Friday, July 08, 2011

House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science Boosts NSF and NIST Research Budgets in Their FY 12 Bill

The meeting of the subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies went fairly smoothly Thursday July 7th, ending with a unanimous voice vote that approved a $50.2 billion funding bill. The amount is $3.1 billion below current levels and $7.4 billion below the amount requested by the Obama administration. NSF and NIST, however, received significant increases in their research budgets. NSF received an increase of $43 million and NIST received $10 million. Subcommittee chairman, Frank Wolf (R-Virginia) remarked on the decision saying that the members recognized the need to protect research spending in order to encourage economic growth and security for future generations.

The research increases did, however, come at a cost. NIST’s total budget was dealt an overall $50 million cut. The National Science Foundation’s total budget remained the same as FY 2011, meaning the boost to research had to come at a cost to another NSF department. A $17 million chunk was carved out of NSF’s Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction account, which raised concerns from some subcommittee democrats. Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Washington) cited that the cuts would lead to government termination of approximately $100 million in contracts used to advance ecological and oceanographic research facilities, and would ultimately raise costs for such work in the future.

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