Defense R&D Numbers Coming Into Focus The parameters of defense research funding for FY 2001 are coming into focus, although the picture is a somewhat confusing one. There are two different bills to watch, each with their own version in the House and Senate. Action has, or is nearing, completion on all of them. It now appears that the aggregate FY 2001 defense S&T appropriation will equal, and perhaps surpass, the current budget.
The House of Representatives has passed both its defense authorization and defense appropriations bills. The Senate is considering both bills this week. The annual budget process for defense S&T is different from most other science budgets. For the Department of Defense, authorization bills are passed and signed into law every year, and they hold considerable sway over the appropriations bills.
As explained below, there are many different figures that can be considered. One way to look at the entire situation is by examining the various total FY 2001 budget recommendations for 6.1, 6.2, and 6.3 spending. The current budget for those accounts totals $8.397 billion. The FY 2001 administration request is $7.543 billion. Earlier this year, testimony was presented to the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee by a representative from the Coalition for National Security Research (CNSR). (Among CNSR's members are AIP, the Optical Society of America, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Materials Research Society, and SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering.) CNSR urged an FY 2001 budget of $8.4 billion, which was based on an inflation-adjusted recommendation of a Defense Science Board Task Force (see FYI #48.) The Senate Appropriations Committee's bill provides $8.430 billion. The House Appropriations Committee bill provides $8.497 billion. These are the measures that, when reconciled into a final bill later this year, will actually provide the money.
There are many individual budget numbers for defense R&D, since there are four different bills (a House and Senate version of both the authorization and appropriations bills.) Adding to the confusion are the individual line items in all four bills for each of the services' 6.1, 6.2, and 6.3 budgets, the defense wide S&T budget, and the total S&T defense budget. For the sake of clarity, selected numbers are presented below. Customary practice is to split the difference in arriving at final budget numbers, although this is not always the case.
TOTAL 6.1, 6.2, AND 6.3 SPENDING: The administration proposed a 10.2% cut from this year's budget. The Senate appropriations bill would roughly retain the current level of spending, while the House appropriations bill would increase funding by 1.2%. The authorization bills, providing guidance, recommend reductions of 2.7% and 5.8%.
TOTAL 6.1 (BASIC RESEARCH) SPENDING: The administration wanted a 4.8% increase. There is good news in both appropriations bills, as they contain 10.5% and 11.5% increases. The authorization bills recommend 7.3% and 8.1% increases.
TOTAL 6.2 (APPLIED RESEARCH) SPENDING: The Clinton Administration sought a 7.8% cut. House appropriators want to maintain the current budget, while their Senate counterparts recommend a 6.1% increase. The authorizers' bills are mixed: +1.4% and - 6.7%.
TOTAL 6.3 (ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY) SPENDING: Under the administration's request, this budget would fall 16.8%. House appropriators made less than a 1.0% cut, while the Senate bill would reduce this budget by 7.7%. Both authorization bills make cuts of more than 9.0%.
ARMY - TOTAL 6.1, 6.2, AND 6.3 SPENDING: The administration wanted a 22.9% cut. The House appropriations bill contains a 6.0% increase. All of the other bills contain cuts ranging from 13.2% to 17.6%.
NAVY - TOTAL 6.1, 6.2, AND 6.3 SPENDING: No positive numbers here. The administration wanted a 16.4% cut. The House appropriations bill would make a reduction of 1.9%. The Senate appropriations bill contains a 3.9% reduction. The authorization bills recommend cuts of 11.0% and 12.4%.
AIR FORCE - TOTAL 6.1, 6.2, AND 6.3 SPENDING: There are mixed numbers to report. The President's budget contained a 7.0% reduction. House appropriators recommend flat funding, while Senate appropriators want 3.7% more. The Senate authorization bill contained a reduction of 1.6%; the House authorization bill has a 2.7% increase.
DEFENSE-WIDE - TOTAL 6.1, 6.2, AND 6.3 SPENDING: This budget is for defense labs, etc., and is NOT to be confused with "total" defense spending (see above.) The administration sought a 2.4% cut. House appropriators recommend a 1.2% increase; the Senate appropriations bill contains a 7.6% increase. The authorization bills call for increases of 1.3% and 7.2%.
The authorization bills provide the policy guidance. Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA), Chairman of the Research and Development Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee, commented on the strong bipartisan support subcommittee members had shown in marking up their authorization bill, H.R. 4205. "We were able to 'stay the course' in our goal to further defense research, development, and pursuit of advanced technologies for the future modernization of our armed forces," he said. A report accompanying the committee's bill states, "As outlined elsewhere in this report, the committee continues to be disturbed by the growing number of military service research and development programs that have been reduced or eliminated as a result of insufficient research and development funding, and is particularly concerned with the low level of science and technology funding. The committee views defense science and technology investment as critical to maintaining U.S. military technological superiority in the face of growing and changing threats to national security interests around the world."
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner (R-VA), commenting on his authorization bill, stated, "We cannot ignore the future as we focus on current shortfalls. We need to apply the many lessons learned from the air campaign in Kosovo and harness ongoing technological advances in ways that will maintain our military superiority." Senate authorization report language states, "It is a priority of the committee to maintain a strong, stable investment in science and technology in order to develop superior technology that will permit the United States to maintain its current military advantages, provide flexible options to future warfighters, and hedge against technological surprise." While recognizing efforts made by the Army and Navy in the S&T planning process, the Senate report language criticizes the Air Force, stating, "The committee remains concerned with the serious decline in the Air Force technology investment and the lack of support for science and technology within the Air Force leadership. Critical investment decisions are being made based on numbers rather than need."
Richard M. Jones