NSF & Congress
Dr. Warren Washington
National Science Board
Submitted for the Record
Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation
Science, Technology and Space
May 22, 2002
Chairman Wyden and members of the Subcommittee, I appreciate
having the opportunity to testify before you as Chair
of the National Science Board. I am Warren Washington,
Senior Scientist and Section Head of the Climate Change
Research Section at the National Center for Atmospheric
On behalf of the National Science Board, I thank the
Subcommittee for its sustained commitment to a broad
portfolio of investments in science, mathematics,
engineering, and technology research and education.
These investments contribute to our Nation's long-term
security and economic vitality and to the well being
of all Americans.
The National Science Foundation's Budget Request
The National Science Board has approved and supports
the National Science Foundation's budget request for
fiscal year 2003. The 5 percent increase in funding
will allow NSF to continue to nurture the people,
ideas, and tools needed to generate new knowledge
and new technologies. Among the important initiatives
that this budget includes are priorities for the science
and engineering workforce; mathematical and statistical
science research that will advance interdisciplinary
science and engineering; and research in the social,
behavioral, and economic sciences to explore the complex
interactions between technology and society. The budget
continues support for the Math and Science Partnership
program; increases funding for the Foundation's six
priority areas, which have the potential of enormous
payoff for the Nation; and provides a much-needed
increase in annual stipends for graduate fellows--a
critical investment the future U.S. science and engineering
workforce. The NSF Director, Dr. Rita Colwell, will
discuss these and other specifics of the budget request
in her testimony.
As this Committee recognizes, NSF is a major contributor
both to scientific research and science education.
Federal investments in the basic sciences through
NSF have produced new discoveries and new technologies
essential to our national security and economic prosperity.
In addition, NSF supports innovative education programs
from pre-kindergarten through graduate school, preparing
the next generation of scientists and engineers and
contributing to a more scientifically literate workforce
Each year NSF evaluates, primarily through external
peer review, 32,000 proposals from 2,000 colleges,
universities, and institutions. The value of the proposals
is approximately $16 billion. NSF annually makes 10,000
awards, totaling nearly $3 billion, in a highly competitive
merit review process. It is estimated that NSF proposals
representing an additional $5 billion are worthy of
investment if the funds were available.
The Health of the Science and
The new knowledge and technologies emerging today are
a tribute to Federal research investments made years
ago in a spirit of bipartisanship. When those investments
began, no one could foresee their future impact. Revolutionary
advances such as those in information technology,
nanotechnology, materials, and biotechnology remind
us that such breakthroughs with promising benefits
to the economy, the workforce, our educational systems,
and national security require long-term, high-risk
Among Federal agencies, NSF has the unique mission
of advancing the Nation's health, prosperity, and
welfare by supporting research and education in all
fields of science and engineering. NSF plays a critical
role in supporting new discoveries and knowledge as
well as innovative educational programs at all levels.
NSF-funded research and education are critical to
sustaining U.S. strength in science and technology,
a key element of national security.
Despite widespread recognition of the benefits that
result from federally supported scientific research,
as a Nation, we are seriously under-investing in basic
research. In our $10 trillion Gross Domestic Product,
the Federal Government budgets $24 billion to basic
research, which represents one-fourth of one percent
of the Nation's Gross Domestic Product. Of the $24
billion, NSF receives $3 billion to support cutting-edge
science and the search for new knowledge.
Achieving a balanced portfolio in the basic sciences
is as important as the quality and quantity of research
funded. For example, as Congressional leaders and
others have pointed out, the success of the National
Institutes of Health's efforts to find cures for deadly
diseases depends heavily on the underpinning of basic
research supported by the National Science Foundation.
National Science Board Policy Studies
In addition to providing oversight to NSF, the Board
provides advice to the President and the Congress
on matters of science and engineering policy. I would
like to mention some of our current activities related
to major issues affecting the health of the science
and engineering enterprise.
Federal Investment in Science and Engineering
The level of Federal investment is crucial to the health
of the science and engineering enterprise. Equally
crucial is how effectively that investment is made.
The growing opportunities for discovery and the inevitable
limits on Federal spending mean that hard choices
must be made and priorities set.
In its recent report, Federal Research Resources:
A Process for Setting Priorities, the Board offers
its recommendations for a more effective budget process,
including an improved information base and a decision-making
process for allocating Federal funding to research.
The Board's conclusions are based on reviews of the
literature on budget coordination and priority setting
for public research and invited presentations from
and discussions with representatives of the Office
of Management and Budget, the Office of Science and
Technology Policy, the Federal research and development
agencies, congressional staff, high-level science
officials from foreign governments, experts on data
and methodologies, and spokespersons from industry,
the National Academies, research communities, science
policy community, and academe.
U.S. Government Role in International Science and
In the 21st century, advances in science
and engineering will to a large measure determine
economic growth, quality of life, and the health and
security of our planet. The conduct, communication,
and use of science are intrinsically global. New ideas
and discoveries are emerging all over the world and
the balance of expertise is shifting among countries.
Collaborations and international partnerships contribute
to addressing a broad range of international problems.
They also contribute to building more stable relations
among nations by creating a universal language and
culture based on commonly accepted values of objectivity,
sharing, integrity, and free inquiry. The Federal
Government plays a significant role in promoting international
science and engineering activities and supporting
research with international dimensions.
In its recent report entitled Toward a More Effective
Role for the U.S. Government in International Science
and Engineering, the Board concludes that new
approaches to the management and coordination of U.S.
international science and engineering activities are
needed if the United States is to maintain the long-term
vitality of its science and engineering enterprise
and the vitality of its economy. The Board recommends
that the Federal Government (1) increase the effectiveness
of its coordination of international science and engineering
activities, (2) increase international cooperation
in fundamental research and education, particularly
with developing countries and by younger scientists
and engineers; and (3) improve the use of science
and engineering information in foreign policy deliberations
and in dealing with global issues and problems.
U.S. Science and Engineering Infrastructure
An area of constant concern for NSF and the Board is
the quality and adequacy of infrastructure to enable
scientific discoveries in the future. The rapidly
changing environment of new knowledge, new tools,
and new information capabilities has created a demand
for more complex and more costly facilities for scientific
A Board task force is assessing the current status,
changing needs, and strategies needed to ensure that
the Nation will have the infrastructure to sustain
cutting-edge science and engineering research. We
expect to receive the task force's preliminary findings
National Workforce Policies for Science and Engineering
For U.S. leadership in science and engineering, there
is no more important issue than the development of
a skilled technical workforce. As a Nation, we are
not attracting the numbers of science and engineering
students our Nation needs to sustain its leadership.
Nor are we successfully tapping all our domestic resources,
especially under-represented minorities and women.
The pool of potential science and engineering students
will increasingly reflect the growing diversity in
the American workforce and society.
A Board task force on workforce policies for science
and engineering is reviewing U.S. workforce needs,
the role of foreign students and workers, and policy
options for ensuring an adequate science and engineering
workforce for the future. We anticipate receiving
the task force's report by the end of this year.
Mr. Chairman, at this point I would like to close my
formal remarks. I thank the Subcommittee for its long-time
support of the science community, especially the National
Science Foundation, and for allowing me to comment
on significant national policy concerns, as well as
on the Foundation's budget request.
Warren M. Washington
Warren M. Washington was born in Portland, Oregon,
and earned a bachelor's degree in physics and a master's
degree in meteorology from Oregon State University.
After completing his doctorate in meteorology at Pennsylvania
State University, he joined the National Center for
Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in 1963 as a research
scientist. In 1975 he was named senior scientist,
and he currently is head of the Climate Change Research
Section in the Climate and Global Dynamics Division.
His areas of expertise are atmospheric science and
climate research, and he specializes in computer modeling
of the earth's climate.
Since 1990 Washington has served on the Secretary of
Energy's Biological and Environmental Research Advisory
Committee (BERAC). Since 1996, he has been the chair
of the Subcommittee on Global Change for BERAC. He
served on the Modernization Transition Committee and
the National Centers for Environment Prediction Advisory
Committee of the U. S. National Weather Service. From
1978 to 1984, he served on the President's National
Advisory Committee on Oceans and Atmosphere. In 1998
he was appointed to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Agency Science Advisory Board. In April 2000 he was
appointed a member of Advanced Scientific Computing
Advisory Committee by the U.S. Secretary of Energy.
Washington is a fellow of the American Meteorological
Society (AMS) and the American Association for the
Advancement of Science (AAAS), a Distinguished Alumnus
and an Alumni Fellow of Pennsylvania State University
and Oregon State University, a fellow of the African
Scientific Institute, and a member of the American
Geophysical Union. From 1991 to 1995 he was a member
of the AAAS Board of Directors, and he served as president
of AMS in 1994.
Washington received the Le Verrier Medal of the Societe
Meteorologique de France in 1995. The U.S. Department
of Energy awarded him the Biological and Environmental
Research Program Exceptional Service Award for Atmospheric
Science in 1997, for the development and application
of advanced coupled atmospheric-ocean general circulation
models to study the impacts of human activities on
future climate. Also in 1997 he was inducted into
the National Academy of Sciences Portrait Collection
of African Americans in Science, Engineering, and
Medicine. In 1999 Washington received the National
Weather Service Modernization Award. In January 2000
Washington was awarded the Dr. Charles Anderson Award
from the American Meteorological Society for pioneering
efforts as a mentor and passionate supporter of individuals,
educational programs, and outreach initiatives designed
to foster a diverse population of atmospheric scientists.
In March 2000 Washington received the Celebrating
20th Century Pioneers in Atmospheric Sciences Award
at Howard University and in April 2000 the Bonfils-Stanton
Foundation Award in recognition of significant and
unique contributions in the field of science.
Washington was appointed to the National Science Board
in 1994, reappointed in 2000, and elected Chairman
in May 2002.