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NSF & Congress
Hearing Summary - Bement Presents NSF Budget at Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Hearing

February 17, 2005

On Thursday, February 17, 2005, Dr. Arden Bement, Jr., director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) testified before the VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee regarding the Administration's FY 2006 Budget Request for the agency. The hearing centered on the FY 2006 Budget Requests for the National Science Foundation, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the National Science Board.

Chairman Christopher Bond (R-MO) opened the hearing and emphasized the critical role that NSF plays in the economic, scientific, and intellectual growth of the U.S. Bond stated, "Our country's future resides in our ability to lead the world in science and technology, especially in the global marketplace. NSF is one of our primary tools in meeting the global challenges of the 21st Century by pushing the boundaries of scientific research and technology." Bond articulated concerns regarding NSF's overall funding level, the disparity between federal support for the life and physical sciences, and cuts to NSF's education portfolio.

Dr. John H. Marburger III, the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, led the witness panel discussing themes of the overall federal R&D budget request for FY 2006 as well as specifics regarding NSF's request. Marburger iterated that the Administration's FY 2006 Budget Request maintains a strong focus on winning the war against terrorism while moderating the growth in overall spending. He emphasized the Administration's high levels of support for science, including priority areas such as nanotechnology, information technology, the hydrogen initiative, and space exploration. "This treatment of R&D is consistent with the President's commitment to science and technology and the vital role they play in meeting the Nation's goals for national and economic security and the quality of life," said Marburger.

Bement offered specifics on NSF's FY 2006 Budget Request. "Investments in research and development are among the highest-payback investments a nation can make. Over the past 50 years technological innovation has been responsible for as much as half of the nation's growth in productivity," stated Bement. "NSF has helped advance America's basic science and engineering enterprise for over fifty years."

For the coming fiscal year, NSF requests $5.6 billion, an increase of $132 million over FY 2005 appropriated levels. The Foundation's four funding priorities for FY 2006 include: (1) strengthening core disciplinary research; (2) providing broadly accessible cyberinfrastructure and world-class research facilities; (3) broadening participation in the science and engineering workforce; and (4) sustaining organizational excellence in NSF management practices. "The FY 2006 budget will emphasize investments that address established interagency research priorities, meet critical needs identified by the science and engineering community, and advance the fundamental knowledge that strengthens the nation's base of innovation and progress. NSF will respond to these challenges by supporting the best people, ideas, and tools in the science and engineering enterprise, and by employing the best practices in organizational excellence," added Bement.

Dr. Warren M. Washington, chairman of the National Science Board (NSB), appeared with Marburger and Bement at the hearing. Washington testified that, "(T)he Board fully supports the FY 2006 NSF budget focus on the four funding priorities that address current national challenges . . . We also recognize that a budget request of $5.605 billion, representing a 2.4 percent increase over NSF's FY 2005 budget, is a significant investment in NSF programs in a time of National fiscal austerity." For a complete copy of NSF's FY 2006 Budget Request, see http://www.nsf.gov/about/budget/fy2006/toc.htm.

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