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AAAS Finds U.S. R&D Agencies Face Deep Long-Term Cuts in Non-Defense Spending
A new AAAS analysis of out-year projections in President George W. Bush’s 2007 budget proposal finds that most federal agencies would face real cuts of as much as 30 per cent in their research and development budgets over the next five years.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) R&D budget would decline every year to 2010 before rebounding slightly in 2011, according to Kei Koizumi, the director of AAAS's R&D Budget and Policy Program. In all, NIH's R&D would fall 12.1 percent in real terms between 2006 and 2011, he said. Pentagon R&D would fall 11.6 percent below the current budget, after inflation, by 2011.
The R&D budgets for most non-defense agencies are projected to drop between 10 and 30 percent over the next five years, according to Koizumi's analysis. However, the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy (DoE) Office of Science and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are expected to receive substantial increases through 2011 as part of the president's proposed American Competitiveness Initiative.
While the overall federal R& D investment would increase to nearly $137 billionor $2.4 billion above current spendingin fiscal year 2007 under the administration's budget proposal, development of weapons and space vehicles would take up that increase and more. Funding for the remainder of the R&D portfolio would fall, according to Koizumi, even when spending for the new competitiveness initiative is taken into account.
Koizumi presented his updated R&D analysis at a 9 March luncheon briefing on Capitol Hill organized by AAAS's Center for Science, Technology, and Congress in conjunction with the Congressional R&D Caucus.
U.S. Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.), co-chair of the Congressional R&D Caucus, said she is pleased that President Bush is seeking a doubling of basic research spending in the physical sciences over the next decade. She noted particularly his request for substantial new funding for the DoE Office of Science. With the department’s Argonne National Laboratory in her district, Biggert has been a strong advocate for increasing the office’s budget.
While the National Institutes of Health budget would remain flat at $28.6 billion in 2007 under Bush's budget proposal, Biggert said the agency has done well in recent years. “Let's not forget that Congress doubled [NIH's] budget between 1998 and 2003,” she said. “The time has come for the President and Congress to make funding for the physical sciences a priority.” To advance U.S. strength in innovation, she advocates more research on nanotechnology, materials science and supercomputing, among other things.
Albert H. Teich, director of Science and Policy at AAAS, told the gathering of about 130 congressional staffers and others that, except for a few programs such as the DOE’s Office of Science, it is not clear that the administration’s “excitement about innovation has been matched by budget initiatives.”
Federal support of research (excluding development programs such those for Pentagon weapons systems) peaked in 2004, according to Koizumi, and would continue to decline in 2007. Steep current-dollar cuts in research programs at NASA, the Defense Department and other agencies, along with inflation-adjusted cuts at NIH, would more than offset the proposed gains in NSF and Department of Energy research, he said. Even the physical sciences are likely to experience an overall decline.
The proposed 2007 budget would leave the federal research portfolio 8 per cent below the 2004 level in inflation-adjusted dollars. “Looking to the future, the Bush Administration’s five-year budget plans show that in the push to reduce budget deficits primarily through cuts in discretionary spending, all R&D funding agencies except NASA, NSF, NIST and DoE Science would see their budgets decline in real terms over the next five years,” Koizumi’s analysis finds.
In addition to the administration’s new competitiveness initiative, there have been nearly a dozen innovation-related bills introduced in Congress. They seek to address growing concerns about the state of U.S. innovation and the nation’s competitiveness in a global economy.
According to 2004 data, the latest available, the United States still accounts for 38 per cent of the world’s R&D spending when both federal and non-federal investments are combined. Japan is second with 13 per cent of world R&D. China is third with 12 percent, up dramatically in the past decade. The U.S. share of world R&D has declined only slightly over that same period. But a significant chunk of its R&D spending is on the military, with relatively little impact on the civilian economy and U.S. industrial competitiveness, according to Koizumi. Other nations, notably Germany and Japan, devote only a small part of their R&D resources to defense.
To see Koizumi's budget analysis, click here.
A book-length report on the FY 2007 R&D budget by analysts from AAAS and other organizations will be released at the 31st annual AAAS Forum on Science and Technology Policy on April 20-21 at the Washington Court Hotel in Washington, D.C. For more information on the forum and to register to attend, click here.
10 March 2006