July 09, 2010

House Subcommittee Approves $7.424 Billion for National Science Foundation

On Tuesday, June 29th, the House Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations Subcommittee approved its FY 2011 funding bill. The bill provides the National Science Foundation (NSF) with $7.424 billion, which is $498 million (seven percent) above the enacted FY 2010 level of $6.926 billion (not including American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds). In his opening statement, Subcommittee Chairman Alan Mollohan (D-WV) said, “The subcommittee recommendation continues to provide resources consistent with the doubling path identified for NSF and NIST in the COMPETES Act.” The NSF funding level in the bill is equal to the President’s FY 2011 request, but $256 million below FASEB’s recommended 11 percent increase to $7.680 billion. The bill also provides $19 billion for The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Following the mark-up, the subcommittee released a summary table listing the funding amounts for various accounts within each agency. Funding levels for specific NSF programs of interest to FASEB societies are as follows:

• Research & Related Activities - $5.960 billion (+$343 million over FY 2010)
• Major Research & Equipment Facilities Construction - $165 million (+$48 million over FY 2010)
• Education and Human Resources - $958 million (+$85 million over FY 2010)
• National Science Board - $4.840 million (+$300,000 over FY 2010)
• Agency Operations & Award Management - $321 million (+$21 million over FY 2010)

Concerns over discretionary spending levels continue to dominate the appropriations process. “In developing the mark before you, we were required to weigh many different tradeoffs and make a number of very difficult decisions that necessitated reductions in several areas from the fiscal year 2010 levels or from the 2011 request,” Chairman Mollohan noted. At this time, it is not clear when the full Appropriations Committee will consider the CJS Subcommittee bill

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Appropriations Bill Provides $312 Million for Agriculture and Food Research Initiative

Last week, the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee passed its FY 2011 appropriations bill which would fund the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) at a level of $312 million, which is $50 million (19 percent) above the enacted FY 2010 level of $262 million. We know for a fact that neglecting basic research is never a smart or sustainable path to prosperity. So, we have continued to make sound investments in agricultural research,” Subcommittee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) said in her opening statement. The funding provided for AFRI in the bill is $117 million below the President’s FY 2011 request of $429 million and $188 million below FASEB’s recommendation.

The bill provides a total of $1.357 billion for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), which oversees the AFRI competitive grants program. A summary table showing the funding amounts for various accounts within each agency is available on the Agriculture Subcommittee website.

During the mark-up, a number of amendments were introduced and discussed, but none were approved by the subcommittee. Representative Tom Latham (R-IA) offered two amendments that would have lowered the bill’s overall level of spending, but no changes were made to either the NIFA or AFRI budgets specifically.

Although Committee Chairman David Obey (D-WI) expressed his intent to bring the Agriculture Subcommittee bill before the full Appropriations Committee, a timeline of future action has not been released.

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White House Issues Executive Order on Security of Biological Select Agents and Toxins

On July 2nd, President Obama issued an Executive Order on Optimizing the Security of Biological Select Agents and Toxins in the United States. A press release accompanying the order stated that it was the result of a review of federal policies and procedures for the security of biological select agents and toxins (BSAT). It begins with a statement about the value of research using BSAT and calls for greater security to prevent their loss, misuse, or accidental release. In addition, the President called for:

• Risk-based tiering of BSAT lists. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will classify BSAT according to their risk for misuse and explore graded protections for these “Tier 1” agents
• HHS and USDA are required to review their revise their regulations to reflect the new tiered BSAT list
• Creation of a federal advisory panel for Select Agent Programs
• Coordination of Federal Oversight for BSAT security

Changes for HHS and USDA policies will proceed through the normal rulemaking process. In a related post on the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy blog, Peter Emanuel, Assistant Director for Chemical and Biological Countermeasures, noted that “when implemented by the relevant Departments and agencies, it will help the United States achieve a crucial balance between two goals that are sometimes seen as being in conflict: Increasing the Nation’s defenses against the threat of biological weapons and reducing the hurdles that legitimate scientists face as they pursue research on potentially dangerous microbes.” Emanuel also stated that the new directive simplifies and harmonizes a number of earlier efforts to achieve the right balance between the risks and benefits of scientific research on some of the world’s most dangerous infectious agents and toxins and recognizes that access to these materials and the rules for handling them need to be carefully regulated.

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National Science Foundation Launches Innovation Online Resource

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has launched its Science, Engineering, & Education Innovation (SEE Innovation) website initiative. The new service provides policy makers, science-related organizations, and the general public with information about NSF-funded research and education projects. Users can access summaries of select projects, read biographies of leading scientists, learn about large-scale research facilities, and find state-specific statistics about NSF awards received in a given fiscal year.

NSF and Research.gov are currently seeking feedback on the initial content of SEE Innovation. Comments can be submitted using the website’s online feedback form found under the “Tell Us What You Think” link or by e-mailing feedback@research.gov.

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FASEB’s Washington Update is brought to you bi-monthly by the FASEB Office of Public Affairs. We welcome your questions and comments – please contact Jennifer Zeitzer at jzeitzer@faseb.org or 301-634-7650. For more information about how to get involved in research advocacy, visit: http://capwiz.com/faseb/home/

 

   
   
 

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