FY 1998 APPROPRIATIONS
Funding for science and technology fared well in 1997, benefiting from increases in discretionary spending accounts in FY 1998. Although the balanced budget agreement calls for cuts beginning in the year 2000, discretionary spending, the portion of the budget which funds R&D, was given a greater level of flexibility in 1998 and 1999. This allowed R&D agencies to enjoy increases well above FY 1997 levels as well as increases above the Presidentís request. Below is a summary of the FY 1998 final appropriations for the relevant R&D agencies.
Department of Commerce
In an unexpected windfall, Commerce's R&D programs total $1.1 billion in FY 1998, a full $145 million or 14.8 percent above the FY 1997 level. Commerce thus received the largest percentage increase among all R&D funding agencies, because of substantial increases for both the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).
NOAA's R&D totals $613 million in FY 1998, an increase of $51 million or 9.0 percent over FY 1997. Concern over El Niño and pfiesteria (a fish-killing microbe affecting the Chesapeake Bay) helped to bring about this increase, although there were expressions of support and additional funds for a wide range of NOAA's research activities in marine resources, fisheries, oceanic and atmospheric research, and weather forecasting. What may be more responsible for the large increase, however, were numerous last-minute additions of congressionally designated projects.
NIST's R&D totals $504 million in FY 1998, a large increase of $93 million or 22.5 percent over FY 1997. The total NIST budget is $673 million. Much of the increase is due to a $95 million appropriation to fund construction and renovation of NIST R&D facilities in Colorado and Maryland. NIST has been requesting funds to upgrade its aging facilities for the past few years, but Congress had been reluctant to commit funds without a detailed renovation plan. In the FY 1998 budget process, Congress changed its mind and funded far more than the request of $17 million. Most of the appropriation, however, is contingent upon NIST submitting a detailed plan on construction and renovation needs for its facilities by spring 1998.
The controversial NIST Advanced Technology Program (ATP) grants received $182 million for R&D, a cut of 10.3 percent, or $21 million, from FY 1997, and $79 million below the Presidentís request. In 1997, the Secretary of Commerce announced a set of reforms that would focus the program on providing grants to small firms and projects involving two or more companies. Although the program is still opposed by many on Capitol Hill, the FY 1998 appropriation is an improvement over budget plans in the 104th Congress, which called for ATP's elimination.
NIST's intramural laboratory program received $227 million for R&D in FY 1998, an increase of $7 million or 1.1 percent over last year. The Technology Administration in Commerce, which oversees NIST, received $1.6 million to initiate an Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Technology (EPSCoT) that would help stimulate commercial technology development in states traditionally underrepresented in federal R&D funding. This program would be modeled after NSF's Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR).
Department of Defense (DOD)
Early in October, Congress approved a budget for DOD, which includes $38.1 billion for R&D, up 2.8 percent from FY 1997. This amount is above the Presidentís budget request, and marks the second year in a row that the increase in DOD's R&D funds outpaces the current inflation rate of 2.5 percent.
However, funding for DODís basic research accounts is down by 1.2 percent from FY 1997, declining to $1.1 billion. Funds from these "6.1" accounts make up half of DODís support for academic research particularly in the fields of mathematics, computer science, and engineering. Most of the remainder comes from the "6.2" account, for applied research by universities, labs, and industry. The "6.2" accounts will see a 7.0 percent increase in FY 1998, to $3.1 billion.
The Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO) received $704 million more than the Presidentís request, placing its budget for FY 1998 at $3.3 billion, the same as FY 1997. Nearly $1 billion is intended for national missile defense systems, which would protect the United States against nuclear attack. The remainder of BMDO's budget goes to battlefield missile defenses and support technologies.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has an FY 1998 budget of $2.1 billion, approximately the same as FY 1997. DARPA's share of the new, multi-agency Next Generation Internet (NGI) program is $42 million, $2 million more than the request. This appropriation makes DARPA the lead agency in NGI, followed by the National Science Foundation's $23 million share. DARPA's program on biological warfare defense is funded at $60 million for its first year as a separate program, slightly less than the request. Congress cut the President's request of $225 million for the Dual Use Applications Program down to $125 million, reflecting doubts about the value of the program.
Department of Energy (DOE)
DOEís R&D budget for FY 1998 has been set at $6.3 billion, up 3.1 percent from last year. The Departmentís total budget is $16.7 billion, an increase of 1.5 percent. Congress rejected the Presidentís request for nearly $1 billion to fund DOE construction activities through 1999 and beyond, preferring instead to appropriate the funds on a year-by-year basis.
Congress increased funding for DOEís defense-related R&D to $3.0 billion, a $177 million, or 6.4 percent, increase. The Stockpile Stewardship program is at the core of DOE's effort to use science instead of underground testing to maintain the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile, and received $1.9 billion, a jump of 12.7 percent. Within this program, Congress boosted funding for the Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative (ASCI) from $152 million to $225 million. ASCI is an effort to develop dramatic increases in computing power and speed to enable the modeling of nuclear explosions.
DOE received $217 million for defense-related research on inertial confinement fusion, an alternative to magnetic fusion, which is expected to yield insights into the physics of nuclear weapons. As part of this program, Congress also approved a separate $198 million for the FY 1998 construction costs of the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. NIF, which will be the world's largest laser, is expected to provide modeling capabilities for nuclear explosions. The appropriation assumes that construction will proceed despite several court challenges to the project.
Programs in High Energy Physics and Nuclear Physics see a slight increase over FY 1997. The appropriation of $1.0 billion is slightly above the current year funding level of $986 million. The appropriation allows for U.S. participation in the Large Hadron Collider, a multi-billion dollar project to be built in Switzerland by a consortium of nations. Congress came through with funds for the project after DOE renegotiated the agreement for U.S. participation in order to assuage congressional concerns.
Energy Supply R&D funding increases by 3.3 percent to $1.8 billion in FY 1998. After sharp cuts over the past three years, Congress added funds for Solar and Renewable Energy R&D (up 15.6 percent to $276 million). Magnetic Fusion received $232 million, which is slightly more than the Presidentís request. Within Fusion, $55 million would allow for the final payment on the design and engineering activities of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), an international fusion project to be built at an as-yet undetermined site. Basic Energy Sciences received a 4.4 percent increase to $668 million, while Biological and Environmental Research (BER) jumps 6.4 percent to $407 million. BER funds the DOE contribution to the multi-agency Human Genome Project.
The Energy Conservation and Fossil Energy programs, both received increased funding. Energy Conservation R&D would jump ten percent to $356 million. Congress expressed support for a wide variety of energy conservation technologies and research topics. Fossil Energy R&D would receive $281 million, up slightly from last year but well below the $300 million-plus funding levels of the early to mid 1990s.
The final appropriations bills prohibit using federal funds to reopen the High Flux Beam Reactor at Brookhaven National Laboratory. Congress also did not provide the $35 million request within the Computational and Technology Research account for the multi-agency Next Generation Internet initiative (NSF and DOD are other major agency partners).
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
In response to the growing demand for environmental research data, EPAís R&D budget leapt by 14.2 percent from FY 1997 to $618 million in FY 1998. EPAís total FY 1998 budget amounts to $7.4 billion, an 8.3 percent increase.
In 1997, EPA established stricter standards for atmospheric concentrations of particulate matter. This move aroused concern on Capitol Hill that existing research did not justify the new restrictions. In the FY 1998 appropriations, Congress proclaimed that the next five years will be a time to conduct an extensive long-term, merit-reviewed particulate matter research program to better advise future policy decisions. As a first step $50 million have been set specifically for particulate matter research. This includes funds for the National Academy of Sciences to develop a comprehensive research plan and funds for the creation of five university-based research centers.
Congress appropriated increases for research on specific areas, including pfiesteria, oil spill remediation, and urban waste management. The decade-old Superfund Basic Research Program on the human health effects of hazardous substances is receiving $35 million, up from $31 million in FY 1997. This program, funded out of the Superfund account, involves 70 academic institutions across the nation and is administered by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, a unit of the National Institutes of Health.
In the FY 1998 budget request, EPA announced plans to boost its university-based research by 20 percent to $186 million. Although the final distribution of funds will not be clear for some time, the FY 1998 appropriation should allow an even greater expansion.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
NASAís FY 1998 budget has been set at $13.6 billion, slightly less than the FY 1997 funding level but $148 million more than the Presidentís request. Because most of the cuts are concentrated in NASA's non-R&D activities, including the Space Shuttle, NASA R&D, which accounts for two-thirds of the agency's budget, received an increase, totaling $9.8 billion in FY 1998. This is a 5.3 percent or $503 million increase over FY 1997.
The Science, Aeronautics and Technology account received $5.7 billion, a 4.2 percent increase. Academic Programs received $132 million, $35 million more than the $96 million request because of a number of congressionally designated science centers and education projects. Space Science, the program responsible for the headline-making Mars Pathfinder and Mars Surveyor missions, received $2.0 billion, 2.6 percent more than FY 1997. FY 1998 will see continued transmission of data from the Mars missions and preparations for the launch of the next Mars probes in fall 1998. Space Science also funds Cassini, a Saturn mission that launched in October. Cassini should arrive at Saturn in 2004, and its funding is due to drop from $90 million last year to only $9 million in FY 1998. Mission to Planet Earth received $1.4 billion, a 4.4 percent increase. Although Life and Microgravity Sciences funding fell 10.1 percent to $219 million, NASA explains that these cuts are due to balances left over from previous years, allowing for a steady funding stream in FY 1998.
Funding for Aeronautics and Space Transportation Technology within SAT climbed by 11.3 percent to $1.5 billion in FY 1998. NASA plans to ramp up its efforts in Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) technology development in FY 1998; the X-33, a Lockheed Martin-led project scheduled for its first flight in early 1999, would receive $334 million, a 35 percent boost over FY 1997.
Most of NASA's research (as opposed to development) is funded through SAT. NASA is the leading federal sponsor of environmental sciences research, accounting for one-third of total federal support; the second-largest federal sponsor of engineering research, with one-third of total federal support; and the leading federal sponsor of astronomy research, accounting for three-quarters of all federal support.
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
NIH, the largest federal sponsor of non-defense research, will receive $13.6 billion in FY 1998, up 7.1 percent ($907 million) over FY 1997, and $570 million more than the Presidentís budget request. Every institute received an increase of at least 6 percent over FY 1997. The National Human Genome Research Institute, the lead federal agency in the Human Genome Project, received $218 million, a 15.2 percent jump from last year's budget.
The Office of the Director also received an increase. Its FY 1998 budget rose by 2.6 percent from the previous year to $296 million. This number includes $20 million in funds for the Office of Alternative Medicine, up sharply from the $12 million the office received in FY 1997. The Office of AIDS Research, which is also within the Office of the Director, was granted $41 million by Congress to perform its role of coordinating AIDS research throughout NIH. Congress once again chose not to earmark funds for AIDS research in a centralized account as the President had requested, but instead gave AIDS funds directly to the institutes. Congress estimates that its appropriations to the institutes should be sufficient to allow $1.6 billion for AIDS research in FY 1998, which is an increase of 6.3 percent over FY 1997.
Congress resisted the calls of interest groups to earmark funds for investigating specific diseases, choosing instead to support NIHís own procedures for determining promising research areas. The final appropriations bill, however, urges NIH to address perceived imbalances in its allocation of resources and offers several suggestions, including a proposal for a $100 million Parkinsonís disease research effort.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) receive their funding in the same Labor and Health and Human Services (HHS) bill that funds NIH. Like NIH, CDC received a substantial increase, rising by 6.6 percent from last year to $369 million. The Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR), also funded in the Labor HHS bill, saw its funds cut by 6 percent from FY 1997, dropping to $90 million dollars. AHCPR funds research on health care outcomes and health policy related questions.
National Science Foundation (NSF)
In a strong show of support for fundamental research, Congress gave NSF a budget of $3.4 billion in FY 1998, 4.9 percent or $159 million more than FY 1997. Subtracting funds for education, training, overhead, and other non-R&D programs, the NSF R&D budget totals $2.6 billion, a 6.1 percent increase. These funds support basic and applied research across a broad range of disciplines.
The Research and Related Activities account, which primarily funds extramural research grants, including a large share of federal funding for basic research in the nation's colleges and universities, received $2.5 billion, 4.7 percent more than FY 1997. The Computer Information Science and Engineering (CISE) Directorate received $293 million, 7.2 percent more than FY 1997. In addition, CISE is authorized to spend up to $23 million in receipts from Internet domain-name registration fees on the Next Generation Internet initiative.
The largest increase among the directorates went to the Biological Sciences Directorate, up $49 million from FY 1997 to $370 million. $40 million of this increase is designated for a new, congressionally initiated, merit-reviewed plant genome research program. The program will focus on sequencing plant genomes, and is expected to result in applications for the agricultural biotechnology industry.
NSF received $109 million for its Major Research Equipment account in order to maintain, renovate, and build major research facilities, a 36 percent increase over last year. $70 million from these funds are for two years' worth of renovations to the South Pole Station and other research facilities in Antarctica, as recommended by the U.S. Antarctic Program External Panel in April. NSF will also be funding construction of the Millimeter Array, the Gemini Telescopes, and the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO). Congress decided not to fund the Presidentís $25 million request for the Polar Cap Observatory, instead instructing NSF to provide a detailed scientific justification for the project and a full analysis of alternatives to the currently proposed site in the Northwest Territories, Canada.
Kei Koizumi, of the AAAS R&D Budget and Policy
Project, contributed to this article. For continually updated information
on the R&D budget, visit http://www.aaas.org/spp/dspp/rd/rdwwwpg.htm.