Don't bet on the National Science Foundation getting anything close to the president's request for a 8% budget increase next year. That's the word from NSF Director Arden Bement, who didn't pull any punches today when members of NSF's oversight body asked him for a status report on the agency's pending budget.
Maybe it's because Bement is leaving NSF at the end of the month. Or maybe 6 years on the job has made him a bit cynical. Or maybe it's just his penchant for talking straight. In any event, Bement offered the National Science Board a sober assessment of likely congressional action on the 2011 budget after members suggested that prospects looked rosy.
"You should not be surprised if we don't get the president's request," Bement said about the $552 million increase for NSF that President Barack Obama proposed in February at part of his overall $3.6 trillion budget.
He also warned the board not to expect any increase at all for the first few months of the 2011 fiscal year, which starts on 1 October. "I won't be surprised to see us operating under a continuing resolution" until well after the November congressional elections, he added, with funding frozen at current levels. "In fact, anything else would be a surprise."