NSF & Congress
Summary: National Science Foundation Fiscal 2003 Budget Request
House Appropriations Subcommittee on VA, HUD,
and Independent Agencies
April 11, 2002
Rita Colwell, Director of the National Science
Foundation, and Dr.
Eamon Kelly, Chairman of the National Science
Board, testified on the NSF Fiscal Year 2003 budget
request before the House Appropriations Subcommittee
on VA-HUD, and Independent Agencies.
Dr. Colwell outlined the NSF budget request and Dr.
Kelly summarized recent NSB reports on national research
priorities, coordinating international science and
engineering, and addressing the nation's science and
engineering workforce needs.
Walsh (R-NY) noted that after factoring in proposed
transfers of programs from EPA and the USGS, the overall
increase for NSF was only 3 percent. With the bulk
of this increase going to priority areas, the result
is flat funding or reductions in some of the core
research areas. Dr. Colwell responded that the priority
areas actually support researchers in the core areas
and encourage research in interdisciplinary activities.
A recurring theme in the hearing was the priority given
to funding research instrumentation. Dr. Kelly responded
to a question regarding the priority given to already
initiated major research equipment by stating that
funding for ongoing projects continues to be high
priority, subject to annual review.
Mollohan (D-WV), the ranking Democrat on the subcommittee,
questioned the administration's real research priorities,
which seem to favor NIH over NSF. He also probed about
the rationale for proposing a transfer of the Sea
Grant program from NOAA and the hydrology program
Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) expressed his ongoing concern
that the public is not sufficiently aware of the research
that NSF supports, and Congressman
Price (D-NC) expressed his disappointment in the
decline in support for the Advanced Technology Education
program. Dr. Colwell stated that NSF support for programs
focused at two-year colleges had not declined overall.
Several Members expressed interest and support for
the nanoscale science and technology priority area,
a topic that stimulated an extended discussion about
the time frame in which it is reasonable to expect
a return on investments in basic research.
Science, engineering, and technology workforce issues,
particularly as they relate to under-represented groups,
as well as support for community colleges and Historically
Black Colleges and Universities were topics of particular
interest to Rep.
Meek (D-FL) and Rep.
The final round of questioning touched upon progress
in rebuilding the South Pole Station and other needs
to upgrade research and logistics support in the Antarctic,
the goals for the National Ecological Observatory
Network, and performance metrics for research.
Links to Dr. Colwell's and Dr. Kelly's full testimony: