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NSF & Congress
Testimony

Dr. Bement

Dr. Arden L. Bement, Jr.
Director
National Science Foundation

Testimony
Before the House Appropriations Committee
Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies

March 1, 2007

Chairman Mollohan, Ranking Member Frelinghuysen and Members of the Committee, I am pleased to present the National Science Foundation's budget for the next fiscal year. Before I begin, I must express my heartfelt appreciation for your support of NSF's research budget in the FY 2007 Continuing Resolution.

The President's request for NSF is $6.43 billion dollars for FY 2008. This represents a $513 million or 8.7 percent increase over the Continuing Resolution. Funding at this level will keep NSF on the course set by the President's American Competitiveness Initiative to drive innovation and sharpen America's competitive edge.

Let me just quickly highlight some of the activities we are emphasizing in the new budget. As the lead agency supporting Polar research, NSF will provide U.S. leadership for International Polar Year activities. Climate change research and environmental observations will be a major focus of investigation. The outlines of environmental change, from sea ice extent and retreating glaciers, to shifting patterns in flora and fauna, are already visible in the polar regions, with implications for the rest of the globe. Additional research efforts will explore how life adapts to and survives in the polar extremes, as well as public outreach and education. NSF will invest nearly $59 million in IPY education, research and outreach activities in FY 2008.

The budget includes an important new NSF-wide investment of $52 million to develop a new generation of computationally based discovery concepts and tools to deal with complex, data-rich, and interacting systems. Cyber-enabled Discovery and Innovation aims to explore radically new concepts, approaches, and tools at the intersection of computational and physical or biological worlds to address such challenges.

Understanding how human activity interacts with the oceans can help ensure that the world's oceans remain clean, healthy, productive, and stable. NSF will invest $17 million in four research areas identified in the Ocean Research Priorities Plan as critical near-term priorities: the complex dynamics that control and regulate marine ecosystem processes; variability of Atlantic Ocean currents; the response of coastal ecosystems to a variety of natural events and human influenced processes; and the development of new sensors for marine ecosystems.

Our request also includes $390 million for nanotechnology research. NSF's investment in the interagency National Nanotechnology Initiative will increase by nearly $17 million. We will increase our multidisciplinary and interagency regulatory support efforts that address the environmental, health, and safety impacts of nanomaterials by exploring how nano particles and materials interact with the living world at all scales.

NSF will increase support by $8 million for the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR). EPSCoR investments provide strategic programs and opportunities for participants jurisdictions and states that have historically received less federal R&D funding to make sustainable improvements in research capacity and national research competitiveness. We moved EPSCoR to the Office of the Director in order to focus on the research potential and capacity of these states and to integrate this activity across NSF.

Creating a strong science and engineering workforce for the future is vital to maintaining the nation's competitive edge. NSF will continue to fund a broad portfolio of successful programs that contribute to this goal: CAREER, aimed at junior faculty; Advanced Technological Education, aimed at two-year colleges; Noyce Scholarships, for promoting the development of a world-class math and science teaching corps; and programs which aim to broaden participation of underrepresented groups and engage a broader spectrum of institutions, such as the STEM Talent Expansion Program and Centers for Research Excellence in Science and Technology. We will fund an additional 200 Graduate Research Fellowships, increasing the total number of students supported to nearly 3,000.

In coordination with the Department of Education, NSF will continue funding for the highly successful Math and Science Partnership program, aimed at improving K-12 science and math education and teaching. In addition to supporting ongoing awards, approximately $30 million will be available for new awards in FY 2008.

Scientists, engineers, and students need world-class instruments with the best capabilities, the farthest reach, and the finest accuracy. NSF proposes an investment of $32.75 million to initiate Advanced LIGO, a gravitational wave observatory that will improve detection rates by a factor of 1000 over current earth-based facilities. Observations made with this instrument could revolutionize our understanding of the universe.

The development of a petascale computing capability and world-class cyberinfrastructure will continue to be a high priority. These investments will significantly augment computational and networking capabilities available to scientists and engineers in all disciplines.

The Foundation's strategy for research and education must be to keep all fields and disciplines of science and engineering healthy and strong. At the same time, we must be constantly alert to research that has the potential to transform the world. This is the kind of research that can overturn accepted paradigms and open entirely new fields for exploration. The National Science Foundation looks to the future with these important considerations in mind, and we have crafted our FY 2008 budget to address them.

Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to present a brief overview of our request. I look forward to any questions you might have.

 

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