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IP: CRA-B on NSF Appropriations
From: Dave Farber <farber () cis upenn edu>
Date: Wed, 22 Oct 1997 16:08:18 -0400


Volume 5=A0=A0 Number 2=A0=A0=A0 October 22, 1997

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House and Senate conferees agreed on a Fiscal 1998 funding package that
included the National Science Foundation. Some of the details of that
agreement are beginning to become clearer and in some cases foggier, and
several affect the Computer and Information Science and Engineering

As usual in conference, the overall NSF mark split the difference between
the generous House mark and a positive, but smaller increase from the
Senate. But, because of some reshuffling among categories, the research
line item was actually larger than either chamber had given originally.

First, the numbers:

Line Item=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 Request=A0=A0 House=A0=A0 Senate=A0 Final
=A0 (in millions of dollars)
Research and
=A0 Related Activities=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=
=A0=A0 2,515=A0=A0=A0 2,538=A0=A0 2,524=A0=A0 2,545
Major Research
=A0 Equipment=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 85=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 175=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=
 85=A0=A0=A0=A0 109
Education and Human
=A0 Resources=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 625=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 632=A0=A0=A0=A0 625=A0=A0=
=A0=A0 632
Salaries and Expenses,
=A0 and IG=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=
=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 142=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 142=A0=A0=A0=A0=
 142=A0=A0=A0=A0 142

=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0=A0 3,367=A0=A0 3,487=A0=A0 3,377=A0=A0=

Some details:

Appropriations bills, even NSF's, are typically filled with specific
allocations and critiques of particular programs, and this one is no
exception. Many relate to CISE. Some examples:

Next Generation Internet (NGI): Perhaps the most confusing and complicated
action was with regard to NGI. The House had increased NSF's NGI budget
from $10M to $23M, while the Senate left it at $10M. The conference
report established the House mark, good news, but appropriated no money for
it. Rather, they directed NSF to take $23M from a fund held by Network
Solutions, Inc (NSI) which came from user fees charged for domain name

NSI was operating under an NSF contract, which specified that excess income
be held and used for improving the Internet. As has been widely reported,
the whole issue of domain name registration has blown up into a major
fight, with the fund in the middle. Lawsuits have already been filed over
NSI control of domain name registration and fee collection, and, should NSF
actually try to get their hands on that money for NGI purposes, more will
probably be initiated. Many think it is highly unlikely that NSF will have
a clean and timely chance to spend that money this fiscal year. The net
effect, so to speak, may be a zero appropriation for NSF's NGI activities.

The conference report also expressed the concern raised in the Senate that
NGI participation be equitably dispersed among the states, and directed NSF
to produce a report on that issue for the committees by next March.

Knowledge and Distributed Intelligence (KDI): The House was positive, but
the Senate had a negative reaction to the KDI and withheld funding . The
Senate report language found the program somewhat fuzzy and lacking in
detail. Conference report language expresses the committee's expectations
that NSF provide more detailed milestones and guideposts before KDI money
is spent, but did not hold the money out of the budget.

Partnerships for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (PACI): The House
raised concerns about the transition funding for the two losing
Supercomputer Centers who were bidders in the PACI competition. They added
$5M to the transition funds to be made available to those centers. The
conference report removed the $5M, but retained language expressing
concern. It directed NSF to monitor the transition carefully and submit a
report with the FY 1999 Budget request that particularly analyzes the fate
of "high-end" users of the IBM SP (the system currently in operation at the
Cornell Center).

On other fronts, the conference bill retained the Senate's increase of $40M
for plant genome research, and deferred to the next fiscal year one-half of
the $70M allotment for upgrading NSF's Antarctic facilities.


Congressman Vern Ehlers (R MICHIGAN), Vice Chair of the House Science
COmmittee,=A0 has been asked by House Speaker Newt Gingrich to conduct a=
long review of U.S. Science Policy. Ehlers, speaking to a group of computer
association executives a few days ago, said that the study will hopefully
lead to some form of bill or resolution, that will reestablich the contract
and attract bipartisan consensus on the government's role in funding
scientific research.

The study will formally kick off tomorrow (Oct 23rd) with a lunch meeting
with a few dozen science leaders. Mr. Ehlers, Mr. Gingrich, and Chair of
the Science Committee, F. James Sensenbrenner (R WISCONSIN). The study will
have a web page, and the CRA web page (http://www.cra.org/) will provide a
link to it when available. Also watch the House Science Committee web page
(http://www.house.gov/science) for progress reports.=20

"Photons have neither morals nor visas"  --  Dave Farber 1994

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