Before turning to 2005, here is a final review of major science budget
and policy developments in 2004. Readers interested in reading the full
FYI from which these items were taken can do so by consulting
the "FYI This Month" for the month cited at
JANUARY: Congress passes final appropriations legislation for
the fiscal year that began almost four months earlier. A National Research
Council panel recommends changes in the process used for setting new
NSF research facility priorities. NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe releases
a new space exploration vision for the agency that calls for a manned
return to the moon, and eventually manned missions to Mars.
FEBRUARY: The Administration sends its FY 2005 request to Congress
that includes an overall 2.5% increase for R&D, but which varies
considerably by agency. House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert
(R-NY) comments that "it's impossible to view this as a good budget
MARCH: Congressional hearings begin on the FY 2005 S&T request.
Key authorizers and appropriators are supportive of higher budgets,
but warn that fiscal constraints may not allow significant increases.
The DOE Office of Science releases a strategic plan for the next two
decades. Congress looks at the visa processing system and calls for
changes. Congressional committees hold hearings on NASA's new space
exploration vision and the President's hydrogen initiative. Participants
at science education conferences question the effectiveness of mandated
K-12 science assessments.
APRIL: Congressional supporters of S&T push for significant
budget increases. The Administration's recommendation to phase out the
NSF Math and Science Partnerships is criticized. The President's Council
of Advisors on Science and Technology is briefed on U.S. technological
leadership and the likely health and environmental impacts of nanomaterials.
Controversy builds on Capitol Hill about the Administration's request
for research funds to study the feasible of nuclear "bunker busters"
MAY: A DOE High Energy Physics advisory group releases a report
examining key scientific questions. Twelve S&T organizations form
a task force advocating substantial federal funding increases for basic
research in physical sciences and engineering. Concern increases that
NIST may have to use staff layoffs to offset budget cuts. Charges are
made, and rebutted, about the Administration's manipulation of scientific
advisory committees. Defense authorizing committees recommend cuts in
FY 2005 DOD S&T funding.
JUNE: Action occurs on several fronts to examine the scientific
advisory process. House appropriators reject the Administration's request
for several nuclear weapons initiatives. Scientific, engineering, and
education organizations issue a statement calling for revisions in visa
processing. An interagency working group releases a strategic plan for
research at the intersection of physics and astronomy. A senior-level
commission endorses NASA's space exploration vision.
JULY: A presidential commission recommends the doubling of federal
spending on ocean and coastal research. A National Research Council
panel urges NASA to consider several alternatives for servicing the
Hubble Space Telescope. House and Senate appropriators agree to increase
overall FY 2005 defense S&T spending by 10.3%. House appropriators
write a draft bill that would cut NSF and NASA funding in FY 2005. New
concerns are voiced about security at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
AUGUST: The White House issues a veto threat against the draft
House appropriations bill that would cut NASA funding. The House passes
a bill recognizing 2005 as the World Year of Physics. A National Academies
committee discusses how to ensure the best scientific and technical
advice for federal policymakers. A congressional move to restore some
of the capability of the former Office of Technology Assessment fails.
A National Academies report concludes that tighter visa procedures may
have "adversely affected" foreign student enrollment. The
White House issues a planning memo on its FY 2006 R&D priorities.
SEPTEMBER: The Administration releases a climate change document
that describes future research directions, but which includes no policy
recommendations. Arden Bement Jr. is nominated to be the next director
of the NSF, a position which he has held on an acting basis since February.
Congress gives increased attention to finding money for NASA's shuttle
fleet and the servicing of the Hubble Telescope.
OCTOBER: Representatives for the campaigns of President Bush
and Senator Kerry debate science policy in Washington. The final report
of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy is released, with the warning
that corrective action should be taken while it is still possible to
reverse declines. A committee of the National Academies examines the
implications of U.S. visa policy.
NOVEMBER: The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the
space exploration vision may cost more than $30 billion over NASA's
projections. Positive numbers are reported for physics and astronomy
enrollments. A huge catchall funding bill is passed, providing FY 2005
budget increases for NASA and DOE's Office of Science, while cutting
the budget for the National Science Foundation. No money is provided
for the Administration's nuclear weapons initiatives in FY 2005. Energy
Secretary Spencer Abraham resigns. An advisory committee warns of the
possibility of a future shortage of nuclear science PhDs.
DECEMBER: Arden Bement is confirmed as the new NSF director.
Deputy Treasury Secretary Samuel Bodman is nominated as the new Energy
secretary. NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe announces his resignation.
A National Research Council panel recommends that a space shuttle mission
service the Hubble Telescope. American students post mixed results in
international comparisons of math and science. A post-election seminar
features speakers who warn of tight budgets in the coming year, and
recommend that the science community strengthen its efforts to reach
out to the Congress and Administration.