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National Science Foundation Budget Update for FY18 and FY19

Posted on March 27, 2018

The following letter was sent as an announcement to the NSF Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) Directorate listserv by Jim Kurose, Assistant Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) for CISE.

Dear CISE Community,

Much has happened since our email (regarding the President’s FY 2019 Budget Request for the National Science Foundation) last month, and so we wanted to provide an update below.


First and foremost, as you’ve probably read in the media, Congress passed a spending bill for FY 2018 (the current fiscal year, ending on September 30, 2018) this past week, which was signed into law on Friday by the President. Under this FY 2018 budget,  NSF’s funding will grow by approximately $300 million as compared to FY 2017, to approximately $7.8 billion. Within this budget, the NSF’s “Research and Related Activities (R&RA)” account, which includes the budget for the Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) and most other NSF directorates, will grow by 5.5%. That’s one of the largest annual growth rates for the R&RA account in the past 15 years.


As noted in our earlier email, the President presented the FY 2019 Budget Request on February 12, 2018, proposing $7.472 billion for NSF in FY 2019 – flat with respect to the FY 2017 budget. A statement about that NSF Budget Request, by NSF Director Dr. France Córdova, is available here: Recall that the President’s Budget Request is just that – a request. It will again be up to Congress to pass the actual spending bill for FY 2019, which must then be signed by the President, just as we saw this past week for FY 2018.

Additional details regarding the President’s FY 2019 Budget Request to Congress for NSF are available at: The FY 2019 Budget Request for the CISE directorate is $925.42 million. Here are some highlights of the detailed FY 2019 Budget Request:

“10 Big Ideas for Future NSF Investments”:

An investment of $30 million is included in the FY 2019 Budget Request for each of NSF’s six research-focused Big Ideas, which represent bold areas at the frontiers of science and engineering. The six Big Ideas are: Harnessing the Data Revolution (HDR); The Future of Work at the Human Technology Frontier (FW-HTF); Windows on the Universe (WoU): The Era of Multi-messenger Astrophysics; The Quantum Leap (QL): Leading the Next Quantum Revolution; Understanding the Rules of Life (URoL): Predicting Phenotype; and Navigating the New Arctic (NNA).

These investments, totaling $180 million across the six research-focused Big Ideas, are in addition to significant investments already being made by individual NSF directorates. Indeed, CISE has had a leadership role in the fundamental research, research infrastructure, and education underlying several of these Big Ideas for many years now, and has played a critical role in helping to shape the corresponding Big Ideas.

As part of the organization of the Big Ideas investments, CISE will have budget management and reporting responsibility for the $30 million investment for HDR, supporting new activities that transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries and enable convergent research in data science and engineering; the development of a cohesive, federated, national-scale approach to research data infrastructure; and the development of a 21st-century data-capable workforce.

The CISE community will also benefit from the additional investments supporting convergent research for each of the other Big Ideas. Importantly, the CISE directorate will actively participate on the multi-directorate leadership teams providing oversight to five of the six $30 million research-based Big Ideas investments: HDR, FW-HTF, QL, URoL, and NNA. Our community will thus continue to have an important role in helping to advance the frontiers of science and engineering via Big Ideas investments.

Among the four process-oriented Big Ideas, the FY 2019 Budget Request includes $20 million for NSF INCLUDES (Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering Science). This program will establish NSF INCLUDES Alliances, as NSF begins to move the NSF INCLUDES program to national-scale collaborations. Additionally, Mid-Scale Research Infrastructure will be funded at $60 million, an increased investment to help span the mid-scale gap ranging from the $4 million cap on NSF’s Major Research Instrumentation program and the $70 million lower bound for projects supported by NSF’s Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction account. Building off of a recent Request for Information, the Mid-Scale Research Infrastructure Big Idea offers an important opportunity for the CISE community.

Convergence Accelerators:

The FY 2019 Budget Request also includes $60 million for two Convergence Accelerators for the HDR and FW-HTF Big Ideas. These accelerators are time-limited structural entities intended to leverage external partnerships to facilitate convergent and translational activities in areas of national importance. These two Big Ideas were selected for the initial Convergence Accelerators because of their readiness for convergent and translational research. The $60 million investment by NSF is expected to catalyze an additional $40 million in investment by external partners, including the private sector, other federal agencies, and international funders. The Convergence Accelerators will be launched through NSF’s Office of Integrative Activities.

Continued Major Investments in Fundamental CISE Research and Education:

As always, CISE remains committed to supporting core fundamental computer science research – it is the heart of what we do.

CISE also continues its commitment to education at all levels, from preK-12 through graduate and continuing education. For example, CISE will co-fund with the Directorate for Education and Human Resources (EHR) the NSF Research Traineeships (NRT) program, which will continue to have a focus on data- and computationally-enabled science and engineering education. Additionally, CISE will continue to participate in NSF-wide education programs such as ADVANCE and NSF INCLUDES, though funds for these specific programs will be centrally located within the EHR directorate.

Again, for more information about the President’s FY 2019 Budget Request for NSF, please visit:

Our Work Continues…

Your efforts in CISE research, education, and research infrastructure have had tremendous impact. As a community, we play a critical role in realizing NSF’s mission “to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; and to secure the national defense…,” and in turn, deliver incredibly important value to the Nation. Sustained investment in computer and information science and engineering in the future is based on this value. We invite you to continue to work with us in developing the discoveries and discoverers  what will transform our society in the decades ahead.


Jim and Erwin

Jim Kurose, Assistant Director (AD) of NSF for CISE

Erwin Gianchandani, Deputy AD of NSF for CISE


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