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NSF Division of Astronomical Sciences. AAAC October 15-16, 2009 Craig Foltz. Summary. AST Budget Overview Retrospective look FY 2009 & ARRA Looking forward Status of Senior Review implementation Changes in AST Recent Activities and Actions. MPS Budget trends.

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nsf division of astronomical sciences

NSF Division of Astronomical Sciences


October 15-16, 2009

Craig Foltz

  • AST Budget Overview
    • Retrospective look
    • FY 2009 & ARRA
    • Looking forward
    • Status of Senior Review implementation
  • Changes in AST
  • Recent Activities and Actions
ast budget trends
AST Budget trends

10 year doubling

ARRA Funding
  • As shown, roughly 2/3 for grants and 1/3 for overdue facility infrastructure improvements and preconstruction activities.
  • Quite strong restrictions; some suggested spending not permitted; funds bring additional reporting requirements.
  • Success rate in research grants program (AAG) rose from last year’s 21% to a healthy 36%.
  • Risk exaggerated: even if all awards were 3 years (they weren’t) and all of them came back in exactly 3 years (which they won’t), only a 15% increase, which we have seen and handled before.
  • Yes, the funding rate will not be this high in future.
  • Increases for CAREER (low success rate anyway) and Graduate Research Fellowships.
  • Infrastructure improvements long overdue but the problem persists.
fy 2010 budget request
FY 2010 Budget Request

AST Total: $250.8 M (increase of 10% over FY 2009)

  • Facilities: $141 M (56%)
    • Gemini - $19.1 M
    • NAIC - $8.4 M
    • NOAO - $27.5 M
    • NSO - $9.1 M
    • NRAO - $67.1 M
    • UROs - $10 M
  • Research and Education Grants: $110 M total (44%)
    • Roughly $45M for AAG; $37 M for instrumentation;
    • $25 M for special programs (AAPF, CAREER, REU, Cyberinfrastructure, NSF-wide, etc)
budget projections
Budget Projections?

Administration, congressional support for NSF budget doubling over 10 years.

How will AST fare in this growth?

Administration priorities not well aligned with AST:

  • “Green” energy
  • Climate change
  • Short term economic recovery

But historically AST has tracked NSF R&RA quite well

ast budget trends1
AST Budget trends

NSF projection

status of senior review recommendations
Status of Senior Review Recommendations
  • VLBA - non-AST funding for 50% of VLBA operations or closure.
    • NRAO pursuing partnerships, prospects look very good
  • GONG++ - non-AST support of operations or termination, one year after successful SDO commissioning.
    • NSO pursuing partnership with US Air Force Weather Agency
  • Carry out cost reviews of all facilities
    • Completed by external firm, report in hand, will be working with observatories to institute (minor) cost savings over next years
  • NAIC (next slide)
national astronomy and ionosphere center naic
National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center (NAIC)
  • Recommendation to ramp budget down to $8M by 2010, $4M in following years. Seek non-AST support to maintain operations or closure
    • NSF Atmospheric Sciences increasing contribution to operations
  • NSF (AST, ATM) will compete the next cooperative agreement for the management and operation of NAIC.
    • Recommendations of the 2006 AST Senior Review are being factored into planning.
    • NSF expects to issue a detailed program solicitation in fall 2009, with full proposals due six months following publication.
    • Expected to lead to the award of a single, five-year cooperative agreement for the management and operation of NAIC for 2011-2015.
Changes in AST
  • FY2009 was a remarkably unusual year.
  • The Division of Astronomical Sciences has been without a full-time Division Director for 18 months.
  • We have been without an Deputy Division Director for 4 months.
  • We have an open permanent PO position.
  • We have a rotator leaving this month, a year before anticipated.
  • Since there was no back-fill, we will soon be short 3-4 Program Officers. The added strain of ARRA was clearly felt.
  • Interviews for DD and DDD are later this month but the most optimistic start is January 2010, probably significantly later.
  • Permanent PO hiring has closed; IPA is now open (until November 20).
  • New management can change the division’s direction.
  • Limited staff lack the leisure for planning.
recent activities and actions
Recent Activities and Actions
  • NRAO Cooperative Agreement with AUI extended for five years.
  • NOAO Cooperative Agreement with AURA extended for 54 months.
  • NSO now has its own Cooperative Agreement, also with AURA for 54 months.
  • Gemini partnership in flux. May have budgetary consequences.
  • MRI R2 and ARI proposals (both ARRA) under review.
  • ATST FDR and NSB action.
nsb approval of atst construction
NSB Approval of ATST Construction

On August 6, 2009, the National Science Board approved an award to be derived from $146,000,000 of ARRA funds and $151,928,000 of appropriated MREFC funds, in accordance with the following resolution:

RESOLVED, that the National Science Board authorizes the Director at his discretion to issue an eight-year award to the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy for a not-to-exceed amount of $297,928,000 for the construction of the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope. This award will be contingent upon the publication of a record of decision authorizing the commencement of construction.

Construction Cost Estimate (cont.)
  • Costs are in spent-year dollars calculated with current OMB escalators.
  • 32.9% contingency – based on Monte Carlo simulations for 95% confidence.
  • Includes effect of mitigation of impact on Hawaiian Dark-Rumped Petrel, “Buy American” costs, management of National Park Special Use Permit, etc.
  • Does not include costs associated with cultural mitigation.
atst schedule overview
ATST Schedule Overview

Proposed Site Decision



NSF Cost Review


MREFC “Readiness”

MREFC Panel “Exit Readiness Review”

Technology Development

Concept & Design


Site EIS Process

FDR/Baseline Review


Site Construction

NSF Panel


IT & C




Feb 27, 2007

December 4, 2008






environmental and cultural compliance
Environmental and Cultural Compliance
  • Comprehensive site selection was based on site characteristics derived from flow-down from science drivers. 72 sites studied. Final site selected at Haleakala High Altitude Observatory (U. Hawaii), Maui. Haleakala is the only site that meets the requirements.
  • Environmental Review and Permitting process for site:
    • Final EIS submitted to EPA on July 24, 2009; published on July 31.
    • EIS is 3116 pages long; cost >$3M.
    • Application for building permit (state of Hawaii process) underway; University of Hawaii leads.
    • More than thirty National Historic Preservation Act Section 106 consultations resulted in draft programmatic agreement currently under negotiation.
  • Record of Decision in development. This will complete compliance requirements.
The Geographical Context

Pu’u ’Ula’ula

ATST Alternate



Pu’u Kolekole


Mauna Kea


ATST Primary