Recent Developments: The Department of Energy
SECRETARY ABRAHAM ON CAPITOL HILL:
Spencer Abraham testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee
earlier this month on DOE's national security programs. Committee chairman
John Warner's (R-VA) opening comments set the tone for this uneventful
hearing, Warner saying how pleased he was that President Bush selected
Abraham for this position. "I hope that we can put that debate behind
us," Warner then said when citing the establishment of the National
Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).
was straightforward: "I fully supported the establishment of the NNSA
when I was in the Senate and continue to support it today." In response
to Warner's question about the relationship between NNSA Director General
John Gordon and Abraham, the secretary said, "General Gordon and I have
established a very productive working partnership and I am confident
that this new entity will be successful."
In reply to other
questions, Abraham said that it will take at least several years to
determine if science-based testing of nuclear weapons will work. He
told the committee that the Defense Department will decide if new nuclear
weapons should be developed. Abraham remarked on the need to attract
the best and brightest talent to work in the national laboratories,
and spoke of the decline in the laboratories' infrastructure. No trade
off need be made, he said, in maintaining strong security and strong
employee morale in the laboratories. Finally, Abraham advocated the
use of a "science-based process" to make decisions about nuclear waste
FY 2002: THE CONGRESS
Earlier this month,
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Frank Murkowski
(R-Alaska) and Ranking Democratic Member Jeff Bingaman (D-New Mexico)
sent a letter to President Bush on the budget for the DOE Office of
Science. Included with this letter was a similar December letter to
President Clinton signed by 22 senators. The most recent letter states,
"the [DOE science] Office's fiscal year 2001 budget, in constant dollars,
is only at its 1990 level. During this 11- year period, the NIH has
seen its budget rise by 75 percent. This stagnation in DOE's support
for the physical sciences is reflected in declines in the share of U.S.
research contributions to the leading scientific journals in physics.
Since 1990, the share of European and Asian submissions has increased
from 50 percent to 75 percent while the U.S. share has declined to 25
percent." The letter concludes: "We urge you to increase the Office
of Science's support for the physical sciences, in your Budget Request
for FY 2002, beyond its current 1990 level to one that is commensurate
with the scientific opportunities, energy needs, and opportunities for
ancillary economic impact for our nation."
Rep. Judy Biggert
(R-Illinois), Vice Chair of the House Basic Research Subcommittee, also
wrote letters to Secretary Abraham and Office of Management and Budget
Director Mitchell Daniels urging an increase in funding for the DOE
Office of Science.
FY 2002 BUDGET: DOE SCIENCE ADVISORY COMMITTEES
of the six external Advisory Committees sent a letter to Secretary Abraham
earlier this year stating: "the Office of Science budget needs to keep
pace with the growth of NIH and NSF. . . ." "We hope that the FY 2002
budget will begin an effort that will lead to a doubling of the budget
of the DOE Office of Science over the next 5 years."
FY 2002 BUDGET: LOCAL AND FEDERAL OFFICIALS
in Ohio and Kentucky and Members of Congress from Washington state are
mobilizing to prevent rumored cuts in the Department of Energy's nuclear
waste cleanup program.
FY 2002 BUDGET: THE PRESIDENT
Richard M. Jones
gave a preview of what should be expected in his overall budget submission
at his first press conference yesterday. To the question, "Where might
we see you take the red pen to the budget?," the president replied:
"This is a town where if you don't increase the budget by an expected
number, it's considered a cut. We're going to slow the rate of growth
of the budget down. It should come to no surprise of anybody that my
budget is going to say loud and clear that the rate of growth of the
budget - for example, from last year - was excessive.
"And so we'll
be slowing the rate of growth of the budgets down; and that, evidently,
is a cut. In my parlance, it's not a cut. When you increase spending,
it's not a cut. I will be glad to explain some of the slowdowns and
some of the increases, and perhaps a decrease or two, after we put the
budget out." The president's budget outline goes to Congress next Wednesday,
with all of the fine print expected in a larger submission during the
first week of April.
Media and Government
American Institute of Physics
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