NSF & Congress
Dr. Rita Colwell
National Science Foundation
Before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on
Veterans, Housing and Urban Development
June 6, 2001
The NSF FY 2002 Budget Request
Chairwoman Mikulski, Senator Bond, members of the Subcommittee,
it is an honor to be here today as Director of the National Science
Foundation. I welcome the opportunity to discuss the NSF budget
request for fiscal year 2002.
Before I begin with the budget, Madam Chairwoman, I would like
to commend you and Senator Bond for your many years of dedication
to sound investments in research and science education. You and
the members of the Subcommittee have shown strong leadership in
stressing the importance of basic research to the economic wellbeing
of our nation. Without this sustained support and vision, NSF would
not be where it is today. I am deeply appreciative of your efforts
and your wisdom.
Now let me first lay out the big picture of what's being proposed
for FY 2002. NSF is requesting a total of $4.47 billion--that's
$56 million more, or a 1.3 percent increase, above FY 2001. The
highlight is the request for Education and Human Resources (EHR),
which receives an 11 percent increase. We have also provided solid
increases for administrative accounts, which are very important
in insuring wise stewardship of tax dollars. In other areas, the
Research and Related Activities account will basically maintain
its current level of support, and the Major Research Equipment
account will drop by one-fifth.
Let me put these numbers in a different context. The FY 2002 Budget
Request reflects the strength of the Foundation--a broad base of
research and education activities that provides the nation with
the people, the ideas, and the tools needed to fuel innovation
and economic growth.
In our FY 2002 request, investments in people are up 13 percent
from last year. We cover kindergarten to career development. This
investment encompasses much of our Education and Human Resources
Directorate as well as many activities funded across the Foundation.
NSF directly supports about 200,000 people -- including teachers,
students, researchers, postdocs, and others. Moreover, the benefits
of NSF programs are felt throughout the population in terms of
new discoveries, scientific and technological advances, and improved
math and science educational opportunities that affect all of our
Now, let's look at the highlights.
Math and Science Partnerships Initiative
We are particularly pleased that the President's budget has designated
NSF to lead the Math and Science Partnerships element of the No
Child Left Behind education initiative. At the center of the FY
2002 request is an initial $200 million of a planned $1 billion
over 5 years which will be used to improve K-12 science and math
education through partnerships. NSF will provide funds for states
and local school districts to join with institutions of higher
education--mathematics, science, and engineering departments of
local colleges and universities--to strengthen K-12 math and science
education. The request includes $90 million in new funds and a
redirection of $110 million from existing EHR programs with similar
strategies and goals.
This investment will provide K-12 students with enhanced opportunities
to perform to high standards. This important component of the President's
education initiative will help states address teacher quality;
math and science curricula and textbooks; enrollment numbers in
advanced science and math courses; and assessment.
Graduate Student Stipends
The second key opportunity this request addresses is something
that is long overdue: increasing graduate student stipends. The
FY 2002 Budget provides $8 million to increase stipends for the
Graduate Research Fellowships, the Graduate Teaching Fellowships
in K-12 Education, and the Integrative Graduate Education and Research
Traineeship programs. Stipends will increase from $18,000 to $20,500
for academic year 2002-2003.
This increase is extremely important. According to an NSF survey
of recent S&E bachelor's recipients, more than one-third stated
that they would not pursue graduate studies because of financial
reasons. We must work to ensure that adequate numbers of students
are willing and able to enter graduate S&E programs.
Although graduate student enrollment in U.S. science and engineering
programs increased in 1999 after five consecutive annual decreases,
students with temporary visas accounted for the entire upswing.
If we do not boost the number of skilled U.S. workers the nation
will certainly suffer.
A centerpiece of NSF's core investments in FY 2002 is the Interdisciplinary
Mathematics Research program funded at $20 million. Our total investment
in mathematical sciences will increase 16.5 percent. Mathematics
is a powerful tool for insight and a common language for science
and engineering. This emphasis on the mathematical sciences recognizes
its increasingly critical role in advancing interdisciplinary research.
This investment will bring cutting-edge mathematics and statistics
to address problems in the physical, biological, and social sciences.
Some examples include studies of brain function, communication
networks, modern economic behaviors, and the modeling and prediction
of major weather events, such as tornadoes or hurricanes.
In addition to investments in core research and education, NSF
identifies and supports emerging opportunities in priority areas
that hold exceptional promise to advance knowledge. The FY 2002
Budget emphasizes four priority areas - Biocomplexity in the Environment,
Information Technology Research, Nanoscale Science and Engineering,
and Learning for the 21st Century. All of these areas receive increased
investment over last year's amounts.
Biocomplexity and the Environment
The FY 2002 budget request builds on past investments in our Biocomplexity
in the Environment portfolio and increases funds by nearly 6 percent,
to $58 million. Computational and information technologies, real
time sensing techniques, and genomics are providing insight into
the interactions among ecological, social, and physical earth systems.
For example, recently investigators have been studying contaminant
flux of the lower Mississippi River, dynamics of an invasive non-native
species on the Pacific Coast, and marine mammal abundance in the
western Arctic Ocean. Developing new research instruments and software
that advance cross-disciplinary studies in the environment will
continue to improve our understanding of the planet and its systems.
Information Technology Research
The Information Technology Research budget request expands fundamental
research in another multidisciplinary area. Our requested $273
million investment, 5 percent over last year, allows us to explore
ways of making large-scale networking, software, and systems more
reliable, stable, and secure. This will permit diverse applications
from telemedicine, to interactive education, to the remote operation
of experimental apparatus--such as the telescope at the South Pole.
Other research will improve our understanding of human-computer
interactions and investigate the impact of IT on our society, on
our economy, and on our educational system. Because the information
technology sector has contributed significantly to recent U.S.
economic growth, these investments remain a top priority.
Nanoscale Science and Engineering
In nanoscale science and engineering--colloquially known as nanotechnology--activities
range from investigation of biologically based systems that exhibit
novel properties to the study of nanoscale control of the structure
and composition of new materials. Recognizing the importance of
this emerging discipline, NSF is increasing its investment by 16.1
percent to $174 million in FY 2002.
Fundamental research programs will investigate biosystems at the
nanoscale--such as nanoscale sensors to detect cancer. Research
will focus on system architectures, nanoscale processes in the
environment--for instance, the trapping and release of contaminants--multi-scale
modeling, and large-scale computer simulation of processes at the
molecular or atomic level. Grand challenges include major long-term
research objectives in nanoscale electronics, nano-based manufacturing,
and nanostructured materials by design.
Learning for the 21st Century
Learning for the 21st Century addresses two interrelated challenges:
understanding how we learn; and transferring that knowledge for
use in schools, homes and other learning environments. Research,
development, and testing of educational tools incorporating information
technology will give us a much better understanding of how they
can be used effectively in the classroom. Accordingly, the NSF
request for these activities, $126 million, is a 3.3 percent increase
over last year.
A key component of this priority area is the Centers for Learning
and Teaching program. Like the Math and Science Partnerships, these
link K-12 and higher education. They allow opportunities for teachers
to gain new skills in the use of information technology in education,
new knowledge in science and mathematics, and--most importantly--allow
them to integrate these with new research on learning. Applications
of research results will increase opportunities for higher achievement
and, ultimately, produce a workforce able to meet the challenges
of rapid scientific and technological change.
Other FY 02 highlights
I'd like to bring this overview to a close by noting some other
I am a firm believer in the Experimental Program to Stimulate
Competitive Research, or EPSCoR--which enables researchers to participate
more fully in NSF research activities. FY 2002 funding for EPSCoR
will total nearly $100 million. This includes about $75 million
provided through the EHR appropriation and another $25 million
provided through NSF's Research and Related Activities account.
The FY 2002 budget provides about $65 million to support ongoing
research on the genomics of plants that have major economic importance.
The long-term goal of this program is to understand the structure,
organization, and function of plant genomes that are very important
to agriculture, the environment, and health.
Along that same line, the 2010 project will support research to
determine the functions of the 20,000 to 25,000 genes in the recently
sequenced Arabidopsis genome.
On another front, the FY 2002 budget provides about $26 million
to initiate a new cohort of Science and Technology Centers in areas
that span the range of disciplines supported by NSF.
As provided in recent legislation to strengthen the technology
workforce, approximately $144 million is anticipated from H-1B
nonimmigrant visa application fees. These funds support Computer
Science, Engineering and Mathematics (CSEM) Scholarships and Private-Public
Partnerships in K-12.
The budget request also includes $26 million for the GK-12 program.
That will put hundreds of graduate students in K-12 classrooms
to learn the art of teaching. They will share their research with
younger students and serve as role models that are so important,
especially in inner-city schools.
Major Research Equipment
Finally, the Major Research Equipment account for FY 2002 will
fund three continuing projects:
First, $24.4 million is requested for the George E. Brown, Jr.
Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation. This is a national
collaboration of approximately 20 geographically-distributed, shared-use
experimental research equipment sites that seeks to improve the
seismic design and performance of U.S. civil and mechanical infrastructure
We will invest $16.9 million to continue funding the Large Hadron
Collider, the internationally supported collaboration at CERN.
This superconducting particle accelerator will advance our fundamental
understanding of matter.
Additionally, $55 million is requested to support the infrastructure
to allow access to terascale computing systems. This will enable
all researchers and engineers access to leading-edge computing
We know from past experience that NSF funding should cover a broad
base of disciplines to insure constant sources of innovation. NSF
should open the potential for every field to be connected and to
contribute. Science and engineering today are integrated and answer
each other's questions, and inspire future generations.
In order for the nation to be able to use new knowledge for economic
and social progress, we have to make a national commitment to support
these efforts. In the current fiscal climate, this budget lays
the foundation for sustained increases over the long term while
also providing opportunities in all fields of science and engineering.
We all have a responsibility to convince the public that long-term
investments in science and engineering make our economy stronger
and our lives easier and more rewarding. As we work more efficiently
within budget constraints, we must plan for the future--ensuring
a steady stream of investments. Working together, we can set the
stage for increased investments over the long haul. Thank you.