Coalition Calls for Increased Funding for Defense Science and Technology Programs

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Publication date: 
4 April 2014

The appropriations cycle is moving ahead on Capitol Hill at a fast pace.  Two House appropriations subcommittees have already marked up their FY 2015 funding bills.  The chairman of the House Appropriations Committee hopes to have all twelve FY 2015 bills marked up by July 4.  The Senate Appropriations Committee is setting a similar schedule.

The Coalition for National Security Research, to which the American Institute of Physics and two of its Member Societies, the American Physical Society and The Optical Society, belong has issued a statement recommending increased funding for the Department of Defense’s science and technology programs.  Under the Administration’s request, funding would decline for the 6.1 basic research program, the 6.2 applied research program, and the 6.3 advanced technology development program. 

The Coalition has 69 members and is described as “a broadly-based coalition of industry, research universities, and associations united by a commitment to a stronger Defense S&T base.”  The FY 2015 Funding Statement follows:

“The Coalition for National Security Research (CNSR) strongly supports the critical role Defense Science and Technology (S&T) programs play in the Department’s ability to navigate the challenges of modern warfare with a leaner fighting force, develop innovative therapies for wounded soldiers, and the ability to avoid strategic surprise.

“While we understand that tough fiscal choices need to be made, we are disappointed that the Department of Defense’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget request proposes reductions to these important programs.   CNSR urges Congress to change the course of any potential downward trajectory and provide:  $12.389 billion for overall S&T accounts, and $2.23 billion for the 6.1 basic research accounts.  This level of funding would also provide increased investments for the 6.2 applied and 6.3 advanced technology development programs.  We appreciate and support the budget request of $2.91 billion for the Defense Advanced Research Agency (DARPA).

“The FY 2015 level of funding provided in the Pentagon’s budget request significantly slows progress of the DoD S&T portfolio towards two important benchmarks:  establishing the level of 6.1 basic research funding to equal 20 percent of the total S&T budget over a period of sustained and predictable growth, and establishing the level of S&T funding to equal 20 percent of the total Research, Development, Technology & Evaluation (RDT&E) budget. This threshold reflects the federal actions that were recommended in the National Academies’ 2007 report Rising Above the Gathering Storm and will serve to sustain robust funding for DOD basic research for the long term.

“The recently released 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review reiterates the 21st century defense priorities outlined in the 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance, including ‘to protect and prioritize key investments in technology while our forces overall grow smaller and leaner.’  The QDR also notes the goal to ‘sustain priority investments in science, technology, research, and development both within the defense sector and beyond.’ 

“CNSR also notes the important role DARPA has played in funding high-risk research that has led to many of the extraordinary, historical technological advances of our day.  CNSR urges Congress to acknowledge the important role DARPA plays in dealing with both near-term needs and the game-changing technologies of the future by supporting the proposed request for DARPA of $2.91 billion.

“In addition to these critical S&T research accounts, CNSR urges Congress to provide sufficient funding for DoD S&T programs critical to cultivating the next generation of talented engineers and scientists who will contribute to the technological capabilities of the American military.  In addition to graduate research assistantships and postdoctoral fellowships that are supported by research grants, programs such as the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship Program and the National Defense Education Program – which includes the Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation Scholarship, and the National Security Science and Engineering Faculty Fellowship Program – provide education and research opportunities that strengthen our nation’s scientific and technical workforce.”