White House Report on R&D Funding Bills; FY 2001 DOD Bill Signed "Although our window of opportunity is small, there is still time to ensure that these important investments in our future are enacted into law." - new White House report
"Unfortunately, Congress has currently stalled our progress toward our shared national goals and toward balance in a healthy R&D portfolio...," writes presidential science advisor Neal Lane in a release on the status of research programs in the fiscal year 2001 appropriations process. Taking the initiative while Congress is on recess for the month, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has issued this 6-page "Mid-summer Status Report" to review congressional action so far on R&D funding bills. (Since the report was released, Clinton signed into law the FY 2001 funding bill for the Department of Defense; see below for more details.) The window of opportunity to influence the direction of the remaining appropriations bills is limited; when Congress returns from recess on September 5, it will have less than a month to get those bills passed and signed before the start of the new fiscal year on October 1.
In a cover letter to "Friends of Science and Engineering," Lane notes that the President's request for the upcoming fiscal year would increase total civilian R&D by $2.5 billion (6%) over current funding, and increase basic research by $1.3 billion (7%). "Substantial increases for several agencies," Lane writes, would "help to restore the balance between biomedical research and other scientific disciplines." According to the report, "Congressional action to date leaves a $1.8 billion deficit" to the President's requested $2.8 billion increase for the R&D programs included in the Twenty-first Century Research Fund. "I urge you to share the numbers in this report and their implications for America's science and engineering enterprise as widely as possible with your friends and colleagues," Lane says. Selected portions of the report are highlighted below:
DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY: - "Energy science programs were cut by $320 million (10%) from the request in the House, and by $281 million (9%) in the Senate." - "The Spallation Neutron Source...saw a $162 million (62%) reduction in requested funding in the House. Such a cut would lead to its cancellation. The Senate committee bill cuts $40 million (15%) from the request, leading to delays and cost overruns" and some of the funding would "come at the expense of other Science programs." - "The Senate committee mark would cut High Energy Physics, Nuclear Physics, and Fusion Energy Sciences by as much as 8% below FY 2000 enacted levels." - "The House would cut $30.0 million in Basic Energy Sciences and Biological and Environmental Research for increased operating time and instrumentation at the Department's synchrotron light and neutron sources." - The report also mentions potential cuts to Information Technology and Nanotechnology initiatives, solar and renewable research, energy efficiency programs, and the International Clean Energy Initiative. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE: - "The House eliminated funding for NIST's Advanced Technology Program,"while the Senate committee mark is "still $45 million (23%) below the budget request." - The report also cites the House's reduction to NOAA's Oceanic and Atmospheric Research account and refusal to fund the Institute for Information Infrastructure Protection. NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION: - Although the Senate has taken no action on NSF yet, "NSF investments in science, engineering, and education were cut by $526 million (12%)" by the House, which the report says would "eliminate funding for almost 18,000 researchers and science and mathematics educators." - The House "reduction would seriously undermine priority investments in Information Technology, Nanotechnology, and Biocomplexity." - Also noted in the report are the House's denial of funds for Earthscope, the National Ecological Observatory Network, and a second terascale computer to support "the burgeoning demand from researchers for high-speed computer applications." NASA: - Although no action has been taken by the Senate, the House eliminated $290 million for the Space Launch Initiative, $20 million for the Living with a Star initiative, and $55 million for research to reduce air traffic congestion. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE (Clinton signed this bill into law; see below): - "The House and Senate approved a bill that cuts $50 million from the request for projects critical to the Extensible Information Systems and Computing Systems and Communications Technology programs, while providing hundreds of millions of dollars in unrequested funds for other programs in Research, Development, Test and Evaluation." DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION: - "Both the House and Senate failed to support increases for education research, by cutting the President's request by $24 million (6%) for education research.... These cuts may jeopardize the Interagency Education Research Initiative, a collaborative research effort [among the Education Department, NSF, and NIH] to support large-scale, interdisciplinary research focused on understanding what educational strategies work and why in two key areas: early learning of foundational skills; and transitions to learning increasingly complex science and mathematics."
The report also cites congressional reductions to the requests for EPA and the Departments of Agriculture, Transportation, and Interior. It is timed in anticipation of fall budget battles, as Congress will be struggling to get the necessary appropriations bills passed and signed by the President before the beginning of the new fiscal year and in time to campaign for the November elections.
DEFENSE DEPARTMENT APPROPRIATIONS BILL: On August 9, President Clinton signed into law the FY 2001 funding bill for the Department of Defense. Based on the conference report, this bill, H.R. 4576, would increase DOD funding for total basic and applied research and technology development by 7.9% over current funding and 20.2% over the request (see FYI #91). In a written statement, Clinton commented that "unfortunately, H.R. 4576 goes beyond what is necessary, providing funding for a host of unrequested programs at the expense of other core Government activities."
Audrey T. Leath