The House Appropriations Committee has approved a bill to fund the National Science Foundation (NSF) at $7.4 billion in fiscal year 2015, a $237 million increase. The legislation also includes $5.3 billion for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which is roughly the same amount of funding the agency received in 2014. NOAA’s fisheries and ocean management programs would be cut in order to increase funding for the National Weather Service.
An amendment offered by Representative David Price (D-NC) would have increased funding for NSF by an additional $659.2 million. Price withdrew the amendment from the committee’s consideration, but may offer it again when the bill is debated by the full House of Representatives.
Another amendment to cut NSF research funding by $5 million was adopted by voice vote. Representative Jamie Herrera Beutler (R-WA) successfully restored $15 million for pacific salmon recovery at NOAA. The increase is paid for by offsets from NSF and from the Census Bureau.
The committee report that accompanies the bill provides additional details about the funding proposed for NSF. Notably, the bill passed by the Appropriations Committee would increase neuroscience research funding by $21.5 million.
The committee expressed concern “that a significant amount of recent research cannot be easily reproduced.” NSF is directed to provide recommendations to address “the problem of replication” and to promote research practices that increase transparency and replicability.
Another concern raised in the committee report is the increasing cost of rotators at NSF. These personnel are on leave from their home academic institution to work at NSF on a temporary basis. The program was created through the Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA). “NSF should be able to better control these costs through more aggressive negotiations with IPA employees’ home institutions, the imposition of cost sharing requirements and other means. To incentivize NSF to continue pursuing these cost savings opportunities, the recommendation permits NSF to continue hiring IPAs but does not provide the requested increases for IPA compensation, per diem, lost consultant fees and travel.”
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