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NSF & Congress

Hearing Summary: National Science Foundation Fiscal 2003 Budget Request

June 6, 2001

On Wednesday, June 6, 2001, the House Research Subcommittee held a hearing on the FY'02 NSF R&RA budget request with an emphasis on plant genome research activities.


  • Dr. Joseph Bordogna, Deputy Director, NSF
  • Dr. Mary Clutter, Assistant Director of Biological Sciences
  • Dr. Vicki Chandler, Professor of Plant Sciences and Molecular & Cellular Biology, University of Arizona
  • Dr. Daphne Preuss, Assistant Professor of Molecular Genetics and Cell Biology, University of Chicago


Chairman Nick Smith, Rep. E.B. Johnson, Rep. Gil Gutknecht, Rep. Tim Johnson, Rep. Steve J. Israel, Rep. Etheridge, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, Rep. Lynn Rivers, Rep. John Larson, and Rep. Felix J. Grucci, Jr.

Opening Remarks:

Chairman Smith: The hearing will discuss what impact the requested funding level will have on current or future research programs at NSF; how priorities are determined and addressed within the budget process, and how input and direction from the Committee helps shape that process. Chairman Smith noted that he has introduced legislation to establish regional genome and genomic expression research and development centers.

Rep. E.B. Johnson: "Disappointing" is the most generous term she can use in describing the proposed NSF research budget.


Dr. Bordogna testified on the NSF budget, emphasizing the R&RA account component. (The testimony is here.)

Dr. Clutter reported on the NSF's role in the plant genome project.

Dr. Chandler testified that genomics has completely altered the processes and direction of biological research. She said that core research programs are the major reason for our nation's worldwide lead in science and economics. No other country supports basic science the way NSF does and their science programs reflect that shortcoming. NSF sets its research priorities through thorough consultation with the scientific community.


Chairman Smith: Which, after the U S, are the four or five leading countries in genomic biology?

Dr. Preuss: The UK, Japan, and Germany followed by France and other EU countries.

Smith: Without an authorization bill, what weight would resolutions and other suggestions from the Science Committee be given by NSF?

Dr. Bordogna: A great deal of weight.

Chairman Smith: How can the NSF prioritization process be improved?

Dr. Chandler: I think that the NSF does a great job in balancing priorities within the constraints of its budget.

Rep. EB Johnson: What was NSF's budget request as submitted to OMB?

Dr. Bordogna: NSF has a long-range plan going out 10 years. OMB looks at that and sets budget request priorities from that plan within the context of the overall federal budget.

Rep. Gutknecht: Why does the NSF request have a significant increase in salaries and expenses but no request for increased personnel?

Dr. Bordogna: The NSF has been pursuing a strategy of upgrading and improving its infrastructure, computerization etc., in order to meet increased workloads, requests for personnel increases will follow. The agency is presently evaluating the impact of staff turnover because of impending retirements and other, non-mission-related personnel issues.

Rep. Gutknecht: How does the NSF interact with other federal research agencies?

Dr. Bordogna: We have a strong and active collaborative relationship with each of the other federal research agencies.

Rep. Etheridge: The Administration's Budget doesn't reflect its expressed commitment to basic research. NASA Administrator Goldin says that America's economic future and security depend on its ability to integrate new technologies into the economy. How do you assess that statement?

Dr. Bordogna: Research in nanotechnology, terascale computing, biocomplexity, and learning are the essential to our nation's future. That's why these are the NSF's priority areas. Rep Rivers: What was the original request from each of the directorates going to OMB?

Dr. Bordogna: As a general rule of thumb you can assume that our priority areas each require about 200 million annually over the next five years. Lofgren: Can you provide the subcommittee with a copy of the long-term plan to which you have referred? Can and should NIH replicate NSF's research role?

Dr. Bordogna: The research programs of NIH and NSF are and should be complimentary and not duplicative. NSF and NIH have a good cooperative relationship in determining their respective research priorities.

Rep. Grucci: The RSVP project: has it been ranked for funding and what is the status?

Dr. Bordogna: The MRE board has approved RSVP.

Chairman Smith: When will the sequencing of the Arabadopsis be complete?

Dr. Preuss: The genome has been sequenced. We know where the genes are. The next step is to understand what the individual genes actually do

Chairman Smith: What is the status of the rice genome sequencing project?

Dr. Clutter: We expect to have the rice genome sequenced by 2004. Things may slow because of complications arising from possible commercial applications.

Dr. Chandler: Genome sequencing needs to be done with federal dollars and data must be made public as soon as it is available.

Chairman Smith: The Subcommittee requests of the Director that NSF provide the Subcommittee with a report on the consequences of NSF supported research on the work of other federal agencies such as DOD, DOE, NIH, etc.

George Wilson.