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NSF & Congress

Hearing Summary: NGI Initiative

September 10, 1997

On Thursday, Sept. 10, 1997, the House Science Committee held a hearing on the Administration's NGI Initiative. Testifying for the Clinton Administration was Dr. John H. Gibbons, Director of OSTP. Other witnesses included: David J. Farber, member, Presidential Advisory Committee for NGI; Larry H. Landweber, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Joe F. Thompson, NSF Engineering Research Center, Mississippi State University; Steve S. Wolff, Cisco Systems; Edward H. Shortliffe, Stanford University School of Medicine.

In a hearing cut short by repeated votes on the House floor, Committee members voiced support for the NGI concept, but criticized the Administration for it's delay presenting a detailed plan for NGI. Due to this delay, Chairman James Sensenbrenner said, "many misconceptions have surfaced regarding the NGI program" and these misperceptions have made it "unlikely that the NGI will received requested appropriations for this year".

Sensenbrenner suggested that the Congress would look favorably upon a FY 99 request for NGI, if the President's budget request were accompanied by a legislation detailing the NGI initiative. However, he severly chastised the Administration for not working hard enough to undo some of the damage caused by the disarray surrounding NGI during this year's budget cycle. Sensenbrenner asked Henry Kelly, Assistant OSTP Director for Technology, what steps the Administration was taking to restore funds for the NGI in the FY 98 appropriations process. Kelly responed by saying that the Administration was strongly supporting the House mark for NSF in the VA/HUD bill, which would fully fund NSF's portion of the NGI. However, Kelly admitted that the prospect of restoring the $50 million request for DoE was unlikely for this year since both the House and the Senate approved no DoE NGI funds.