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
RESULTS OF FY03 APPROPRIATIONS PROCESS: A review of the final FY 2003 appropriations for the departments and agencies tracked by FYI shows which program budgets grew relative to fiscal year 2002, and which declined. The largest increase went to the Education Department's Math and Science Partnership program, which grew from $12.5 million to over $100 million, while NASA's Academic Programs experienced the greatest reduction. It is important to remember that program content may change from year to year. The FY03 appropriations for NIST, USGS, and NIBIB are also summarized.
ANALYSIS OF FY04 REQUEST: An analysis of the Bush Administration's request for FY04 shows that, of the programs tracked by FYI, the greatest proposed increase over FY03 funding - of 36.2% - would go to NSF's Major Research Equipment and Facilities. NIST's Manufacturing Extension Partnership would experience the deepest cut, of 88.1%.
FY04 FUNDING RECOMMENDATIONS: As Congress begins work on its FY04 appropriations bills, many efforts have been initiated, both in Congress and by outside groups, to press for specific funding levels for various agencies and programs. Statements or letters with funding recommendations for S&T programs have been sent to Congress by coalitions of scientific societies in which AIP and some of its Member Societies participate. FY04 funding recommendations have been issued for DOD S&T programs, NSF, DOE's Office of Science, and the Education Department's Math and Science Partnerships. A group of Nobel Laureates and corporate leaders sent a letter to President Bush, calling for stronger support for "the long-term research portfolios of DOE, NASA, and the Department of Commerce, in addition to NSF and NIH." At a March 31 hearing, DOD officials urged Congress to ensure that in the future, DOD S&T programs receive 3% of the total Defense budget.
CONGRESSIONAL INDICATIONS ON S&T FUNDING: Both House and Senate appropriators expressed disappointment with the FY04 request for NSF, using words like "paltrey," "dismal," and "inadequate." Congressional efforts to seek greater funding have targeted NSF and DOE's Office of Science. The Senate version of a comprehensive energy bill now contains provisions that would increase authorization levels for the Office of Science and create a new Under Secretary for Energy and Science position. At another hearing, Members of the House VA/HUD Appropriations Subcommittee voiced support for NASA and expected to make only "minor changes" to the request.
S&T IN HOMELAND SECURITY: The atmosphere was somber as the newly-sworn-in Under Secretary for Science and Technology at the Department of Homeland Security, Charles McQueary, appeared before both House and Senate committees in a single day to address questions about his directorate's budget, goals and milestones, staffing, and cooperation with other agencies.
FOREIGN STUDENT VISA DELAYS: In another homeland security-related issue, several hearings have looked into delays in the processing of visa applications for foreign scientists and students, and glitches in the system intended to track foreign students in this country. Noting that "this Administration values the contribution foreign scientists and students make to the nation's scientific enterprise," OSTP Director John Marburger focused on the visa problems in a recent speech.