In its 60th anniversary year, the National Science Foundation (NSF) today submitted to Congress a $7.4 billion budget request for fiscal year 2011. The request represents an 8-percent increase over 2010 and supports the President's goal of increasing the nation's total public and private investment in research and development to at least 3 percent of the gross domestic product.
NSF Director Arden L. Bement, Jr. said NSF's fiscal year 2011 budget request represents reaffirmation of "the agency's roots as the nation's wellspring of scientific innovation."
In September of last year, the Administration unveiled a National Innovation Strategy that encourages technology and business innovation in the United States. The strategy's three-pronged plan invests in the building blocks of innovation, promotes competitive markets that spur entrepreneurship, and drives breakthroughs for national priorities such as clean energy and healthcare technology.
Bement points to three NSF programs that are deeply connected to the Administration's strategy and its goal of educating the next generation of Americans with 21st-Century knowledge and skills:
- The Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program, which supports new and enhanced two-year college programs that educate technicians for the high-technology workforce.
- The Graduate Research Fellowship program and the Faculty Career Development program, which support , respectively, students and early career investigators in order to foster the nation's next generation of scientists and engineers.
- Climate Change Education, which addresses learning at all levels, and is another initiative designed to develop future scientists and engineers.
- The request also includes other programs tailored to the National Innovation Strategy. For example, NSF's portion of the interagency Networking and Information Technology R&D program (NITRD) is expected to see major funding increases. NITRD is an interagency effort coordinated through the National Science and Technology Council.
Under NSF's fiscal year 2011 budget, its portion of NITRD would see increases in research funding for large-scale networking, high-end computing and human-computer interaction. Research on social, economic and workforce aspects of advanced computing and communications technology would also increase.
Additionally, NSF intends to harness innovations and advances in computational thinking through the Cyber-Enabled Discovery and Innovation program. Computational thinking encompasses computational concepts, methods, models, algorithms, and tools needed to revolutionize science and engineering research.
"We fully expect that these innovations will create new wealth in ways we cannot imagine today and, in doing so, enhance the national quality of life," said Bement.
NSF's budget request also continues the Foundation's support of U.S. global climate change research and other interagency initiatives that are developing knowledge to help confront the challenge of changing climate.
NSF contributions to the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) would increase in fiscal year 2011 by 16 percent to $370 million. The program coordinates and integrates federal research on changes in the global environment and their implications for society.
In fiscal year 2011, NSF also will increase research funding to promote discoveries needed to inspire societal actions leading to environmental and economic sustainability. The Science, Engineering and Education for Sustainability portfolio will increase to $766 million for integrated activities involving environment, energy and society.
Other NSF programs are squarely in line with National Innovation Strategy objectives to encourage high growth and innovation-based entrepreneurship. For example, investments in innovation in the computer industry would help preserve U.S. preeminence in communications and computation.
NSF's fiscal year 2011 budget is committed to enhancing U.S. economic competitiveness with Science and Engineering Beyond Moore's Law (SEBML), multidisciplinary research designed to solve the computational challenges inherent in today's great scientific questions. SEBML focuses on entirely new scientific, engineering and conceptual frameworks for computing.
"Since its establishment 60 years ago, NSF has been 'the tip of the spear' in the nation's scientific and engineering research and education enterprise," said Bement. NSF's fiscal year 2011 budget proposal is "designed to keep the agency at the forefront and, in turn, to insure the future well-being of not only the United States but humanity generally."