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AAAS budget expert projects broad cuts in federal research and development
Federal research and development funding is facing sharp reductions, with Congress considering cuts for the 2005 budget year and the administration of President George W. Bush already planning for cuts in nearly all federal R&D programs outside defense, space and homeland security in 2006, AAAS's top budget researcher reports.
The controversial U.S. missile defense system appears to a crucial exception to the trend, with both House and Senate budget authorization bills projecting an 18 percent increase for the Missile Defense Agency in preparation for deployment of the system in 2005, according to a new report by Kei Koizumi, director of the AAAS R&D Budget and Policy Program.
That would help push the overall Department of Defense R&D spending up by about 5 percent to more than $69 billiona record level, when adjusted for inflation. But the Defense budget for basic and applied research would decline in both the House and Senate bills, though the cuts would be smaller than those proposed by the Pentagon.
With the beginning of the Congressional appropriations process for 2005, the AAAS R&D web site will feature a continually updated page on the status of appropriations. The page will track the progress of R&D in the FY 2005 appropriations process, and offer highlights of recent federal budget news and links to the latest AAAS R&D budget updates. All of the proposals from Congress and the White House are still subject to negotiation before a final budget is approved.
"Even as Congress is considering 2005 funding cuts, the Executive Branch is already thinking about the 2006 budget if President Bush is re-electedand it's thinking about making even steeper cuts than the cuts that are now on the table," Koizumi said. "What that means is that agencies like the National Institutes for Health and the National Science Foundation will be able to fund far fewer applications. Success rates for applications, which have already been trending downward, would go down still further."
The 2005 Defense Department budget proposals are emerging at a time of unprecedented federal budget deficits, and efforts to reduce the shortfall are already being reflected in long-term budget planning.
The Pentagon's five-year budget plans call for steep cuts in science and technology investments. Pentagon budget planners say the investments will fall through FY 2006 and rise only modestly thereafter, ending up at $11.2 billion in FY 2009, 18 percent below this year's funding level after adjusting for inflation.
The Department of Defense is by far the largest supporter of research and development in the federal government, accounting for more than half the total federal R&D portfolio. DOD supports 37 percent of all federal research in the computer sciences and 44 percent of all engineering research, as well as significant shares of research in mathematics and oceanography. Its impact is even greater in such areas as electrical engineering and mechanical engineering.
More broadly, the administration of President George W. Bush has made clear that if he is re-elected in November, nearly all federal R&D programs outside the priority areas of defense, space, and homeland security would see their budgets cut in the fiscal year beginning October 1, 2005.
Under Administration plans for the Department of Energy, fossil energy R&D would fall 22 percent and energy conservation would fall by 26 percent by FY 2009, according to AAAS's annual R&D report, which was released in April. At the Department of Agriculture, in-house research would decline by 19 percent and external research grants would sustain a 28 percent cut. At the Department of Commerce, the Bush Administration would eliminate the Advanced Technology Program; it would cut the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration R&D budget by 10.5 percent and the National Institute of Standards and Technology by 17.3 percent.
AAAS began tracking federal research and development spending in 1976, and publishes an annual report on government R&D budgets. That report, published each April, is considered the most authoritative study of its kind.
Edward W. Lempinen
9 June 2004