American Institute of Physics
home contact us sitemap

FYI Number 2: January 5, 2006

Looking Back: Major Science Policy and Budget Developments of 2005

There were many science policy and budget developments affecting the physical sciences community in 2005. The following is a brief review of these events, sorted by the month in which the FYI was released. Readers wishing further information should consult the 2005 FYI archive at by the FYI number cited.

JANUARY: A National Research Council committee concluded that only a "small percentage" of defense basic research funding had been redirected toward non-basic S&T programs; it urged the Defense Department to support more "unfettered exploration" in its basic research program (#9). Energy Secretary-Designate Samuel Bodman told senators at his confirmation hearing that he hoped to be viewed as a strong supporter of physical sciences in the Administration (#10).

FEBRUARY: President Bush requested almost flat funding for R&D in his FY 2006 budget request (#15). Office of Science Director Ray Orbach warned that budget constraints "are not going to go away in 2007 [and] it's going to be a difficult four years" (#25).

MARCH: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called science a great diplomatic tool, and spoke of ITER as "an important project" that needed to achieve a negotiations breakthrough in the location of the facility (#26). Senate appropriations subcommittee chairman Christopher Bond (R-MO) criticized the federal government for not adequately supporting the physical sciences (#27). A senior level innovation task force warned that America's S&T leadership was at risk (#32). The first hearing of the newly-established House Science, State, Justice and Commerce Appropriations Subcommittee demonstrated strong support for S&T (#36). The House Science Committee criticized the Administration's FY 2006 R&D request and proposed program changes (#45).

APRIL: House Science Committee members raised many questions about NASA's vision for space exploration (#46). National Academy of Sciences President Bruce Alberts urged support for the teaching of evolution (#49). Michael Griffin was confirmed as the new NASA Administrator (#57).

MAY: More than 2/3s of senators signed a letter in support of a 3.2% increase for the DOE Office of Science (#63). House appropriations subcommittee chairman Frank Wolf (R-VA) urged President Bush to triple federal basic research and development funding over the next decade (#64). In the House, 167 Members signed a letter supporting higher NSF funding than that which President Bush requested (#66). This action was followed by a letter signed by 121 representatives supporting significantly higher funding for the DOE Office of Science (#68). Senate appropriators and new NASA Administrator Michael Griffin found common ground on the agency's current agenda and future vision (#69). House appropriators took issue with the Administration's nuclear weapons initiatives (#73). The Science Committee challenged NASA's Earth Science program plans (#79). A fall S&T conference in Washington was announced (#80). The House approved plans for interim civilian nuclear waste storage and reprocessing (#82).

JUNE: The National Research council released a report on likely civilian casualties from the use of a "bunker buster" nuclear weapon (#83). The House rejected a move to cut NSF funding in the proposed FY 2006 appropriations bill (#92). Senate appropriators drafted a bill that was more favorable to Administration's nuclear weapons initiatives (#99), but provided no construction funding for National Ignition Facility (#100). A decision was made to locate ITER in France (#101). Senate appropriators took a different approach to nuclear waste reprocessing, setting the stage for a confrontation with the House (#102).

JULY NASA reauthorization bills moved (#108 and #113). The Administration released a planning document on FY 2007 R&D priorities (#111). Unprecedented congressional controversy about global climate change research made headlines (#112). A shift occurred in Senate thinking about global climate change with the passage of a sense-of-the-Senate resolution (#114).

AUGUST: A fusion advisory committee questioned the impact of ITER funding on the domestic fusion program (#117). Hearings demonstrated little enthusiasm for nuclear fuel reprocessing (#118). President Bush signed major energy policy legislation (#119). William Jeffrey was confirmed as the new NIST director (#123). A task force report was released on the consolidation of the nuclear weapons complex (#127).

SEPTEMBER: DOE officials took steps to lessen the impact of Hurricane Katrina on the work of affected scientists (#130). The Senate voted overwhelmingly to support the Advanced Technology Program (#136). NASA Administrator Griffin described NASA's Exploration Architecture; congressional reaction was guardedly supportive (#138).

OCTOBER: A Senate hearing demonstrated wide disagreement about climate change (#142). A trial on Intelligent Design in public schools began in Pennsylvania (#143). A manufacturing R&D authorization bill passed House, excluding ATP (#147). Public comment was sought on an Administration strategic report to reduce greenhouse gases (#150). NSF released a facility plan (#151). Congress refused to fund "bunker buster" nuclear weapon research (#152).

NOVEMBER: Two major science organizations disputed Kansas science education standards relating to the teaching of evolution (#154). A major report released by the National Academies on U.S. competitiveness attracted considerable attention on Capitol Hill (#155 and #164). Congress completed work on NSF, NASA and DOE funding bills (#159, #160 and #163). A DOE funding bill was completed with a new direction taken on future nuclear fuel recycling (#161). The same DOE bill provided construction funding for the National Ignition Facility and no funding for a modern pit facility (#162). The NIST funding bill was completed which provided ATP money (#165). House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) warned of the need for an ITER funding plan and threatened to kill the project without such a plan (#167). Senators expressed concern about the impact of funding cuts on the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider and Jefferson Laboratory (#168).

DECEMBER: The National Summit on Competitiveness was held in Washington (#172). A National Research Council report was released on science in the context of space exploration (#173). The FY 2006 DOD appropriations bill was completed (#175). A federal judge ruled that Intelligent Design should not offered as an alternative to evolution in a Pennsylvania school district (#177).

Richard M. Jones
Media and Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics

Back to FYI Home