"This is a good budget for science," declared OSTP Director
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"
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
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