Status Report

AIP FYI #22: Science Committee Minority Staff Analysis of FY 2003 S&T

By SpaceRef Editor
February 22, 2002
Filed under , ,

Earlier this month, the Minority Staff of the House Science
Committee released a 16-page analysis of the Bush
Administration’s FY 2003 R&D request. Last week, the full
House Science Committee held its first hearing on this
request, which will be reported on in a forthcoming FYI. See
FYIs #12 – 21 for selections from various Administration
budget documents related to physics-related programs.

Excerpts from the Democratic committee staff’s report follow.
The entire report, containing an analysis of specific budgets
under the committee’s jurisdiction, can be read at

“. . . R&D outlays as a percentage of discretionary outlays
will be 14%, an increase over the 10% to 12% level that has
persisted over the past 20 years.”

“The FY03 R&D budget request can be described in one sentence:
defense increases eight percent, NIH increases 17 percent, and
all other civilian R&D is collectively frozen.”

“. . . there is a business-as-usual quality to the overall
civilian R&D portfolio. As has been the case stretching back
through last year’s budget and into the Clinton years, NIH is
slated to receive most if not all of the civilian R&D
increases. But the sense of continuity – perhaps inertia is a
better word – extends beyond this persistent trend. Even the
multi-agency R&D priorities highlighted in this budget are
essentially holdovers from the Clinton budgets: anti-terrorism
R&D, networking and information technology R&D, nanotechnology
R&D, and climate change R&D. Politically unpopular cuts in
renewable energy and energy efficiency, so prominent in last
year’s submission, have disappeared. Even the Clean Coal R&D
Program, a Bush campaign promise, is paid for by other cuts in
the coal R&D portfolio. At the macro level, this is very much
a steady-as-it-goes budget submission.”

‘This is not to say, however, that storm clouds are not
lurking. Much of the civilian R&D portfolio, the budget
warns, will be subject to impending programmatic or management
reviews, or both.”

“. . .a large amount of ink is spilled in the President’s
budget asserting that management metrics were applied in
making budget allocations and promising that performance
metrics, still being developed, will be used to guide
decisions in the next budget cycle.”

“. . .despite assertions that management scores mattered, it
appears to us that the management scores had little or no
effect on what happened to a particular agency’s budget. We
wonder whether the new and still developing performance
metrics will have any greater impact.”

“Metrics have become a cloak behind which politics, both
Presidential and Congressional, can carry on as before with a
new patina of impartiality. We will track the evolution and
application of the new R&D metrics with great care, and we
hope that the science and educational communities become more
alert to the renewed push by this Administration to take a
‘business-like’ approach to science.”

“In summary, the theme for this year’s budget submission is
incremental change, but with many major programmatic changes
lurking, changes that will be justified with as-yet sketchy
and opaque management criteria.”

“. . . in this year’s submission, defense R&D would constitute
52 percent of total R&D, only the second budget (last year’s
was the first) to reverse a 15-year trend toward a greater
civilian share. The combined defense/homeland security R&D
budget is even higher – approximately 55 percent. In a time
of changing national priorities, these trends may be
appropriate. But they are worth noting and debating.”

“. . .the trend toward HHS [Department of Health and Human
Services] dominance of the civilian R&D budget continues to
grow. This is the first budget submission in which the HHS
R&D request ($27.683 billion) exceeds the R&D request of all
other Federal civilian R&D ($26.046 billion). HHS would dole
out over 60 percent of all civilian funding for basic research
in FY03.”

“. . .the five-year doubling path for NSF, started in FY01, is
officially off the rails. NSF’s R&D budget would grow from
$3.571 billion to $3.700 billion in FY03. However, $76
million of this growth is transfer of R&D programs from other
agencies, so the actual increase is $53 million, or 1.5
percent. This is a net loss for NSF, after inflation. The
story with DOE’s programs in the physical sciences is the

“The Administration has yet to explain why some cooperative
industry programs are good and some are bad. ATP [Advanced
Technology Program] and MEP [Manufacturing Extension
Partnership], for example, have received near-unanimous
positive outside reviews for effectiveness and for management,
but they apparently fail to satisfy some unstated
Administration management criteria.”


Richard M. Jones

Media and Government Relations Division

The American Institute of Physics

(301) 209-3095


SpaceRef staff editor.