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FYI Number 50: April 26, 2002

Congress Ready to Draft FY 2003 DOD Authorization Bills

Next week the House Armed Services Committee is scheduled to mark up the FY 2003 defense authorization bill. The Senate Armed Service Committee should complete its work before mid- May. While the process is months from being completed, the action taken by both committees will help determine the parameters for defense S&T spending next year.

Three percent of the defense budget for S&T is the level that has been recommended by several authorities. This figure was put forward in the Quadrennial Defense Review Report issued last September (see FYI #130 in 2001) and advocated in an earlier Defense Science Board Task Force report. In March, Under Secretary of Defense Pete Aldridge testified that five- year plan projects an increase in the S&T investment "to approach 3% of the total DoD budget."

Defense S&T's visibility is increasing. A hearing by the Senate Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities earlier this month examined the contributions of science and technology in combating terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. Ronald Sega, Director, Defense Research and Engineering, opened his testimony by saying "Many of the capabilities and systems that are in the field today are the result of a conscious decision, years ago, to invest in Science and Technology (S&T) programs. The future security and safety of our nation depends in part on a strong research and development foundation." Sega cited the utilization of Nuclear Quadrupole Resonance technology, developed by the Naval Research Laboratory, for the detection of bulk explosives. Sega later described an "investment continuum that spans basic research through advanced development with close attention to technology transition. We must seek a balance across this continuum. Basic research lays the foundation for tomorrow's innovative development."

The latest effort to strengthen defense S&T spending is a letter that was just sent to Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) and Ranking Minority Member John Warner (R-VA). The letter, signed by Joseph Lieberman (D- CT), Rick Santorum (R-PA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Edward Kennedy (D-MA), Wayne Allard (R-CO), Robert Smith (R-NH), Jean Carnahan (D-MO), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Mark Dayton (D-MN), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Ben Nelson (D-NE), and James Inhofe (R-OK), highlights the importance of defense S&T, and then states:

"It is imperative, therefore, that we act to fund S&T at 3 percent of the total defense budget. Such an action would be consistent with the recommendations of the Defense Department's 2001 Quadrennial Defense Review, as well as the 1998 Defense Science Board Task Force. It would also comport with Section 316 of the FY 2003 Senate Budget Resolution, which passed the Budget Committee on March 21, 2002. Section 316 not only affirms the 3 percent funding goal for defense S&T, it asserts that: '[r]obust investment in science and technology is integral to full realization of the promise of the hi-tech Revolution in Military Affairs.' Rather than meeting or building toward this goal, however, current Pentagon projections indicate that the S&T budget will decrease to 2.28 percent by 2007. This trend, if allowed to continue, will substantially undermine our military and technological capabilities in the long-term."

The Bush Administration requested $9,676 million for defense S&T for FY 2003, or 2.7% of the total budget. This is a decline of 2.0% from the current year budget (see FYI #14).

Last year, the Administration sought a cut of 2.4% from the previous year in defense S&T in their revised budget request. While authorizers would also have made cuts, the appropriators later took the S&T budget in the other direction. The final S&T appropriation was up 11% over the previous year, to a level that was 3.1% of the total defense bill (see FYI #152 in 2001).

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

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