FYI Number 2: January 5, 2001
Highlights of Science Policy and Budget Developments in 2000
The following is a brief month-by-month review of the major science policy and budget developments in 2000 that were reported in FYI:
JANUARY: Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson sends Congress a "National Nuclear Security Administration Implementation Plan," and appoints a committee to search for an Under Secretary to head the NNSA. President Clinton delivers a speech at Cal Tech outlining his intention to request an additional 7% in federal funding for scientific and engineering research for the next fiscal year, a move applauded on Capitol Hill. Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Science and Technology) Delores Etter expresses great concern about defense S&T funding.
FEBRUARY: White House Science Adviser Neal Lane describes Clinton Administration's FY 2001 S&T budget request as "historic," it being the eighth year in a row that the Administration has requested an increase in civilian R&D. First hearings on the S&T requests are positive, one NSF hearing being described as a "love-in." Secretary of State Albright declares "science provides the only sure basis for reaching [foreign policy] agreements that can not only be signed, but implemented...."
MARCH: At a House hearing on the new NNSA, Secretary Richardson disagrees with committee members, but says, "I don't want to get into another fight with you this year." Newly-nominated NNSA Director General John Gordon receives widespread praise on Capitol Hill. Hearings are held on legislation to reauthorize Department of Education programs. Supportive hearings on NASA's budget request reveal some concern about management approach. Strong criticism is leveled at decline in defense R&D funding at congressional hearings. House passes budget resolution calling for $1 billion increase in general science spending. Secretary Richardson states his confidence in the underlying science of the National Ignition Facility, while expressing disappointment in management shortcomings
APRIL: House appropriations hearing on NSF budget goes well, with Director Rita Colwell telling members that the foundation's plans call for at least a doubling of its budget over five years. Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-MI) introduces a trio of science education reform bills. White House warns that House budget resolution would "dramatically cut" projected S&T spending. Members of Congress continue to worry about NASA's management approach. At Senate S&T Caucus briefing, Nobel Prize winner Richard E. Smalley declares, "The physical sciences . . . need a big boost."
MAY: Allocations for appropriations committees funding NSF and NASA come up short, with Senator Christopher Bond (R-MO) calling it "an impossible situation." Nomination hearing for Mildred S. Dresselhaus to become next Director of DOE's Office of Science goes well, as does nomination hearing for General John Gordon to head NNSA. House appropriations bill for FY 2001 NSF and NASA budgets falls significantly below Administration request.
JUNE: National Research Council issues decadal report on "Astronomy and Astrophysics in the New Millennium." United States and Russia sign agreement on plutonium disposal. Initial indications from Capitol Hill are that FY 2001 defense S&T funding will be at least level, countering decline in the administration request. DOE predicts that National Ignition Project could be about double the original cost, and require an additional four years for completion. New report issued on impacts of global climate change. House appropriators vote to zero out NIST Advanced Technology Program in coming fiscal year.
JULY: Senators Bond and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) call on their colleagues to double the NSF budget over the next five years, a move supported by former NIH Director Harold Varmus and Kenneth Shine, President of the Institute of Medicine. Commission reports on women and minorities in S&T. Senate rejects amendment to require "operationally-realistic testing against countermeasures for national missile defense." Defense appropriations bill is completed, with a 7.9% increase for defense S&T. Administration nanotechnology initiative plan is sent to Congress.
AUGUST: Office of Science and Technology Policy criticizes R&D funding levels in appropriations bills being considered by Congress. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) signs letter supporting a doubling of NSF budget.
SEPTEMBER: President Clinton decides to delay deployment decision on limited National Missile Defense System. Moves are made in Congress to increase FY 2001 DOE science budget, a goal supported by university presidents. Senate appropriators vote to increase funding for Advanced Technology Program in the next budget year. Senate bill for NSF and NASA funding provides higher funding than comparable House appropriation. House Science subcommittee hearing demonstrates support for NASA science program. Secretary Richardson declares National Ignition Facility is "back on track" with new cost and schedule baseline. House passes a bill to establish National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Engineering at NIH.
OCTOBER: Congress completes DOE science appropriation, with budgets up for physics-related programs. Spallation Neutron Source and National Ignition Facility budgets are positive. Glenn Commission issues report on science/math teaching. FY 2001 NSF appropriations bill completed, with 13.6% increase. NASA funding is boosted by 5.0%. House fails to pass one of Rep. Ehlers' science education bills.
NOVEMBER: Concern is expressed about a new polygraphing provision for weapons lab employees in newly signed legislation.
DECEMBER: Effort underway in Senate to increase upcoming administration budget request for DOE science. Clinton Administration establishes research misconduct policy. Report issued on international comparisons in eighth grade science and math achievement. Final appropriations bills are passed: federal support for math/science teacher training appears on track to increase in FY 2001; funding will increase for Advanced Technology Program. President Clinton signs bill to establish a National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering at NIH.
Richard M. Jones