Status Report

AIP FYI #15: President Bush Requests Almost Flat FY 2006 R&D Funding

By SpaceRef Editor
February 8, 2005
Filed under ,

The American Institute of Physics Bulletin of Science Policy News
Number 15: February 8, 2005

President Bush Requests Almost Flat FY 2006 R&D Funding

“The budget is not flat, but pretty close,” OSTP Director John
Marburger said yesterday at a White House briefing on the FY 2006
research and development budget request. The request is somewhat
like viewing a glass that is half-empty/half-full. Characterizing
the overall request and its components very much depends upon the
perspective employed, with the caveat, as Marburger said, that “the
devil is sometimes in the detail.”

Federal program expenditures can be categorized as discretionary and
non-discretionary. Non-discretionary spending is mandated by law,
and includes programs such as Social Security. Unless the
underlying law is changed, as is now being proposed for Social
Security, spending is largely automatic. Discretionary spending
varies, and depends on the will of the Congress as expressed
through the appropriations bills. R&D funding falls into this
category, so that the annual budgets for NSF or DOE, for instance,
will vary.

Large federal deficits and the continuing wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan have resulted in a very tight budget environment. The
Administration wants to reduce the federal deficit by one-half by
2009. Toward this end, the Bush Administration has proposed cutting
the overall level of discretionary non-defense/homeland security
spending by almost 1% in FY 2006. That proposed cut is a
perspective through which to view the R&D budget request.

Under the Administration’s proposal, total federal R&D funding would
increase by 1% or $733 million, which Marburger said “maintains that
strength, we are not going backward.” Under the Administration’s
proposal, non-defense R&D spending would increase 0.75% over this
year’s budget.

Marburger briefly described those budgets which would increase next
year, including an 8% increase in NIST’s core research activities, a
2.4% increase for NSF, a 2.4% increase for NASA, a 1% increase for
NIH, and an increase in S&T funding for the Department of Homeland
Security. Total funding for DOE’s Office of Science would decline,
as would Defense 6.1 and 6.2 program spending. USGS funding would
be flat. The Advanced Technology Program would be eliminated.
Future issues of FYI will examine physics and astronomy budget
requests more closely.

There are several ways to assess the FY 2006 R&D request. The
Office of Management and Budget has a series of tables in a document
entitled “Analytical Perspectives” that review all federal R&D
spending. It shows an overall FY 2006 increase of +1% over the
current year. Basic research would decline -1%. Applied research
would remain approximately level. Development funding would
increase +2%, while Facilities and Equipment spending would fall

A different categorization is the Federal Science and Technology
Budget which OMB says “highlights the creation of new knowledge and
technologies more consistently and accurately than the traditional
R&D data collection. The FS&T budget emphasizes research, does not
count funding for defense development, testing and evaluation, and
totals less than half of Federal R&D spending.” Under the
Administration’s FY 2006 request, this funding would decline -1%.

The two senior members of the House Science Committee issued
statements in reaction to the Administration’s request. Committee
Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) said, “As everyone knows, this is
a very tight budget, with an overall cut to non-defense domestic
discretionary spending. Given that context, the science programs
fared relatively well. I was especially pleased to see the
significant increase proposed for the laboratories at the National
Institute of Standards and Technology. That said, I would certainly
like to see more robust increases in the science budget,
particularly for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the
Department of Energy Office of Science. And I am especially
troubled by the proposed cuts in the education programs at NSF. . .
.. As for NASA, the budget appears to be reasonable and balanced
overall. But we must review the details of the budget and also
think carefully about how NASA should fare relative to other science

The Ranking Minority Member of the Science Committee, Bart Gordon
(D-TN) was more critical, saying, “This budget ignores our future
economic needs and will cause irreparable harm to our country’s
ability to compete in the increasingly sophisticated and competitive
global market place. In the current fiscal crisis we must
prioritize. However, when we fail to put job creation, life-saving
technologies and students’ studies near the top of our list we send
the wrong message to the world. The priorities in this budget are
not merely harmful, they push this country on a downward slide to
losing our global science and technological edge. Make no mistake,
this is a race. Having a lead in science and technology will not
last for the U.S. if we allow ourselves to slow down or, as this
budget suggests, stop running. If we stop running at the top speed
we can manage, we will lose.”

Richard M. Jones

Media and Government Relations Division

The American Institute of Physics

(301) 209-3094

SpaceRef staff editor.