Senators Press White House on FY 2001 DOD S&T Request
The senators signing this letter were: Joseph Lieberman (CT), Carl Levin (MI), Jeff Bingaman (NM), Charles Robb (VA), Mary Landrieu (LA), Edward Kennedy (MA), Max Cleland (GA), and Jack Reed (RI). The text of the November 24 letter to White House Chief of Staff John Podesta follows:
"We are writing as members of the Armed Services Committee to urge you to become an advocate for Defense Science and Technology (S&T) as you prepare the FY01 President's Defense Budget Request. Current information suggests that DoD is considering a reduction in FY01 S&T funding to a level below projections of both the FY00 5-year S&T budget plan and Section 214 of the FY99 Defense Authorization Act. Frankly, in the view of most thoughtful defense and R&D observers, the Administration's request should be increased significantly over the $7.4 B FY00 Request level for Defense S&T funding. The Defense Science Board has suggested industry models may be relevant in determining appropriate levels for S&T funding. Successful advanced technology firms use R&D investments to generate breakthrough technologies that can dominate the marketplace. This parallels the role of Defense S&T in developing leap-ahead military capabilities for warfighters. Using these models, DoD should be investing over $9 B in S&T, given a total FY00 budget of $267.8 B. A funding increase will also be consistent with the sentiments of a growing number of industry and academic groups, a bipartisan group of almost 100 legislators who recently sent a message to the President calling for a increase in defense research spending, as well as the work of Congress and the President in negotiating the FY00 Defense Appropriations Act. We ask that you build upon this broad base of support and show aggressive leadership in this critical area with a Budget Request above the $8.4 B FY00 Appropriations mark.
"As you stated on September 1st at the National Press Club, '... from the B-17 Flying Fortress to stealth bombers to unmanned aerial vehicles, America's military strategy has relied heavily on technological superiority. Particularly in the post-Cold War era, as we face new threats of cyber-terrorism as well as chemical and biological warfare, investments in research and development underlie our ability to succeed in high-priority missions - to minimize casualties, to mobilize our military services, and to deter potential adversaries.'
"Unfortunately, this reasoning has not been matched by Pentagon action, and as a result total spending on Defense S&T has declined significantly in real terms since FY93. These cuts are real and dangerous and have slowed the development of a number of capabilities that will be needed by our warfighters in the near future. Critical among these are systems for modernizing the weapons, communications, and medical technologies for the future land warrior; advanced information systems for the battlefield; and moving target engagement systems. As you recognize, there are also major negative ramifications for our long term civilian economy as DoD disengages from its traditional support of physical science and engineering research. Some of these issues are described in detail in the attached Wall Street Journal article on military R&D.
"Though the Administration has taken the lead in supporting S&T investments in areas such as biotechnology and information technology, it has neglected the needs of the defense S&T establishment - which has in the past been so critical to both national security and New Economy productivity. This issue may well come up next year; as you know, George W. Bush has strongly advocated additional Defense R&D funding, stating in a recent speech, 'The transformation of our military will require a new and greater emphasis on research and development. So I will also commit an additional $20 billion to Defense R&D between the time I take office and 2006.'
"We are sure you would agree that this is an excellent time to seize the initiative and reassert support for a sound level of Defense Science and Technology investment. This is the administration's last budget and this is an important opportunity to get the administration's record on R&D back in order. We hope you will look closely at the Pentagon's S&T budget request and if it's inadequate, send it back to drawing board."
Richard M. Jones
Public Information Division
American Institute of Physics