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FYI Number 10: January 29, 2001

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld Discusses Defense S&T Funding

Earlier this month, at the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the nomination of Donald Rumsfeld to be Secretary of Defense, Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) discussed defense science and technology funding. Senator Bingaman's question, and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's reply, follow:

SENATOR BINGAMAN: One of the issues that we always hear a lot of talk about but...at least in my view has not been given adequate priority in defense budgeting is science and technology. It seems like at least for the last several years every time we see a defense budget proposed by the administration the percentage of the Defense budget that is committed to science and technology is reduced. It always loses out as compared to procurement, as compared to readiness, compared to all these other things. I know that President Bush, President-elect Bush gave a speech at the Citadel a year and a half ago where he talked about the importance of science and technology investment. And he said he was committing an additional $20 billion, or he would if elected president commit an additional $20 billion, to defense research and development
between now and 2006. I think that was the commitment he made in that speech, or the statement he made.

Let me add one other aspect of this. The reductions in growth in defense research and development in recent years has been justified in some of our hearings on the basis that the industrial companies will pick up the difference here, that U.S. industry is sufficiently strong that we don't need to do what we once did in science and technology. That to my mind is very much at odds with what I understand is happening to our defense industrial base. They do not have the luxury of putting substantial new resources into this area.

So I would be interested in any comments you've got about how we can increase research and development, defense-related research and development and support for science and technology.

MR. RUMSFELD: Senator, I agree completely with everything you've said. ...when President-elect Bush announced that I was his choice for this post, I said that I had visited with him, I had read his pronouncements and plans for defense, and that I supported them enthusiastically. And certainly with respect to science and technology, he's on the mark and you're on the mark, and I agree.

I came out of the pharmaceutical business, where we invest in research and development that is not guaranteed to produce anything in the next five minutes. And you have to be patient and you have to live with a lot of failures. I've been involved
in the electronics business, quite the same. If you're not investing for the future, you're going to die. You simply run out of gas at a certain point. And this wonderful country of ours has such fine leadership in science and technology potentially. But the reality is an awful lot of the foreign students who used to come over here and stay and study are now going back to their countries, and they're leaving with an enormous amount of knowledge. And the country, this committee, this department simply must be willing to make those investments.

SENATOR BINGAMAN: Well, thank you for that answer.

Richard M. Jones
Public Information Division
American Institute of Physics
fyi@aip.org
(301) 209-3095

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