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Fact Sheet

National Science Foundation FY 2003 Budget Request

February 4, 2002

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 Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.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 National Science Foundation's budget request for fiscal 2003 aims to keep the nation's science and engineering enterprise healthy, dynamic and relevant. A nation strong in science and technology can respond rapidly and effectively to crises and changing national circumstances.

FY 2003 BUDGET REQUEST.   $5.04 billion, an increase of $240 million (5%) over fiscal 2002. (See budget summary for more details.)

BY APPROPRIATION.   Funding levels in the fiscal 2003 request for NSF's five appropriation accounts are as follows:

  • Research and Related Activities: $3.78 billion (5.1% over FY 02)
  • Education and Human Resources: $908 million (3.8% over FY 02)
  • Major Research Equipment: $126 million (9% under FY 02)
  • Salaries and Expenses: $210 million (19.1% over FY 02)
  • Office of Inspector General: $8 million (14.5% over FY 02)

BY STRATEGIC GOALS.   The budget request is structured around the three goals of the NSF strategic plan:

  • People: to build a world-class science and engineering workforce ($1.1 billion)
  • Ideas: to generate new knowledge across the frontiers of science and engineering ($2.6 billion)
  • Tools: to get the job done efficiently and effectively ($1.1 billion)

BUDGET HIGHLIGHTS.   The request builds on NSF's strength as the only federal agency devoted to promoting basic research and education at all levels and across all fields of science and engineering. Highlights:

  • Graduate Stipend Increase - increase annual stipends in the Graduate Research Fellows, Graduate Teaching Fellowships in K-12 Education, and Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) programs. Continuing the plan for gradual increases initiated in fiscal 2002, stipends will rise from $21,500 to $25,000 for academic year 2003-2004. (Approx. $37 million)
  • Math and Science Partnership (MSP) - second year of a five-year investment to ensure that all preK-12 students have the opportunity to realize their full potential. ($200 million) [See separate fact sheet]
  • Climate Change Research Initiative - part of the Administration's new multi-agency initiative, aims to advance understanding in highly focused areas of climate science, to reduce uncertainty, and to facilitate policy decisions. ($15 million)

PRIORITY RESEARCH AREAS.   In addition to a balanced portfolio of core investments, NSF identifies and supports emerging opportunities that hold exceptional promise to advance knowledge. These areas are:

  1. Mathematical Sciences - building on fiscal 2002's seed funding, seeks to integrate mathematics and statistics research and education across the range of disciplines; aims to complement the Math and Science Partnership program by improving mathematical sciences education and training. ($60 million) [See separate fact sheet]
  2. Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE) - seed funding to explore complex interactions among society, its institutions, and technology, supporting both individual grants and interdisciplinary centers. ($10 million)
  3. Biocomplexity in the Environment - in its fourth year, investigates interdependencies of natural and human systems at all scales. ($79 million, 36% over FY02)
  4. Information Technology Research - in its fourth year, exploits and deepens fundamental research at the interface between fields and disciplines; explores new applications to advance research across all fields. ($286 million, 3% over FY 02)
  5. Nanoscale Science and Engineering - in its third year, emphasizes long-term, fundamental research to discover novel phenomena, processes and tools. ($221 million, 11.3% over FY 02)
  6. Learning for the 21st Century Workforce - in its fourth year, improves our understanding of how people learn, and applies that understanding to workforce development, through support to new multidisciplinary, multi-institutional Science of Learning Centers. ($185 million, 27.5% over FY 02)

MAJOR RESEARCH EQUIPMENT AND FACILITIES CONSTRUCTION.   In fiscal 2003, this account will fund two new projects:

  1. National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) - to establish two prototype sites with the goal of creating a national platform for conducting ecological research and detecting environmental threats. ($12 million)
  2. EarthScope - a distributed geophysical array to enable major advances in our understanding of the structure and dynamics of the North American continent, including earthquake processes and seismic and volcanic hazards. ($35 million)

NSF will also fund five continuing projects: Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation ($14 million); Large Hadron Collider ($10 million); South Pole Station ($6 million); Atacama Large Milimeter Array (ALMA), Phase II ($30 million); and Terascale Computing Systems ($20 million).

INCREASING MANAGEMENT EFFICIENCY   - NSF's requests $268 million (increase of $41 million, or 18.3%, over FY 02) for administration and management, reflecting:

  • doubled budget but constant staffing since 1990
  • desire to maintain customer service standards under increasing responsibilities and growing workload complexity
  • new requirements for both IT and physical security.


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