NSF Appropriation Increase for FY12

The House Appropriations Committee approved a subcommittee’s bill that would increase NSF-funded research & related activities by $43 million from FY11 to $6.6B … though at the cost of a $26 million cut from the Education and Human Resources directorate and $17 million from the research equipment and facilities fund.

The Committee adds to the bill a few suggestions on where NSF should spend this largess:

The Committee directs NSF to prioritize these new activities towards cybersecurity and cyberinfrastructure improvements;
advanced manufacturing (as further discussed below); materials research; and disciplinary and interdisciplinary research
in the natural and physical sciences, math and engineering.

The Committee also has some ideas on enhancing neuroscience research at NSF:

While specific applied neuroscience research is mainly supported by the National Institutes of Health, basic research supported by NSF will serve as the foundation for future clinical treatments of traumatic and acquired brain injuries, childhood developmental disorders, and other neurological conditions. To help focus and enhance the agency’s efforts, the Committee directs NSF to establish a Cognitive and Developmental Neuroscience crosscutting theme to guide future budget formulation in this area, and to increase its investments in research through this theme in fiscal year 2012.

Developmental neuroscience. I wonder if that might involve any stem cell research?

And get ready for the NSF Innovation Inducement Awards:

Funds provided under this heading may be used for innovation inducement prizes, as authorized by the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 (Public Law 111–358). The Committee encourages NSF to make use of this mechanism, particularly in programs that specifically emphasize innovation, to focus on high risk/high reward research projects and to incentivize private sector involvement. NSF is directed to report to the Committee on its plans for administering a prize program in fiscal year 2012. This report should be provided no later than 90 days after the enactment of this Act.

Wow. innovation can be induced. We probably need some research on this mechanism …

The total NSF appropriation for FY12, $6.86B, essentially represents a flat-line from FY11 and is $900M less than what the President requested. Still, it’s not an outright cut. The legislation backed by the Committee now goes to the full House, which is a bit preoccupied with other fiscal matters …

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