The United States House and Senate have just released their versions of the FY 2013 appropriations bills for the National Science Foundation, one of America's most prominent scientific funding bodies. Both chambers of
Here I'd like to focus on what the Senate in particular had to say about astronomy research. The following comes directly from the Senate Appropriations Committee report:
“Astronomy. -- The Committee recommends the full budget request of $244,550,000 for astronomical sciences in fiscal year 2013, of which $161,890,000 shall be used for infrastructure. The additional funds should be applied within astronomical infrastructure so that all existing observatories receive not less than 98 percent of the higher of their fiscal year 2011 or fiscal year 2012 funding level as specified in the congressional justification for fiscal year 2013. The research resources line is funded at the budget request as is preconstruction planning. No funds should be applied to the Telescope System Instrumentation Program. Research investment in the EARS program from astronomy should be reduced on a dollar-for-dollar basis from the level proposed in the budget request. Funding for EARS will be considered from non-astronomical division sources if the Foundation seeks a reprogramming in the fiscal year 2013 spending plan.
“The Committee notes that the Foundation has proposed a wide ranging review of the portfolio for investments in astronomy including optical astronomy facilities, radio astronomy facilities, and individual investigator grants. Although the overall budget request level for fiscal year 2013 proposed an increase for NSF of 4.8 percent over fiscal year 2012, astronomy infrastructure was proposed to be held constant in the fiscal year 2013 request. The Committee intends to review any proposed restructuring of the portfolio for astronomy to ensure balance among the competing programs, and that core infrastructure capabilities needed to preserve U.S. leadership and broad access for the community are preserved.
“The Committee welcomes the line item identification of pre-construction funds for future major MREFC [Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction] projects, including the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, the astrophysics decadal survey’s top ranked ground-based priority in the coming decade. This joint NSF-Department of Energy project will provide unprecedented views of the changing sky and will drive key advances in cyber-infrastructure and large-volume data management. The Committee provides funding at the request level in order to make progress towards a potential new start in a subsequent year, subject to the project meeting the necessary conditions for such action.
The House and Senate Appropriations Committees have approved their versions of the FY 2013 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Bill. The full House is considering this bill today, the first of twelve appropriations measures to come to the floor.
Below are selections from the House and Senate appropriations reports pertaining to the National Science Foundation. Language within each report stands, unless there is a conflict that will be resolved in the final conference report. This final conference report will also resolve differences in recommended funding levels.
FY 2012 appropriation is $5,719.0 million
FY 2013 Administration request is $5,983.3 million
FY 2013 Senate recommendation is $5,883.3 million, an increase of $164.3 million or 2.9 percent
FY 2013 House recommendation is $5,942.7 million, an increase of $223.7 million or 3.9 percent
Senate report language:
Following a description of the mission of Research and Related Activities, the report states:
fiscal year 2013 recommendation renews its support for Federal long-term basic research that has the potential to be transformative to our economy and our way of life in the context of a Federal budget that is shrinking. However, the Foundation has chosen, in its budget request, to prioritize new initiatives while cutting support for core, merit-based science grants and for scientific infrastructure like ships and facilities. The seven ‘OneNSF’ framework priority activities have grown nearly fivefold from $166,750,000 in fiscal year 2011 to $807,100,000 in the fiscal year 2013 request. While the Committee supports these multi-disciplinary initiatives, it cannot do so by cutting NSF’s core programs.