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News Release 96-010

NSF FY 1997 Budget Request Totals $3.3 Billion

March 19, 1996

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

The President's budget request for the National Science Foundation for Fiscal Year 1997 is $3.3 billion, representing a 4.6% increase over the total FY96 estimate. (NSF does not yet have a final budget for FY96.)

NSF Director Neal Lane said the increase is critical if NSF is to maintain its role as a catalyst for national progress. "NSF supports exploration, innovation and imagination; and history shows that the return on these investments will help propel America into a future of growth, prosperity, and health," he said.

Requested funding for research activities is up 8.7% over the previous year's estimated funding level. The major disciplinary fields--represented roughly by NSF's six research directorates--would receive comparable increases. Funding for education and human resources is up 3.3%.

Of the total NSF budget request, roughly 56% supports science and engineering research; 20% supports education reform in science, engineering and math; 20% supports research facilities; and 4% supports administration and management. NSF's FY97 request emphasizes three principles:

  • Developing a balanced portfolio that spans the frontiers of knowledge. NSF is the only federal agency that extends support to research and education in all science and engineering fields and intends to continue this balanced support across major fields while also retaining flexibility to move quickly into new and emerging areas.
  • Linking discovery and learning. Fundamental science and engineering research is enriched by the educational environment in which much of it is conducted. Likewise, experimentation, inquiry and discovery enhance and reinforce the learning process.
  • Working in partnership. NSF directly supports at least 200,000 researchers, teachers and students and 2,000 colleges, universities and research institutions, (including nearly 600 businesses); and indirectly engages millions more. The FY97 request enhances NSF's ability to mobilize and guide these vast resources.

The budget request eliminates NSF support for modernizing facilities under the Academic Research Infrastructure program. This change is consistent with recommendations of the September 1995 National Performance Review report that this function largely the upgrading and renovating of university laboratories--be supported by state, local and institutional sources.

"This allows NSF to focus on its unique facilities role, which is to fund large, national research platforms that support broad segments of the research community--for example, Supercomputer Centers, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO), and oceanographic research vessels," said Lane. NSF typically devotes from one fifth to one-fourth of its annual budget to such complex facilities. In the FY97 request, they account for $661 million (roughly equal to the 1996 level). The request also includes $25 million for safety improvements to facilities at the South Pole.

Dr. Lane emphasized that over the past 45 years, NSF has proven its ability to deliver the benefits. "There are so many examples where investment in basic research led to recognizable pay-offs later on; and the rate of discovery is accelerating. This is an exciting time, even a revolutionary time, in science and engineering--and NSF is at the center of it."


Media Contacts
Mary E. Hanson, NSF, (703) 292-8070, email:

Program Contacts
Joe Kull, NSF, (703) 306-1200, email:

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2018, its budget is $7.8 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 50,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.

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