Status Report

AIP FYI #55: Two Perspectives: the Bush Administration and S&T Funding

By SpaceRef Editor
April 29, 2004
Filed under , ,

“Science policy entails more than setting budgets, but that is a
major bottom line of the policy process.”- OSTP Director John

Last week’s 29th Annual AAAS Forum on Science and Technology Policy
opened with two divergent views of the Bush Administration’s funding
of science and technology. The keynote speaker was John Marburger,
Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology
Policy. He was followed by Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle
(D-SC). While the speakers agreed on the importance of science and
technology to the nation, they had different perspectives on the
Administration’s funding of science and technology. Selections
from their addresses on funding issues follow. Several other issues
were discussed; the full text of their remarks (with a series of
charts that Marburger referred to in his presentation) can be
accessed at

In viewing the recent funding of federal science and technology,
the often-repeated phrase is relevant: “The President proposes, and
the Congress disposes.” As Marburger stated, “I do want to
acknowledge that Congress has treated science well in its
appropriations . . . .”


“President Bush has made it abundantly clear that his budget
priorities have been to protect the nation, secure the homeland, and
revitalize the economy. His budget proposals to Congress are in line
with vigorous actions in each category. Increases in expenditures
for homeland security, in particular have dominated changes in the
discretionary budget during this Administration, and we have seen
the emergence of a significant new science and technology agency
within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The current budget
proposal for the DHS Science and Technology function is $1.2
billion, with an estimated total of $3.6 billion in homeland
security related R&D in all agencies. The science and engineering
communities exerted a significant influence on the structure of the
new department, particularly through the National Research Council
report ‘Making the Nation Safer.’

“Each of the three overarching Presidential priorities has strong
science and technology components. The President has sought, and
Congress has appropriated, substantial increases in Research and
Development budgets not only for homeland security, but also for
defense and for key areas of science and technology related to long
term economic strength.”

“R&D expenditures in this Administration are up 44% over the past
four years to a record $132 billion proposed for 2005 compared to
$91 billion in FY 2001, and the non-defense share is up 26%. The
President’s FY2005 Federal R&D budget request is the greatest share
of GDP in over 10 years, and its share of the domestic discretionary
budget, at 13.5% is the highest level in 37 years. Non-defense R&D
funding is the highest percentage of GDP since 1982. Total U.S. R&D
expenditures, including the private sector was at 2.65% of GDP in
2002, the most recent year for which I have data. I suspect it is
above that today. Its historical high was 2.87% in 1964 as NASA was
ramping up for the Apollo program.”

“The FY 2005 request commits 5.7% of total discretionary outlays to
non-defense R&D, the third highest level in the past 25 years.

“While the President has proposed to reduce the overall growth in
non-defense, non-homeland security spending to 0.5% this year to
address overall budget pressures, his budget expresses a commitment
to “non-security” science with a considerably higher growth rate at

“During the current Administration, funding for basic research has
increased 26% to an all-time high of $26.8 billion in the FY 2005
budget request.”

“What Congress will do with the Presidential requests for science .
.. . is at this point an open question. I do want to acknowledge that
Congress has treated science well in its appropriations, and the
good figures for science during this Administration represent a
strong consensus between the Legislative and Executive branches that
science is important to our nation’s future.

“As I emphasized in 2002, priorities for these large expenditures
respond to two important phenomena that have shaped the course of
society and are affecting the relationship of society to science,
namely the rapid growth of technology, particularly information
technology, as the basis for a global economy, and the emergence of
terrorism as a destabilizing movement of global consequence.”
Later, in a section entitled “Priority Highlights,” Marburger cited
the following:

Health Sciences “Funding during these four years to NIH has
increased more than 40%, to $28.6 billion. In response to this
unprecedented National commitment, NIH as a whole has adopted an
important new roadmap for transforming new knowledge from its
research programs into tangible benefits for society. Emerging
interdisciplinary issues such as nutrition and aging together with
revolutionary capabilities for understanding the molecular origins
of disease, health, and biological function will continue to drive
change within NIH.

National Science Foundation ” In four years the NSF budget has
increased 30% over FY 2001 to $5.7 billion. Much of this funding has
gone to enhance the physical sciences and mathematics programs,
where advances often provide the foundation for achievements in
other areas, as well as increases to the social sciences and to the
NSF education programs.

“NASA has increased 13%, largely for exploration science that will
spur new discoveries, enhance technology development, and excite the
next generation of scientists and engineers.”

“DOE Science and technology programs have increased 10%, in such
important areas as basic physical science and advanced computing. As
the agency sponsoring the largest share of physical science, DOE’s
Office of Science is increasingly viewed as a high leverage area for
investment. DOE has engaged in years of intense planning,
culminating recently in a multi-year facilities roadmap that assigns
specific priorities to a spectrum of new projects.

Energy and Environment “This Administration is investing heavily
in technologies for producing and using energy in environmentally
friendly ways, from shorter term demonstration projects for
carbon-free power plants, to the very long term promise of nuclear
fusion for clean, scalable power generation. In the intermediate
term, technologies associated with the use of hydrogen as a medium
for energy transport and storage are receiving a great deal of
attention, not only in the U.S. but internationally. The President’s
Hydrogen Fuel initiative is a $1.2 billion, five-year program aimed
at developing the fuel cell and hydrogen infrastructure technologies
needed to make pollution-free hydrogen fuel cell cars widely
available by 2020.”


“Regrettably, rather than strengthening this [government – science]
partnership, I fear that the Bush Administration has allowed it to
erode in two critical ways. First, the Administration is abdicating
its responsibility to provide scientists with the funding
cutting-edge research demands. As you know, the federal government
has seen its R&D investments steadily decline as a share of the U.S.
economy, bringing the federal investment down to levels not seen
since the mid-60s. Public-sector investments in advanced research
have declined sharply, relative to our economic growth rate, and
barely kept pace with inflation. This year, federal funding for
research is set to increase 4.7 percent. However, the entire
increase would go to the Departments of Defense and Homeland
Security for the development of weapons systems and counterterrorism
technology. Make no mistake, these are necessary investments that
will make our nation safer. But the remaining federal R&D budget
that supports research into health, environmental, biological, and
other sciences, will all see funding reduced.

“In my home state of South Dakota, for instance, the Earth Research
Observation System is facing the possibility of deep cuts in staff
due to cuts to their budget. Their work helps us become more
responsible stewards of the environment, while increasing the yields
of farmers all over the world. And yet, this work is endangered due
to draconian budget cuts.”

“But we should be honest with ourselves. Outside the scientific
community, there is no hue and cry for more government funding of
R&D . There is no widespread public outrage when the Administration
disregards the unequivocal judgment of the scientific community. And
it’s unlikely that the science gap growing between the United States
and other developed nations will become a major issue in the
upcoming Presidential campaign.

“This represents a failure on our part. We have not done enough to
show the American people the connection between the work underway in
your laboratories and the problems that affect their lives. This
must change. The stakes simply could not be higher. What future
challenge will we fail to meet because America’s scientists were not
given the tools they need to discover new answers to old questions?
When rumors of a Nazi bomb program reached President Roosevelt, he
said simply, ‘Whatever the enemy may be planning, American science
will be equal to the challenge.’ Will future presidents be able to
speak with such confidence?”

Richard M. Jones

Media and Government Relations Division

The American Institute of Physics

(301) 209-3094

SpaceRef staff editor.