: NSF Authorization (fwd)

Thu, 2 May 1996 16:23:30 EDT

Peggy Overbey, Director of Government Relations at AAA passed this
information for me to share with folks who inquired about actions on the
Hill. This is a posting from Howard Silver, Executive Director of the
Consortium of Social Science Associations, of which AAA is a member.
Patsy Evans, Director, Minority Affairs, American Anthropological

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Subject: NSF Authorization (fwd)
Date: 5/02/96 Time: 12:12p
From: "Howard J. Silver" <hjsilver@tmn.com>
To: peggy@aaa.mhs.compuserve.com
cc: cmarrett@nsf.gov, wbutz@nsf.gov, heverist@nsf.gov,

Here is something to clarify what the House Science Committee did.
As some of you know, there is mail floating around the Internet
concerning the actions of the House Science Committee. In particular,
the message originating with Gary Chapman of the University of Texas, LBJ

School contains misinformation that is causing unnecessary alarm. I hope

you will use the following to inform your people.

On April 24, the House Science Committee, chaired by Rep. Robert Walker
(R-PA), passed the Omnibus Civilian Science Authorization Act of 1996.
Included in the bill was the FY 1997 authorization for the National
Science Foundation (NSF). Although last year's Omnibus Bill, which
passed only the House and not the Senate, included a two-year
authorization for NSF, the Chairman decided to revise the bill to reflect

additional authorized levels of spending.

The bill, as it did last year, once again stipulates the NSF is limited
to six Assistant Directors and calls for a report by November 15, 1996
indicating how NSF intends to reorganize to comply with this
requirement. It also includes a new provision that authorized funds for
NSF "shall be available to not more than 6 scientific directorates." NSF

currently has 7 directorates, including Education and Human Resources,
which is not funded in the Research and Related Activities Account.

Last year in the report that accompanies the bill, the Committee made
clear that SBE should be the prime candidate for NSF's compliance with
the elimination provision. This year during an exchange with Rep. George

Brown, Walker denied Brown's accusation that his intention was to
eliminate SBE, and that he was leaving the decision as to which
directorate to eliminate to the Foundation.

This accounts for the difference in this year's report language. The
section dealing with the downsizing of directorates makes clear that "in
evaluating and restructuring the NSF, the Committee has given discretion
to the Director, requiring only that he report his reorganization plan to

the Congress by November 15, 1996."

The report does go on to essentially repeat last year's view that the
Committee "urges the Director to at" SBE "to determine if its current
program level reflects sound priorities within overall science funding."

It repeats the charge that despite SBE proposals undergoing merit review,

"they appear to reflect trends toward support of more applied research
and research in areas, that in tight budget times are of lower scientific

priority." This year's report further reiterates that SBE as the newest
directorate whose research areas are cross-cutting "is a candidate for
integration into other research directorates."

The hierarchy of the NSF remains steadfast in its support of SBE. Neal
Lane will continue to forcefully oppose any effort to dictate how to
organize the Foundation.

The full House of Representatives will take up and likely pass the bill
on May 9. Last year, the House passed a similar Omnibus Bill, which
besides NSF, includes authorizations for NASA, EPA R&D, and other
agencies. However, the Senate did not take up the bill and it did not
become law. So, NSF did not implement any of the Science Committee's
recommendations or produce a requested report regarding reorganization.

The Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee, chaired by Sen. Nancy
Kassebaum (R-KS), has first jurisdiction regarding the NSF bill. The
Senate Commerce Committee, chaired by Sen. Larry Pressler, has secondary
jurisdiction. Pressler would like an NSF bill; Kassebaum is unclear at
the moment, but she has a lot of other things on her plate. Thus, it
appears likely that, as was the case last year, the NSF authorization
bill requiring the elimination of a directorate is unlikely to become

The other thing to remember is that authorization bills only set
recommended levels for spending. The appropriators set actual spending
amounts for the agencies. As we have seen, the lack of an authorization
bill does not stop the appropriators, nor do they often find themselves
constrained by what the authorizers recommend.

I hope this clarifies where we are. If anything changes, especially
regarding Senate action, I will let you know.

Howard Silver, COSSA Executive Director