NSF gives boost to IT research

Fiscal 2002 budget

The National Science Foundation's fiscal 2002 budget proposal asks for a 1.3 percent raise above its fiscal 2001 funding level, but spending on information technology is likely to remain flat.

NSF is requesting $4.47 billion overall, a $56 million increase from what it received in fiscal 2001. Total IT investments within the agency would be $2 million, the same level as the previous two fiscal years, but information technology research would get a raise.

"In addition to investments in core research and education...the fiscal year 2002 budget emphasizes four priority areas: biocomplexity in the environment, information technology research, nanoscale science and engineering, and learning for the 21st century," NSF director Rita Colwell said in her budget briefing Monday.

Under the proposal, information technology research would get $273 million, about a 5 percent increase from $259 million in 2001. Nanotechnology research would receive $174 million, a 16.1 percent increase from the 2001 level of $150 million. NSF is the lead agency on both multi-agency programs.

"This investment allows us to explore ways of making large-scale networking, software and systems more reliable, stable and secure," Colwell said. "This will permit diverse applications from telemedicine to interactive education to the remote operation of experimental apparatus—such as the telescope at the South Pole. Because the information technology sector has contributed significantly to recent U.S. economic growth, these investments have to remain a top priority."

The fiscal 2002 budget provides about $26 million to initiate a new cohort of NSF's Science and Technology Centers in areas that span the range of disciplines supported by the agency. The budget for research equipment includes $55 million for terascale computing resources and $24.4 million for the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation, a collaborative research network.

The agency's fiscal 2002 budget request for its Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) division is $470.36 million, a decrease of $7.54 million, or 1.6 percent, below the fiscal 2001 plan of $477.9 million.


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