"Science policy entails more than setting budgets, but that
is a major bottom line of the policy process."- OSTP Director
Last week's 29th Annual AAAS Forum on Science and Technology Policy
opened with two divergent views of the Bush Administration's funding
of science and technology. The keynote speaker was John Marburger,
Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
He was followed by Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SC). While
the speakers agreed on the importance of science and technology to
the nation, they had different perspectives on the Administration's
funding of science and technology. Selections from their addresses
on funding issues follow. Several other issues were discussed; the
full text of their remarks (with a series of charts that Marburger
referred to in his presentation) can be accessed at http://www.aaas.org/news/releases/2004/0422debateIntro.shtml
In viewing the recent funding of federal science and technology, the
often-repeated phrase is relevant: "The President proposes, and
the Congress disposes." As Marburger stated, "I do want
to acknowledge that Congress has treated science well in its appropriations
. . . ."
"President Bush has made it abundantly clear that his budget
priorities have been to protect the nation, secure the homeland, and
revitalize the economy. His budget proposals to Congress are in line
with vigorous actions in each category. Increases in expenditures for
homeland security, in particular have dominated changes in the discretionary
budget during this Administration, and we have seen the emergence of
a significant new science and technology agency within the Department
of Homeland Security (DHS). The current budget proposal for the DHS
Science and Technology function is $1.2 billion, with an estimated
total of $3.6 billion in homeland security related R&D in all agencies.
The science and engineering communities exerted a significant influence
on the structure of the new department, particularly through the National
Research Council report 'Making the Nation Safer.'
"Each of the three overarching Presidential priorities has strong
science and technology components. The President has sought, and Congress
has appropriated, substantial increases in Research and Development
budgets not only for homeland security, but also for defense and for
key areas of science and technology related to long term economic strength."
"R&D expenditures in this Administration are up 44% over
the past four years to a record $132 billion proposed for 2005 compared
to $91 billion in FY 2001, and the non-defense share is up 26%. The
President's FY2005 Federal R&D budget request is the greatest share
of GDP in over 10 years, and its share of the domestic discretionary
budget, at 13.5% is the highest level in 37 years. Non-defense R&D
funding is the highest percentage of GDP since 1982. Total U.S. R&D
expenditures, including the private sector was at 2.65% of GDP in 2002,
the most recent year for which I have data. I suspect it is above that
today. Its historical high was 2.87% in 1964 as NASA was ramping up
for the Apollo program."
"The FY 2005 request commits 5.7% of total discretionary outlays
to non-defense R&D, the third highest level in the past 25 years.
"While the President has proposed to reduce the overall growth
in non-defense, non-homeland security spending to 0.5% this year to
address overall budget pressures, his budget expresses a commitment
to "non-security" science with a considerably higher growth
rate at 2.5%."
"During the current Administration, funding for basic research
has increased 26% to an all-time high of $26.8 billion in the FY 2005
"What Congress will do with the Presidential requests for science
. . . is at this point an open question. I do want to acknowledge that
Congress has treated science well in its appropriations, and the good
figures for science during this Administration represent a strong consensus
between the Legislative and Executive branches that science is important
to our nation's future.
"As I emphasized in 2002, priorities for these large expenditures
respond to two important phenomena that have shaped the course of society
and are affecting the relationship of society to science, namely the
rapid growth of technology, particularly information technology, as
the basis for a global economy, and the emergence of terrorism as a
destabilizing movement of global consequence." Later, in a section
entitled "Priority Highlights," Marburger cited the following:
Health Sciences "Funding during these four years to NIH has increased
more than 40%, to $28.6 billion. In response to this unprecedented
National commitment, NIH as a whole has adopted an important new roadmap
for transforming new knowledge from its research programs into tangible
benefits for society. Emerging interdisciplinary issues such as nutrition
and aging together with revolutionary capabilities for understanding
the molecular origins of disease, health, and biological function will
continue to drive change within NIH.
National Science Foundation " In four years the NSF budget has
increased 30% over FY 2001 to $5.7 billion. Much of this funding has
gone to enhance the physical sciences and mathematics programs, where
advances often provide the foundation for achievements in other areas,
as well as increases to the social sciences and to the NSF education
"NASA has increased 13%, largely for exploration science that
will spur new discoveries, enhance technology development, and excite
the next generation of scientists and engineers."
"DOE Science and technology programs have increased 10%, in such
important areas as basic physical science and advanced computing. As
the agency sponsoring the largest share of physical science, DOE's
Office of Science is increasingly viewed as a high leverage area for
investment. DOE has engaged in years of intense planning, culminating
recently in a multi-year facilities roadmap that assigns specific priorities
to a spectrum of new projects.
Energy and Environment "This Administration is investing heavily
in technologies for producing and using energy in environmentally friendly
ways, from shorter term demonstration projects for carbon-free power
plants, to the very long term promise of nuclear fusion for clean,
scalable power generation. In the intermediate term, technologies associated
with the use of hydrogen as a medium for energy transport and storage
are receiving a great deal of attention, not only in the U.S. but internationally.
The President's Hydrogen Fuel initiative is a $1.2 billion, five-year
program aimed at developing the fuel cell and hydrogen infrastructure
technologies needed to make pollution-free hydrogen fuel cell cars
widely available by 2020."
"Regrettably, rather than strengthening this [government - science]
partnership, I fear that the Bush Administration has allowed it to
erode in two critical ways. First, the Administration is abdicating
its responsibility to provide scientists with the funding cutting-edge
research demands. As you know, the federal government has seen its
R&D investments steadily decline as a share of the U.S. economy,
bringing the federal investment down to levels not seen since the mid-60s.
Public-sector investments in advanced research have declined sharply,
relative to our economic growth rate, and barely kept pace with inflation.
This year, federal funding for research is set to increase 4.7 percent.
However, the entire increase would go to the Departments of Defense
and Homeland Security for the development of weapons systems and counterterrorism
technology. Make no mistake, these are necessary investments that will
make our nation safer. But the remaining federal R&D budget that
supports research into health, environmental, biological, and other
sciences, will all see funding reduced.
"In my home state of South Dakota, for instance, the Earth Research
Observation System is facing the possibility of deep cuts in staff
due to cuts to their budget. Their work helps us become more responsible
stewards of the environment, while increasing the yields of farmers
all over the world. And yet, this work is endangered due to draconian
"But we should be honest with ourselves. Outside the scientific
community, there is no hue and cry for more government funding of R&D
. There is no widespread public outrage when the Administration disregards
the unequivocal judgment of the scientific community. And it's unlikely
that the science gap growing between the United States and other developed
nations will become a major issue in the upcoming Presidential campaign.
"This represents a failure on our part. We have not done enough
to show the American people the connection between the work underway
in your laboratories and the problems that affect their lives. This
must change. The stakes simply could not be higher. What future challenge
will we fail to meet because America's scientists were not given the
tools they need to discover new answers to old questions? When rumors
of a Nazi bomb program reached President Roosevelt, he said simply,
'Whatever the enemy may be planning, American science will be equal
to the challenge.' Will future presidents be able to speak with such