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AAAS Publication Reports Record Federal Funding for R&D
In FY 2001, the federal government is devoting more than $90 billion to research and development programs -- a record increase -- but that information is not easily available.
"You have to review 13 appropriations bills, and then you have to figure out the research and development pieces for more than two dozen agency budgets," says Kei Koizumi, director of AAAS's R&D Budget and Policy Program ( www.aaas.org/spp/R&D).
Fortunately for anyone interested in finding out how much the federal government spends on R&D, Koizumi's job is to gather that information. The result of his work is contained in a just-published purple booklet entitled, "Congressional Action on Research & Development in the FY 2001 Budget." (www.aaas.org/spp/dspp/rd/ca01main.htm)
The report notes that the 106th Congress increased funds for R&D by 9.1 percent over the year before, far exceeding President Clinton's original request of $85.4 billion, and granting most agencies more than they had originally requested.
AAAS began publishing budget numbers for R&D in 1976, according to Al Teich, head of AAAS's Directorate for Science and Policy Programs,which publishes the report and two other accompanying documents. "The AAAS board felt at the time that scientists did not understand the federal budget process," Teich said. "The budget process is how research priorities get set. We thought that by introducing scientists to this process, we could help them to participate in the debates over what should be funded."
Teich's division publishes two other documents that are companions to the final budget report. The first contains an analysis of the R&D components in the President's budget request to Congress every year, and the second is published after the Directorate for Science and Policy's yearly colloquium on science and technology policy which includes the speeches given at the colloquium, as well as recent papers that address relevant policy issues. The latest edition of this publication, the Science and Technology Policy Yearbook 2001, will be published on February 16. It includes current major science and technology (S&T) papers and the proceedings of the April 2000 S&T Policy Colloquium.
"We give you the whole picture," Teich said. "The President's proposal is only half the story. In our Congressional Action report, we tell you what happens at the end of the process, and with the advent of the Internet, we've begun using our Web pages to provide an account of what's happening in Congress as the year progresses."
According to this year's R&D report, Congress increased funding for non-defense R&D by more than 11 percent to $45.3 billion. R&D funding for defense increased by 7 percent to $45.5 billion, "bringing defense and non-defense R&D near parity for the first time in 20 years," according to the report's authors. Funding for basic research is expected to total $21.2 billion, an increase of 11.8 percent. Non-defense R&D had increased steadily in recent years, the report notes, but most of that increase had been in the budget of the National Institutes of Health. FY 2001 is the first time in many years that the budgets of "non-NIH, non-defense agencies" have seen significant increases, the report said.
Despite the seemingly confusing way R&D is funded, Koizumi notes that spreading funds around to many agencies has served the nation well.
"Most science policy observers are happy to have R&D funds tied to the missions of the agencies that administer those funds," Koizumi says. "It gives scientists a wide variety of funding sources for their work, but it does make it hard to make decisions about the R&D system because there is little centralized coordination in the government."
Who reads the budget report? "Washington representatives of our various affiliates, university researchers and administrators, federal lab staff, industry representatives and Washington-based science attaches from other countries," Koizumi said. "And also, staff on the Hill, because we show them the big picture, which Congress is not necessarily thinking about when they pass legislation."
-- Coimbra Sirica