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Sowing the Seeds Through Science and Engineering Research Act

Introduced in the House December 16, 2005

Summary

The bill implements recommendations related to strengthening long-term basic research contained in the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report, Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future. It authorizes 10% increases per year in funding for basic research in the physical sciences, mathematical sciences, and engineering at the principal Federal agencies supporting such research; provides for up to 200 new awards per year, of $100,000 per year for 5 years, to outstanding early-career researchers; creates a new, portable graduate fellowship program for individuals pursuing studies in areas of national need; establishes a presidential innovation award to stimulate scientific and engineering advances in the national interest; and establishes a national coordination office to identify and prioritize research infrastructure needs at universities and national laboratories and help guide the investments of new infrastructure funds authorized for the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy

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Sectional Contents of Bill

Section 1 is the short title of the bill.

Section 2 authorizes appropriations for basic research activities in the physical sciences, mathematics and computer sciences, and engineering at four agencies and authorizes appropriations for all basic (6.1) research at the Department of Defense. The funding levels increase by 10% for each year, with FY 2006 as the base year:

Dollars (in millions)
AgencyFY 2007FY 2008FY 2009FY 2010FY 2011
National Science Foundation 2114.1 2325.5 2558.1 2813.9 3095.3
Department of Energy 2205.4 2425.9 2668.5 2935.4 3228.9
National Aeronautics and Space Administration 1669.7 1836.7 2020.3 2222.4 2444.6
National Institute of Standards and Technology 86.2 94.9 104.4 114.8 126.3
Department of Defense 1784.8 1963.2 2159.5 2375.5 2613.0

Of the amounts authorized, 8% are designated for support of high-risk, high-payoff research to be selected by technical program managers at each agency.

Section 3 adds supplemental funding for up to 200 new awards under the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers programs currently administered by 5 agencies. The awards go to outstanding researchers at the beginning of their careers and provide 5 years of research funding support at $100,000 per year per award. The following amounts are authorized:

Dollars (in millions)
AgencyFY 2007FY 2008FY 2009FY 2010FY 2011
National Science Foundation 8.2 16.4 24.6 32.8 41.0
National Institutes of Health 4.8 9.6 14.4 19.2 24.0
Department of Energy 3.6 7.2 10.8 14.4 18.0
Department of Defense 2.4 4.8 7.2 9.6 12.00
National Aeronautics and Space Administration 1.0 2.0 3.0 4.0 4.0

Section 4 establishes the Graduate Scholar Awards in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics (GSA-STEM) program at the National Science Foundation (NSF). GSA-STEM is a graduate fellowship program providing 5000 new fellowships per year and modeled on the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship program. Each three-year fellowship awarded follows the student to his/her institution of choice, provides an annual $30,000 stipend, and provides a $15,000 fee to the institution in lieu of tuition. Selection of fellowship recipients follows the guidelines of the existing NSF fellowship program, except that special consideration is given to students who pursue advanced degrees in fields of national need, as determined by an advisory board established for GSA-STEM. Authorizes $225 million for NSF for FY 2007, $450 million for FY 2008, and $675 million per year for FY 2009 through FY 2011.

Section 5 establishes the Presidential Innovation Award signified by a medal awarded periodically on the basis of recommendations from the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. The award is to individuals who develop unique scientific or engineering ideas judged to stimulate scientific and engineering advances in the national interest, illustrate the linkage between science and engineering and national needs, and provide an example to excite the interest of students in science or engineering professions.

Section 6 establishes a National Coordination Office for Research Infrastructure under the Office of Science and Technology Policy to identify and prioritize deficiencies in research facilities and instrumentation in academic institutions and national laboratories and to make recommendations for use of funding authorized. The funds authorized are to be used for competitive, merit-reviewed projects for construction and maintenance of research facilities, including instrumentation, computing and networking equipment and other physical resources. Authorizes $333 million per year for NSF for FY 2007 through FY 2011, and $167 million per year for the Department of Energy for FY 2007 through FY 2011.

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Comparison With the Academy Recommendations

The following table compares the provisions of H.R. 4596 to the recommendations made by the Augustine Committee in its report:

Augustine Report Recommendations

H.R. 4596

Recommendation B-1: Increase Federal funding by 10% annually over seven years for basic research in the physical sciences, engineering, mathematics, and information sciences, and all basic research at DOD. FY 2007, $800 million additional dollars.

H.R. 4596 provides 10% increases per year for five years, based on FY 2006 levels, for the physical sciences, engineering, mathematics, and information sciences at NSF, DOE, NASA, and NIST, and all basic research (6.1) at DOD. FY 2007, $1,785 million ($715 million above FY 2006 total).

Recommendation B-2: Provide 200 early career research grants of $500,000 each over five years through NSF, NIH, DOD, DOE, and NASA. FY 2007, $20 million.

H.R. 4596 tracks B-2 recommendation allocating the funding among the five agencies in proportion to their current funding for the early career program (NSF, 82 grants; NIH, 48; DOE, 36; DOD, 24; and NASA, 10). FY 2007, $20 million.

Recommendation B-3: Establish National Coordination Office for Advanced Research Instrumentation and Facilities. FY 2007, $500 million.

H.R. 4596 tracks B-3 recommendation, establishing a national coordination office within OSTP and allocating two-thirds of the funding for instrumentation and facilities awards through NSF and one-third through DOE. FY 2007, $500 million.

Recommendation B-4: Allocate at least 8% of the budgets of federal research agencies to high-risk research.

H.R. 4596 specifies that not less than 8% of funds authorized under the bill for research (see above) be available for high-risk research.

Recommendation C-2: 5,000 new graduate fellowships each year in STEM areas of national need, administered by NSF. FY 2007, $225 million.

H.R. 4596 tracks C-2 recommendation. FY 2007, $225 million.

For a comparison to Senate legislation and the President's competitiveness initiative, download this chart prepared by the Democratic staff.

109th Congress