NSF & Congress
Dr. Rita Colwell
National Science Foundation
Before the House Science Committee
February 13, 2002
Chairman Boehlert, Ranking Member Hall, and Members
of the Committee, thank you for providing this opportunity
to discuss the President's budget request for the
National Science Foundation.
Every year, the Foundation's optimal use of limited
public funds has relied on two conditions: Ensuring
that our research and education investments are aimed
- and continuously re-aimed - at the frontiers of
understanding; and certifying that every dollar goes
to competitive, merit-reviewed, and time-limited awards
with clear criteria for success.
When these two conditions are met, our nation gets
the most intellectual and economic leverage from its
research and education investments.
The National Science Foundation is requesting $5.036
billion for FY2003, $240 million or five percent more
than the previous fiscal year. For the United States
to stay on the leading edge of discovery and innovation,
we cannot do less.
Before providing a few highlights of the budget, let
me stress that the priority setting process at NSF
results from continual consultation with the research
community. New programs are added or enhanced only
after seeking the combined expertise and experience
of the science and engineering community, the Director
and Deputy, and the National Science Board. Programs
are initiated or enlarged based on considerations
of their intellectual merit, broader impacts of the
research, the importance to science and engineering,
balance across fields and disciplines, and synergy
with research in other agencies and nations. NSF coordinates
its research with our sister research agencies both
informally -- through the active monitoring by program
officers of other agencies' programs - and formally,
through over 150 MOUs and Interagency Agreements that
spell out the various agency roles in research activities.
One of the highlights of the budget is a second installment
of $200 million for the national five-year, $1 billion
Math and Science Partnership Program. The program
links local schools with colleges and universities
to improve pre-K -12 math and science education, train
teachers, and create innovative ways to raise the
performance of all students and schools.
An investment of approximately $37 million will increase
annual stipends for graduate fellows to $25,000 to
attract more of the nation's most promising students
to science and engineering.
The budget will also include funding for six priority
areas, including $221 million for nanotechnology research,
$286 million for information technology research,
and $60 million as part of a new priority area in
mathematical and statistical sciences research that
will ultimately advance interdisciplinary science
and engineering. $185 million is directed toward NSF's
Learning for the 21st Century Workforce
priority area - including $20 million to fund three
to four new multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional
Science of Learning Centers to enhance our understanding
of how we learn, how we remember, and how we can best
use new information technology to promote learning.
We are also requesting $10 million to seed a new priority
area in the social, behavioral, and economic sciences
to explore the complex interactions between new technology
and society to better anticipate and prepare for their
Finally, the budget requests $79 million for research
on biocomplexity in the environment. This builds upon
past investments in the study of the remarkable and
dynamic web of interrelationships that arise when
living things at all levels interact with their environment.
Research in two new areas this year -- microbial genome
sequencing and ecology of infectious diseases -- will
help develop strategies to assess and manage the risks
of infectious diseases, invasive species, modified
organisms, and biological weapons.
Additionally, as part of the Administration's new multi-agency
Climate Change Research Initiative, we will implement
a $15 million research program to advance understanding
in highly focused areas of climate science, to reduce
uncertainty and facilitate policy decisions. Our budget
also includes $76 million for programs slated to be
transferred to NSF from NOAA, EPA, and the USGS. The
Administration believes that there are advantages
to locating these programs at NSF, which has an outstanding
record in administering merit-based research and education.
In large facilities, we will continue support for the
next phase of construction of the Atacama Large Millimeter
Array (ALMA). New construction projects in the FY2003
budget include two prototype sites of the National
Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) at a cost of
$12 million to analyze data to detect abrupt changes
or long-term trends in the environment. The budget
also requests $35 million for EarthScope to detect
and investigate earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and
landslides on the North American continent.
Mr. Chairman, if there are no objections, I would like
to include a copy of the NSF budget summary as part
of my testimony, and I would be pleased to respond
to any questions that the committee may have.