The American Institute of Physics Bulletin of Science Policy News

Number 15: February 10, 2000

FY 2001 Request: National Science Foundation

“We couldn’t ask for a better way to mark NSF’s 50th Anniversary”
Rita Colwell said on Monday at NSF’s Headquarters. She was
referring to the FY 2001 request which would increase the
National Science Foundation’s budget by 17.3%. This request of
$675 million is double the largest dollar increase ever proposed
for the foundation.

This increase would benefit NSF and the researchers it supports
in a number of important ways. Almost half of the increase would
go toward support of the NSF’s “core activities” in the
disciplines. Colwell said it would “give us the flexibility
we’ve been seeking for years.” It would also, she said, improve
grant size and duration. The details in NSF’s budget book
illustrate this: despite a projected 10% increase in the number
of requests for funding, NSF would be able to maintain its
funding rate at 31%. The average annualized competitive award
would increase from $98,400 to $108,900, while the duration of
those awards would increase from 2.9 to 3.0 years.

This request, if approved by Congress, would work toward a goal
long expressed by Colwell, that of better balancing federal R&D
funding. Colwell remarked, “When we talked about the importance
of engineering and the physical sciences to health care, people
began to get the point. They know we’ve been saying that at NSF
for years.”

Future FYIs will detail the NSF’s request for physics (+18.0%),
materials research (+15.4%), geosciences (+19.5%), astronomical
sciences (+13.7%), engineering (+19.6%), major research equipment
(+48.2%), polar programs (+12.8%), and education and human
resources (+5.0%).

NSF will, according to the budget document, also “emphasize
priority investments in four interdependent initiative areas”:

Information Technology Research, which would increase by 159.5%
Nanoscale Science and Engineering, which would increase by 122.7%
Biocomplexity in the Environment, which would increase by 172.6%
21st Century Workforce, which would increase by 113.2%

Two press releases commented on the request that deserve to be
widely quoted by the science community this year. The first is
from Norman R. Augustine, Chairman of the Executive Committee of
Lockheed Martin Corporation Board of Directors: “The
Administration’s proposal to increase funding for the National
Science Foundation comes not a moment too soon . . . We should
seize this opportunity to strengthen U.S. leadership in science
and technology . . . Over the years, the National Science
Foundation’s public investments in basic research – across all
disciplines in science, engineering and mathematics – have laid
the foundation for the most dynamic and innovative science and
technology enterprise in the world.”

The second statement is by Alfred R. Berkeley, III, President of
The Nasdaq Stock Market, Inc.: “Increasing funding for the
National Science Foundation is one of the most important
components of the Administration’s campaign to ensure America’s
continued economic growth . . . the National Science Foundation
played a key role in setting the stage for today’s economic
expansion that has created millions of jobs and improved the
quality of life of many Americans.”

Richard M. Jones
Public Information Division
American Institute of Physics
(301) 209-3095