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NSF Pitches 5-Year Funding For Centers

WASHINGTON—NSF Director Erich Bloch has thrown Congress a curveball in the hope that legislators won’t knock his request for a 19 percent budget increase out of the ballpark. Bloch's 1989 budget contains a new pitch to salvage his plan for a dozen or more university-based science and technology centers. It requests $150 million up front—nearly half of the overall $333 million increase sought by NSF—for a five-year program that would be isolated from the foundationR

Jeffrey Mervis

WASHINGTON—NSF Director Erich Bloch has thrown Congress a curveball in the hope that legislators won’t knock his request for a 19 percent budget increase out of the ballpark.

Bloch's 1989 budget contains a new pitch to salvage his plan for a dozen or more university-based science and technology centers. It requests $150 million up front—nearly half of the overall $333 million increase sought by NSF—for a five-year program that would be isolated from the foundation’s regular accounts that support individual and group research.

NSF officials hope that this novel funding approach will protect their proposed budget from the fate of last year’s request, which Congress shrunk so far below expectations (see THE SCIENTIST, January 11, p. 3) that Bloch was forced to cancel a more modest, $30 million S&T centers program. They admit the idea is also a subtle effort to force Congress to set long-range priorities for science.

The...

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