Today, the White House will announce that the President's FY 2001 budget would include $4.6 billion for research and education investments at the National Science Foundation (NSF). This represents a $675 million (17 percent) increase over current funding levels. If Congress approves this investment, it would double the largest dollar increase ever for the Foundation, and NSF funding would have increased by 66 percent since President Clinton took office.
Very few people recognize the connection between practical improvements in their lives and the fundamental research that NSF has supported for five decades. NSF looks for and funds high-risk research with long-term pay-offs across the entire spectrum of science and engineering -- a role too broad in scope and horizon for mission-oriented government agencies and for private industry. Today we enjoy the benefits of MRI, Doppler radar, and the Internet, because of fundamental research conducted decades ago.
Investing in NSF is investing for future generations. NSF is a small agency with a catalytic ability to speed the pace and scope of discovery in science and engineering. It invests in the people, ideas, and tools needed to keep the nation at the leading edge. The Foundation represents under 4 percent of Federal R&D spending, but supports roughly half of the non-medical basic research conducted at colleges and universities.
NSF's FY2001 request sets priorities and strengthens the core investments that boost economic productivity and secure U.S. S&T leadership.
· Strengthening Core Investments - The request devotes $320 million to increases in core disciplinary research that extend the frontiers of science and engineering across the board. These activities sustain the flow of new discoveries that fuel the development of new technologies. For example, we are now relying increasingly on fundamental mathematics to understand key aspects of living systems — such as how microbes develop drug resistance and how viruses (such as HIV) can become dormant and undetectable for long periods.
· Information Technology Research (ITR) - Investments in ITR will deliver tools and capabilities that will benefit every research discipline, business and industry, and every level of education. New technologies based on quantum computing or DNA computing could make today's information revolution pale by comparison with the next information revolution - perhaps merely years away! New techniques for designing and constructing software will speed reliable and robust information appliances to consumers and information systems to industry. And, understanding of the social and cultural impacts of technological change could change the scope and manner in which new technologies are deployed, improving our lives and the lives of our children.
· Nanoscale Science and Engineering - Nanoscale science and engineering will have far-reaching impact on technology for the 21st Century. The control of matter at the atomic level underpins innovation in critical areas from -- manufacturing to materials to the environment. Nanotechnology is allowing us to build machines so small that they are rapidly approaching the scale of human cells. For example, developing a machine smaller than the head of a pin could be placed in a person's bloodstream to monitor the health of the heart and blood vessels, thereby avoiding strokes and heart attacks. This will be possible only through nanoscale science and engineering.
· Biocomplexity in the Environment (BE) - Understanding biocomplexity - the dynamic interactions among the Earth's living and physical systems - will help us understand our environment. Furthermore, such investigations will accelerate cutting-edge capabilities - such as genomics, molecular sequencing, informatics, robotics, remote sensing, and advanced mathematics and modeling. The discoveries emerging from this work will contribute to improved environmental stewardship and will promote innovation in such areas as biotechnology and public health.
· 21st Century Workforce - We now live in an economy based on
knowledge and ideas. The greatest job growth is in areas that demand
a solid grounding in science and technology - yet our present educational
infrastructure is not equipped for this challenge. In this request,
NSF will inaugurate Centers for Teaching and Learning. These investments
will full engage the broad spectrum of America's diverse population to
create a science and engineering workforce second to none.