On June 22, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved
its FY 2001 Interior appropriations bill, which provides funding for
R&D in the Department of the Interior. The bill goes to the Senate
floor shortly. The Senate bill would provide $571 million for Interior
R&D, a slight drop of 0.3 percent or $2 million from FY 2000 because
of restrictive spending targets for the overall bill (see Table).
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) requested a 7 percent increase for
its R&D programs, but the Senate would allocate a smaller 3.7 percent
increase to $520 million. The full House approved its version of the
Interior bill on June 14. The House would provide considerably less
for Interior R&D than the Senate ($549 million), including a cut
in USGS R&D to $499 million, $21 million less than the Senate. (For
details of House appropriations for Interior R&D, please see the
June 2 AAAS R&D Funding Update.)
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is the primary sponsor
of R&D in Interior. Its total Senate appropriation is $848 million,
$47 million less than the request but $34 million or 4.2 percent above
FY 2000 (see Table). The President's request
singled out USGS as a high priority in the Interior budget and asked
for a nearly 10 percent increase for the USGS budget and a 7.3 percent
increase for its R&D, which accounts for nearly two-thirds of the
USGS budget. USGS R&D would total $520 million in the Senate plan,
3.7 percent above FY 2000. While the Senate was unable to meet the full
USGS request because the overall Interior bill falls nearly $1 billion
below the President's request, the Senate would be more generous than
the House, which would provide only $817 million for USGS, barely above
FY 2000, and would cut USGS R&D.
The request proposed to boost the USGS budget especially
in the areas of geographic and biological research, with a focus on
improving USGS contributions to the science needs of Interior's land
and resource management bureaus. The Senate appropriation should allow
for these expanded efforts, though not on the scale envisioned by USGS.
The national mapping R&D program would receive a substantial increase
of $7 million to $30 million, mostly because of a proposed shift from
non-R&D activities to R&D within a flat total mapping budget.
R&D in the other USGS bureaus would also increase, though by smaller
USGS is one of the leading federal sponsors of earth
sciences research, along with the Department of Energy, the National
Science Foundation, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Within the earth sciences, USGS is particularly important in geological
hazards research, including research on earthquakes and volcanoes. USGS
is also a leading sponsor of water resources research and biological
research, both of which would increase slightly in the Senate bill and
decline in the House bill. Most of this research is conducted within
Interior labs to address the science needs of Interior's other agencies,
such as the Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Land Management.
If the Senate funding levels for R&D are enacted,
Interior's R&D would fall again in inflation-adjusted terms because
the Senate increases for USGS would be offset by requested cuts in R&D
in the Minerals Management Service. Interior's R&D has declined
sharply since FY 1994, primarily because of the elimination of the Bureau
of Mines in FY 1996 and the merging of the National Biological Service
into USGS, but also because of a gradual erosion in purchasing power
due to several years of budget cuts beginning in the mid-1990s. The
FY 2001 House and Senate funding levels would be nearly a third below
the peak FY 1994 funding level.
The Interior bill now moves to the Senate floor, but
it is expected to draw a veto threat from President Clinton because
it falls so far short of his proposed funding levels.
- June 27, 2000
AAAS R&D Budget and Policy Program
American Association for the Advancement of Science
1200 New York Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20005