Science & Technology in Congress
The President's FY 1998 budget, like the FY 1997 budget, sets out a plan to balance the federal budget by FY 2002. Outyear projections in the budget call for cuts to federal support of R&D beyond those that have already occurred in the past few years. The AAAS analysis of the President's latest balanced budget plan, released on March 24, projects a 14.0 percent cut in total R&D funding between FY 1997 and 2002, after adjusting for inflation (see table). Nondefense R&D would fall by 9.4 percent, while defense R&D would drop 17.8 percent.
The analysis shows that federal R&D would decline from $73.7 billion in FY 1997 to $72.1 billion in FY 2002, a 2.2 percent cut in nominal dollars. After taking into account expected inflation, the cut to total R&D would be 14.0 percent. Only two agencies, EPA and Commerce, would see their R&D budgets stay ahead of inflation during this time period.
The Department of Defense (DOD), which accounts for nearly half of total federal R&D, is projected to decline from an R&D budget of $37.5 billion in FY 1997 down to $35.1 billion in FY 2002. After adjusting for inflation, this represents a cut of 17.7 percent. DOD is responsible for nearly half of all federal support for mathematics, computer sciences, and engineering research at colleges and universities.
Even agencies that have fared relatively well in the past few years would decline under the President's plan. The National Institutes of Health (NIH), the largest source of federal support for basic research and the recipient of generous increases over the past few years, would lose 8.2 percent of its FY 1997 R&D budget by FY 2002. The National Science Foundation (NSF), the only federal agency with a specific mission to advance the health of the nation's scientific enterprise, would see a 7.5 percent cut in its R&D budget over the next five years.
Other agencies face even steeper cuts in the path toward a balanced budget. NASA's R&D is projected to decline by 11.9 percent between FY 1997 and 2002; the Department of Energy, which funds research on physics, energy, and the environment, would lose 15.5 percent of its R&D budget. And the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which funds research on agricultural issues at the nation's land-grant universities, would see its R&D decline by 14.9 percent.
It must be noted that this analysis presents only one possible scenario for the future of federal support of R&D. Outyear projections, whether from the Administration or Congress, have always been unreliable, and as other articles in this newsletter indicate, the President's budget plan has not been accepted on Capitol Hill. While the outlook for federal R&D has improved somewhat from the gloomy forecasts of two years ago, in part because of the continued vitality of the U.S. economy, all signs still point downward as long as both the Administration and Congress continue to press for a balanced budget through cuts in the discretionary portion of the budget, through which all federal support for R&D is funded.
AAAS Analysis of the Projected Effects of
the President's FY 1998 Budget on Federal R&D
(budget authority in millions of dollars)
|FY 1997||FY 1998||FY 1999||FY 2000||FY 2001||FY 2002||% Change FY 97-02|
|Estimate||Budget||Projected||Projected||Projected||Projected||current $||constant $|
|Total R&D (Conduct and Facilities)|
|Health & Human Services||12,920||13,226||13,272||13,321||13,369||13,416||3.8%||-8.7%|
|Nat'l Institutes of Health||12,206||12,531||12,583||12,635||12,687||12,738||4.4%||-8.2%|
|Nat'l Science Foundation||2,424||2,519||2,530||2,536||2,543||2,550||5.2%||-7.5%|
Source: AAAS analyses of defense and nondefense R&D, based on detailed budget account projections in the Public Budget Database of the Budget of the United States Government FY 1998.
|FY 1997 figures represent latest agency estimates of R&D. FY 1998 figures represent latest revised agency requests. Constant dollar conversions based on GDP deflators from OMB.|
|The two detailed analyses (one for defense R&D and one for nondefense R&D) containing agency details and methodology, and other data on federal R&D are available on the World Wide Web at http://www.aaas.org/spp/dspp/rd/rdwwwpg.htm|