On 15 September, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a spending plan for the National Science Foundation for fiscal year (FY) 2012 that would cut $161.8 million from the agency’s budget. The recommended level, $6.698 billion, is a 2.4 percent reduction from FY 2011 and is less than NSF received in FY 2010.

Under the Committee’s proposal, the Research and Related Activities account at NSF would be slashed by $120.9 million in the next fiscal year. This is the account that provides funding for NSF’s various research directorates, such as the Biological Sciences Directorate.

Funding for NSF research could be reduced further under the Senate plan. The legislation allows the agency to transfer up to $100 million from the Research and Related Activities account to the Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction account in order to fully fund the Ocean Observatories Initiative and to start construction of the National Ecological Observatory Network. Funding for Education and Human Resources programs at NSF would be cut by $32.0 million, a 3.7 percent reduction.

Notably, the Senate spending plan provides significantly less funding to NSF than the appropriations bill approved by the House Committee on Appropriations. Under the House plan, Research and Related Activities would receive roughly $5.6 billion in the next fiscal year, about $43 million above the current funding level.


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