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House Science Committee enthusiastic about MSP program, recommends increase in NSF funding

The House Science Committee has finished its mark-up of its section of the budget for FY 2006, which includes the appropriations for NSF. The committee engaged in vigorous conversation about the role of NSF in America's economic, military, and social development, and the importance of a continuing commitment to robust funding. The debate included testimony and repartee about NSF's education work, and its distinctive contribution to education. The MSP program is one that received enthusiastic, bipartisan support, and representatives were very positive about the value of linking the MSP idea of partnering IHEs and K-12 education with the NSF commitment to research and the encouragement and preparation of new researchers.

The Committee has recommended more spending on NSF and on EHR, than requested by the Administration. The Committee recommends an increase in NSF $171 million over last year and $38 million above the budget request, so that total recommended funding is $5.64 billion.

This includes $807 million for Education and Human Resources, $70 million above the requested amount, though $34.4 million below this year's funding. The committee specifies $60 million for the MSP program, "which will support awards made in previous years, as well as data collection and evaluation activities." This is the amount requested by the President for the program, representing a 24.4% reduction in funding from the current fiscal year.

Other recommendations: $50 million for REC (Research, Evaluation, and Communication), and $175 million for ESIE. With regard to the latter, the Committee specifically mentions the "value of engaging the general public in informal science and technology education." Once the funding is enacted, the NSF will have 30 days to develop a spending plan "that addresses the Foundation's highest priority education requirements."

Sources:
ASA-CSSA-SSSA Science Policy Report:
http://old.sustainableagriculture.net/CSP_SignOnLetter.php
House Committee on Appropriations