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FYI Number 12: February 6, 2002

Bush Administration FY 2003 Request for S&T

"This is a good budget for science," declared OSTP Director John Marburger about the FY 2003 request that President Bush sent to Congress on Monday. Federal R&D would increase by 8% to $111.8 billion under this request.

This increase would not be uniform across all S&T budgets. Marburger stated the "big number in this budget for science" is for federal programs that improve human health; NIH funding would increase 16%. Other areas of particular interest to the administration are nanotechnology research funding which would increase 17%, climate change R&D, information technology, and programs to prevent terrorism.

As will be detailed in FYI #13 and future FYIs, budget requests for physics-related programs vary. Funding for the DOE Office of Science would be flat. NSF funding would go up 5%. DOD S&T (6.1, 6.2, and 6.3 programs) funding would decline 2.0%.

Taken as a whole, federal research and development funding would increase $8,574 million. The R&D budgets of two departments would receive the greatest boosts. DOD R&D (a larger category than just the S&T programs) spending would increase $5,373 million. Department of Health and Human Services R&D funding would increase $3,745 million. The total R&D budget increase for these two departments is $9,118 million.

Regarding the distribution of federal research money, the OMB budget document states:

"Some in the science community call for greater 'balance' across research agencies and disciplines, at times suggesting all agencies should receive increases similar to those that NIH and other agencies have received. However, 'balance' by that definition makes prioritization impossible. Increases in our top-priority research areas should logically be greater than increases for other areas. Instead, the 2003 budget provides funding for top priority areas, while ensuring a good mix of basic, applied, and development in many fields of science and technology across the federal agencies. The Administration believes the focus should not be on how much we are spending, but rather on what we are getting for our investment and how well it is being managed."

During his briefing, Marburger said the "aggressive five year budget" for NIH was "justified," adding that there are "some areas of science that are hot." A senior OMB official explained that the FY 2003 request completes President Bush's commitment to double the NIH budget, and said that the administration was looking ahead to the consideration of increases in other S&T budget requests that will be submitted next year.

The OMB budget document discusses program performance at great length, explaining that next year investment criteria will be used in making budget decisions at major R&D agencies. The document heavily criticizes research earmarks, noting that they now account for 9.4% of federal academic funding.

The Bush Administration budget request is now in the hands of the Congress. The new fiscal year begins in eight months.

Richard M. Jones
Media and Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics
(301) 209-3095

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