President’s Budget: National Science Foundation

The N.Y. Times was right…for FY 2006, the National Science Foundation is requesting a budget of $5.6 billion, an increase of 2.4 percent or $132 million over FY 2005. While an improvement over the 2 percent cut imposed in FY 05 by congressional appropriators, and certainly better than the rumored 5 percent cut initially approved by the White House for FY 06, the rate of growth proposed by the Administration would still fall below the rate of inflation.

Here’s the breakdown for the major NSF accounts:

NSF FY 2006 Budget by Account
(in millions)
Appropriations Account FY 2006 Request $ Change
FY 05 plan v. FY 06 request
% Change
FY 05 plan v. FY 06 request
Research and Related Activities $4,333 $113 2.7%
Education and Human Resources $737 -$104 -12.4%
Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction $250 $76 43.9%
Salaries and Expenses $269 $46 20.5%
National Science Board $4 $0.03 0.8%
Inspector General $11.5 $1.5 14.7%
Total $5,605 $132 2.4%

Some details from Bement’s presentation today:

  • “The Education and Human Resources account decreases for a second year. In that area, we are leveraging our resources by focusing investments on successful programs and developing closer links with research programs. … Ideally, all of NSF’s budget areas would remain robust so that we can maximize the nation’s return on investment. In a difficult budget climate, however, we do our best to exercise fiscal responsibility by singling out priorities.”
  • Four priorities for NSF are: Strengthening core research, continuing to provide tools and infrastructure, broadening participation, and continuing to sharpen NSF’s management.
  • The “not-so-good” news: “The number of proposals received by NSF has been increasing every year. As a result, the proportion of proposals the agency is able to fund has dropped dramatically — from 30 percent in the late 1990s, to around 20 percent that we expect this year.” Goal is to maintain the recent gains made in increasing award size and duration, while halting the erosion in the funding rate.
  • Cyberinfrastructure investments across the foundation total $509 million (about $120 million in CISE).
  • No new starts in MREFC account. Increase in the account “covers our commitment to large ongoing projects.”

    Here are the directorate-by-directorate breakdowns. If you focus only on the final columns — $ Change and % Change over FY 05 — it might appear that CISE has been de-emphasized among the directorates. This would run counter to Bement’s stated goal of ramping up CISE funding quickly to provide some immediate relief to the proposal pressure the directorate currently faces — its 16% success rate is the lowest among the directorates in the Foundation.

    However, as CISE AD Peter Freeman pointed out after the briefing today, Bement was able to prioritize funding for CISE for FY 2005, [provided the appropriators approve of Bement’s FY 05 plan] even though the final FY 05 appropriations included a 2% cut overall for NSF. So, you’ll note that CISE does reasonably well, relatively speaking, when compared to the other directorates, lagging only Polar Programs (not included in the chart) — which was transferred 3 icebreakers and $45 million from the US Coast Guard — in total dollar increase since FY 2004.

    Nevertheless, even with the increases in FY 05 and in the President’s request for FY 06, CISE’s rate of growth, along with that of the rest of the Foundation, still lags inflation.

    Anyway, here’s the table:

    National Science Foundation
    FY 2006 Congressional Request
    (in millions)
    NSF Account FY 2004 Actual FY 2005 Current Plan FY 2006 Request $ Change
    FY 04 Actual v. FY 06 Request
    % Change
    FY 04 Actual v. FY 06 Request
    $ Change
    FY 05 Plan v. FY 06
    % Change
    FY 05 Plan v. FY 06
    BIO $587 $577 $582 -$5.26 -0.9% $5.18 0.9%
    CISE $605 $614 $621 $15 2.5% $6.84 1.1%
    ENG* $566 $562 $580 $14 2.5% $18 3.2%
    GEO $713 $694 $709 -$4.31 -0.9% $15 2.2%
    MPS $1,092 $1,069 $1,086 -$5.36 -0.5% $16 1.5%
    SBE $184 $197 $199 $14.5 7.9% $1.9 1.0%

    The full set of NSF budget charts are on the web.

  • President’s Budget: National Science Foundation