NSF has less R&D money under new budget

NSF has less R&D money under new budget

The day after the President's IT Advisory Committee recommended increasing National Science Foundation funding for cybersecurity research, Congress passed an appropriations bill containing cuts to the NSF budget.

'Not only are we not keeping pace with inflationary growth, we are actually cutting the portion basic research receives in the overall budget,' Rep. Vernon J. Ehlers (R-Mich.) said.

Ehlers, chairman of the House Science Subcommittee on Environment, Technology and Standards, said the $5.47 billion NSF appropriation 'shows dangerous disregard for our nation's future.'

That figure is more than $60 million less than fiscal 2004 funding and $227 million less than requested by the president.

Ehlers said his vote in favor of the omnibus appropriations bill 'does not in any way represent my approval for the funding cuts to the NSF.'

NSF is the primary source of funding for civilian IT security research, through its Cyber Trust program. The foundation's Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering expected to have $30 million available in the program for funding basic research grants in fiscal 2005. Last year the program funded 8 percent of grant proposals, at 6 percent of the total requested amount.

At a meeting last Friday, the PITAC subcommittee on cybersecurity released draft recommendations that included increasing the amount of Cyber Trust funding by at least $90 million annually.

The PITAC subcommittee chairman, F. Thomas Leighton, chief scientist of Akamai Technologies of Cambridge, Mass., said most of the government's cybersecurity research funding is for military and intelligence programs. Because much of this work is classified, it offers little benefit for civilian IT security.

Leighton said Friday the government has largely failed in its obligation to support basic research into more secure IT systems.

The House and Senate late Saturday approved the long-overdue spending bill that funds the government for the rest of the fiscal year. The bill is awaiting action on final resolutions and has not yet been sent to the president.

Ehlers said the bill reduces NSF support for basic research and called the practice of bundling multiple appropriations bills into massive omnibus legislation a bad procedure that leaves insufficient time for review.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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