NSF faces critics



The National Science Foundation (NSF) has provided the bulk of federal support for ‘basic science’ since the end of the 1960's when most other federal funds moved toward the support of applied, industrial, social, and other-than-basic research. Right now, even this small portion of the nation's research budget appears to be threatened. In September, hearings began on H.R. 6910, a bill that contains a proposal for a National Technology Foundation (NTF) to replace the NSF. Congress has always been concerned about how programs of the NSF contribute to critical national needs; now concerted strong criticism is being voiced by major engineering societies that are pushing for more support of engineering research and training. According to a report in Science (September 26, 1980) there is ‘concern that U.S. excellence in science is not being translated into technological innovation,’ and this concern is ‘forcing a reassessment of the way NSF is organized and operates.’ Apparently, some legislators feel that the way to remedy this condition is to cut the support of science to reduce this disparity.