News & AnalysisNational Science Foundation

Big Budget Squeeze Looms for Major New Facilities

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Science  09 Sep 2011:
Vol. 333, Issue 6048, pp. 1366-1367
DOI: 10.1126/science.333.6048.1366

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Recent actions by Congress raise serious questions about the National Science Foundation's (NSF's) ability to obtain funding in a timely and orderly manner for major new facilities. Last month's budget agreement between Congress and President Barack Obama is expected to take a big bite out of all discretionary spending programs, affecting NSF and every other research agency. NSF's $6.9 billion budget is flat this year, and while the Obama Administration held up its end of the promise by requesting a 13% increase for the foundation in 2012, Congress is unlikely to go along. NSF's facilities account is especially vulnerable to congressional budget hawks because of its year-to-year fluctuations.