U.S. National Science Foundation: An Overview
The National Science Foundation (NSF) was created by the National Science Foundation Act of 1950, as amended (P.L.81-507). The NSF has the broad mission of supporting science and engineering in general and funding basic research across many disciplines. The agency provides support for investigator-initiated, merit-reviewed, competitively selected awards, state-of-the-art tools, and instrumentation and facilities. The majority of the research supported by the NSF is conducted at U.S. colleges and universities. Approximately 82.7% ($3,320.5 million) of NSF’s FY2007 $4,049.4 million research and development (R&D) budget was awarded to U.S. colleges and universities.
On February 17, 2009, President Barack Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), 2009, P.L. 111-5 (H.R. 1). The legislation provided slightly more than $3.0 billion for the NSF—$2.5 billion for R&RA, $400.0 million for MREFC, $100.0 million for EHR, and $2.0 million for the Office of Inspector General. Language in the conference agreement directed that within the R&RA, $300.0 million be available solely for the Major Research Instrumentation program. Additional conference language directed that of the total provided to EHR, $60.0 million be directed to the Robert Noyce Program, $25.0 million be directed to the MSP, and $15.0 million used solely for the Professional Science Master’s Program.
The FY2011 request for the NSF totals $7,424.4 million, an 8.0% increase ($551.9 million) over the FY2010 estimate of $6,872.5 million. The FY2011 request provides support for seven major directorates and other programs and activity accounts. The Research and Related Activities (R&RA) account is funded at $6,018.8 million in the FY2011 request, 8.2% above the FY2010 estimate of $5,563.9 million. R&RA funds research projects, research facilities, and education and training activities. R&RA includes Integrative Activities (IA), and is a source of funding for the acquisition and development of research instrumentation at U.S. colleges and universities, disaster research teams, Partnerships for Innovation, and the Science and g Policy Institute. The FY2011 request for IA is $295.9 million. The Office of Polar Programs, funded in the R&RA, is proposed at $528.0 million in the FY2011 request.
On July 22, 2010, the Senate Committee on Appropriations approved S. 3636, Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Bill, FY2011 (S.Rept. 111-229). The Senate bill requests a total of $7,353.4 million for the NSF in FY2011, approximately $71.0 million below the Administration’s FY2011 request and $480.9 million above the FY2010 estimate. Included in the support for NSF is $5,967.2 million for the R&RA, $51.6 million below the President’s FY2011 request and $403.3 million above the FY2010 level.
Note: This summary was taken from the Congressional Research Service Report 95-307 by Christine M. Matthews