Created by on 3/5/2012 12:00:00 AM

On February 28th, National Science Foundation (NSF) Director Subra Suresh, ScD and National Science Board Chairman Ray Bowen, PhD defended NSF’s fiscal year (FY) 2013 $7.4 billion budget request before the Research and Science Education Subcommittee of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. Subcommittee Chairman Mo Brooks (R-AL) acknowledged the importance of basic research to the nation’s international competitiveness and economic security, but also voiced concern in his opening statement that “federal agencies still are not doing enough to encourage austerity.” During the question-and-answer portion of the hearing, Representative Andy Harris (R-MD) asked why NSF’s budget should be increased when the President’s FY 2013 budget includes flat-funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Dr. Suresh referred the Congressman to NIH Director Francis Collins, but also referenced the past growth of the agency’s budget and the America COMPETES Act recommendation to double the budget of NSF. In response to a question by Representative Paul Tonko (D-NY), the Director explained the distinct but complimentary roles of NSF’s Innovation Corps and the Small Business Innovation Research program. Other topics of discussion at the hearing included NSF’s climate research portfolio and how it differs from that of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NSF programs that support community colleges, and the role of NSF in enabling advanced manufacturing and reduced energy costs.
As the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee explored the NSF budget, the Energy and Water Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee convened a hearing to learn more about the Obama Administration’s FY 2013 request for the Department of Energy (DOE). Serving as the only witness, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, PhD, testified that increased investment in basic research supported by the DOE Office of Science (DOE SC) leads to innovative new discoveries. DOE SC priorities highlighted by Secretary Chu included materials research, basic energy sciences, and advanced computing. Although most of the discussion at the hearing focused on areas outside of SC, Representative Chaka Fattah (D-PA) took the opportunity to praise basic research and the work of the national laboratories. He also stated that more should be done to ensure that new technologies lead to manufacturing jobs in the United States. Other members of the subcommittee expressed concerns about decreased funding for Fossil Energy research and the administration’s treatment of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository project. At the request of Representative John Olver (D-MA), Secretary Chu described the DOE SC’s ongoing review of its Energy Frontiers Research Centers and its plans for a new Energy Innovation Hub in FY 2013.