Clinton Administration Requests "Historic" S&T Budget for FY 2001 Before a standing-room-only audience gathered at the White House Conference Center on Monday, Neal Lane, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, lauded the Clinton's Administration FY 2001 S&T budget request. Describing it as "a historic science and technology budget," and the occasion as "not an experience often had," Lane outlined the Administration's request for a 7%, or close to $3 billion, increase in the 21 Century Research Fund. Lane was quick to add that "I can't emphasize enough how anxious the Administration is to work with Congress" on the budget for the new fiscal year starting on October 1.
Following Lane to the podium was Office of Management and Budget Deputy Director Elgie Holstein. Holstein explained that the budget request was fully balanced, maintained fiscal discipline, and would continue to pay down the debt, while preserving Social Security and Medicare. He spoke a word often heard throughout the rest of the day: "balance" and the need to allocate federal funding more evenly between the life sciences and other sciences. He also added, importantly, that the requested increase in S&T was not contingent on any special financing or set-aside mechanisms. The FY 2001 request would, he said, be "the means by which we ensure continued" prosperity and growth. Holstein predicted increases in federal S&T funding in coming years.
Energy Secretary Bill Richardson also cited "balance" in praising the 2001 request. He asserted that his recent trip on Air Force One with the President and other senior federal S&T officials to California was symbolic of the Administration's commitment to science. Richardson described the "essential linkages between physical sciences and life sciences," and summarized the requested 8% increase in research at the department. Before leaving for his own briefing at DOE, Richardson said he had informed the national labs that they were now to emphasize "science over security."
Ruth Kirschstein, Acting Director of NIH, briefly described the 5.6% increase the Administration has requested, and the four themes of the FY 2001 budget. Among them was a recognition of the importance of other disciplines such as physics, mathematics, and engineering in advancing medical research. To strengthen this relationship, NIH is proposing to Congress the establishment of a new office of bio-imaging.
It was a historic day for NASA Administrator Dan Goldin. For the first time in his tenure, he exclaimed, his budget request was up instead of down. He spoke of the "huge change in direction" there had been at the space agency, with a significantly higher portion of its budget now devoted to science. "We did what we said we would do," Goldin said, as he described NASA's realignment over the last eight years.
NSF Director Rita Colwell called the FY 2001 requested increase of 17.3% a "very, very exciting budget proposal." Half of the $675 million increase would be for the foundation's core programs in various disciplines. An "awareness is starting to sink in" she said, about the need for balance in the government's research portfolio.
DARPA Director Frank Fernandez did not have specific budget numbers for the briefing. He spoke of the agency's emphasis on high risk, high payoff technologies. As an example of advances made in defense technology, he held up a satellite similar to one recently launched that was smaller than a VHS tape.
Lane wrapped up the briefing by repeating the request's emphasis on a balanced portfolio, and his optimism about working with Congress.
A summary of the budget request was released at the briefing. Among its highlights:
- This is the eighth year in a row that the Administration has requested an increase in civilian R&D.
Under this request (figures have been rounded):
- The 21st Century Research Fund would increase by 7%.
- Civilian R&D would increase by 6%.
- Civilian R&D would be 51% of the overall federal R&D budget.
- Basic research would increase by 7%.
- University-based research would increase by 8%.
- NIH's budget would increase by 6%
- NSF's budget would increase by 17%
- DOE's programs in the 21st Century Research Fund would increase by15%
- DOE's budget for "basic science programs" would increase by 13%.
- DOD's basic research budget would increase by 4.3%
- NASA's programs in the 21st Century Research Fund would increase by 6%.
- NASA's Space Science budget would increase by 9.4%
- NIST's budget would increase by 23%.
Future issues of FYI will describe the FY 2001 request for physics related programs of DOD, DOE, NASA, NIST, NSF, and the math and science education programs of the Department of Education.
Richard M. Jones