The National Science Foundation (NSF) has sent to Congress a fiscal 2004 budget request of $5.48 billion — an investment representing what the agency believes will “sustain and build U.S. global leadership in science, engineering and technology, and help the United States address priorities of immediate national importance.” The increase sought in 2004 over NSF’s 2003 request would amount to about 9 percent. Although NSF’s 2004 request calls for a 60 percent hike in major research equipment and facilities, the overall 8.5 percent increase sought for core research and related activities (people, ideas and tools) is at the heart of NSF’s overall budget priorities for the coming year.
From the NSF:
NSF Seeks 2004 Budget of $5.48 Billion
Increase will address priorities of “immediate national importance”
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has sent to Congress a fiscal 2004 budget request of $5.48 billion — an investment representing what the agency believes will “sustain and build U.S. global leadership in science, engineering and technology, and help the United States address priorities of immediate national importance.”
The increase sought in 2004 over NSF’s 2003 request would amount to about 9 percent.
Although NSF’s 2004 request calls for a 60 percent hike in major research equipment and facilities, the overall 8.5 percent increase sought for core research and related activities (people, ideas and tools) is at the heart of NSF’s overall budget priorities for the coming year.
“Our recent advances at the frontiers of science and engineering have transformed knowledge into tangible economic value and have responded already to the new challenge of enhancing homeland security,” NSF director Rita Colwell says. “Yet we face significant challenges in security, the economy, health and the environment. Opportunities for rapid progress are emerging but we must meet these challenges by creating and making the best use of knowledge.”
NSF will seek to address several of these areas by requesting, for the first time, more than $1 billion dollars for its mathematics and physical sciences activities. The planned $120 million increase in NSF’s 2004 request reinvigorates support for research and equipment in physics, chemistry, mathematics and materials research, and is seen as a major boost to producing discoveries and associated analytical tools. NSF officials say these investments will bring progress to areas from medical imaging to environmental research to high-speed computing and communications.
NSF is also requesting major increases in other priority core science and engineering fields. Biocomplexity in the environment, mathematical sciences, information technology research, nanoscale science and engineering, and initiatives in human and social dynamics, would receive nearly $765 million in 2004, amounting to 16.5 percent over what NSF sought in 2003 for these areas.
In the mathematical sciences priority area alone, NSF will seek more than $89 million, a 48 percent increase over its 2003 request, continuing a major focus on fundamental research and integration of mathematics, statistics and education research across the full range of scientific and engineering disciplines.
In the relatively new area of human and social dynamics, $24.25 million will be invested to study dynamics of rapid change and uncertainties within society, and the understanding of its cultural, economic, individual, political and social consequences. Scientists will seek advanced knowledge on the agents of change, and a better understanding of decision making and risk management.
In addition, an investment of $8.5 million in new funding under NSF’s Workforce for the 21st Century priority area will build on NSF’s most successful programs in science and engineering education. The effort will foster collaborations to design a suite of complementary and integrated programs for preK-12 to the postdoctorate level to provide a route for students to advance in a seamless progression.
NSF’s investments in homeland security-related research will include such projects as joining with the National Institutes of Health in research on the ecology of infectious diseases and microbial genome sequencing. Research in critical infrastructure protection, national security-related information technology research and scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students in information assurance and security will be ongoing priorities.
A 60 percent increase in major research equipment and facilities construction will fund the Atacama Large Millimeter Array ($50.84 million), EarthScope, a multi-purpose geophysical instrument array ($45 million), the High-performance, Instrumented, Airborne Platform for Environmental Research, or HIAPER ($25.53 million), the neutrino detector Ice Cube at the South Pole ($60 million), National Ecological Observatory Network, or NEON ($12 million), Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation, or NEES ($8 million) and South Pole Modernization ($960,000).
Leading-edge research in cyberinfrastructure will receive strong support in NSF’s 2004 budget, with $20 million in projects directed at linking high-performance supercomputers and networks to bring supercomputing capabilities to the desktops of scientists.
NSF also will address another immediate national need — developing a workforce with the technical skills needed for a more highly complex and technology-based environment in the workplace. A Department of Commerce study recently concluded that in less than two decades, 60 percent of the nation’s jobs will require the technical skills that today only 22 percent of workers possess. Meanwhile, the number of students earning degrees in science and engineering continues to decline in all fields except life sciences.
As part of the effort to address this need, NSF, in its leading role for the President’s No Child Left Behind initiative, is proposing $200 million in spending for the Math and Science Partnership program to strengthen K-12 education and student performance in mathematics and science, as well as improve preK-12 education.
At the collegiate level, NSF is proposing $215 million for graduate fellowships and traineeships, $39 million more than the fiscal 2003 request, a 22 percent increase. This investment will support a stipend increase to $30,000 yearly, starting in fiscal 2004, and would increase the number of students supported to about 5,000, about 350 more than the number under the 2003 proposed budget.
NSF will also continue to support new Science of Learning Centers that will take advantage of recent advances in cognitive and behavioral sciences, linguistics, neuroscience and other disciplines to find new discoveries important to how people learn and store information, and how best to employ information technologies to the learning process.