The Subcommittee on Research and Science Education today held a hearing to examine the Administration's proposed fiscal year 2013 (FY13) budget request for the National Science Foundation (NSF).
"Basic research is an investment in America's future," said Subcommittee Chairman Mo Brooks (R-AL), describing the importance of NSF's work. "The fruits of that research create jobs and opportunities that often-times change our lives, but even this important endeavor must be undertaken in a fiscally responsible way in our current economic environment."
Chairman Brooks criticized the President's overall budget proposal, saying "It is not sustainable. It is not responsible. It is more of the same. It places America's future at grave risk."
With a current annual budget of $7 billion, NSF is the funding source for over 20 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America's colleges and universities, as well as the primary source of federal funding for non-medical basic research. NSF also serves as a catalyst for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education improvement at all levels of education, funding fields like mathematics, computer science, and the social sciences. The FY13 budget request for NSF is $7.4 billion, an increase of $340 million over the FY12 estimated level.
Chairman Brooks noted, "While a nearly five percent increase for NSF in FY13 shows stronger fiscal constraint than the FY 2012 request at 13 percent, I remain concerned that our federal agencies still are not doing enough to encourage austerity and properly prioritize scarcer federal funds."
Brooks encouraged the NSF Director, Dr. Subra Suresh, to be vigilant in making fiscally responsible changes to agency operations by seeking out programs that are "ripe for elimination, consolidation, or reduction." Republicans probed Dr. Suresh about the Science, Engineering, and Education for Sustainability (SEES) portfolio and whether this type of research is being duplicated at other federal agencies. Further, Republicans questioned Innovation Corps (I-Corps) and the possibility of this new initiative picking winners and losers and moving the agency beyond its basic research mission.
Chairman Brooks concluded, "NSF has a long and proven track record, one in which we are all proud, and I have every reason to believe NSF will continue this good work with whatever budgets are forthcoming from Congress."