We’ve seen the House version of the 2009 stimulus bill. Now we’ve gotten our first glimpse of the highlights (though no full text) for the Senate version. As expected, the numbers in the Senate version are not as generous as the House numbers. Here is the breakdown:
The Department of Energy: The Senate highlights show $40 billion “for development of clean, efficient, American energy” but no breakdown on how that will be spent or how much might go to basic research.
The National Science Foundation: $1.4 billion for grants and infrastructure at NSF which is less than the $3 billion in the House version.
Additionally, NASA and NIH each get $1.5 billion and $3.5 billion, respectively, but NIST would not receive any additional funds in the Senate bill. A handy comparison chart is available at Inside Higher Education. We will have more here as the full text of the Senate bill is released and we can do a more thorough breakdown and comparison.
Update: More detail about the final Senate bill


CRA Wants You!

On January 22, 2009, in CRA, Misc., by MelissaNorr

Forgive the CRA-centric content, but we’re looking to fill a new position here at CRA World Headquarters. Here’s the official announcement:

The Computing Research Association works to strengthen research and advanced education in the computing fields, expand opportunities for women and minorities, and improve public and policy maker understanding of the importance of computing and computing research in our society. CRA is a non-profit association of over 250 members.
CRA is seeking an Executive Assistant to perform a wide variety of administrative support duties from routine to complex. While the Executive Assistant will work with all other staff members, the employee will report directly to the Executive Director. Major duties include: monitoring grants to ensure timely processing of invoices and submission of reports; monitoring websites to ensure full and accurate information; processing and monitoring reimbursements for a wide range of activities; processing membership invoices and payments; organizing, scheduling and coordinating program activities, meetings and travel arrangements; serving as a point of contact for program participants and volunteers; gathering and maintaining program data and budget information; assisting with advertising/promotion of the various activities of the organization; monitoring staff benefits such as health care.
Job Requirements: progressive experience in an administrative position (non-profit/academic experience is a plus); excellent written and verbal communication skills and ability to communicate effectively with individuals from diverse backgrounds and cultures; excellent organization skills with attention to detail; excellent computer skills with experience using MS Office applications; ability to function as a team player; well organized and able to meet deadlines and work well under pressure; ability to work without direct supervision while performing at a high level.
The position requires someone with a proven track record in:
1) assuming responsibility;
2) taking the initiative;
3) following up on outstanding tasks;
4) demonstrating reliability;
5) performing tasks in a timely manner;and
6) taking ownership of responsibilities.
For further information about CRA, see our website www.cra.org.
To apply, send your resume to employment@cra.org. The position will fill when a suitable candidate is found.

CRA’s a great place to work with a friendly staff, a highly-engaged and prominent board, and an increasing presence in Washington. So, if you think this position sounds like a perfect fit for you or someone you know, please take a few minutes to respond or pass it along.


The House Appropriations Committee has released the bill text (pdf) and the accompanying committee report (pdf) for the Stimulus and Recovery Plan released today. They provide a little finer view of what’s actually in the stimulus bill. But ultimately, the House appropriators and leadership have left some discretion to the agency management to decide how to spend the new funding, which is probably a good thing. In summary, though, this looks awfully good to us and will likely go a long way towards recharging the Nation’s innovation engine.
Here’s what we know:
The Department of Energy  — The Office of Science would see an increase of $2 billion under this plan. Called out specifically in the bill (but not in the accompanying report) is a $100 million increase for the Advanced Scientific Computing Research program. The only other program in Science to get a specific call-out is the brand new Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E), which would receive $400 million. The rest is presumably up to the Director’s discretion.
Additionally in DOE Energy Programs, the Smart Grid Investment Program, which would support efforts to add IT and other intelligence to the power grid, would receive a $4.5 billion increase under the plan.
The National Science Foundation — NSF would see an increase of $3 billion overall (so, it would become an ~ $9 billion agency, for one year, at least — more on that below). Of the $3 billion, $2.5 billion would go to the Research and Related Activities Account, home of NSF’s core research efforts. Of that $2.5 billion, 300 million would go to the Major Research Instrumentation program and an additional $200 million for academic research facilities modernization. This leaves an additional $2.0 billion to be spread among the research directorates for their core programs!
NSF’s Education and Human Resources program would see a $100 million boost — $60 million for Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarships and $40 million to the Math and Science Partnerships program.
NSF’s Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction account would see a boost of $400 million to start “approved projects” or projects that are close to completing their design review, though none are named in the bill or the report.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology — NIST would see a boost of $100 million to its core research programs, plus another $100 million to be split between the Technology Innovation Program (TIP – the revamped Advanced Technology Program), and $30 million for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership. In addition, NIST would get $300 million for facilities repair and construction, so maybe they’ll actually be able to keep that $100 million for core research, instead of using it to pay for broken buildings or ATP/TIP/MEP.
The National Institutes of Health — NIH would receive $1.5 billion for grants to improve university research facilities and another $1.5 billion in new research funding.
So, this all looks really good to us. However, in our meetings with congressional staff over the last couple of weeks, there has been some concern about managing expectations about the sustainability of any of this funding beyond the stimulus. There are no promises that this stimulus funding will establish a new baseline funding level for these science agencies. There is the possibility that this truly is “one and done.” The report language doesn’t speak to that directly, but seems to suggest that the idea with this influx of research funding in what was thought to be simply an “infrastructure” bill is to reestablish a trajectory towards the doubling targets in the America COMPETES Act. If that’s the case, we should expect that future appropriations bills will start with a funding level of $9 8 billion for NSF, for example (because $1 billion of the $3 billion increase is for a “one-time” infrastructure investment, while the remaining $2 billion is a research investment), and not revert back to the $6 billion pre-stimulus level. Hard to know exactly what the intent is and it’s hard to reach the appropriations staff to hear it from them directly. So what we have is the language for NSF, which is posted below for your own interpretation.
In other news, the “pre-conferencing” — or the bulk of negotiations between the Senate and House over differing priorities — for the FY 2009 omnibus appropriations bill is done, but the leadership is holding off moving it until after the stimulus is finished. We’re getting mixed signals on that one, too. While it’s likely the FY 09 Omnibus will include funding for science above the FY 08 levels (which were flat or a cut compared to FY 07), it might not be as much as either the House or Senate appropriations committees have separately agreed on in early versions of the bill because of the need to pay for other significant disagreements elsewhere in the bill. A dispute over what the Senate percieves as a $500 million shortfall in funding for the U.S. Census in the House version of the bill is one such sticking point that could impact science funding levels.
And then there’s the matter of the FY 10 budget, which will be released in skeletal form in early February and then fleshed out significantly by the new Administration in April. If the FY 10 budget numbers use the stimulus-increased numbers as the new baseline — if they ignore the FY 09 approps numbers, which were marked up pre-stimulus, in other words — then we really will be on the trajectory to realize the promise of COMPETES. If, however, they use the FY 09 approps levels as the baseline for FY 10, then it will mean that the stimulus funding for research was just a one-time bump, and we’ll likely have a near impossible task getting anywhere near those numbers again in FY10.
In any case, that’s what we know from a couple quick reads of the bill and report and conversations with congressional staff over the last week or so. None of this is a done deal until the ink is dry, and there will be much fighting about the final program levels before this is passed sometime between President’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day…. but it’s a very very nice place to start.
More detail as we learn more. Oh, and the NSF report language follows after the jump.

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