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Setting Priorities for Large Research Facility Projects Supported by the National Science Foundation Appendix B Charge to the Committee and Origins of the Study STATEMENT OF TASK In response to a Congressional request, the committee conducting this study will examine how the National Science Foundation sets priorities among multiple competing proposals for construction and operation of large-scale research facility projects for a diverse array of disciplines, and will make recommendations regarding how to make the priority-setting process as effective as possible, taking into account NSF’s significant role in funding academic research in science and engineering in the United States. Specifically, the committee will address the following tasks: Review NSF’s current prioritization process as well as processes and procedures used by other relevant organizations. Develop the criteria that should be considered in developing priorities among competing large research facility proposals. Provide recommendations for optimizing and strengthening the process used by the NSF to set priorities among large research facility project proposals and to manage their incorporations into the President’s budget. Provide recommendations for improving the construction and operation of NSF-funded large research facility projects. Provide recommendations regarding the role of the current and future availability of international and interagency research facility projects in the decision-making process for NSF funding of large research facility projects.
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Setting Priorities for Large Research Facility Projects Supported by the National Science Foundation LETTER FROM US CONGRESS Included on the next two pages is a reproduction of a letter from several US senators to Bruce Alberts, president of the National Academy of Sciences, requesting this study.
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Setting Priorities for Large Research Facility Projects Supported by the National Science Foundation United States Senate WASHINGTON, DC 20510 June 12, 2002 Dr. Bruce Alberts President National Academy of Sciences 2101 Constitution Ave, NW Washington, D.C. 20418 Dear Dr. Alberts: By this letter, we request the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to develop a set of criteria that can be used to rank and prioritize large research facility projects sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) – particularly those funded through the Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction account, Despite several efforts, questions remain as to whether NSF has a satisfactory process for prioritizing multiple competing large-scale research facility proposals. As a result, funding requests by the Foundation for large facility projects appear to be ad hoc and subjective, In recent years, with congressional support, NSF has increased its investments in large infrastructure projects such as accelerators, telescopes, research vessels, supercomputers, digital databases, and earthquake simulators. NSF spends approximately $1 billion per year for such cutting-edge projects, some of which individually cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Many of these projects are large in scale, require complex instrumentation, and involve partnerships with other Federal agencies, international science organizations, and foreign governments. We request the NAS to review the current prioritization process and report to us on how it can be improved. Specifically, we ask that you provide us with specific criteria that will lead to a prioritized ranking of competing large research facility proposals that address both scientific merit and management criteria. We ask that you consider project management capability as a criterion because NSF heavily relies on the management capabilities of its awardees to construct and operate its large facility projocts. We also believe NSF should play a stronger role in the management, oversight, and accountability of the projects that it ultimately supports. The NSF Inspector General has recently found significant deficiencies in the Foundation’s management and oversight of its large facility projects resulting in significant cost overruns not contemplated in their original budgets. We request the Academy to provide us with recommendations to help the Foundation address this issue.
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Setting Priorities for Large Research Facility Projects Supported by the National Science Foundation Lastly, we are interested in the Academy’s views about the availability of large research facilities in other countries. For some types of scientific research, existing overseas facilities may be adequate and cost-effective in meeting U.S. research needs through international partnerships. We ask that you consider this issue as a possible criterion for a prioritized ranking system. Thank you for your consideration of this request. Please contact Cheh Kim of the VA-HUD Subcommittee staff at 202-224-7858 if you have any questions. Sincerely, Barbara A. Mikulski Chair Subcommittee on VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies Christopher S. Bond Ranking Member Subcommittee on VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies Ernest F. Hollings Chair Committee on Commerce, Science, and Technology John McCain Ranking Member Committee on Commerce, Science, and Technology Edward M. Kennedy Chair, Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Judd Gregg Ranking Member Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
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Setting Priorities for Large Research Facility Projects Supported by the National Science Foundation LANGUAGE FROM HR 4664, NSF AUTHORIZATION ACT OF 2002 The NSF budget authorization bill of 2002 carried with it specific language that instructed the National Academy of Sciences to undertake this study. The final version of the authorization bill was signed into law on December 19, 2002 as Public Law 107-368. Section 14 of the bill discusses the Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction Plan; this section is reproduced on the following pages for reference.
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Setting Priorities for Large Research Facility Projects Supported by the National Science Foundation One Hundred Seventh Congress of the United States of America AT THE SECOND SESSION Begun and held at the City of Washington on Wednesday, the twenty-third day of January, two thousand and two An Act To authorize appropriations for fiscal years 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007 for the National Science Foundation, and for other purposes. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE. This Act may be cited as the “National Science Foundation Authorization Act of 2002”. SEC. 2. FINDINGS. Congress finds the following: (1) The National Science Foundation has made major contributions for more than 50 years to strengthen and sustain the Nation’s academic research enterprise that is the envy of the world. (2) The economic strength and national security of the United States and the quality of life of all Americans are grounded in the Nation’s scientific and technological capabilities. (3) The National Science Foundation carries out important functions in supporting basic research in all science and engineering disciplines and in supporting science, mathematics, engineering, and technology education at all levels. (4) The research and education activities of the National Science Foundation promote the discovery, integration, dissemination, and application of new knowledge in service to society and prepare future generations of scientists, mathematicians, and engineers who will be necessary to ensure America’s leadership in the global marketplace. (5) The National Science Foundation must be provided with sufficient resources to enable it to carry out its responsibilities to develop intellectual capital, strengthen the scientific infrastructure, integrate research and education, enhance the delivery of mathematics and science education in the United States, and improve the technological literacy of all people in the United States. (6) The emerging global economic, scientific, and technical environment challenges long-standing assumptions about domestic and international policy, requiring the National Science Foundation to play a more proactive role in sustaining the competitive advantage of the United States through superior research capabilities.
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Setting Priorities for Large Research Facility Projects Supported by the National Science Foundation the Foundation’s reaction to the assessment authorized under paragraph (1). SEC. 14. MAJOR RESEARCH EQUIPMENT AND FACILITIES CONSTRUCTION PLAN. (a) PRIORITIZATION OF PROPOSED MAJOR RESEARCH EQUIPMENT AND FACILITIES CONSTRUCTION.— (1) DEVELOPMENT OF PRIORITIES.—(A) The Director shall— (i) develop a list indicating by number the relative priority for funding under the major research equipment and facilities construction account that the Director assigns to each project the Board has approved for inclusion in a future budget request; and (ii) submit the list described in clause (i) to the Board for approval. (B) The Director shall update the list prepared under subparagraph (A) each time the Board approves a new project that would receive funding under the major research equipment and facilities construction account, as necessary to prepare reports under paragraph (2), and, from time to time, submit any updated list to the Board for approval. (2) ANNUAL REPORT.—Not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act, and not later than each June 15 thereafter, the Director shall transmit to the Committee on Science of the House of Representatives, the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate, and the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions of the Senate a report containing— (A) the most recent Board-approved priority list developed under paragraph (1)(A); (B) a description of the criteria used to develop such list; and (C) a description of the major factors for each project that determined the ranking of such project on the list, based on the application of the criteria described pursuant to subparagraph (B). (3) CRITERIA.—The criteria described pursuant to paragraph (2)(B) shall include, at a minimum— (A) scientific merit; (B) broad societal need and probable impact; (C) consideration of the results of formal prioritization efforts by the scientific community; (D) readiness of plans for construction and operation; (E) the applicant’s management and administrative capacity of large research facilities; (F) international and interagency commitments; and (G) the order in which projects were approved by the Board for inclusion in a future budget request. (b) FACILITIES PLAN.— (1) IN GENERAL.—Section 201(a)(1) of the National Science Foundation Authorization Act of 1998 (42 U.S.C. 1862l(a)(1)) is amended to read as follows: “(1) IN GENERAL.—The Director shall prepare, and include as part of the Foundation’s annual budget request to Congress, a plan for the proposed construction of, and repair and upgrades to, national research facilities, including full life-cycle cost information.”.
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Setting Priorities for Large Research Facility Projects Supported by the National Science Foundation (2) CONTENTS OF PLAN.—Section 201(a)(2) of the National Science Foundation Authorization Act of 1998 (42 U.S.C. 1862l(a)(2)) is amended— (A) in subparagraph (A), by striking “(1);” and inserting “(1), including costs for instrumentation development;”; (B) in subparagraph (B), by striking “and” after the semicolon; (C) in subparagraph (C), by striking “construction.” and inserting “construction;”; and (D) by adding at the end the following: “(D) for each project funded under the major research equipment and facilities construction account— “(i) estimates of the total project cost (from planning to commissioning); and “(ii) the source of funds, including Federal funding identified by appropriations category and non-Federal funding; “(E) estimates of the full life-cycle cost of each national research facility; “(F) information on any plans to retire national research facilities; and “(G) estimates of funding levels for grants supporting research that will be conducted using each national research facility.”. (3) DEFINITION.—Section 2 of the National Science Foundation Authorization Act of 1998 (42 U.S.C. 1862k note) is amended— (A) by redesignating paragraphs (3) through (5) as paragraphs (4) through (6), respectively; and (B) by inserting after paragraph (2) the following: “(3) FULL LIFE-CYCLE COST.—The term ‘full life-cycle cost’ means all costs of planning, development, procurement, construction, operations and support, and shut-down costs, without regard to funding source and without regard to what entity manages the project or facility involved.”. (c) PROJECT MANAGEMENT.—No national research facility project funded under the major research equipment and facilities construction account shall be managed by an individual whose appointment to the Foundation is temporary. (d) BOARD APPROVAL OF MAJOR RESEARCH EQUIPMENT AND FACILITIES PROJECTS.— (1) IN GENERAL.—The Board shall explicitly approve any project to be funded out of the major research equipment and facilities construction account before any funds may be obligated from such account for such project. (2) REPORT.—Not later than September 15 of each fiscal year, the Board shall report to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate, the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions of the Senate, and the Committee on Science of the House of Representatives on the conditions of any delegation of authority under section 4 of the National Science Foundation Act of 1950 (42 U.S.C. 1863) that relates to funds appropriated for any project in the major research equipment and facilities construction account. (e) NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES STUDY ON MAJOR RESEARCH EQUIPMENT AND FACILITIES CONSTRUCTION.—
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Setting Priorities for Large Research Facility Projects Supported by the National Science Foundation (1) STUDY.—Not later than 3 months after the date of enactment of this Act, the Director shall enter into an arrangement with the National Academy of Sciences to perform a study on setting priorities for a diverse array of disciplinary and interdisciplinary Foundation-sponsored large research facility projects. (2) TRANSMITTAL TO CONGRESS.—Not later than 15 months after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Director shall transmit to the Committee on Science and the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives, and to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, and the Committee on Appropriations of the Senate, the study conducted by the National Academy of Sciences together with the Foundation’s reaction to the study authorized under paragraph (1). SEC. 15. ADMINISTRATIVE AMENDMENTS. (a) BOARD MEETINGS.— (1) IN GENERAL.—Section 4(e) of the National Science Foundation Act of 1950 (42 U.S.C. 1863(e)) is amended by striking the second and third sentences and inserting “The Board shall adopt procedures governing the conduct of its meetings, including delivery of notice and a definition of a quorum, which in no case shall be less than one-half plus one of the confirmed members of the Board.”. (2) OPEN MEETINGS.—The Board and all of its committees, subcommittees, and task forces (and any other entity consisting of members of the Board and reporting to the Board) shall be subject to section 552b of title 5, United States Code. (3) COMPLIANCE AUDIT.—The Inspector General of the Foundation shall conduct an annual audit of the compliance by the Board with the requirements described in paragraph (2). The audit shall examine the proposed and actual content of closed meetings and determine whether the closure of the meetings was consistent with section 552b of title 5, United States Code. (4) REPORT.—Not later than February 15 of each year, the Inspector General of the Foundation shall transmit to the Committee on Science of the House of Representatives, the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate, and the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions of the Senate the audit required under paragraph (3) along with recommendations for corrective actions that need to be taken to achieve fuller compliance with the requirements described in paragraph (2), and recommendations on how to ensure public access to the Board’s deliberations. (b) CONFIDENTIALITY OF CERTAIN INFORMATION.—Section 14(i) of the National Science Foundation Act of 1950 (42 U.S.C. 1873(i)) is amended to read as follows: “(i)(1)(A) Information supplied to the Foundation or a contractor of the Foundation in survey forms, questionnaires, or similar instruments for purposes of section 3(a)(5) or (6) by an individual, an industrial or commercial organization, or an educational, academic, or other nonprofit institution when the institution has received a pledge of confidentiality from the Foundation, shall not
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Setting Priorities for Large Research Facility Projects Supported by the National Science Foundation LANGUAGE FROM SENATE REPORT 107-222 TO ACCOMPANY S. 2797, FY 2003 APPROPRIATIONS BILL FOR VA/HUD/INDEPENDENT AGENCIES Senate Report 107-222 includes a discussion of NSF’s MREFC account. The relevant portion of the report on Title III of the appropriations bill is reproduced on the next four pages for reference.
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Setting Priorities for Large Research Facility Projects Supported by the National Science Foundation Calendar No. 519 107TH CONGRESS 2d Session SENATE REPORT 107–222 DEPARTMENTS OF VETERANS AFFAIRS AND HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT, AND INDEPENDENT AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS BILL, 2003 JULY 25, 2002.—Ordered to be printed Ms. MIKULSKI, from the Committee on Appropriations, submitted the following REPORT [To accompany S. 2797] The Committee on Appropriations reports the bill (S. 2797) making appropriations for the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development, and for sundry independent agencies, boards, commissions, corporations, and offices for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2003, and for other purposes, reports favorably thereon and recommends that the bill do pass. Amount of new budget (obligational) authority Amount of bill as reported to Senate ...................... $124,507,956,000 Amount of appropriations to date, 2002 ................. 119,907,308,000 Amount of budget estimates, 2003 .......................... 121,358,580,000 Over estimates for 2003 .................................... 3,149,376,000 Above appropriations for 2002 ......................... 4,600,648,000
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Setting Priorities for Large Research Facility Projects Supported by the National Science Foundation The Committee has also increased the request for U.S. polar research programs by $10,000,000 to support priority research and infrastructure needs. As a key part of the Administration’s climate change research initiative, the Committee recognizes the Nation needs substantially better information on the current and future state of the ocean and its role in environmental change. Adequate predictive capability is a prerequisite to the development of sound policies at the national and regional level, policies ranging from maritime commerce to public health, from fisheries to safety of life and property, from climate change to national security. The Committee urges NSF to move ahead to support an ocean observatories initiative that is tightly integrated with the Administration’s interagency climate change science program. The Committee supports the fiscal year 2003 budget request for the social, behavioral and economic sciences. Within this amount, the Committee provides $10,000,000 for the children’s research initiative. The Committee is providing an additional $50,000,000 to augment the request for the major research instrumentation program. The Committee reiterates its long-standing concern about the infrastructure needs of developing institutions, historically black colleges and universities; and other minority-serving colleges and universities. The Committee directs NSF to use these additional funds to support the merit-based instrumentation and infrastructure needs of these institutions. The Committee’s recommendation includes an additional $10,000,000 for the innovation partnership program. With these funds, NSF is to support competitive, merit-based partnerships, consisting of States, local and regional entities, industry, academic institutions, and other related organizations for innovation-focused local and regional technology development strategies. MAJOR RESEARCH EQUIPMENT AND FACILITIES CONSTRUCTION Appropriations, 2002 ............................................................................. $138,800,000 Budget estimate, 2003 ........................................................................... 126,280,000 Committee recommendation ................................................................. 79,280,000 PROGRAM DESCRIPTION The major research equipment and facilities construction appropriation supports the acquisition, procurement, construction, and commissioning of unique national research platforms, research resources and major research equipment. Projects supported by this appropriation will push the boundaries of technology and will offer significant expansion of opportunities, often in new directions, for the science and engineering community. Preliminary design and development activities, and on-going operations and maintenance costs of the facilities are provided through the research and related activities appropriation account. COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATION The Committee recommends $79,280,000 for major research equipment and facilities construction. Support for the terascale computing systems has been provided in the Research and Related
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Setting Priorities for Large Research Facility Projects Supported by the National Science Foundation Activities Appropriations Account. Within this account, the Committee’s recommendation includes funding for the following projects: $20,000,000 for Earthscope; $30,000,000 for the Atacama Large Millimeter Array telescope; $9,720,000 for the Large Hadron Collider; $13,560,000 for the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation; and $6,000,000 for South Pole Station. The Committee remains concerned about the Foundation’s management of large scale construction projects and the priority setting process used to select projects to be funded. The Committee received a report from NSF required by Public Law 107–73 which addressed a number of issues of concern to the Committee. However neither the report nor the budget justifications addressed the way in which criteria are used by the agency and the National Science Board in setting priorities among new and potential new starts. A recent audit by the Inspector General identified a number of issues in both the financial management and project management of previously funded projects. In addition, the National Academy of Sciences has recently been asked by the Committee and NSF’s authorizing committees to assist in the development of a process for prioritizing projects to be funded out of this account. Accordingly, the Committee directs NSF to provide $750,000 to support the Academy’s work on this matter. These funds should be made available from resources used for Planning and Evaluation. The Committee also supports provisions under consideration by the authorizing committees to establish a more transparent process for the establishment of priorities with respect to the funding of major research equipment and facilities construction. The Committee believes a more open and understandable process, which includes National Science Board and NSB Committee meetings, are important aspects of such a priority setting process. In addition, despite repeated concerns expressed by the Congress and the Inspector General, NSF has not addressed adequately the management and funding problems associated with large research facilities funded through the major research equipment and facilities construction account (formerly named the major research equipment or MRE account). The Inspector General’s May 1, 2002 report found that the lack of adequate guidance “have allowed NSF to use multiple appropriation accounts to fund the acquisition and construction costs of major research equipment and facilities, and led to inconsistencies in the types of costs funded through the MRE account.” This practice has led to the use of funds from the research and related activities account to pay for cost overruns and scope increases of large facility projects without adequate notification and consultation with the Committee. Accordingly, the Committee directs NSF to include in its fiscal year 2003 operating plan to the Committee a report that details approved budgeted and actual expenditure information on each individual large research facility projects approved by the Congress. The report should include information on the amount of funds approved by the Congress from its inception by year, the amount of actual funds spent on the project by year, and a breakdown of the budgeted and actual expenditures by appropriation account. In addition, the Committee notes the findings and recommendations contained in the OIG re-
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Setting Priorities for Large Research Facility Projects Supported by the National Science Foundation port pertaining to NSF’s cost accounting system. As a result, the Committee also directs NSF to address the deficiencies in its cost accounting system to ensure that the system is capable of readily and reliably providing the Foundation and the Committee with information on the actual cost of NSF programs and activities. The Committee notes that since last year, the Foundation has been recruiting for a Deputy Director for Large Facility Projects. However, NSF has not yet filled this important position. Accordingly, while the Committee has recommended start up funding for the Earthscope project, bill language has been included delaying the obligation of these funds until NSF fills the position of Deputy Director for Large Facility Projects on a permanent basis. The Committee notes that NSF is proposing to spend $40,000,000 over the next 3 years to develop two National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) sites. The Committee notes that NSF considers this the first phase of NEON. Information on the full NEON concept, including cost estimates, has yet to be provided to the Committee. In the absence of such information, and without prejudice, the Committee is not prepared to recommend funding for NEON at this time. The Committee urges NSF to continue moving forward with the IceCube Neutrino Detector Observatory. The technology developed by IceCube’s precursor project has proven successful at detecting high-energy atmospheric neutrinos. Continued development is expected to lead to a new era in astronomy in which researchers will have unique opportunities to analyze some of the most distant and significant events in the formulation and evolution of the universe. EDUCATION AND HUMAN RESOURCES Appropriations, 2002 ............................................................................. $875,000,000 Budget estimate, 2003 ........................................................................... 908,080,000 Committee recommendation ................................................................. 947,730,000 PROGRAM DESCRIPTION The education and human resources appropriation supports a comprehensive set of programs across all levels of education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The appropriation supports activities that unite school districts with institutions of higher learning to improve precollege education. Other precollege activities include development of the next generation of precollege STEM education leaders; instructional materials; and the stem instructional workforce. Undergraduate activities support curriculum, laboratory, and instructional improvement; expand the STEM talent pool through scholarships and attracting STEM participants to teaching; augment advanced technological education at 2-year colleges; and develop dissemination tools. Graduate support is directed to research and teaching fellowships and traineeships, and linking precollege systems with higher education to improve the instructional workforce. Programs also seek to broaden the participation of groups underrepresented in the STEM enterprise; build State and regional capacity to compete successfully for research funding; and promote informal science education. Ongoing evaluation efforts and research on learning strengthen the base for these programs. In addition to this appropriation, the Foundation
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