April 23, 1997
H.R. 1273 - National Science Foundation Authorization Act
(Schiff (R) New Mexico)
The Administration appreciates the strong support that H.R. 1273 provides for
the research and education activities of the National Science Foundation
(NSF). The Administration supports House passage of H.R. 1273, but will seek
improvements as the bill moves through the legislative process to address its
concerns, including the following.
- Reduce the FY 1998 authorization for Major Research Equipment (MRE) from
$175 million to $155 million. The $155 million would provide $95 million
towards replacement and refurbishment of Antarctic facilities, consistent with
the Antarctic Program External Panel recommendation, and $60 million for MRE
items requested in the President's Budget.
- Delete the unprecedented provision that could establish "de facto
debarment" of certain grants recipients. (The Administration, however,
supports the underlying intent of this provision, which is to provide increased
competition for research and development financial assistance.)
- Delete the prohibition on the use of authorized appropriations to
"influence legislation pending before the Congress" except for certain
"requests for legislation or appropriations". This overly broad prohibition,
if applied literally, would inappropriately and unnecessarily limit the ability
of the NSF to advise Congress and the public of its views on pending
legislation. This provision is constitutionally suspect, insofar as it
purports unduly to limit the President's authority to communicate his views
through subordinates to Congress and the American people, and should therefore
- Delete the prohibition on the use of certain funds for the Next Generation
Internet, a research investment that is crucial to America's future
- Delete section 206(a)(6), which would inappropriately require the Director
of the Office of Science and Technology Policy to be the sponsor of the Science
and Technology Policy Institute (formerly the Critical Technologies Institute).
- Delete provisions that (1) restrict the authority of Federal accounting
officers (section 103) and (2) impose educational leave of absence policies on
public and private universities (section 205).
- Add the provision, proposed by NSF, that would authorize the National
Science Board to adopt procedures governing the conduct of its meetings.
- Delete a "Buy American" provision that could conflict with U.S. obligations
under international trade agreements.