January 19, 2011
Yesterday, during a session with the Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF), NSF Director Subra Suresh fielded questions from academic research advocates. Dr. Suresh stated that the National Science Foundation is closely monitoring budget discussions on Capitol Hill in order to chart a course for both FY11 and FY12. He expressed familiarity with the calls of some on the Hill to roll back federal spending to FY08 levels, stating that such a move would have a devastating impact on the agency. However, he mentioned that at this point, the agency views a rollback to FY08 as highly speculative and as a result is not actively planning for such an outcome.
Dr.Suresh fielded several questions on the impact of the ongoing continuing resolution on the NSF. He revealed that the agency is allowed to spend up to 50% of its previous years allocation, so as of right now, decisions on grant applications are not widely being held for the FY11 appropriations process to conclude. He also made a case for resisting calls by some to eliminate the Social and Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate.
Beyond budget, Dr. Suresh talked about his desire to incorporate many of the educational elements of the Education and Human Resources Directorate into the other NSF directorates. He also articulated a vision for streamlining the hiring of senior NSF officials and promoting diversity both within the agency and more broadly among the scientific community.
CNSF is an alliance of over 125 organizations (including the University of Washington) drawn together by a concern for the future vitality of the national science, mathematics, and engineering enterprise.