Rarely has the start of a budget cycle been so confusing. The long- feared failure to complete the FY 2003 budget before the release of the FY 2004 request has been realized. The resulting stalemate has forced the Office of Management and Budget to use, as a baseline for the FY 2004 budget request, numbers that are a year old, which in many cases may be greatly divergent from the final outcome.
Eleven of the thirteen appropriations bills for the year that began last October 1 remain in limbo. While congressional leaders are working to find a solution to this impasse, others are warning that without concessions on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, Congress will be forced to give up and move on to the FY 2004 request. The result would be a continuation of FY 2002 funding until the beginning of October. Congress will try again next week to complete the FY 2003 budget.
"Baseline" is a word that has been much spoken over the last week, referring to the number that is used for comparison with the various FY 2004 program requests. The Office of Management and Budget's baseline is the amount that the Administration requested a year ago. All readily admit that these baselines are unrealistic, since they are unlikely, in many cases, to be close to the final FY 2003 appropriations.
The Office of Management and Budget has prepared a special analysis of the President's FY 2004 R&D request, available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/fy2004/pdf/spec.pdf. Selections from this analysis follow, using the "Federal Science and Technology Budget" classification that accounts for almost all federal basic research, greater than 80% of federal applied research, and approximately one-half of civilian development. Percentage changes shown are based on the President's FY 2003 request made a year ago.
Commerce NIST: -12%
Commerce NOAA: +26%
Defense Basic Research: -8% (Note: based on actual current budget)
Defense Applied Research: -14% (Note: based on actual current budget)
Department of Energy Science Programs: +2%
Interior USGS: +3%
NASA Space Science: +17%
NASA Earth Science: -5%
NASA Biological and Physical Research: +16%
National Institutes of Health: +2%
National Science Foundation: +9%
A future FYI will contain excerpts from this document regarding Research and Development. Forthcoming FYIs will summarize the Administration's request for DOD, Department of Education, DOE, NASA, NIBIB, NIST, NSF, and USGS.