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House hearing covers NSF budget request, role of infrastructure funding

Yesterday the House Committee on Science and Technology’s Subcommittee on Research and Science Education held a hearing on the NSF’s FY 2011 budget request. From the committee website

US Capitol DomeThe NSF budget request for FY 2011 totals $7.4 billion, $552 million or 8 percent more than FY 2010 funding not including any FY 2010 carryover in the $3 billion included for NSF in the Recovery Act.  Members heard testimony from Dr. Arden Bement, Director of NSF, and Dr. Steven Beering, chair of the National Science Board (NSB). NSB oversees the activities of, and establishes the policies for, the NSF.

…The Administration’s budget would provide $6 billion for Research and Related Activities (R&RA) in FY 2011, an increase of $401 million or 7.1 percent over FY 2010 funding. The largest relative increases went to the Engineering Directorate and the Computer and Information Science and Engineering Directorate.

The committee also asked witnesses about the agency’s infrastructure commitment. Although the NSB recommended in 2003 that the NSF devote 27% of its budget to infrastructure (and undoubtedly a good bit of that would go to large scale computing), only 24% of NSF’s 2011 request is slotted in that category — a different of over $220M

This issue has become an increasing concern as state universities have seen significant budget cuts and all universities have experienced shrunken endowments. Members and witnesses discussed NSF’s role in supporting both shared use facilities and Academic Research Infrastructure. On February 23, the Subcommittee held a hearing on the state of research infrastructure at U.S. universities.

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