NSF FY 2019 budget to advance innovation, infrastructure

February 28, 2018

The National Science Foundation (NSF) released more detailed information regarding Donald Trump’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 NSF budget request to Congress.

The FY2019 budget request would represent a $7.47 billion investment in strengthening the nation’s economy, security and global leadership through research in cutting-edge science and engineering. At this proposed level of funding, steady with FY2017 congressional appropriations, NSF would continue its work supporting research that advances national priorities such as growth in manufacturing, defense and cybersecurity.

While continuing to support the programs and offices that help maintain the nation’s preeminence in innovation, NSF would accelerate the progress of its “10 Big Ideas for Future Investments” in FY2019, dedicating funding and resources to high-priority areas that integrate multiple fields of science and engineering and create opportunities to partner with industry, private foundations, other federal agencies and the education sector.

“NSF challenges the research community to innovate, and we hold our agency to the same standard of constantly improving and progressing,” said NSF Director France Córdova. “This budget request would allow NSF to build on the important work done by our directorates within individual fields by encouraging convergence among different disciplines in science and engineering and collaboration with partners in different sectors. Investments that incorporate such an approach will accelerate U.S. innovation.”

Through its Big Ideas Stewardship Funding Model, NSF would commit $30 million to each of six research-focused Big Ideas, for a total of $180 million. Those Big Ideas are: Harnessing the Data Revolution (HDR); The Future of Work at the Human Technology Frontier (FW-HTF); Windows on the Universe (WoU): The Era of Multi-messenger Astrophysics; The Quantum Leap (QL): Leading the Next Quantum Revolution; Understanding the Rules of Life (URoL): Predicting Phenotype; and Navigating the New Arctic (NNA).

The budget request also calls for NSF to invest $60 million in two Convergence Accelerators — new vehicles to leverage resources across the agency to support the most innovative science, pursuant to the HDR and FW-HTF Big Ideas. The remaining four Big Ideas, which focus on enhancing processes and practices to improve U.S. science and engineering, are emphasized in the budget request as well. This emphasis includes $20 million for NSF INCLUDES, which focuses on creating networks to broaden participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Other highlights under the budget request:

  • The Antarctic Infrastructure Modernization for Science (AIMS) construction project would receive $103.7 million. NSF manages all U.S. activities on the continent as a single, integrated program, making Antarctic research possible for scientists supported by NSF and other U.S. agencies.
  • Cybersecurity research would receive $160.6 million, supporting projects that protect and preserve cyber systems while ensuring preservation of individual privacy and usability.
  • NSF Innovation Corps (I-Corps™), which works to bridge the gap between discoveries and commercialization of technologies, would receive $30 million.
  • CyberCorps®: Scholarship for Service, which supports cybersecurity education and research at higher education institutions, would receive $55 million and engage undergraduate students, with a focus on veterans.

NSF’s annual budget would represent approximately 27 percent of the total federal budget for basic research conducted at U.S. colleges and universities — 60 percent when medical research supported by the National Institutes of Health is excluded.

In FY2019, NSF would expect to evaluate approximately 50,600 proposals through its competitive merit review process and make approximately 11,100 new competitive awards. NSF expects that over 93 percent of its FY2019 requested budget would be used to fund research and education grants and research infrastructure in the science and education communities.