Washington, D.C. – The Research and Technology Subcommittee today held a hearing to examine the administration’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget request for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and to examine the Foundation’s implementation of accountability and transparency policies.

Research & Technology Subcommittee Chairwoman Barbara Comstock (R-Va.): “I am pleased that NSF is proposing to make Foundation-wide strategic investments to address cybersecurity, one of the great challenges of the 21st Century. This Committee has held multiple hearings on cybersecurity since the news over the summer that the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) was the target of two massive data breaches – exposing the sensitive information of over 21 million Americans, including me and many of my constituents. Earlier this month, I joined many technology stakeholders in my district for a round table discussion.  One concern they shared is the need for an educated workforce to fill cybersecurity jobs.  I am pleased that NSF’s budget request includes $70 million for the Cybercorps Scholarship for Service program, to recruit and train the next generation of information security professionals.”

The fiscal year 2017 discretionary budget request for NSF totals $7.56 billion, an increase of $100 million, or just over one percent more than the fiscal year 2016 enacted level. NSF is the primary source of federal funding for non-medical basic research and supports through 12,000 competitive grants a year over 377,000 scientists, engineers, educators and students across the country. 

Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas): “The National Science Foundation supports fundamental scientific basic research in the national interest that is critical to American innovation and competitiveness. Tight federal budget constraints require all taxpayer dollars to be spent on high value science in the national interest. Unfortunately, NSF has funded a number of projects that do not meet the highest standards of scientific merit – from a $500,000 grant to help amateurs create a video game called “Relive Prom Night” to $1.5 million for studying pasture management in Mongolia.  I encourage Dr. Cordova and the NSF program staff to redouble their efforts to make sure each new taxpayer-funded research grant includes a non-technical description of its potential scientific importance. Researchers should embrace the opportunity to better explain to the American people the potential value of their work.”

Members raised concerns with the priorities represented in the budget. For example, the president’s budget proposes to increase clean energy R&D funding at NSF by almost 40 percent in FY17 for a total of $512 million as part of the President’s Climate Action Plan.  At the same time, funding for priority basic research in critical areas like biology, physics, chemistry, and computing remains flat. 

For more information on the hearing, including witness testimony and the archived webcast, please visit the Committee’s website.