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NSF & Congress

House Science Subcommittee holds two hearings on NSF

March 24, 2017

U.S. Capitol

On March 21, the House Science Committee's Subcommittee on Research and Technology held the second of two hearings on NSF, with future opportunities and challenges for science as the focus. The witnesses were NSF Acting Chief Operating Officer Joan Ferrini-Mundy, National Science Board Chair Maria Zuber, Dr. Jeffrey Spies, co-founder and chief technology officer of the Center for Open Science, and assistant professor at the University of Virginia, and Dr. Keith Yamamoto, the vice chancellor for science policy and strategy at the University of California, San Francisco.

In her testimony, Dr. Ferrini-Mundy discussed the impact of NSF-supported research and researchers on the U.S. economy, the nation's security and the country's position as a global leader, as well as the agency's unique role. "NSF is able to support emerging fields, high-risk ideas, interdisciplinary collaborations, and research that pushes, and even transforms, the very frontiers of knowledge," she said. She also talked about priority setting, strategic planning and the vital need for supporting interdisciplinary research. "NSF's comprehensive and flexible support of meritorious projects with broad societal impacts enables the Foundation to identify and foster both fundamental and transformative discoveries within and among fields of inquiry," she said. Dr. Ferrini-Mundy's full testimony is on the website.

NSF Director France Córdova and Inspector General Allison Lerner were the witnesses at the subcommittee's first hearing on NSF on March 9. It focused on overview and oversight. Dr. Córdova talked about NSF's ability to support high-quality research, "including high-risk, high-reward or potentially transformative ideas," and pointed to NSF's unique role in supporting all fields of fundamental science and engineering and STEM education.

She talked about NSF's 10 Big Ideas, and described how the agency's STEM education efforts fit with the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (AICA) of 2017. "AICA provides a useful blueprint for NSF's continued critical contributions to the development of a skilled and diverse STEM workforce," she noted. She also discussed the agency's efforts to improve transparency, accountability and the management of large facilities. Dr. Córdova's full testimony is available on the web.

The White House has released its Budget Blueprint (also known as the "skinny budget") providing the President's priorities for federal spending for fiscal year 2018. The blueprint does not mention NSF funding. The President's full budget is expected to be released in May.

The short-term continuing resolution that is funding federal government operations runs through April 28, 2017. Congress will have to act to fund government agencies beyond that date.

For tools and resources about the impact on NSF's investments, please see the NSF Toolkit.

A special website for NSF Days is now available.


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