information, and appreciate the complexity of countless other phenomena – thanks to the ever-increasing power and sophistication of the today’s tools, techniques, and technologies.


These advances have ushered in a new era of exploration.  It is now possible and practical to begin seeking answers what many call the great mysteries of science and engineering.  How old is the universe?  How do we learn?  What is memory?  Can machines think?  What controls the link between genetics and cancer and disease?  Is our climate changing?  Do practical sources of renewable energy exist?  Does life exist on other planets?


These and other questions and challenges outline a vigorous and meaningful agenda for research and education in the 21st Century.  This agenda speaks directly to the vision set forth in the National Science Policy Study approved by the House of Representatives in October 1998: “The United States of America must maintain and improve its pre-eminent position in science and technology in order to advance human understanding of the universe and all it contains, and to improve the lives, health, and freedom of all peoples.”


Highlights and Priorities


This request is built upon NSF’s strength – a broad base of research and education activities that provides the nation with the people, the knowledge, and the infrastructure needed to fuel innovation and economic growth.  This strength is derived from the agency’s effective use of merit review to identify the most promising ideas and most capable researchers and educators. 


The NSF FY 2000 Request features priority investments in information technology research, biocomplexity, and in new approaches to education and workforce development. 


Information Technology.  NSF has been designated the lead agency for a six-agency initiative on Information Technology for the Twenty-First Century (IT2).


The information technology industry now constitutes a $700 billion cornerstone of the U.S. economy.  It employs 7.4 million people at wages that are more than 60 percent higher than the private sector average.  Recent estimates suggest that it has generated one-third of the recent growth in the U.S. economy.  The prospects for sustained growth and opportunity, however, are uncertain at best, because of low rates of investment in long-term, fundamental IT research.


The IT2 Initiative addresses issues and concerns raised by the President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC) in its recent report.  PITAC described Federal support for information technology research as “dangerously inadequate.”  It found that, “measured in constant dollars, support in most critical areas has been flat or declining for nearly a decade, while the importance of IT to our economy has increased dramatically.”


NSF’s FY 2000 investment in the IT2 Initiative totals $146 million:


·                     $110 million for investments in research on software systems, scaleable information infrastructure, high-end computing, and on the social, economic, and workforce impacts

of information technologies. 

·                     An additional $36 million for development of terascale computing systems.  Through this investment, U.S. researchers will gain access to leading edge computational systems.


These activities build upon NSF’s previous substantial investments within the Computer and Information Science and Engineering Activity, as well as investments under its theme of Knowledge and Distributed Intelligence (KDI) and other information technology-related projects, which amounted to almost $700 million in FY 1999.  These investments will allow all areas of research and education to make optimal use of emerging capabilities.


The IT2 Initiative will cultivate the promise and the potential that information technologies offer our society.  In his June 1998 speech at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, President Clinton outlined the scope of this challenge: “We can extend opportunity to all Americans or leave many behind.  We can erase lines of inequity or etch them indelibly.  We can accelerate the most powerful engine of growth and prosperity the world has ever known, or allow the engine to stall.”


Biocomplexity in the Environment.  An NSF priority for FY 2000 is support for activities within the theme of Biocomplexity in the Environment (BE).  BE represents a set of coordinated activities in environmental science, engineering, and education.  It includes both focused initiatives and core research programs aimed at fostering research on the complex interdependencies among the elements of specific environmental systems, and the interactions of different types of systems.  NSF funding for BE in FY 2000 in the broad areas of biodiversity and ecosystem dynamics, global and environmental change, and environment and the human dimension will total approximately $700 million.


The common theme among all BE activities is complexity – because research focused solely on the individual components of environmental systems provides limited information about the behavior of the systems themselves.


Biocomplexity.  In FY 2000, NSF will invest $50 million through a focused initiative to improve our understanding of biocomplexity.  This effort is at the heart of BE – understanding the complex interdependencies among living organisms and the environments that affect, sustain, and are modified by them.


The multidisciplinary biocomplexity initiative will apply the latest tools and insights developed across all fields of science and engineering to the study of environmental systems.  The FY 2000 competition will emphasize enhancing our analytical and predictive capabilities by integrating knowledge across disciplines.  Observational capabilities will be expanded and upgraded to support such integrated efforts.


This investment will build on a host of new methodologies and technologies that have transformed our ability to examine and explore biological complexity.  Functional genomics has given us DNA on a chip; new software has improved computational analysis, modeling, and simulation of systems; geographic information systems now integrate data on a global scale; and, new biosensors and ecological monitoring devices – along with satellite based imaging systems – provide real-time snapshots of the Earth system.  These are all contributing to the flood of data about the Earth’s complex biological systems and the processes that sustain or change them.


Interagency Activities.  Two interagency activities led by the National Science and Technology Council are directly related to BE activities.  NSF will provide $187 million in FY 2000 in support of the U.S. Global Change Research Program which addresses interactions among physical, biological, ecological, and human systems at various scales.  NSF will also provide approximately $109 million in FY 2000 in support for the Integrated Science for Ecosystem Challenges Program which will improve understanding of habitats and ecosystems of particular importance to the national interest, as was recommended in the March 1998 report, “Teaming with Life,” by the President’s Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology.


Educating for the Future: A 21st Century Workforce.  Improving access to quality educational opportunities is among the highest priorities of the Administration.  Recent results from TIMSS – the Third International Mathematics and Science Study – raised important issues about the quality of U.S. science and mathematics education.  While U.S. fourth graders were close to the goal of being “first in the world,” U.S. eighth graders were below the international average, and scores for 12th graders were among the lowest for all nations tested.


NSF’s overall investment in efforts related to Educating for the Future total nearly $475 million in FY 2000, a 6.3 percent increase over the FY 1999 level.  This investment encompasses a comprehensive approach to workforce development that reaches from grade school to graduate school and professional development activities.  NSF priorities include:


·                     The NSF Graduate Teaching Fellows in K-12 Education places graduate and undergraduate students in K-12 schools to serve as science and mathematics content resources to teachers.  This $7.5 million program continues an innovative effort initiated in FY 1999 that exposes graduate and undergraduate students to the needs of K-12 education at the same time that it provides much needed expertise to support high-quality learning.  This program complements existing teacher education activities that are of high priority to NSF.


·                     A total of $13 million to accelerate development of the National Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology Education Digital Library, a national resource to increase the quality, quantity, and comprehensiveness of internet-based K-16 educational resources.  This virtual facility will link students, teachers, and faculty, and provide broad access to standards-based educational materials and learning tools for schools and academic institutions nationwide.


Other highlights of ongoing activities include: approximately $160 million to support K-16 Systemic Reform activities in FY 2000, to provide sustainable improvements in the nation's K-12 science and mathematics education enterprise; $25 million for a continuing Education Research Initiative, which provides for research on the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of educational technologies; $29 million for the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training program; almost $100 million for the Faculty Early Career Development program; and $37 million for the Research Experiences for Undergraduates program. Fostering the integration of research and education is a main priority among these efforts.


Additional FY 2000 Highlights


Complementing activities related to these themes are a number of other Foundation-wide programs designed to address particularly important elements in the support of research and education.


Arctic Research, Education, and Logistics.  Recognizing the importance of the Arctic to studies of resource development and global phenomena such as climate change and ocean circulation, NSF's FY 2000 Request includes approximately $68 million for investments in Arctic research and education across the Foundation.  Included in NSF's activities are  Arctic research across most disciplines supported by NSF; continued support of logistical capabilities, research platforms and facilities; extension of education and outreach activities, especially those exploring new technology venues and distance learning; increased scientific cooperation at international levels; and further development of research programs on the human dimensions of global change.


Major Research Equipment. The FY 2000 Request includes $85 million for Major Research Equipment projects:


·                     Terascale computing systems, as part of the IT2 initiative, to permit researchers to address problems of scope and scale that are inaccessible on current systems.


·                     Initial investments in the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation, which will connect and integrate a national system of earthquake engineering research facilities.


·                     Completion of the design and development phase of the Millimeter Array – which will bring angular resolution comparable to that of the Hubble Space Telescope to radio astronomy.


·                     Investments in the construction of detectors for the Large Hadron Collider.


·                     Support for the ongoing modernization of South Pole Station.


·                     Upgrades to polar support aircraft.

Plant Genome Research. NSF will provide $55 million, an increase of $5 million, to continue investments in the Plant Genome Research Program.  This effort builds on an existing research base of about $20 million.  The overall goals of the NSF Plant Genome Research Program are to support research that will advance our understanding of the structure, organization and function of plant genomes, with particular attention to economically significant plants, and to accelerate utilization of new knowledge and innovative technologies toward a more complete understanding of basic biological processes in plants.


GOALI. Support for the GOALI program (Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry) will total almost $34 million, an increase of 4.3 percent, to facilitate collaborative research activities between academe and industry. 


EPSCoR.  Funding for EPSCoR (the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) will total more than $63 million.  This includes $48 million provided through the Education and Human Resources appropriation, and approximately $15 million provided through NSF’s research programs, to enable EPSCoR researchers to participate more fully in NSF research activities.


Science and Technology Centers. In FY 2000 NSF will provide $25 million to support a new class of Science and Technology Centers (STCs).  Created in 1987, STCs support university-based multidisciplinary research, encouraging knowledge transfer across sectors, and establishing innovative education activities.  The centers have become focal points for their respective communities, as they have successfully attacked complex, major research problems that require sustained high levels of research support.


Underrepresented Groups.  Funding for programs to encourage participation in science and engineering research and education by women, minorities, and persons with disabilities total more than $110 million across the Foundation.  NSF is committed to broadening opportunities and enabling the participation of all citizens throughout the programs, projects and activities that it supports.


H-1B Nonimmigrant Petitioner Fees.  As provided in recent legislation to strengthen the IT workforce, $33 million is provided from H-1B nonimmigrant petitioner fees for scholarships and systemic reform activities, consistent with other NSF investments in advanced technological education.


GLOBE. NSF continues its participation in the interagency Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment Initiative (GLOBE) program, providing $2 million in FY 2000.  GLOBE  provides environmental science education to K-12 students in more than 3,500 schools and 45 countries.


50 Years of ‘America’s Investment in the Future’


The year 2000 holds special significance for the National Science Foundation, as it marks the 50th anniversary of the agency’s inception, which NSF will celebrate with a series of special activities designed to improve public understanding of science and engineering research and education. 


NSF is often called “America’s Investment in the Future” – and a host of recent accomplishments highlight the Foundation’s lasting contribution to discovery, innovation, and workforce development.


·                     The 1998 Nobel Prizes once again provided a clear indicator of the world-leading standard set by NSF-supported researchers and projects, as the recipients in chemistry, economics, and physics all received support from NSF.  Since the agency’s founding in 1950, NSF-supported researchers have collected 100 Nobel Prizes, receiving recognition for work in the fields of physics, chemistry, physiology and medicine, and economics.


·                     In its annual feature on the “Breakthrough of the Year,” Science magazine put NSF-funded projects at the top of the list. 


-     Science’s top-rated breakthrough was the finding that the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate.  This resulted from work by two independent teams of NSF-supported researchers, using NSF-supported telescopes at the National Optical Astronomy Observatories. 


-     Second on Science’s list was research supported by NSF on circadian rhythms – the mechanisms in living systems that track 24-hour cycles.  Among other results, this work identified three genes that react to night and day in the simplest organisms known to have such internal clocks.


·                     The potential of the information revolution to benefit all Americans has been brought to light at the University of Southern California’s Integrated Media Systems Center, an NSF-supported Engineering Research Center.  The center is home to the Multimedia University Academy, which prepares Los Angeles area high school graduates for careers in the digital arts, computer graphics, and other multi-media industries.  The Academy makes a special effort to attract a diverse student population, and many come from “at risk” backgrounds.  The majority of its graduates have successfully obtained positions in the multimedia sector while also continuing to pursue their education.


·                     NSF investments in studies of microbial evolution have shown how bacteria develop and retain resistance to antibiotics.  Researchers studied the consequences of particular mutations of microbial systems over thousands of generations of bacteria, gaining new insights into the underlying genetic and biochemical dynamics of evolutionary change.

The Council on Competitiveness affirmed the need for a stronger national investment in science and engineering in its recent report, Going Global: The New Shape of American Innovation.  The report reflects the consensus findings of CEOs, R&D managers, and top officials at 120 leading corporations, universities, and national laboratories.


For the past 50 years, most, if not all, of the technological advances have been directly or indirectly linked to improvements in fundamental understanding.  Investment in discovery research creates the seedcorn for future innovation. Government at all levels is the mainstay of the nation’s investment in science and engineering research....  Uncertainties about the stability and adequacy of funding for science worry industry and university executives alike.


This FY 2000 Budget Request builds upon NSF’s longstanding record of success in fundamental research and education.  At the same time, it outlines and embraces a vigorous agenda that will advance learning, discovery, innovation, and progress into the 21st Century.