HIGHLIGHTS OF DEVELOPMENTS IN WASHINGTON IMPACTING THE PHYSICS COMMUNITY FROM FYI, THE AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF PHYSICS BULLETIN OF SCIENCE POLICY NEWS
Richard M. Jones, Audrey T. Leath
FY03 BUDGET REQUEST OVERVIEW: OSTP Director John Marburger called the FY 2003 request "a good budget for science," with 8% growth proposed for federal R&D funding. The proposed changes from FY02 funding range from a 25.3% increase for NIST's in-house labs to an 87.9% cut to the NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnerships, as federal funding for some MEP centers would be phased out. The House Science Committee's Minority staff responded with its own analysis of the request, which said, "The FY03 R&D budget request can be described in one sentence: defense increases 8 percent, NIH increases 17 percent, and all other civilian R&D is collectively frozen."
FY03 AGENCY REQUESTS: A 5% increase is proposed for NSF, but almost a third of the increase would be due to the transfer of programs from other agencies. The NASA budget would stay relatively flat; a significant portion of the 19% increase slated for Space Science would also come from program transfers. DOE's Office of Science would receive level funding, while DOD S&T (combined basic and applied research and advanced technology development) would fall 2%. The USGS budget would decline 5%, with proposed transfer of a program to NSF; NIST would see a drop of 15%. Within NIH, the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, created last year, would experience 8% growth. For science education, NSF's Education and Human Resources budget would grow by 4%, while within the Department of Education, funding to improve teacher quality in general, and math and science education in particular, would receive the same funding as in FY 2002.
MARBURGER ON SCIENCE FUNDING AND PRIORITIES: Speaking at a recent AAAS meeting, Marburger gave his views on the frontiers of science and priorities in the science budget: "I believe society will continue to support the exploration of the traditional frontiers of large and small [astronomy and particle physics], but it will do so with increasing insistence" on planning, management, and cost sharing. "But the greatest opportunities in science today are not to be found at these remote frontiers," he continued; new instruments and computing power "have brought science finally within reach of a new frontier, the frontier of complexity.... The richness of possibility is immense, and we simply cannot afford to explore it all at once. Choices must be made."
HEARINGS ON R&D REQUEST, SCIENCE DIRECTOR FOR DOE: Marburger testified, along with the heads of several science agencies, at a February 13 House Science Committee hearing on the R&D budget request. Committee members raised concerns about the level and balance of support for science programs and stated their desire to, in the words of one member, "improve the plight of some of these programs." Also in February, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a brief and supportive nomination hearing for Raymond Orbach to be Director of DOE's Office of Science.