NEW YORK, May 16-The National Science Foundation budget could double within five years, if the House of Representatives science committee gets its way.
Last week, its research subcommittee approved a bill that would boost the NSF budget by 15 percent in each of the next three fiscal years.
"In moving toward doubling, we are returning to the vision that Vannevar Bush laid out in the 1940s, when he proposed a science agency that would be the preeminent funder of science for the federal government, with responsibilities across many areas of inquiry and application," Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert said in a statement.
If these generous hikes were approved, the agency's budget would top $7 billion by 2005-a 50 percent increase in only three years.
By contrast, the total NSF budget for the current fiscal year is $4.8 billion.
The proposal is now pending in front of the full House science committee.
If ultimately approved by the House, the bill will not by itself authorize increases. However, it will act as a point of departure for the political maneuvering that ultimately produces final budget figures.
The NSF supports plant genomics and bioinformatics research, among other scientific efforts. The agency put $71 million into plant genome research this year.