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NSF & Congress

Hearing Summary: House Appropriations Subcommittee on VA/HUD and Independent Agencies, NSF's FY 2001 Budget

April 4, 2000

The House VA/HUD and Independent Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee heard testimony from NSF Director Rita Colwell and National Science Board Chairman Eamon Kelly on April 4 requesting a 17.3 percent increase in funding for the agency. This increase would amount to $675 million for a total of $4.572 billion for fiscal year 2001. Witnesses made the case for this robust budget by stressing the importance of basic research and science and engineering education in fueling the nation's economic growth. Chairman James Walsh noted that the appropriations subcommittees were still awaiting their allocations, but he and other members were generally supportive of the NSF's request.

Most of the questions to the witnesses focused on the new initiatives in the request, including large increases for research in biocomplexity and nanotechnology and a continuation of the emphasis in information technology research and education for the 21st century workforce. Members also questioned both Colwell and Kelly about how priorities were set for the budget request, particularly for the initiatives and new major research equipment starts. The budget making process relies on review and approval from both the National Science Board and OMB, Colwell responded, but the priorities reflect the advice and recommendations that come to NSF from the research community, as well as to patterns of changes in the research that is proposed by individual investigators over time.

Several members expressed interest in NSF's support of programs designed to improve human resources in science and engineering. Specific questions were raised regarding the support of graduate research fellows, advanced technology education, support for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and funding for states working to improve their research infrastructure.

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