On March 26, leaders on the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee introduced bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the National Science Foundation (NSF) through 2026 and more than double its budget in that time.
Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) and Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK) along with Subcommittee on Research and Technology Chairwoman Haley Stevens (D-MI) and Ranking Member Michael Waltz (R-FL) co-sponsored the National Science Foundation for the Future Act. NSF received just under $8.5 billion for fiscal year (FY) 2021. The bill would increase funding to nearly $11.5 billion in FY22, with scheduled increases lifting the agency’s budget above $18 billion in 2026.
In FY22, the agency’s Research and Related Activities budget would jump up 50 percent, from $6.291 billion in FY21 to $9.444 billion in FY22 (partially to accommodate a new directorate). This is the pool of money from which NSF funds awards, including those through the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE) directorate of particular interest to FABBS members.
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Notably, the NSF for the Future Act would prioritize STEM education and the science pipeline, including by increasing funding for key STEM programs by 50 percent over 5 years. It would also support research accessibility by investing in open science tools and infrastructure and improve research security by providing resources to help researchers and institutions understand and mitigate security risks.
The bill would also create a new directorate aimed at addressing major national and societal challenges. The Directorate for Science and Engineering Solutions (SES) would be charged with translating NSF-supported fundamental research to advance technology and facilitate the application and commercialization of federally funded research. This new directorate would grow from $1 billion in 2022 to $5 billion in 2026.
Another proposal to expand NSF with a new technology-focused directorate was introduced in 2020 by Sens. Schumer and Young. The Endless Frontier Act (EFA) is expected to be reintroduced next week, incorporating feedback solicited from the scientific community.