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FYI THIS MONTH: MARCH 2003

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
fyithismonth@aip.org

SCIENCE COMMITTEE REVIEWS FY04 REQUEST FOR S&T: The FY 2004 request "is a good budget for science," presidential science advisor John Marburger testified to the House Science Committee. In an analysis of the S&T request, the Committee commended the Administration's R&D priorities but raised concern that the biomedical sciences "continue to dwarf the remainder of the R&D budget." A separate analysis was put out by the Committee's Democrats.

FY04 APPROPRIATIONS PROCESS BEGINS: As the FY04 appropriations process begins, the House has passed its version of a budget resolution, which gives an early indication of its intentions for FY04 funding. While the resolution does not go into detail in many instances, specific recommendations are made within general science funding for NSF and NASA appropriations. The result would be a reduction of at least 15% for DOE's Office of Science.

OFFICE OF SCIENCE FY04 REQUEST: Hearings have been held on the FY04 budget request for DOE's Office of Science by subcommittees in both the House and the Senate, but the outlook is still unclear. Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Pete Domenici (R-NM) noted that the office's request was "only a little better than flat," and remarked on "the tremendous imbalance" between life and physical sciences funding. At a meeting of DOE's Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee, Office of Science Director Raymond Orbach told the group that "we are going to try to work within" the FY04 budget request, but added that "these are going to be a couple of lean years" for DOE's fusion program.

CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEES RESPONSIBLE FOR R&D: Members of Congress make important decisions impacting the funding and conduct of federal science and technology. Web sites are identified for congressional committees and subcommittees with jurisdiction over R&D and science education.

NASA FY04 REQUEST: Although the House Science Committee received testimony from NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe on the space agency's FY04 request, it is likely that the results of the shuttle Columbia accident investigation will affect the agency's final budget. Committee members questioned the impact of a grounded shuttle fleet on the International Space Station, progress on a vehicle to complement the shuttle, and the many proposed new intiatives.

NANOTECHNOLOGY LEGISLATION: As an indication that many in Congress believe in the importance of nanotechnology to the future of the nation, bills to enhance and improve the federal nanotechnology effort have been introduced in both the House and Senate.

FY03 APPROPRIATIONS RESULTS: Even as the FY04 budget process gets underway, the results of the long-drawn-out FY03 appropriations cycle are still being assessed. DOE's Office of Science received a small decrease, but most of its physics- related programs received single-digit increases. NSF's Mathematical and Physical Sciences, Geosciences, Engineering, and Polar Research programs all saw increases in the 10% range. NASA's Space Science, Earth Science, and Biological and Physical Research budgets all grew by at least 5%, while budgets for Human Space Flight and the space station declined.