NSF asks for $6.85 billion to fund cybersecurity, other research

The National Science Foundation (NSF) asked the federal government for a $6.85 billion budget for fiscal year 2009 -- a 13% increase over its actual fiscal 2008 budget and a 6.5% jump over what it requested a year ago --  in an effort to fund more research into cybersecurity, advanced processors, new energy technologies and more.

Director Arden Bement, Jr. says the need for increased funds comes at a time when high tech executives and others are becoming increasingly vocal about the need for the United States to beef up basic research spending to stay competitive globally. In recent week, top officials from companies such as Microsoft and Intel have spoken out on the issue.

"More than a dozen major studies have now concluded that a substantial increase in federal funding for basic scientific research is critical to ensure the preeminence of America's scientific and technological enterprise," Bement said, in a statement. "Increased federal investments in research and education are imperative now to sustain our comparative advantages in a flattening world.”

The request includes roughly $117 million for cybersecurity research and education, with a focus on usability and privacy.

The budget request specifically asks for $100 million for Cyber-enabled Discovery and Innovation, which entails research into knowledge management, virtual organizations and more. Other areas of focus include what the NSF calls “Science and Engineering Beyond Moore's Law” to boost computing systems beyond today’s limits and Adaptive Systems Technology, which would advanced interfaces between humans and machines.

NSF is also looking for more funding to support grants, young faculty members and science and engineering students. Among NSF grants awarded last year was an $800,000 grant to researchers developing a biometrics system to sniff out terrorists at airports and other locations.

Some $15 million of the budget request would go toward establishment of five to seven new Science and Technology Centers dedicated to research and technology transfer to commercial applications. The NSF also wants funding to support increased collaboration between U.S. researchers and those from other countries, and to better enable efforts across U.S. agencies.

Read more about the NSF budget request here .

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