NSF PR 00-5

Media contact:
Bill Noxon
(703) 306-1070

Program contact:
Joe Kull
(703) 306-1200

A 21st century budget for 21st century science and engineering, says NSF

The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced today the largest budget request in
foundation history — a record $4.57 billion for fiscal 2001. The total 2001 request is 17.3
percent higher than the current year’s budget, and the planned $675-million increase for 2001 is
double the largest increase proposed in NSF history. The increase represents a broad-based
effort to strengthen NSF’s core research and education programs and give impetus to major new
and ongoing initiatives.

“President Clinton’s request meets the challenge to invest in the innovative ideas, outstanding
people and the cutting-edge tools that will extend the frontiers of science, technology and learning
in many directions,” Rita Colwell, NSF director, said. “Industry CEOs, economists, academic
and scientific leaders, the Council on Competitiveness, and many others are in agreement on the
importance of federally supported fundamental research to the growth and strength of the
American economy.”

Nearly half of the increase — about $320 million — will go toward “core” research and education

  • to sustain the flow of new discoveries and fuel development of new technologies; and
  • to fund emphasis areas such as fundamental mathematics, functional genomics, physical,
    chemical and geologic cycles as well as psychological, cognitive and linguistic sciences.

    “These core activities aren’t tied to focused initiatives, so it gives us some of the flexibility we’ve
    been seeking for years,” Colwell noted.

    In addition to core activities, the $675 million increase will go toward funding four focused areas,
    all building on existing NSF activities. Two are part of a broader federal effort. They are:

  • Information Technology Research (ITR) – NSF will lead a multi-agency effort in ITR,
    investing $327 million in broad areas of research and education, focused on computer
    system architecture, information storage and retrieval, scalable networks, and connectivity,
    as well as studies of the impact of information technology on society. The ITR initiative
    planned for 2001 builds on current NSF investments and increases NSF’s total ITR
    commitment by 160 percent above year 2000.

  • Biocomplexity in the Environment (BE) – Totaling $136 million, investment for BE in
    2001 is more than two-and-a-half times the commitment in year 2000. The enhanced BE
    initiative will bring together interdisciplinary teams of scientists in an intensified effort to
    understand dynamic interactions within biological systems and the physical environment.
    About $12 million will be used to support initial construction of a National Ecological
    Observatory Network (NEON). This facility will explore the biology of the planet
    (pole-to-pole) with state-of-the-art research tools and infrastructure.

  • 21st Century Workforce – The almost $157 million NSF plans in 2001 is more than
    double its year 2000 investment. Programs such as Centers for Learning and Teaching will
    address the needs of the American workforce and its transition into a more
    technology-based, information and knowledge-based workplace. Increased emphasis on
    Graduate Teaching Fellowships will place many more graduate and undergraduate students
    into K-12 classrooms as teaching resources. A $10-million initiative for tribal colleges will
    encourage Native Americans to pursue fields of study in information technology and other
    scientific areas. It will also allow tribal colleges to offer relevant courses and to enhance
    K-12 education in feeder school systems.

  • Nanoscale science and engineering – NSF will invest more than $216 million in the
    multi-agency National Nanotechnology Initiative as the lead agency. NSF’s research will
    include work in nanoscale biosystems, structures and quantum control, device and system
    architecture, processes in the environment and simulations. Interdisciplinary research and
    education teams will also initiate long-term work in nanostructured materials,
    manufacturing, electronics, magnetics and health care. The money will support new centers
    and networks of excellence, research instrumentation and facilities and student felllowships,
    traineeships and curriculum development.

    Overall, NSF is seeking a nearly 20-percent increase in funding for research and related
    activities. Earthscope: U.S. Array and San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth (SAFOD), an
    array of instruments that will allow high-resolution observations of earthquake and other earth
    processes, highlights (along with NEON) a jump of 48.2 percent in major research equipment.
    Another $45 million will be invested in terascale computing systems.

    Colwell emphasized that the new budget also allows for larger and longer duration of grants, and
    — just as important — allows funding of more first-time, young investigators, which will help to
    maintain and invigorate the research base.


    See also:

    Fact Sheet: Information Technology Research
    Fact Sheet: Biocomplexity in the Environment
    Fact Sheet: Twenty-First Century Workplace Initiative
    Fact Sheet: Nanotechnology
    Fact Sheet: Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE)