|Overview of R&D Trends (continued)|
| Emerging R&D Issues
Though two among many, the issues of counter-terrorism and earmarks emerged to occupy more prominent spots on the R&D policy agenda in 2001. Interest in counter-terrorism soared after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Interest in R&D related to counter-terrorism also jumped as policymakers asked what the R&D community could do to help the nation recover from the attacks and to prevent any such future attacks. Earmarks continued to be of concern to those interested in R&D policy because of their attendant implications for the federal research budget and the practice of peer-reviewed science. This section provides a brief overview of these emerging R&D issues.
In response to the terrorist attacks of September 11 and anthrax attacks through the U.S. mail, Congress and President Bush approved $1.5 billion for terrorism-related R&D in FY 2002 appropriations, nearly triple the FY 2001 funding level. Federal counter-terrorism R&D, funded by 11 different federal agencies, increases 156.5 percent over FY 2001 to reach $1.5 billion, up from $579 million (see Table A and Figure 2). This compares with $555 million, a cut from FY 2001, that the Bush Administration requested in its FY 2002 budget proposal prepared before the September 11 attacks. Roughly half the final $1.5 billion comes from regular FY 2002 appropriations, and half from emergency appropriations out of a $40 billion post-September 11 emergency response fund.
Figure 2. (click on the image to view or download a full-page PDF version of the chart)
In August, before the September 11 terrorist attacks, OMB released its annual report to Congress on combating terrorism. Included in the report was an inventory of federal spending on R&D related to combating terrorism, including spending on R&D to defend against weapons of mass destruction. Table A shows federal funding for counter-terrorism R&D in FY 2000 and FY 2001 from that report. The FY 2002 data reflect AAAS estimates of R&D in final FY 2002 appropriations bills based on OMB data for the FY 2002 request.
Counter-terrorism R&D is part of a broader, federal effort against terrorism that totaled $10 billion in FY 2001 and may be double that amount or more in FY 2002 when all the regular and emergency appropriations are added up. It remains to be seen how much of the FY 2002 emergency R&D funding will become a more-permanent part of agencies' R&D portfolios in a longer war against terrorism, and how much will be a one-time appropriation responding to the unique circumstances of this year. The first indication of the longer-term trend in counter-terrorism R&D should be known in February 2002 with the release of the FY 2003 budget request. (For the full AAAS analysis of counter-terrorism R&D in FY 2002, please click here for the PDF report.)
In September 2001, OMB Director Mitch Daniels re-opened the R&D earmarks debate when he requested that members of the academic research community refrain from seeking earmarks as part of an Bush Administration effort to streamline federally funded research and contain overall discretionary spending. Earmarks, according to Daniels, were putting a strain on some government science budgets and forcing appropriators to forego research projects that would otherwise merit funding. This came in the wake of earlier efforts to monitor R&D earmarks and explore their implications for the practice of science. In the early 1990s, the late George E. Brown, Jr. used his position as Chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology to hold hearings on the rise of earmarks related to the performance of federally funded scientific research. At roughly the same time, the Chronicle of Higher Education initiated an annual survey tracking the incidence of academic earmarks - most of which relate to scientific research - in the federal appropriations process.
Earmarks in the R&D context raise specific concerns over the purported trade-off between scientific norms and economic necessity. Opponents point out that such earmarks reduce the overall quality of science because they circumvent the peer-review process, thereby weakening a key cornerstone of the traditional scientific ethos. Defenders of the practice, however, maintain that the pursuit of R&D earmarks is an important strategy in the effort "spread the wealth" and help smaller research institutions compete with their wealthier counterparts.
This publication takes no position on the economic, political or scientific wisdom of R&D earmarks. However, because the topic is likely to remain of interest to policymakers and members of the research community who are concerned about the allocation of R&D resources, it does offer an analysis of R&D earmarks in the FY 2002 federal appropriations process. For the purposes of this analysis, R&D earmarks are defined as "congressionally designated performer-specific R&D projects not included in agency budget requests."
Figure 3. (click on the image to view or download a full-page PDF version of the chart)
As Table B and Figure 3 show, R&D earmarks totaled $739 million in the House versions of the FY 2002 appropriations bills and $853 million in the Senate versions. In the give-and-take between the House and Senate in negotiations over the final versions of the appropriations bills, give prevailed far more than take for a result of $1.5 billion in R&D earmarks in FY 2002, providing most of what each chamber wanted. Four agencies (the U.S. Department of Agriculture ($369 million), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration ($233 million), the Department of Energy ($171 million) and the Department of Defense ($336 million)) will receive three-quarters of the total R&D earmarks.
Because an analysis of FY 2001 R&D earmarks is not available, it is unclear to what extent FY 2002 earmarks compare with FY 2001 earmarks or with FY 2001 base funding. Although subtracting R&D earmarks from FY 2002 funding reduces the increases provided by appropriators for certain R&D programs, these programs most likely received similar levels of earmarked funding in FY 2001, so most agencies are likely to have received substantial year-to-year gains in non-earmarked funding.(For the full AAAS analysis of R&D earmarks in FY 2002, please click here for the PDF report.)