August 26, 2008

NSF Study Confirms that Federal R&D and CS Funding Decreased for Second Straight Year

The Chronicle of Higher Ed yesterday covered the release of a National Science Foundation Info Brief on the decline of U.S. funding for academic research for the second straight year, noting that NSF declares the decline "unprecedented for this data series, which began in 1972."

Though federal funding for academic research technically increased from FY 2006 to FY 2007 by 1.1 percent to $30.4 billion in constant dollars, once adjusted for inflation the "increase" actually represents at 1.6 percent decline. This follows a 0.2 percent adjusted decrease between FY 2006 and FY 2005. And, though NSF isn't reporting it yet, we already know (barring a surprising 2nd second emergency supplemental appropriations) that FY 2008 will continue that negative trend.

The Chronicle piece notes that industry's support for academic research has ramped up and actually covered most of the federal decline overall. But that was not the case in Computer Science, which still saw a decrease of 1.4 percent in academic funding from all sources. It remains to be seen how some recent highly-publicized university-industry partnerships in computing will affect FY 08 and beyond, but at this point, every little (and big) bit helps.

As the Chronicle piece also points out, it's also too soon to know how the next President might handle the situation. What we do know is that the FY 2009 appropriations bills that Congress ought to be moving in advance of the Oct 1, 2008 beginning of the fiscal year are hopelessly mired in budget politics that won't likely get resolved until post November at the very earliest (and more likely next February or later). That's more bad news for science, which was again slated for big increases in those FY 09 bills. We'll keep an eye on all developments here and keep you posted.

June 30, 2008

Supplemental Signed By President

The Emergency Supplemental for FY08 -- the last chance to rectify the appropriations shortfall for science caused by the FY 08 Omnibus Appropriation -- has been signed by the President and is now law. Though science funding made it into the supplemental -- one of the few non-defense items in the bill -- the win for the science community is somewhat symbolic. The amount included ($400 million -- see here for a breakdown) is only about a third of the total shortfall of the FY08 appropriations, but it is nevertheless a sign that Congress and the White House understand the importance of research funding and are willing to back up their vocal support with some additional funding.

Meanwhile, the FY 09 appropriations process marches on, with some better news for science. As always, stay tuned here for the latest as the appropriations cycle moves forward (or not) this year.

June 20, 2008

Science Appears in Final FY 08 Emergency Supplemental, But Only Just Barely

A symbolic (and that's about all) victory for science in managing to get included in the FY 08 Emergency Supplemental Appropriation approved by the House today, though the amounts leave a lot to be desired. Even though the funding levels are pretty anemic, at least some money appeared in the bill. The great majority of other "special interests" that were clamoring to get into the bill didn't make it.

The House and Senate Leadership agreed on a $400 million bump for science agencies that got shortchanged in the FY 08 Omnibus Approps -- a far cry from the $1.2 billion included by the Senate in its version and an even further cry from the levels called for in the COMPETES Act (and ACI, and the Democratic Innovation Agenda).

Here's how it breaks out:

  • $62.5 million for Department of Energy's Office of Science (to "eliminate all furloughs and reductions in force which are a direct result of budgetary constraints")
  • $62.5 million for DOE Environmental Cleanup
  • $62.5 million for NASA
  • $62.5 million for NSF (a paltry $22.5 million for research and $40 million for EHR and the Noyce Scholarships)
  • $150 million for NIH (so even when NIH "loses," it still does better than the ACI agencies...)
The argument given by the House leadership for these funding levels is that these are the only amounts that are truly "emergency" funds. The FY 09 Appropriations bill are supposed to get the agencies back on track. Of course, the likelihood of the FY 09 bills getting finished is quite slim, but that's the story.

The Senate will pass the measure next week. The President has indicated that he's likely to sign it, so this is probably the end game for FY 08.

On to FY 09....

May 15, 2008

Update on the Supplemental

Well after a lot of rumors, innuendo, and veto threats, the House supplemental appropriations bill -- the last hope for rectifying the shortfall for science in FY 2008 -- does not contain additional funding for science and technology but the Senate version does. The House version, which is scheduled to be debated and voted on today, only includes additional domestic funding for veterans education, unemployment benefits, and Medicaid and some additional international aid that the President requested. The Senate version, which is scheduled to have floor time next week, also includes $1.2 billion for science at NASA, NSF, NIH, and DOE. It is unlikely that the Senate will pass the supplemental with a veto proof majority so the question going forward is how to reconcile the two bills -- and how they will handle the science funding -- and avoid a Presidential veto. It is likely that much of the Senate funding will get stripped out in order to satisfy House Republicans and “Blue Dog” Democrats who would vote against the additional spending and to avoid a veto by the President. We’ll keep you posted as the debate and votes happen and let you know how it all shakes out in the end…

Update: Here is a breakdown of the funding for science the Senate is including in their version of the supplemental.

$150 million for NSF basic research activities and $50 million for four science/math education programs.

$400 million for DOE - $300 million for environmental management and $100 million for ACI, of which $50 million is fusion (ITER).

$200 million for NASA for a new account to reimburse NASA programs that helped to cover costs associated with Space Shuttle return to flight after 2003 Columbia accident.

$400 million for NIH.

This additional funding, while welcome, does not cover the short fall for the ACI-related agencies who lost out in the FY08 omnibus. But at least the Senate included science funding which is more than can be said for the House version. Sigh.

April 17, 2008

WSJ Op-Ed on Missing Leadership in Science

Two Nobel Prize winners have an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal (sub. req’d) today regarding the need to make science a top priority of the next Administration. David Baltimore and Ahmed Zewail write that the next President needs to have an Office of Science and a science advisor at the White House in order to protect America’s competitive future. The piece makes a strong case for the necessity of strong leadership on science and science funding and is worth a read if you have access to the Wall Street Journal.

The section that best sums up the argument of the op-ed and the community as a whole plays on the fact that the three major candidates for President turned down an opportunity to have a debate focused on science issues is:

Apparently the top contenders for our nation's highest elective office have better things to do than explain to the public their views on securing America's future.

Protecting that future starts with understanding that much of the wealth in this country comes from scientific research and technological innovation. Translating science into commerce has opened up vast new fields of endeavor and has raised the standard of living in America. The country that is on the cutting edge of developing new technology is the country best positioned to benefit from that new technology.

April 16, 2008

Rumors Swirl Around Supplemental

We're starting to hear from folks on the Hill that it's looking more like science funding might be included in the initial supplemental when it comes out of the Senate. What's less clear is how much, though the consensus seems to be "likely less than the science and technology community hopes it will be." It's also not clear what the House might do with its version of the supplemental or what would happen if, as the President has repeatedly said, it gets vetoed for including domestic spending.

Another rumor buzzing around DC that the supplemental might actually get split into two bills: an Iraq-only funding bill and an Afghanistan and domestic spending bill. This is politically expedient for the Democrats as the issue of Iraq funding splits the party. By having a separate bill to fund the war in Afghanistan and some domestic programs, it allows the Democrats to vote against funding Iraq without withdrawal timetables but for Afghanistan and domestic program spending that they do support.

We'll know a lot more in the next week or two as the House and Senate appropriations committees begin their hearings and markups on the supplemental bills. Meanwhile, the science advocacy community continues to be very active in trying to make the case for science funding in the supplemental. Last week's grassroots effort (which included CRA's Computing Research Advocacy Network's involvement) appears to have generated a lot of phone calls to Members of Congress about the issue, and the various coalitions continue to weigh in with their corporate membership to make the case.

It's expected that the various supplemental bills will hit the House and Senate floors in late April or early May, so keep it tuned here for details.

April 07, 2008

Grassroots Effort to Urge Support for Science Funding in Supplemental

Here's a note sent to members of our Computing Research Advocacy Network. You can join, too!:

ACTION REQUEST: Call your U.S. Senators, your Representative in the House, and the White House this week to urge support for science funding in the FY 08 Supplemental.

WHY?: Though the FY 08 Appropriations process ended with an omnibus appropriations bill that eliminated most of the planned increases to science accounts called for in the President's budget and authorized in the bipartisan America COMPETES Act, we have one last chance to mitigate the damage to U.S. science efforts caused by that decision. Congress will soon consider a supplemental appropriations bill for FY 08 necessary to cover the costs of the ongoing war in Iraq and operations in Afghanistan, in addition to other immediate concerns not addressed in the FY 08 omnibus appropriation. CRA has covered this issue in depth in this space.

Members of the science advocacy community, including CRA, are mounting a strong effort, with the support of some Congressional champions, to address the shortfall for science in FY 08 in the supplemental spending bill. As part of that effort, CRA will be participating in a large-scale, grassroots effort to weigh-in with individual members of Congress about the importance of including additional funding for key science agencies in the supplemental appropriation.

We are asking members of CRAN to call their representatives in the House, their two U.S. senators and the White House on Tuesday, April 8th; Wednesday, April 9th; or Thursday, April 10th to urge support for the inclusion of additional funding for the Department of Energy Office of Science, the National Science Foundation, and the National Institute for Standards and Technology in the FY 08 supplemental appropriations bill.

HOW?: Here's a handy guide for the effort with all the details for your participation, including a simple script to use when calling. The point of this exercise is simply to register your opinion on this issue with your representatives in Congress and the White House. Calls to these offices are logged daily by issue and Members of Congress are influenced by call volumes in trying to decide how much an issue matters to their district. We expect significant participation from scientists and researchers across the disciplines -- we want to make sure computing researchers are heard from, too.

So, please plan to call your representative, senators and the White House this Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday as part of this effort. While the attached indicates you can place the call to the district offices or your representatives' DC offices, we've found through experience that a call to the DC office is more beneficial (more likely to be logged).

Phone numbers to use:

To call White House: (202) 456-1111

To call your Representative and Senators: Look up their contact info at Vote Smart

We'd also like to gauge our members participation, so please send us an e-mail when you call, letting us know who you called and whether you received any response. Please send the email to

Thanks again for your participation and support of computing research. Your effort will help convey to Congress and the Administration the breadth and depth of support for fully funding these key federal science agencies. Good luck with your calls!

To join the Computing Research Advocacy Network (CRAN) and receive email alerts, please sign up here.

April 02, 2008

AEA Cyberstates 2008 Report Released

While the economic news coming from most areas has been fairly poor in recent weeks, the American Electronics Association (AEA) Cyberstates 2008 report does have some good job news. Cyberstates 2008, which was released this week, showed job growth in technology and engineering of over 91,000 jobs in 2007. The news isn’t all good, however, as that was down from over 130,000 jobs added in 2006.

AEA President Christopher Hansen told Congress Daily that “The upside is that technology jobs pay considerably more than most other posts in the private sector and although the labor market remains tight, unemployment rates are below 2 percent across many tech occupations.” The bad news, he told the publication, is “The tech industry and the country risk an impending slide in U.S. global competitiveness, caused by negligence on the part of our political leaders to adequately invest in scientific research, improve our education system, and allow the best and brightest from around the world to work in the United States.”

AEA has been a forceful voice, alongside CRA and the rest of the S&T community, calling for fully funding the America COMPETES Act in order to keep job growth in these sectors going and to increase the competitiveness of the US.

Highlights from the Cyber States 2008 report can be found here.

February 07, 2008

FY 09 Budget Close-Up: National Science Foundation

The National Science Foundation (along with all other federal agencies) released its FY 09 Budget Request to Congress on Monday. We've already had some preliminary coverage of it, noting that, on the whole, computing research does pretty well. Late Monday afternoon NSF hosted a briefing on its budget to provide a little finer resolution look at what they hope to get from Congress in this appropriations season -- and we've got those details below (spoiler: they're pretty good).

But maybe just as importantly, NSF's Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) directorate also provided some detail about how it plans to deal with the austere appropriation it received from Congress for FY 2008. Before we get to the relatively good news from the request, it's probably appropriate to close the book on the FY 2008 numbers. You'll recall that CISE had some big plans for FY 2008. We've listed some of the potential impacts on NSF overall from the omnibus funding levels in a previous post, but here's what we know specifically about CISE:

  • NSF had requested a 9.0 percent increase for CISE in FY 2008, an increase of $47 million. Instead, CISE will see just a 1.5 percent increase -- $39 million less than requested.
  • The Cyber-enabled Discovery Initiative (CDI), a new initiative when it was proposed for FY 08, will see all of its requested funding. For FY 08, that's $20 million. Foundation-wide, CDI will be funded at $48 million in FY 08, down a bit from the overall request of $52 million, but still a strong commitment to a program that has attracted considerable attention within the computing community (with more to come in FY 09).
  • The biggest impact on CISE, therefore, is the growth that won't occur across the rest of the core in FY 08. Because NSF has targeted an average award size of $120,000 for FY 08, that's approximately 325 grants they had planned to award that they will not now as a result of the omnibus. On average, those 325 awards would have supported more than 400 graduate students this year.
Now, the good news.

For FY 2009, NSF hopes to make up the ground lost in the omnibus by requesting significant increases for its research directorates. Overall, NSF would see its budget increase by 14 percent over FY 08, to $6.06 billion in FY 09. Within that increase, computing research is featured prominently in the request. The Foundation-wide, but CISE led, Cyber-enabled Discovery and Innovation program would expand considerably under the agency's plan, growing from $48 million in FY 08 to $100 million in FY 09, including $33 million in CISE. Additionally, the agency has proposed two new foundation-wide initiatives that have strong computing foci. The first is a $20 million investment in "Science and Engineering Beyond Moore's Law," which "aims to position the U.S. at the forefront of communications and computation capability beyond the physical and conceptional limitations of current systems." That program would be led by the Mathematics and Physical Sciences directorate, but CISE would control $6 million in awards. The second is a $15 million investment ($3.5 million in CISE) in "Adaptive Systems Technology" that focuses on "generating pathways and interfaces between human and physical systems that will revolutionize the development of novel adaptive systems."

Additionally, CISE would see its core research budget increase by 19.5 percent, or $104 million, in FY 09 under the President's plan -- essentially making up all the ground lost with the omnibus. Programs of note within the directorate include:

  • $78 million for Computing Fundamentals -- set-aside for basic, potentially transformative research answering fundamental questions in computing that have the potential for "significant, enduring impact." Foci include cyber-physical systems, data-intensive computing, software for complex systems, cybersecurity, network science and engineering, and understanding "what is computable?" when humans and machines work together to solve problems neither can solve alone.
  • $33.6 million for CDI -- CISE would contribute over a third of the total NSF investment in the initiative and would be the "lead" directorate.
We'll have some additional charts spelling out exactly how CISE plans to spend its money in FY 09 very soon.

For now, it's enough to say that the budget appears to once again represent a good start for NSF and computing in the appropriations cycle. But it's just the start of a long, unpredictable process.

Next up, a focus on DOD IT R&D....

February 04, 2008

Computing Research Appears to Do Well in First Look at FY 09 Budget Numbers

The President's budget request for FY 2009 is now online and we've done a quick read through to glean some numbers of interest to the computing research community. These will likely be refined over the next few days as we figure out exactly what's in there and what's not, but it's a pretty good indication of where the President's priorities are as we head into his final year.

The Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) program
NITRD represents the sum total of the federal government's investment in information technology research across 13 federal agencies. Overall, the NITRD program would see an increase of 6 percent compared to estimated levels for FY 2008, due largely to increases in the three agencies featured in the President's American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI). IT R&D at the National Science Foundation would grow 17 percent> over FY 08 levels to $1.090 billion (putting NSF's share of NITRD at over a billion dollars for the first time). The Department of Energy's Office of Science computing research would grow 13 percent over FY 08 to $494 million. Dept of Commerce, which includes the National Institute of Standards and Technology, would grow 6 percent to $90 million.

Defense IT R&D appears to decrease 2 percent in the President's request vs FY08, but it's hard to assess that decrease without understanding exactly how many congressionally-directed projects (earmarks) were removed in the agency request. (More below.)

NASA and the National Institutes of Health also see either flat-funding or slight decreases in the request, but again, without knowing what earmarks were removed, it's hard to assess the budgets.

EPA and the National Archives and Records Administration would get what little they received in FY 08 in FY 09 ($6 million and $5 million, respectively).

Agency budgets:

NSF (pdf)
NSF research accounts would increase 16 percent (14 percent for NSF overall) over FY 08 in the President's plan, to $6.06 billion. Included in that $6 billion is "$1.1 billion for fundamental information technology research and cutting-edge supercomputing and networking resources, including: $100 million, an 110-percent increase, for an NSF-wide effort to develop radically new computational concepts and tools [this is Cyber-enabled Discovery and Innovation -- Peter]; and $30 million for a new targeted cyber-security research effort in privacy, fundamental theory and usability."

We'll have CISE numbers after NSF's budget briefing later this afternoon.

DOE (pdf)
DOE Science Programs would grow 19 percent vs FY 08 to $4.7 billion. As noted above, DOE's IT R&D would see a 13 percent increase (on top of the nearly 25 percent increase DOE's Advanced Scientific Computing Research account received in the omnibus for FY 08).

NIST (pdf)
NIST core research would increase 4 percent over FY 08, but given the heavy earmarks in the omnibus that were likely stripped from this agency request, that may actually seem like a much more substantial increase.

NASA (pdf)
NASA science would drop 4 percent to $4.4 billion.

NIH (pdf)
NIH is flat-funded in the President's request.

Defense (pdf)
This is trickiest to figure out given the how heavily the DOD budget is earmarked. The President's budget calls for an increase of just 4 percent for Defense Basic (6.1) research and a decrease of 16 percent to Defense Applied (6.2) research vs. FY 08. However, if you subtract the earmarks from the FY 08 baseline, the increase for DOD 6.1 is more like 17 percent. DOD 6.2 shorn of earmarks would also grow in FY 09 to look like a 3.5 percent *increase* over FY 08 (not a 16 percent decrease). But the devil's in the details and we'll have many more of those in the coming days.

On the whole, it looks like the President has followed through with his commitment to ACI in his final budget. Of course, he's also pledged to take some very firm stands regarding earmarks in the upcoming appropriations process (he's threatened to veto any appropriations bill sent to his desk that doesn't cut FY08 earmark levels in half). That stand virtually guarantees he won't be around when Congress finally gets around to passing approps bills. It's very unlikely Congress will want to a) give up that many earmarks and b) engage in a battle over appropriations before the election, so it's likely this won't get settled until January 09 (or later). But, as with last year, we start with some pretty healthy numbers. In fact, in terms of IT R&D, we start with the healthiest requests we've seen in many years.

More details to come.

January 25, 2008

FY 2008 Omnibus: Damage Assessment

Update: (1/30/08) -- Cameron Wilson of USACM has some additional (depressing) details of the impact of the omnibus on the third ACI-related agency, the National Institute of Standards and Technology. For the impact on the other two -- NSF and DOE's Office of Science -- see the original post just below!

Original Post: We're beginning to get a sense of how the shortfall in the FY 2008 Omnibus Appropriations bill will impact specific programs in some of the federal science agencies. While we won't get the full story until after the FY 09 Budget comes out on February 4th, the bits and pieces that are leaking around town are fairly dispiriting.

First the good news. It appears that though NSF's research accounts only received $57 million in new money for FY 08 (an increase over FY 07 that fails to keep pace with inflation), the $52 million Cyber-enabled Discovery and Innovation program will likely move forward, though it's not clear whether it will be "fully-funded." Unfortunately, that's where the good news ends. The rest of the stats are pretty gruesome:

  • NSF will likely fund 1,000 fewer research grants in FY 08 than planned and the average award size will be smaller.
  • NSF Graduate Fellowships will drop by 230.
  • The number of Faculty Early Career Awards will likely drop by five percent.
  • The Science of Science and Innovation Policy program will likely be delayed.
  • The Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship program, slated to grow to $40 million in FY 08 will instead be flat-funded at $10 million.
  • The National Ecological Observatory Network will likely be delayed.
  • The Ocean Observatories Initiative will likely be delayed.
  • Research Experiences for Undergraduates may be reduced by five percent.
  • Science of Learning Centers will likely face a delay and possible reduction.
Things aren't any better at the Department of Energy's Office of Science. While the Advanced Scientific Computing Research program will see an pretty healthy increase in FY 08 (about 25 percent) and the start of a new "Institute for Advanced Architectures and Algorithms" with Centers of Excellence at Sandia National Labs and Oak Ridge National Labs, researchers across the board (including computing researchers) will see cuts or layoffs as a result of the overall agency budget. Here's what we know so far:
  • Cuts to the Fusion Energy Sciences budget will result in layoffs of up to 40 at ORNL, PPPL, SRL, and LANL.
  • Cuts to the Basic Energy Sciences budget mean that no funding for any new research initiatives in use-inspired energy research and the layoff of approximately 50 permanent PhDs, 30 postdocs, and 20 students from on-going research programs. (As a comparison, the new research initiatives called for in the FY 08 budget would have supported about 400 permanent PhDs, 120 postdocs and 240 students).
  • Cuts to High Energy Physics will result in some facility closures and the loss of support for 450 employees (250 at the Stanford Linear Accelerator and 200 at Fermi Lab).
  • Cuts to Nuclear Physics will result in reductions of up to 8 permanent PhDs, 10 postdocs and 10 students.
It's not clear whether anything can be done to mitigate any of these cuts. Congress has, in theory, closed the book on FY 2008. There are a couple of legislative vehicles that could provide opportunities to supplement these poor funding levels, but the likelihood that they will be used that way is pretty slim.

The first is in the economic stimulus package that will be passed shortly by the Congress in an effort to provide some relief for U.S. taxpayers and get them spending money in this slowing economy. While the House is not likely to include any funding for science as part of a stimulus, there's a teeny-tiny chance that the Senate might give it a run. But even though the amount of the shortfall for science represents a very small portion of the proposed stimulus package -- $900 million versus $150 billion -- there are not likely to be too many in the House or the Administration who would be willing to support any additions beyond their original proposal. So, the odds for this route are, well, beyond slim.

The second is in the emergency supplemental appropriations bill that will have to be considered in the next few months to pay for the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Emergency supplemental bills have frequently been looked to in the past as a good place to stash a bit of extra funding for favored projects, provided you can make the case (however tenuous) that the funding is going for some sort of "emergency" use. Given the number of jobs lost at federal research facilities, and the fact that U.S. participation in some international research efforts (particularly the ITER fusion reactor project) is in jeopardy as a result of the FY 08 omnibus, Congress and the Administration might agree that supplemental funding is actually appropriate and include it in the supplemental appropriations bill. So, while this is unlikely to mitigate the whole of the shortfall, it's not inconceivable that Congress could include $100-300 million, particularly for DOE Office of Science, to help mitigate the damage.

Beyond that, we're looking at trying to make up as much of the difference in the FY 2009 appropriations process. The science community and the high-tech industry are already gearing up for that fight -- with lessons learned from our failures in FY 08. Expect to read much more about how that effort moves forwards in the coming weeks....

January 20, 2008

Craig Barrett's Upset About the Omnibus (and who can blame him?)

Craig Barrett, Chairman of Intel, comes out swinging over the debacle that was the FY 08 Omnibus Appropriations Act and it's impact on federal support for the physical sciences, computing, mathematics and engineering, in a piece that runs today in the San Francisco Chronicle (which should get Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-CA) attention). The whole piece is well-worth reading, but I thought his conclusion was remarkably on point:

The United States stands at a pivotal point in our history. Competition is heating up around the world with millions of industrious, highly educated workers who are willing to compete at salaries far below those paid here. The only way we can hope to compete is with brains and ideas that set us above the competition - and that only comes from investments in education and R&D. Practically everyone who has traveled outside the United States in the last decade has seen this dynamic at work. The only place where it is apparently still a deep, dark secret is in Washington, D.C.

What are they thinking? When will they wake up? It may already be too late; but I genuinely think the citizenry of this country wants the United States to compete. If only our elected leaders weren't holding us back.


January 03, 2008

The Long Nose of Innovation

There's an interesting piece running now in BusinessWeek by Microsoft Researcher Bill Buxton that capitalizes on the buzz around the concept of the "long tail" in business by arguing that there's an equally important "long nose" in business innovation that represents the long period of research and development that's required to bring innovative products to market. Here's a snip:

My belief is there is a mirror-image of the long tail that is equally important to those wanting to understand the process of innovation. It states that the bulk of innovation behind the latest "wow" moment (multi-touch on the iPhone, for example) is also low-amplitude and takes place over a long period—but well before the "new" idea has become generally known, much less reached the tipping point. It is what I call The Long Nose of Innovation.
It's a great article and certainly worth reading in full.

In the piece, he mentions a chart Butler Lampson presented to the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board of the National Research Council that traced the history of a number of key technologies. That's this chart (frequently referred to as the "tire tracks" chart, for reasons that should be apparent). The chart originally appeared in a 1995 CSTB report, in which the CSTB had identified 9 billion-dollar sectors in the IT economy that bore the stamp of federally-supported research. They revised the chart in 2003 and identified 10 more sectors. I'm guessing that if they revised it again today (and I understand they are), you could at add least three more billion-dollar sectors -- "Search," "Social Networks," and "Digital Video" -- all enabled in some way by long-term research, usually supported by the federal government ... exactly the type of long-term research that got hit hardest in this year's appropriations debacle.

(Ed Lazowska's testimony before the House Government Reform committee in 2004 contains an extended riff on the chart -- how it shows the complex interplay between federally-supported university-based research and industrial R&D efforts; how industry based R&D is a fundamentally different character than university-based R&D; how the chart illustrates how interdependent the IT R&D ecosystem really is; and how university-based research produces not just ideas, but people, too. It's all under the section titled "The Ecosystem that Gives Birth to New Technologies," though the whole testimony is certainly worth a read, too.)

December 18, 2007

More On the Awful Omnibus

Cameron Wilson at USACM's Technology Policy Blog has a great dissection of the FY2008 Omnibus Appropriations bill in which Congress managed to reverse two years worth of positive efforts in science and innovation funding policy. His piece is titled "Congress Abandons Commitment to Basic Research; Puts NIST in the Construction Business" and it's a must read.

Also, the Task Force on the Future of American Innovation (of which CRA is a member) released a statement today expressing grave disappointment in the appropriations outcome. Since it's not yet posted on the Task Force website, I'll quote it here:

The FY08 omnibus appropriations bill that Congress is considering represents a step backwards for the bipartisan innovation agenda. The President and Congress, for all their stated support this year for making basic research in the physical sciences and engineering a top budget priority ended up essentially cutting, or flat-funding, key science agencies after accounting for inflation.

The nations that seek to challenge our global leadership in science and innovation should be greatly encouraged by this legislation.

The President and a near-unanimous Congress, by enacting the America COMPETES Act earlier this year, laid out a bold path toward revitalizing basic research in the physical sciences and engineering. COMPETES was a welcome Congressional initiative to double funding for America’s science research programs and expand science education that complemented the President’s American Competitiveness Initiative and the Democratic Innovation Agenda.

This appropriations legislation takes a step back from the promises contained in all of these initiatives.

The Task Force on the Future of American Innovation is hopeful that this reversal of direction does not represent a lack of commitment to turning around the nation’s long decline in support for basic research programs. For now, the failure to provide the funding required to begin growing these programs makes these promises little more than empty gestures. We intend to work with the Administration and Congress in the new year to make the promise of America COMPETES a reality.

Strong words from an organization consisting of some of the most important technology companies and organizations on the planet.

Finally, it's worth pointing out some interesting statistics. Late last summer, 367 members of the House of Representatives voted to pass H.R. 2272, The America COMPETES Act, which we celebrated and covered in great detail. It was an unequivocal demonstration of support for strengthening the federal investment in basic research in the physical sciences, computing, mathematics and engineering and the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. Of those 367 members who voted for the COMPETES Act, 244 voted for this omnibus bill -- a bill which represents a nearly 180 degree reversal from the goals of COMPETES. 206 Democrats, 38 Republicans.

Now there were clearly other possible reasons for voting for the omnibus, including a deluge of earmarks in the bill. But the fact remains that support for science ceased to be a priority for those 244 members -- including quite a few who probably should have had science ranked high on their personal lists. As we now start to think about the FY 09 appropriations process, certainly it will be worth checking in with those members to understand the dissonance in their positions. (See the extended entry for the full list....)

Democratic House Members Who Voted for Both the COMPETES Act and the Omnibus

Bishop (GA)
Bishop (NY)
Boyda (KS)
Brady (PA)
Braley (IA)
Brown, Corrine
Davis (AL)
Davis (CA)
Davis (IL)
Davis, Lincoln
Frank (MA)
Green, Al
Green, Gene
Hall (NY)
Herseth Sandlin
Jackson (IL)
Jackson-Lee (TX)
Johnson (GA)
Klein (FL)
Larsen (WA)
Larson (CT)
Lewis (GA)
Lofgren, Zoe
Mahoney (FL)
Maloney (NY)
McCarthy (NY)
McCollum (MN)
Meek (FL)
Meeks (NY)
Miller (MI)
Miller (NC)
Miller, George
Moore (KS)
Moore (WI)
Moran (VA)
Murphy (CT)
Murphy, Patrick
Neal (MA)
Peterson (MN)
Price (NC)
Ryan (OH)
Sánchez, Linda T.
Sanchez, Loretta
Scott (GA)
Scott (VA)
Smith (WA)
Thompson (MS)
Udall (CO)
Udall (NM)
Van Hollen
Walz (MN)
Wasserman Schultz
Welch (VT)
Wilson (OH)

Republican House Members Who Voted for Both the COMPETES Act and the Omnibus:
Davis, Tom
Diaz-Balart, L.
Diaz-Balart, M.
Johnson (IL)
King (NY)
Kuhl (NY)
Smith (NJ)
Walsh (NY)
Young (AK)
Young (FL)

December 17, 2007

NSF, NIST Lose Out in Final (?) Omnibus

Update: (12/17/07 1:30 pm) -- It appears this bill is even worse than we initially thought. It turns out that the 3.3 percent increase for NSF's research accounts ("Research and Related Activities") is artificially inflated by some bookkeeping -- namely the shifting of the EPSCoR program from the Education and Human Resources directorate to R&RA. Taking that shift into account, there's really only $57 million in "new" funding in the R&RA account -- a terribly anemic 1.2 percent increase for the research portion of the only federal agency devoted to supporting basic research. When you factor in inflation, that 1.2 percent really represents a cut -- and a complete reversal of the goals of the ACI, the COMPETES Act, and the innovation plans so touted by the congressional leadership.....

Original Post: Having gotten a peek at the final details for what will end up in the omnibus appropriations bill the House will consider Tuesday, I'm a bit dismayed at the choices that have been made. (Congressional Quarterly has the details; unfortunately, you'll need a subscription to access them. The House Rules Committee has the text of the agreement online now.)

Those who have been following the saga that is the FY 08 appropriations process will recall that the total spending in the appropriations bills left unfinished by Congress (which included everything but Defense) exceeded the President's budget request by $23 billion, a figure that brought out the President's veto threat. The Democratic leadership tried to assess that threat by passing a Labor/HHS/Education bill they knew he would veto. When he vetoed it and the Congress failed to override it, it was clear who held the power in the negotiation. So, realizing they didn't have the leverage they needed, the Democratic leadership began to cut back. They attempted to meet the President halfway with an omnibus that proposed an $11 billion cap overrun, but when they couldn't peel off enough GOP members to override any potential veto, they caved completely, agreeing to live within the President's budget cap for all the unfinished appropriations bills.

Unfortunately for the National Science Foundation and National Institute for Standards and Technology -- two agencies that had been at the focal point of the President's American Competitiveness Initiative and the Democratic Innovation Agenda -- living under the cap meant that other programs within the omnibus received higher priorities and the planned increases for those two science agencies were cut sharply.

NSF, which under the House and Senate appropriations plans approved earlier in the year would have received either a 10 or 11 percent increase (respectively) over FY 07, will instead receive just 2.5 percent vs. FY 07 in the new omnibus. NSF's R&RA account (which funds the research directorates) will see just a 3.3 percent increase over FY 07 (instead of a planned 10.5 percent increase), should the omnibus pass.

NIST's research efforts, which had been slated to grow over 15 percent vs. FY 07 in the House and Senate bills, will instead see that planned increase drop to just 1.4 percent over FY 07, should the bill pass.

DOE Office of Science fares a bit better -- and DOE-related computing research comes out even further ahead in the deal. The Office of Science would have grown over 18 percent vs. FY 07 in the earlier House and Senate plans, but the new agreement will reduce that rate of increase to a still-respectable 6.8 percent. Advanced Scientific Computing Research, which had been slated to grow about 20 percent over FY07, would actually see *more* money in the new agreement -- a growth of 25 percent over FY 07. Included in the increase is $19.5 million to "continue the Department's participation in the [DARPA] High Productivity Computing Systems partnership" and an increase of $7.7 million for Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility to "maintain the planned budget and cost schedule."

The agreement also includes details of an additional effort:

The Office of Science and the [NNSA] are directed to establish the Institute for Advanced Architectures and Algorithms with Centers of Excellence at Sandia National Labs and [ORNL]. These Centers will execute a national program involving industry, universities and national laboratories that is focused on technologies to sustain the U.S. leadership in high performance computing. The NNSA ASC and Office of Science ASCR programs will jointly fund the program and provide direction needed to support the goal of developing exascale computing for the Nation.
So, the House is set to begin consideration of the bill Tuesday. The Senate will get it as soon as the House passes it. It's not clear whether the President will sign. There's a core of the House GOP leadership that's still not content with the limited spending in the omnibus. They're leading an effort to push for a "Continuing Resolution" for FY 2008 (funding all agencies at their FY 07 levels) instead of the omnibus as a way of holding an even sharper line on spending. I suppose it's possible that the President could veto the omnibus , and he could cite a lot of reasons -- runaway earmarks, poor prioritization by congressional Democrats, the gutting of ACI -- and the House GOP could force a CR by sustaining the veto. In that case, it would behoove the science advocacy community to push hard for special consideration of ACI-related agencies, as happened under the last CR. And it's not implausible that GOP hard-liners might support it -- after all, the real point of the CR would be to put a hold on earmarks. The science increases are, in fact, in the President's budget.

But barring that somewhat unlikely chain of events -- Presidential veto -> House GOP uphold veto and force CR -> CR favors ACI-related agencies -- the ACI-related increases we'd hoped for at NSF and NIST appear to be lost. It's hard not look for those to blame. The Democratic leadership is certainly open to some criticism for these numbers. When push came to shove and they were forced to live within the President's budget constraints, the leadership didn't feel that preserving the increases for science funding rose to a high enough priority in the face of other increases for programs and earmarks elsewhere in the omnibus. At the same time, the inability to put together appropriations bills that could garner enough support to pass with sufficient support isn't unique to their leadership. You'll recall the FY 07 appropriations process, managed by the GOP, also melted down in spectacular fashion.

In any case, this is a very disappointing development. Failing to get this bipartisan priority (President's ACI, Democratic Innovation Agenda) funded -- essentially abandoning science when it counted -- only puts at risk our long-term competitiveness. It's especially disappointing when one considers how many voices from all sides of the political spectrum have weighed in in support bolstering federal science funding, when the Administration has seen fit to make it a Presidential priority, and when Congress has emphasized its commitment with the passage of a landmark competitiveness bill in overwhelmingly bipartisan fashion.

So, it's hard to imagine what else can be done. The debate over funding for FY 08 is much much larger than science funding. The issues that led to the meltdown are heavily political and have considerations that outweigh anything the science community could bring to the table. But, this is certainly a step back, I think, from science's standing in the Congress at the beginning of this year, when it was granted special status in the CR for FY 07.

Though it certainly gives us a rallying cry for FY 09.

We'll have more details as the omnibus moves forward and a final breakdown of the agency-by-agency numbers when they're passed.

December 12, 2007

Task Force Competitiveness Briefing

The Task Force on the Future of American Innovation, of which CRA is a very active member, hosted another successful competitiveness briefing on Capitol Hill today. A full room heard from Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), an introduction by the president of the National Academy of Engineering Dr. Charles Vest, and a keynote address by Norm Augustine. Also, in attendance was Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA) who has backed the issue of increased basic research funding since before the "Rising Above the Gathering Storm" report was released.

Senator Bingaman echoed Dr. Vest when he said that the difficult work was still ahead because the current appropriations meltdown. He also said that the efforts of competitiveness were a long-term project. Senator Alexander said that it was important to continue to broaden the base of support for competitiveness issues in Congress but that it would be a mistake to think this issue was solely the responsibility of Congress. He said that everyone needs to be involved in order to keep America competitive.

Norm Augustine, who in addition to chairing the National Academies panel that produced the hugely influential "Rising Above the Gathering Storm" report and has since chaired a follow-up called “Is America Falling off the Flat Earth?”, pointed out that while great progress was made toward funding basic research in the FY07 appropriations, sustaining the momentum of increases in FY08 was critical. He said, “Leadership in science and technology is not a birthright of the United States” but is something that needs to be fought for and won every day. An interesting statistic that he used was that two-thirds of the increased labor productivity over the last several decades was contributable to federal investment in research.

The event ended with a screening of the Task Force YouTube contest winning video that we’ve previously mentioned here.

November 19, 2007

FY 2008 Defense Appropriations Bill Passed

On Tuesday (Nov. 13th), the President signed the FY 2008 Defense Appropriations conference report, making that bill the first of the twelve FY 08 appropriations bills necessary to fund the continued operation of government to grind its way through to passage (it's now P.L. 110-116). The Defense bill includes just over $77 billion in funding for Defense Research, Development, Testing and Evaluation (RDT&E), an increase of 2.0 percent over FY 07 and 2.9 percent above the President's requested level for FY 08. Included within that RDT&E account are pretty substantial increases over the President's request for basic and applied research efforts in some areas of interest to the computing community -- and more modest growth in others. At the same time, overall funding for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), will see a decline in FY 08 vs both the President's request and the FY 07 level.

We've whipped up a handy chart to show some of the detail for selected basic (6.1) and applied (6.2) research accounts. While the chart tells much of the story, it doesn't explain everything going on with funding. For that, your best bet is to take a look at the conference report itself (pdf). The section of interest is "Title IV. Research, Development, Test and Evaluation," that begins on page 243 of the PDF. It details the program level changes to each line item for the Army, Navy, Air Force and "Defense-wide" programs. It's a lot to digest.
Click to Enlarge
In general, what our chart above shows is that the research programs of note in the service labs got more than they asked for in FY 08, but that the defense-wide accounts (primarily DARPA) didn't do quite as well. When you compare the funding levels to FY 07, the gains aren't as significant (generally). But there's a bit of a budget game going on here that tends to obfuscate actual gains and losses in each account. [Warning: budget wonkery follows.] As readers of this blog probably already know, the FY 07 level represents the funding level after Congress finished its work on last year's DOD appropriations bill. The FY 07 final number represented an increase in most accounts over the President's budget request for FY 07. The Administration labels most of those increases "earmarks," especially if those increases are targeted to very specific programs or performers. When the President prepares his budget request for the next year (in this case, FY 08), he strips out as many of those "earmarks" as he can justify. This is why the defense request always seems like a cut compared to final enacted level for the previous year. As the request works its way through the appropriations process, the cycle repeats and much of that funding gets added back in by Congress, making it appear that there are increases in those accounts. And indeed there's just that many of those increases probably are earmarks for very specific programs or performers.

So, while these increases look pretty healthy when compared to the President's budget request (shorn of earmarks, as it was) -- and we certainly like to see more money in these accounts -- ideally, we'd like to see those increases in the form of additional money for competitive, merit-based research funding. At this point, it's tough to tell how much of these increases fit that description, at least in the 6.2 accounts. In the 6.1 accounts, it's reasonable to assume that much of the increases found in the bill represent additional competitive funding.

One change to the appropriations bills this year has made it a bit easier to see who to credit for some of the increases to defense basic research accounts. New rules on transparency in the Senate mean that every change to the budget estimate called for in the bill gets credited to someone, so you can see who requested it in the Senate committee report. So, for example, we know that we owe thanks for the non-earmarked increases to the University Research Initiatives in the bill to Sens. Bayh (D-IN), Clinton (D-NY), Collins (R-ME), Johnson (D-SD), Kennedy (D-MA), Kerry (D-MA), Levin (D-MI), Leiberman (D-CT), Pryor (D-AR) and Stabenow (D-MI). Hopefully the House Appropriations Committee will follow through with "Requested by" language in their future bills. [end of budget wonkery]

Two accounts that don't seem to fare particularly well in the bill are DARPA IT accounts -- the Defense-wide Information and Communications Technology program (which will see a decline of 1.3 percent, about $3 million, vs. FY 07) and Cognitive Computing (which will see a decline of about 2.7 percent, or $4.9 million) in FY 08. As you can see in the chart, compared to the President's budget request, ICT will increase slightly (0.9 percent, or $2.1 million), and Cognitive Computing will decline slightly (2.2 percent, or $3.9 million). Much of the reason for this decline is attributed to an "execution adjustment" by the appropriations committees. In other words, DARPA wasn't spending the money it had previously been appropriated in a timely enough fashion, so the appropriators adopted a "use it or lose it" mindset and "reclaimed" that money for other accounts in the bill.

This is the same reasoning for much of the overall cut to DARPA in the bill. DARPA will see a decrease of $135 million vs. FY 07, or about 4.3 percent less in FY 08. Compared to the President's request for FY 08, the agency will see a $106 million cut, or 3.4 percent. The appropriators and the DARPA leadership are of two minds on the reasons for slow spend-out rate for some DARPA programs. The DARPA leadership contends it's acting as a good steward of taxpayer dollars, only paying grant-recipients when key milestones are met. However, the appropriators (and some on the Armed Services Committees, as well), contend that what's really happening is a bottleneck in the Director's office -- that micromanagement of programs is slowing execution. Regardless of the actual cause, the fact remains that DARPA isn't spending all the money it's been appropriated and so the appropriators -- who control the purse strings -- have adjusted DARPA's budget accordingly.

With the Defense bill finished, Congress is left with 11 bills to complete before closing the book on FY 2008. Only one other bill, the Labor/HHS/Ed appropriations, has been sent to the President, and it was promptly vetoed (a veto subsequently upheld, just barely, in the House). The Labor/HHS/Ed bill, which includes funding for the National Insitutes of Health and the Department of Education, came in about $9.8 billion over the President's desired "cap" for the bill, earning his veto, and Congressional Democrats weren't able to entice enough Republican members to vote to override (they fell 2 votes short in the House). The Democratic leadership figures to attempt to meet the President "halfway" with an omnibus package of unfinished bills before the year's end, but it's not clear whether they'll get sufficient Republican support to force a compromise. It's also not clear what a "halfway" package might mean for the hard-won gains for science contained in some of the unfinished bills, including the Commerce, Science, Justice bill (House / Senate).

Congress has until December 14th before it will have to pass yet another stopgap spending bill to keep the government operating (the Defense Approps bill included a "continuing resolution" to keep government operating without additional appropriations through Dec 14th -- the FY 08 fiscal year began Oct 1, 2007.) Whether they manage a compromise by then is anyone's guess, but the consensus around town is a deal is likely by Christmas. And when it happens, we'll have all the detail here.

Posted by PeterHarsha at 02:14 PM
Posted to FY08 Appropriations | Funding | Policy

November 05, 2007

The Chronicle on Cyber-Enabled Discovery and Innovation

Questions about NSF's new $52 million Cyber-enabled Discovery and Innovation initiative? The Chronicle of Higher Education is hosting a "Brown Bag" discussion on the topic with CDI program director Sirin Tekinay on Thursday, November 8th, at noon ET. You can submit your questions now and Sirin will join the discussion on Thursday with answers.

As we've mentioned previously, the CDI initiative is a cross-Foundation initiative aimed at "[broadening] the Nation's capability for innovation by developing a new generation of computationally based discovery concepts and tools to deal with complex, data-rich and interacting systems." The $52 million initiative* will be led by CISE (which will control about $20 million), with participation from Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Science, Social, Behavioral and Economic science, Cyberinfrastructure, International Science, and EHR. NSF hopes to grow the program in successive budget years up to $250 million in 2012, with CISE controlling a proportional share. So this is potentially a very big deal.

Tune in to the chat on Thursday and learn more!

* NSF requested $52 million for the program in FY 08, and Congressional appropriators have included full funding for the program in their as-yet-unpassed appropriations bills. However, the Chronicle describes CDI as a $26 million program and I'm not sure where that number came from. In any case, the final total for FY 08 won't be known until Congress and the President sort out the mess that FY 08 appropriations has become....

Posted by PeterHarsha at 09:35 AM
Posted to FY08 Appropriations | Funding | R&D in the Press | Research

October 05, 2007

Senate CJS Approps Considered, Veto Threat Issued

The Senate began consideration of the Commerce, Justice, Science appropriation bill yesterday but put off further consideration of the bill until October 15. Despite the delay, President Bush has released a Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) stating -- no surprise -- he will veto the bill if it is passed at the current funding levels.

The bill includes $5.156 billion for NSF’s Research and Related Activities including $52 million for the Cyber Enabled Discovery and Innovation program, $244.6 million for Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction, and $850.6 million for Education and Human Resources Directorate - a $100 million increase over the President’s request. During consideration, an amendment adding $1 billion to the funding of NASA was passed, bringing NASA’s total to $18.5 billion within the bill. The bill includes $863 million for NIST including $110 million for the Manufacturing Extension Programs (MEP) and $100 million for the Advanced Technology Program (ATP).

The Administration has many concerns with this bill although they mostly are with the Commerce and Justice parts of the bill. The SAP does oppose the increase to NASA and the extra $100 million for NSF’s EHR. The SAP also states opposition to the funding amounts for the MEP and ATP programs, as he has in recent budget years.

Related posts on this topic can be found here.

July 28, 2007

President's Remarks on Research and Innovation

President Bush yesterday presented awards to the 2005 and 2006 National Medal of Science and Technology Recipients, and in his remarks reiterated his support for a strong federal role in support of fundamental research. There's no guarantee, of course, that the President's strong support now will help alleviate the coming appropriations meltdown (that could threaten science funding gains), but at least it appears that his heart is in the right place. The full remarks are here, but I thought I'd just highlight a bit of them:

The work of these Laureates demonstrates that innovation is vital to a better future for our country and the world. In America, the primary engine of innovation is the private sector. But government can help by encouraging the basic research that gives rise to promising new thought and products. So that's why I've worked with some in this room and around our country to develop and propose the American Competitiveness Initiative. Over ten years, this initiative will double the federal government's commitment to the most critical, basic research programs in physical sciences. Last year the Congress provided more than $10 billion, and that's just a start. And I call on leaders of both political parties to fully fund this initiative for the good of the country.

Maintaining our global leadership also requires a first-class education system. There are many things that American schools are doing right -- including insisting on accountability for every single child. There are also some areas where we need to improve. And so as members work to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act, one of their top priorities has got to be to strengthen math and science education.

One way to do that is to create an "adjunct teachers corps" of math and science professionals all aiming to bring their expertise into American classrooms. It's not really what the aim is -- the aim is to make it clear to young Americans that being in science and engineering is okay; it's cool; it's a smart thing to do. And so for those of you who are involved with inspiring youngsters, thank you for what you're doing. I appreciate you encouraging the next generation to follow in your footsteps. And I ask that Congress fully fund the adjunct teacher corps, so you can have some help as you go out to inspire.

One of the many reasons that I am an optimistic fellow, and I am, is because I understand that this country is a nation of discovery and enterprise. And that spirit is really strong in America today. I found it interesting that one of today's Laureates, Dr. Leslie Geddes, is 86 years old and continues to teach and conduct research at Purdue University. Even more interesting is what he had to say. He said, "I wouldn't know what else to do. I'm not done yet." (Laughter.)

He's right. He's not done yet, because the promise of science and technology never runs out. With the imagination and determinations of Americans like our awardees today, our nation will continue to discover new possibilities and to develop new innovations, and build a better life for generations to come. And that's what we're here to celebrate.

More on the awards, including links to pictures of each awardee receiving their medal, is here.

July 25, 2007

Appropriations Update -- FY 08 Defense Approps and Commerce, Justice, Science

Two developments of note today in the annual appropriations cycle. First, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense will mark up its version of the FY 2008 Defense Appropriations Bill, which includes research funding for the various service and defense-wide accounts. We've gotten our first look at the funding levels for the Research, Development, Testing and Evaluation title of the bill in the Chairman's mark, and they look pretty good for most of the accounts the computing research community might care about. In general, defense basic research accounts (6.1) are up vs. the President's request, as are most of the computing-related applied research accounts (6.2). The remainder are funded at the President's request.

DARPA does suffer an overall cut in the bill, however, related to the fact that the committee continues to have concerns with the rate of spending at the agency. DARPA has been slow to execute programs for which it has been appropriated money either because a) the agency has been a careful steward of taxpayer dollars or b) because programs have become bottlenecked in the Director's office, depending on whether you believe the agency's explanation or the feeling among some congressional committee staff. As a result the committee reduced funding in the Biological Warfare, Electronics Technology, Advanced Aerospace Systems and Land Warfare Technology program elements. As a result of this spend-it-or-lose-it DC culture, the cuts would cause DARPA to lose $80 million vs. FY 2007, a reduction of 2.6 percent.

For a more-detailed look at the different accounts, take a gander at the table included in the jump. (Click on the "Continue Reading" link below). We'll update the table as we get additional detail.

Keep in mind, however, that these numbers are just a first step. The committee needs to approve them, then the whole House, then the Senate needs to approve its version, then a compromise version between the chambers, and then, after all that, it's likely that the President will veto the bill for being too generous. (More on that below....) So, consider these numbers a starting point in the inevitable negotiation that will occur between both the Senate and the President. But, it's a good place to start.

Speaking of vetoes, the Administration also issued a Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) yesterday on the FY 2008 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill that the House will begin debating today, indicating that the President intends to veto the bill should the version the House will likely approve land on his desk. The CJS Appropriations bill, as we've discussed previously, contains funding for some science agencies we care about -- in particular, the National Science Foundation and National Institute of Standards and Technology (as well as NASA and NOAA). The bill includes healthy increases for both NSF and NIST, in line with both the President's American Competitiveness Initiative and the Democratic Innovation Agenda.

Despite issuing the veto threat, the President does commend the bill for its support of NSF and NIST's research accounts, but takes issue with increases the House Appropriations Committee provided for NSF's Education and Human Resources directorate beyond his request. The SAP also criticizes excessive earmarking in the bill and bluntly states that because the HAC failed to demonstrate offsets for the increased spending, he will veto the bill if presented to him.

This is not terribly surprising. Facing a Democratically-controlled Congress for the first time, it was likely that the President would be drawn into a political fight over spending, and his only leverage in that fight is the veto. While Congress chugs away at passing the 12 annual appropriations bills necessary to fund the operations of government, its unlikely many (if any) will pass with the majority required to override any potential presidential veto. Indeed, in the House, the "magic number" for the President is 145 -- he needs just 145 out of 201 Republican members of the House to sustain any veto and provide him significant leverage in the spending negotiations that will follow. So far, none of the bills passed so far (Interior, Homeland Security, State-Foreign Operations) have had "veto-proof" majorities, so the President has retained his leverage.

It's likely the appropriations process is again headed for a train-wreck, just as in previous years. The final form of this particular train-wreck isn't yet known, but I tend to agree with others who expect that the end game will involve another omnibus appropriations bill in which, despite strong support for science programs in Congress and by the President, those programs will be threatened by across-the-board cuts required to get spending down to a level that the President will sign. The focus, then, of many of us in the science advocacy community once again will be on protecting the increases for science agencies approved by Congress and supported by the President in a bill in which they are just one of hundreds, if not thousands, of competing programs. The good news is that we've had some success with this approach in the past....

But for now, the funding levels included in both the Defense Appropriations and Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations are powerful symbols of the support R&D issues have in Congress, even if its likely that those levels might get modified in the coming months for reasons mostly unrelated to Congress' support of science.

We'll, of course, have all the details here as they emerge.

FY 2007 FY 2008 req FY 08 HAC-D FY 08 SAC-D HAC-D
vs. 2007
% vs 2007
vs. 2008 req
% vs 2008 req
Defense RDT&E 75,721,604 75,117,194 76,229,140 507,536 0.7% 1,111,946 1.5%
Army-BR In-House Lab Research 19,266 19,266 0 0.0%
Army - Defense Research Sciences 137,676 161,176 23,500 17.1%
Army - URI 64,843 76,743 11,900 18.4%
Army - University and Industry Research Cen 84,034 96,784 12,750 15.2%
Army 6.2 - Command Control Communications 22,215 38,465 16,250 73.1%
Army 6.2 - Computer and Software Tech 5,368 11,368 6,000 111.8%
Navy - URI 76,637 93,137 16,500 21.5%
Navy - In-House Lab Independent Research 16,556 16,556 0 0.0%
Navy - Defense Research Sciences 374,052 380,052 6,000 1.6%
AF - Defense Research Sciences 256,259 265,759 9,500 3.7%
AF - URI 104,304 104,304 0 0.0%
AF - High Energy Laser Research Initiatives 12,636 12,636 0 0.0%
AF 6.2 - Command Control and Communications 116,705 125,105 8,400 7.2%
DefWide - DTRA Uni Strategic Partnership 5,000 8,000 3,000 60.0%
DefWide - Defense Research Sciences 0 9,800 9,800
DefWide - GICUR 0 5,000 5,000
DefWide - Nat Def Ed Program 44,372 44,372 0 0.0%
DefWide 6.2 - Info and Communications Tech 229,739 235,139 5,400 2.4%
DefWide 6.2 - Cognitive Computing 179,728 179,728 0 0.0%
DARPA 3,115,310 3,085,617 3,035,222 -80,088 -2.6% -50,395 -1.6%

June 27, 2007

First Senate Appropriations Numbers

The Senate Commerce, Justice and Science appropriations subcommittee and the Senate Energy and Water Development appropriations subcommittee marked up their appropriations bills and, as with the House versions, it appears the science agencies did very well. We don't yet have all the details, but here are the early numbers:

NSF received a total appropriation of $6.6 billion from the subcommittee -- about $200 million more than the President’s request, $100 million more than the House subcommittee allocation, and about $700 million more than the agency received in FY 07.

NIST received $712 million, $71 million more than the President’s request and $33 million more than FY07 but $66 million less than the House subcommittee allocation. We don't know how much of that increase goes to the NIST core research budget, however.

The Department of Energy’s Office of Science received $4.497 billion, almost $100 million above the President’s request and $700 million over FY07 but $17 million less than the House allocation.

All the usual caveats about appropriations bills apply here -- we don't have the details, no funding is certain until the bill becomes law with the President's signature, these numbers can change dramatically if the process melts down over an earmark dispute or a veto threat, etc -- but it's again a very positive sign that both the House and the Senate appear committed to the increases called for in both the President's American Competitiveness Initiative and the Democratic Innovation Agenda. We'll keep you posted as the bills move forward.

June 15, 2007

Senate Budget Numbers

The Senate Appropriations committee released their "302(b) allocations" and it looks like science does very well. We previously discussed the House 302(b)'s here and the Senate's numbers look as good, or better, than the House numbers.

The Senate Commerce, Justice, Science subcommittee received $54.4 billion, $1 billion more than the House allocation and more than $4 billion more than FY07. The Energy and Water subcommittee received an increase of $1.9 billion over FY07, a $600 million more than the House allocated for this year.

The Labor/HHS/Education subcommittee received a $4.7 billion increase, the only subcommittee allocation to be lower than the House allocation but still an increase of almost $9 billion more than the President's request.

As we've stated here before, these allocations don't guarantee that the funding will keep Congress on the path to doubling the budgets of NSF, NIST, and DOE Office of Science over the next 10 years, as planned. But if the House's appropriations committee bills are any indication, that is where we are heading. Of course, given the disparity between some of the allocations, there will probably be some compromises worked out in conference but even if we get the lower numbers allocated for each subcommittee, we'll still be in a good position with increased funding in all our areas.

A bigger concern at the moment is whether the appropriations process is going to continue to move or if it's headed for meltdown over the disposition of earmarks in some upcoming bills. At the moment, House Republicans and Democrats have reached a tentative truce that will keep the bills moving, but it wouldn't take much for the process to break down again. At issue is a Democratic plan to bring appropriations bills to the House floor without earmarks included, then add them in conference with the Senate. House leaders argue that appropriations staff haven't yet had time to review the 32,000 requests for earmarks (keep in mind, there are only 435 members of Congress...that's an average of 74 requests per member), so rather than delay the bills, they want them to move and they'll add the earmarks later. House Republicans argue that the plan hardly promotes transparency in the earmarking process and were using procedural motions to tie up the bills until the Dems agreed to allow the House to vote on the bills with earmarks present -- though not in all of the bills. The House this week should finish work on the Homeland Security and Military Construction appropriations bills, and those will not see their earmarks added until the conference. The Energy and Water appropriation also will not have earmarks in it when it reaches the floor, but will get a pack of earmarks added to it before it heads over to the Senate. If the deal holds, the remainder of the appropriations bills will have earmarks included when the bills hit the House floor (and therefore, subject to amendment). We'll have all the details as the bills begin to move.

June 12, 2007

Initial NSF Approps Numbers

The Commerce, Justice and Science appropriations subcommittee marked up their portion of the appropriations bills yesterday evening. The full Appropriations Committee will mark up the bill on Monday, June 18. NSF did very well with a total appropriation of $6.509 billion, an increase of 10 percent over FY07 and $80 million more than the President requested.

Research and Related Activities got $5.14 billion in the subcommittee markup—7.9 percent over FY07 and $8 million more than the President’s request (but that $8 million is apparently going to the EPSCoR program, which the committee has apparently moved into R&RA from Education and Human Resources). Education and Human Resources received $822.6 million or 17.9 percent over FY07 and $72 million over the request for FY08. Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction received $244.7 million, the level that the President requested and 28.2 percent more than FY07.

No details were provided for the various programs within each account but we’ll know more as the process moves forward through the House and when the Senate takes it up and we’ll keep you updated here.

May 31, 2007

House Appropriations Allocations Are Out

The so-called "302(b) allocations" for the House Appropriations committee have been released and they look very positive for those of us anxious to see whether Congress will continue its commitment to double the budgets of some key federal science agencies. The 302(b)'s are the allocations each of the subcommittees responsible for producing the 12 appropriations bills necessary to keep the federal government operating each year gets to spend on their particular bill. If the Budget Resolution determined the overall size of the federal discretionary spending "pie," the 302(b) allocations determine the size of each slice.

For FY 2008, the subcommittees that have jurisdiction over some of the science agencies we care about -- NSF, NIST, DOE Sci, NIH, NASA, and DOD -- have each gotten pretty reasonable-sized slices. The House Commerce, Science, Justice subcommittee, which determines funding for NSF, NIST, NASA and NOAA, received from the Congressional leadership a bump of $3 billion to their allocation compared with last year -- $53.35 billion for FY 08 vs. $50.34 for FY 07 -- a level $2.11 billion higher than the President requested for FY 08.

The Energy and Water Committee received a $1.30 billion bump -- enough to support a healthy increase to the Department of Energy's Office of Science in the first FY 08 appropriations bill to get marked up, as we reported previously. The Labor/HHS/Education committee, which funds NIH, received a $5.53 billion bump -- more than $9 billion higher than the Administration requested for FY 08.

While these increases don't guarantee the appropriators will continue Congress' commitment to doubling the budgets of NSF, NIST and DOE Sci, as called for in both the President's American Competitiveness Initiative and the Democratic Innovation Agenda, it certainly does make the job of finding money to fund the increases a whole lot easier. We'll keep an eye on the process and let you know how it goes. So far, so good.

May 24, 2007

First FY08 Approps Numbers: DOE Office of Science Does Well

The Department of Energy's Office of Science would see significant increases under the FY 2008 House Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill marked up by the E&W Approps Subcommittee yesterday. Though we don't yet have all the detail about increases in individual accounts, we do know that the Office of Science would see an overall increase to $4.516 billion in FY 2008, which is $120 million above the President's request for FY 2008 and $719 million above the FY 2007 level, or an increase of 18.9 percent.

Presumably the increases in DOE Science will be spread reasonably equitably throughout the agency, which would mean the agency's Advanced Scientific Computing Research program should see an equally significant increase in FY 08. But we won't see real detail until the full appropriations committee marks up the bill in June.

For now, it's good to know that the appropriators appear prepared to continue their commitment to doubling the budgets of key federal science agencies, as spelled out in the President's American Competitiveness Initiative and the Democratic Innovation Agenda. Next up should be the House version of the Commerce, Science, Justice appropriations, which will include funding for the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Standards and Technology, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. We'll have all the details as we get 'em...

  • Link to E&W Appropriations Chair Peter Visclosky's (D-IN) statement on the markup (pdf). (Doesn't say much about the research portion of the bill, however.)

  • May 17, 2007

    FY08 Joint Budget Conference

    The House and Senate have announced a conference agreement of the Joint Budget Resolution for FY08 (PDF), a key step in the annual appropriations process once it's passed by both chambers. The General Science, Space and Technology account, known as Function 250, is the total budget amount for NASA (except aviation programs), NSF, DOE Office of Science and DHS S&T. Research funding in Function 250 fares well in the conference agreement, growing by $1.7 billion over the FY 2007 level, which budget committee members intend to use to “provide significant increases for NSF and the DOE Office of Science and fully fund the President’s FY2008 request for NASA at $17.3 billion” (according to the report accompanying the resolution).

    While this sounds like great news, like everything in Washington, it isn’t nearly as simple as it sounds. As we wrote in this space on the FY07 budget resolution (PDF), the budget resolution really only helps the appropriators and the congressional leadership set the overall level of funding for the year, not the agency-by-agency numbers. The leadership will use the resolution to determine how much money goes to each appropriations subcommittee and the subcommittee will then decide how much each agency in their jurisdiction gets. This all means that we need to continue working to ensure that everyone on the Hill knows how important basic research funding is and that the Appropriations bills should fully fund the American Competitiveness Initiative.

    We will keep you updated as the Appropriations process moves forward.

    May 16, 2007

    House Committee Passes FY08 Defense Authorization

    The House Armed Services Committee Friday passed its version of the FY 2008 Defense Authorization bill (H.R. 1585). The authorization includes increases for Army and Navy basic research and keeps Air Force basic research funding level. Defense wide basic research, which includes DARPA, is up $22.25 million with an increase of $8 million for “semiconductor focus research” in the Defense Research Sciences.

    The committee released a report Monday for the authorization bill and it includes language stating the committee’s concern with the Department of Defense science and technology research budget requests, specifically basic research. The committee requests a report from the Secretary of Defense that “shall also outline a long-term, strategic plan for how the Department believes a sustained increase in funding for DOD basic research could be effectively utilized.”

    It also included language regarding the education programs at the department and shifted funds between the programs that the department requested while staying at the same total level of funding. The committee gave a lower authorization to the Pre-engineering modules, a new program, at $3.5 million and transferred that money to the Science, Mathematics, and Research for Transformation (SMART) funded at $27 million, Materials World Modules (MWM) funded at $3.5 million, and the National Security Science and Engineering Faculty Fellowships funded at $7.4 million.

    Thanks to Jason Van Wey of MIT for providing the breakdown and report language information.

    Posted by MelissaNorr at 12:31 PM
    Posted to FY08 Appropriations | Funding

    May 02, 2007

    NSF Authorization on the Floor Today

    The National Science Foundation Authorization Act of 2007 (H.R. 1867), which we've discussed previously, will be on the House floor today. The bill authorizes appropriations at the agency (which is not the same as actually funding the agency -- only the appropriations committee can do that -- but is still a necessary (and symbolic) step in getting funding for the agency) at the levels called for in the President's American Competitiveness Initiative and the Democratic Innovation Agenda -- a trajectory that would double the agency's budget over the next seven years.

    It's likely the bill will pass today without much difficulty. There are, however, a whole slate of amendments proposed, some of which are pretty awful (though not likely to pass). For example, there are amendments from Reps. Scott Garrett (R-NJ) and John Campbell (R-CA) that would specifically prohibit funding of nine already-funded grants in NSF's Social, Behavioral and Economics directorate, based apparently on their "silly" titles. Here are the grants targeted:

  • the reproductive aging and symptom experience at midlife among Bangladeshi Immigrants, Sedentees, and White London Neighbors;
  • the diet and social stratification in ancient Puerto Rico;
  • archives of Andean Knotted-String Records;
  • the accuracy in the cross-cultural understanding of others’ emotions;
  • bison hunting on the late prehistoric Great Plains;
  • team versus individual play;
  • sexual politics of waste in Dakar, Senegal;
  • social relationships and reproductive strategies of Phayre’s Leaf Monkeys; and
  • cognitive model of superstitious belief.
  • There are a number of reasons amendments like this are a bad idea. The primary one is that the NSF peer-review system, while arguably not perfect (well, far from perfect), is still likely a much more reliable way of choosing meritorious research than Congressional intervention. It's also pretty reasonable to assert that titles are not the best way to judge the worthiness of research.

    Additionally, there's an interesting (and bad) amendment proposed by Rep. Dave Weldon (R-FL) that would tie any increases in the NSF budget to proportional increases at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The amendment, Weldon says in a press release, would "ensure that NASA's budget is not raided to fund the NSF increase." As someone who has been doing science policy work for the better part of a decade, it amuses a little to think of NASA in the role of victim to NSF, as I've watched innumerable times in the past as NASA increases swallowed up all the available funding room in VA/HUD appropriations bills that shortchanged NSF and NIST. But the Weldon amendment is an innovative approach to "protecting" NASA, by trying to link the two agencies' budgets. It might, however, set an awkward precedent. One could imagine linking the National Institutes of Health and NASA, or NIH and NSF, or NSF and DOE, or NSF and NIST and NIH...the number of permutations just among the science agencies are enormous. But why stop there? We could link NSF and the Veterans Administration. The Department of Labor to NIH. Or NASA and the Department of Transportation (wait, that could almost make sense). In any case, the idea of linking two agencies with disparate missions together is probably not sound policy, and I would argue that the best way to "protect" NASA funding (which isn't actually at risk because of the NSF Authorization) is to ensure NASA is pursuing a compelling mission for the Nation.

    You can find a complete list of amendments being considered today on THOMAS. We'll try to keep score here throughout the day.

    One other piece of news about the bill is that it appears H.R. 1867 will get conferenced with the Senate as part of the S. 761 (the "America COMPETES Act") conference. This is actually very good news as it means the NSF Authorization has a real chance of enactment. While the bill is expected to pass the House without much difficulty, it wasn't clear that the Senate had much of an interest in moving it's own version of the bill, simply because they'd already passed an NSF authorization as part of S. 761. Now it appears that there's an inclination to take the NSF-specific portions of that bill out and use them as a conference vehicle for H.R. 1867. We'll have more as we learn more, but in short, this means that there's a potential path to enactment that is relatively free of big bumps....

    Update: (5/3/07 12:20 am) -- The bill passed overwhelmingly (399-17). The Garrett and Campbell amendments both failed, and the Weldon amendment was subject to a point of order that the NASA provisions weren't germane to the bill -- a point of order that was sustained. So great news all around!

    March 21, 2007

    Innovation Funding Featured in House Budget Resolution

    The Chairman of the House Budget Committee today released the "chairman's mark" (both pdf) of his committee's FY 2008 Congressional Budget Resolution that includes funding caps large enough to accommodate the continuation of funding increases at key federal science agencies called for in both the American Competitiveness Initiative and the Democratic Innovation Agenda. The resolution contains healthy increases in a number of budget accounts designed to allow congressional appropriators the budget "room" to include increases for ACI agencies -- National Science Foundation, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and Department of Energy Office of Science -- as well as the National Institutes of Health and additional federal education spending at a variety of agencies.

    The overall budget levels are similar to those found in the Senate version of the Congressional Budget Resolution (S. Con. Res 21), which was introduced back on March 15th and is being considered on the Senate floor now. The House bill is a bit more generous for the science accounts, but because of the convoluted way the budget process works, it's hard to translate either set of numbers to likely actual appropriations. In each case, it's enough to know that both the House and Senate budgeters appear to have factored in the requested increases (or greater) for key science agencies in their budgets. (Update below) The House also included "sense of the House" language that really calls out their support for science funding increases:

    SENSE OF THE HOUSE ON THE INNOVATION AGENDA: A COMMITMENT TO COMPETITIVENESS TO KEEP AMERICA #1. (a) It is the sense of the House to provide sufficient funding that our Nation may continue to be the world leader in education, innovation and economic growth. This resolution provides $___ [this is still to be determined--PH] above the President’s requested level for 2008, and additional amounts in subsequent years in Function 250 (General Science, Space and Technology) and Function 270 (Energy). Additional increases for scientific research and education are included in Function 500 (Education, Employment, Training, and Social Services), Function 550 (Health), Function 300 (Environment and Natural Resources), Function 350 (Agriculture), Function 400 (Transportation), and Function 370 (Commerce and Housing Credit), all of which receive more funding than the President requested.

    (b) America’s greatest resource for innovation resides within classrooms across the country. The increased funding provided in this resolution will support important initiatives to educate 100,000 new scientists, engineers, and mathematicians, and place highly qualified teachers in math and science K–12 classrooms.

    (c) Independent scientific research provides the foundation for innovation and future technologies. This resolution will put us on the path toward doubling funding for the National Science Foundation, basic research in the physical sciences across all agencies, and collaborative research partnerships; and toward achieving energy independence through the development of clean and sustainable alternative energy technologies.

    Both House and Senate budget chairs believe they have the votes to move the respective resolutions in their chambers. We'll keep you posted as they move.

    For those who like numbers, here are the funding levels for each budget function in the House resolution, and here are the Senate numbers (click on Sec. 103, Major Functional Categories)

    Update: (6:14 pm 3/21/07) -- It appears I was a little quick in my analysis of the Senate version of the resolution. While the Senate does include increases for some of the budget functions that cover science agencies, it's not clear those increases would be used for science funding. Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) have an amendment to the resolution that will be voted on this evening that would "restore" $1 billion to the resolution for the President's request and to fund the provisions of the America COMPETES Act. Here's a press release from Alexander's office which spells out the detail.

    We'll have more after the vote.

    Update 2: (8:19 pm 3/21/07) -- The amendment passed overwhelmingly.

    March 09, 2007

    Support ACI FY08 Funding

    The American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI) introduced by the President during the 2006 State of the Union is a commitment to the doubling of the research budgets for NSF, NIST, and the Department of Energy Office of Science. Much of that commitment was met by congressional appropriators in FY 07, as they increased the budgets for the three agencies in the year end "continuing resolution." The President remained committed to ACI in his FY 08 budget request, asking for 7 to 14 percent increases for the three agencies.

    The FY08 requests of $6.43 billion for NSF and $4.4 billion for the Office of Science would keep both agencies on the doubling path, which has received much bipartisan support in the past.

    Senators Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and Christopher Bond (R-MO) are circulating a letter to colleagues asking for their support of the $6.43 billion request for the National Science Foundation in FY 2008. Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) are circulating a similar letter to colleagues asking for their support for the Administration's $4.4 billion request for the Department of Energy's Office of Science in FY08. The letters will be sent to the chair and ranking member of the Senate Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee and the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee, respectively.

    So far the NSF support letter has been signed by Christopher Bond (R-MO), Joseph Lieberman (ID-CT), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Carl Levin (D-MI), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Barack Obama (D-IL), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).

    The Office of Science letter has been signed by Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Sam Brownback (R-KS), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Charles Grassley (R-IA), Tom Harkin (D-IA), John Kerry (D-MA), Carl Levin (D-MI), Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Richard Lugar (R-IN), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Barack Obama (D-IL), Pat Roberts (R-KS), John Rockefeller (D-WV), Ken Salazar (D-CO), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), George Voinovich (R-OH), John Warner (R-VA), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

    During the FY 07 appropriations process, these "ask" letters were remarkably influential on congressional appropriators, helping position science funding as a "national priority" and carving out increases for three key science agencies even as many other agencies were held flat or cut. We're asking for your help in making this similar effort by Lieberman, Bond, Bingaman and Alexander equally effective. Please fax your state Senators (especially if they're not on the list above - but even if they are) and ask them to sign on to the Lieberman/Bond and Bingaman/Alexander "Dear Colleague" letters.

    A sample letter you can use can be found at CRA's Advocacy web page -- please FAX it to your Senators offices as soon as possible. The deadline for signers is Monday, March 12. Please also fax a copy of your letter to Melissa Norr at 202.667.1066.

    Find out who your Senators are at Senators of the 110th Congress.

    February 14, 2007

    House Science Committee Budget Hearing

    The House Committee on Science and Technology held its first budget hearing of the year today with testimony from Dr. John Marburger, director of the President’s Office of Science and Technology Policy. The focus of the chairman and several of the committee members, including perennial science champion Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-MI), was on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education and the decreases to NSF’s Education and Human Resources Directorate in recent years, along with some concern regarding NASA’s space exploration and aeronautics funding. The opening statements as well as a web cast of the hearing are available online.

    The Committee and Dr. Marburger for the Administration seemed to be in agreement that the increased funding for NSF, NIST, and DoE Office of Science were important and that the American Competitiveness Initiative is important for America’s future innovation and competitiveness. However, the Administration and the Chairman seemed to diverge when it comes to priorities. The Administration priority is research funding and Chairman Gordon said that the education recommendations of the Gathering Storm report should be an equal priority. The Chairman repeatedly came back to the fact that, while the FY08 budget request increases funding to NSF’s EHR Directorate, that same Directorate’s funding has decreased by 50 percent in the last four years. He was also unimpressed with the Department of Education FY08 budget request in that he felt the STEM education funding should be at NSF.

    You can see the entire hearing on the Committee’s web site.

    February 06, 2007

    FY08 Budget Detail: National Science Foundation

    As we noted yesterday, the National Science Foundation does quite well in the President's FY 2008 Budget Request, slated to grow 6.8 percent over FY 2007 (or nearly $409 million) to $6.4 billion. That growth rate would continue NSF on the 10-year "doubling" trajectory originally set by the Administration as part of last year's American Competitiveness Initiative. The news for the computing community that is so heavily reliant on NSF is equally good -- both the Computing and Information Science and Engineering directorate and the Office of Cyberinfrastructure would see big gains in the President's plan. Here are the details (brace for charts):

    First, the macro level view of the agency:

    National Science Foundation
    (in millions of dollars)
    Budget Request
    $ Change vs
    FY07 Request
    % Change vs
    FY07 Request (%)
    Research and Related Activities $4,449.25 $4,765.95 $5,131.69 $365.74 7.7%
    Education and Human Resources $700.26 $716.22 $750.60 $34.48 4.8%
    MREFC $233.81 $240.45 $244.74 $4.29 1.8%
    Agency Operations and Award Management $247.06 $281.82 $285.59 $3.77 1.3%
    National Science Board $3.94 $3.91 $4.03 $0.12 3.1%
    Office of the Inspector General $11.47 $11.86 $12.35 $0.49 4.1%
    Total NSF $5,645.79 $6,020.21 $6,429.00 $408.79 6.8%

    As you can see, the great bulk of the Administration's planned increase is aimed at the Research and Related Activities (R&RA) account, home of NSF's research directorates. The agency's education efforts -- in the Education and Human Resources directorate -- would also see an increase, though not nearly as robust as R&RA. Of particular interest to those of us in the computing community, NSF is using some of the increase provided by ACI on a new NSF-wide initiative called "Cyber-enabled Discovery and Innovation" (CDI) that aims to "broaden the Nation's capability for innovation by developing a new generation of computationally based discovery concepts and tools to deal with complex, data-rich and interacting systems." The $52 million initiative will be led by NSF's CISE directorate (who will control $20 million of the funding), with participation from Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Science, Social, Behavioral and Economic science, Cyberinfrastructure, International Science, and EHR. The agency appears to have big plans for the initative, projecting out-year funding growing to $250 million in FY 2012 (with CISE hopefully maintaining a proportional share).

    Drilling down a little further, here's the Directorate by Directorate breakdown within R&RA:

    NSF Research and Related Activities
    Directorate Budgets
    (in millions of dollars)
    Budget Request
    $ Change vs
    FY07 Request
    % Change vs
    FY07 Request (%)
    Biological Sciences $580.90 $607.85 $633.00 $25.15 4.1%
    Computer and Information Science and Engineering $496.35 $526.69 $574.00 $47.31 9.0%
    Engineering $585.46 $628.55 $683.30 $54.75 8.7%
    Geosciences $703.95 $744.85 $792.00 $47.15 6.3%
    Mathematical and Physical Sciences $1,086.61 $1,150.30 $1,253.00 $102.70 8.9%
    Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences $201.23 $213.76 $222.00 $8.24 3.9%
    Office of Cyberinfrastructure $127.14 $182.42 $200.00 $17.58 9.6%
    Office of International Science and Engineering $42.61 $40.61 $45.00 $4.39 10.8%
    Office of Polar Programs $390.54 $438.10 $464.90 $26.80 6.1%
    Integrative Activities1 $233.30 $231.37 $263.00 $31.63 13.7%
    U.S. Arctic Research Commission $1.17 $1.45 $1.49 $0.04 2.8%
    Total, Research and Related Activities $4,449.25 $4,765.95 $5,131.69 $365.74 7.7%

    The increases weren't evenly distributed throughout the directorates. Of the research directorates, CISE would see the largest percentage increase. In fact, the 9 percent requested growth rate is the largest for the directorate in seven years. Here's how CISE plans to spend the funding:

    NSF CISE Directorate Funding
    (in millions of dollars)
    Budget Request
    $ Change vs
    FY07 Request
    % Change vs
    FY07 Request (%)
    Computing and Communication Foundation $105.30 $122.82 $149.15 $26.33 21.4%
    Computer and Network Systems $141.07 $162.98 $191.98 $29.00 17.8%
    Information and Intelligent Systems $103.78 $119.30 $154.63 $35.33 29.6%
    Information Technology Research $146.20 $121.59 $78.24 -$43.35 -35.7%
    Total, CISE $496.35 $526.69 $574.00 $47.31 9.0%

    Deborah Crawford, the acting AD for CISE, highlighted a number of new programs the new funding -- and funding freed up as the ITR program comes to an end -- would allow the directorate to pursue. First is an emphasis on "Discovery Research for Innovation," which includes these new efforts:

    • High Risk, High Return Research ($50 million) -- "Seeking Big Ideas in support of Grand Vision." Programs in the area will focus on fundamental questions in computing, larger projects, and try to exploit the potential of emerging technologies.
    • Cyber-enabled Discovery and Innovation ($20 million) -- As detailed above, CISE will lead this NSF-wide effort, focusing on promoting computational thinking for problem solving.
    In addition, CISE will continue its support for planning of the Global Environment for Networking Innovations with $20 million in funding for pre-construction planning. GENI was also included in the Foundation's 2007 Facility plan as the first "Horizon" project -- a step away from "Readiness Stage," which would allow for extensive pre-construction planning. GENI is one of 10 projects listed as "Horizon" projects. (There's just one project in the Readiness Stage in FY 2008 -- the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope -- and just one that is listed as a possible new start in FY 2008 (the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory)).

    The budget also includes statistics on the number of awards and the funding rate estimates for the directorate in FY 06, 07 and 08. The directorate estimates it will fund fewer research grants in FY 07 than it did in FY 06 (950 in FY07 vs 1,003 in FY06), with a corresponding drop in funding rate (18 percent in FY07 vs 22 percent in FY06). For FY08, the directorate expects the number of research grants to grow to 1,000 and the funding rate to rise a bit to 20 percent.

    Despite those figures, this is, overall, a very promising start for computing at NSF in FY 2008 -- which, given NSF's role in funding 87 percent of academic basic research in computing, makes it a good start for the field.

    FY08 Budget Detail: DOE's Office of Science

    As stated in a previous post about the FY08 Budget Request, Department of Energy’s Office of Science did well with a $296 million, or 7 percent, increase over the FY07 request. The Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) request is $340.2 million, an increase of $21.5 million or 6.8 percent.

    The ASCR has three overarching programs: Research in applied mathematics and computer science with a request of $82.8 million up from $69.6 million in the FY07 request; Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing (SciDAC) with a request of $56.3 million up from $56.1 million in the FY07 request; and High-performance computing and network facilities and testbeds with a request of $201.1 million up from $193 million in the FY07 request.

    Overall these are good numbers for computing, and science, and certainly help to make up for some of the recent lean years. As always, we’ll keep you posted as we learn more and as the budget process goes forward on Capitol Hill.

    February 05, 2007

    President Releases FY 2008 Budget; Stays Committed to ACI

    President Bush released his FY 2008 budget request today and it appears that, as promised, the Administration remains committed to the American Competitiveness Initiative and the doubling trajectory for three key science agencies begun in last year's budget request. We've only just started digging into the budget documents -- and we'll be getting more in-depth agency briefings later this afternoon -- but here are some of the top-level numbers: [Just a note, comparing some of these numbers to FY 2007 is a bit problematic because the final FY 2007 estimates aren't in yet. So in all cases but Defense and Homeland Security, the comparison is to the President's requested funding level for FY 2007, which, in most cases, is probably actually higher than the final FY 2007 level set by the CR is likely to be. Therefore, the increases shown for these agencies' requests may actually be greater compared to the final FY 2007 numbers.]

    National Science Foundation: Overall funding would rise to $6.429 billion in FY 2008, an increase of $409 million or 7 percent greater than the President's FY 2007 budget request. NSF's research accounts would grow $648 million over the FY 2007 request to $4.880 billion, an increase of 15 percent.

    National Institute of Standards and Technology: (Intramural Research and Facilities) NIST's core research and facilities accounts would grow to $586 million in FY 2008, an increase of $55 million or 10 percent over the President's FY 2007 request.

    Department of Energy, Office of Science: Increase to $4.398 billion, or $296 million or 7 percent greater than the President's FY 2007 request.

    Defense: Defense is trickier to figure out because it and Homeland Security are the only two agencies with enacted levels for FY 2007. In the President's FY 2008 request, Defense basic and applied research would decline $1.110 billion vs. the FY 2007 enacted level to $5.785 billion, a 16 percent reduction. For Basic research (6.1), the Administration requests $1.428 billion, a reduction of $137 million from the FY 07 enacted level (9 percent) and just $7 million more than the President requested in FY 07. Applied research would fall to $4.357 billion under the President's plan, $973 million (18 percent) lower than FY 07 enacted, and $121 million less than he requested in FY 07.

    National Institutes of Health: The Administration plan would set NIH's budget at $28.700 billion in FY 2008, $432 million more than the President's FY 2007 request, but about $188 million short of the amount likely to be enacted in the FY 2007 CR.

    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: NOAA would see its research budget rise to $358 million in FY 2008 under the President's plan, an increase of $20 million or 6 percent compared to his FY 2007 request. We have to do a bit more digging to see how this will compare with the CR level.

    National Aeronautics and Space Administration: NASA's Science account would grow to $5.516 billion in FY 2008, $186 million or 3 percent greater than the President's FY 2007 request.

    Networking and Information Technology R&D Program: This is the cross-agency budget line for the NITRD program, one of just three interagency R&D efforts listed in the budget (the other two are the National Nanotechnology Initiative and the Climate Change Science Program). I'm hesitant to just put up the raw numbers here, because they always require some interpretation (see last year, for example), but the bottom line number is that the NITRD program would stay essentially flat at $3.057 billion in FY 2008, a $12 million increase over the President's FY 2007 request (and the FY 2007 Defense enacted number). Slated for increases would be NSF's NITRD activities, which would grow $90 million to $994 million, a 10 percent increase, and the Department of Energy and NASA, which would both increase by 4 percent. Defense IT R&D would suffer a 2 percent cut vs. the FY 2007 enacted level, and NIH would see a 14 percent decrease vs. the President's FY 07 request. But it's going to take a bit more investigating to figure out where NITRD really stands vs. FY 2007.

    Just for comparison's sake, the NNI would grow by 4 percent in FY 08 (to $1.447 billion) and the Climate Change Science Program would decline 7 percent to $1.544 billion.

    We expect to have a lot more detail after the agency briefings this afternoon. We'll post whatever we learn as soon as we can.

    By the way, all the budget documents are perusable here.

    January 26, 2007

    ACI not in SOTU, but Administration "still fully committed"

    In contrast to last year's State of the Union address by the President, this year's speech didn't feature much in the way of competitiveness or themes. While we've gotten many assurances from the White House in recent weeks that the President's American Competitiveness Initiative -- introduced with great fanfare last year and currently mired in the debacle which has become the FY 07 Appropriations process -- is still a priority for the Administration and will continue in the FY 08 budget, in the wake of Tuesday's State of the Union I thought I'd just check in again and make sure things hadn't changed. Fortunately, they haven't. Here's the word from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (posted with permission):

    Me: I notice the ACI didn't recieve much mention in the President's SOTU. Is ACI still a priority for the Administration? Will we see the commitment continue in FY 08?

    OSTP: The SOTU was focused this year to a limited number of topics (mostly new of course), but I can assure you we’re still fully committed to its success.  FYI, below is a response to a similar question that Dr. Marburger shared with a reporter earlier this week.  I suspect we’ll have more details to share between now and the budget release so I’ll keep you posted. 


    The President remains fully committed to the success of the American Competitiveness Initiative and the Administration looks forward to Year Two of the ACI and working with the 110th Congress to achieve the President’s vision for innovation. 
    Individually, the House and Senate funded Year One of the President’s proposal to increase basic research in the physical sciences.  However, to remain on track to meet the President’s goal of doubling funding for these key research agencies over 10 years, Congress now needs to complete full funding for Year One of the Initiative (FY07).
    The White House also indicated it plans to continue working to see ACI addressed in whatever final resolution Congress comes up with for FY 07 appropriations. News on that front is that the House plans to take up the CR next week, but as of this writing, there's still no final decision on what will make the cut and what won't. By pledging to "eliminate earmarks" in the CR, appropriators will free up somewhere on the order of $17 billion to $33 billion in funding to apply to agencies for FY 07. But that range demonstrates the difficulties the decision-makers are facing -- gaining consensus on what constitutes an earmark in this case is fraught with political landmines. As a result, there is even talk at the moment of yet again extending the CR for a short duration past the Feb 15th deadline to give appropriators more time to negotiate a CR that will extend the balance of the fiscal year.

    As always, as we learn more detail, we'll pass it on....

    January 17, 2007

    Gingrich/Gordon OpEd on Basic Research, Security and Competitiveness

    Today's Washington Times features an OpEd from two champions of science from opposite sides of the aisle: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and the new Chair of the House Committee on Science and Technology, Rep. Bart Gordon (D-TN). The piece was motivated by the recent Task Force on the Future of American Innovation report, (covered previously) which calls for a strong federal investment in fundamental research in order to help preserve the Nation's economic leadership and ensure our continued security. Gingrich participated in the roll-out event for the Benchmarks report and was quite eloquent on the national security implications of basic research, themes he and Gordon return to in this OpEd:

    Throughout history, national security has been dependent on economic prosperity, and visa versa. An economically strong America is better able to defend itself. Likewise, the nation's ability to defend itself is a prerequisite to maintaining the infrastructure and other elements of a strong national economy.

    Unfortunately, the nation has forgotten one of the most important ways our economic prosperity and national security are linked — investment in fundamental scientific research. Investments made in fundamental scientific research after World War II and during the Cold War have been essential to making our fighting men and women today the best equipped in the world. These previous investments and the new knowledge they generated also made enormous contributions to our economic vitality.

    But our commitment to that defense-oriented fundamental research — the kind of research that pays off not in a year or two but in the long run, sometimes decades in the future — has eroded. If we do not renew this commitment, it will harm our global economic competitiveness as well as the effectiveness and safety of our troops.

    The piece is very well-timed, given the current deliberations on the stalled FY 2007 Appropriations process and the President's forthcoming State of the Union Address. Its bipartisan authorship highlights the bipartisan support for fundamental research in Congress. With a flood of new Members of Congress in Washington, and "old" Members with new positions of responsibility, this is a drum that will need continuous beating in the coming we try to make up for the painful stumbles late after a year of fantastic progress.

    Read the whole piece.