FY 1996 Budget Request: Gibbons Reviews Science & Technology

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Publication date: 
8 February 1995
Number: 
21

With the release of the $1.6 trillion budget request on February 6,
the Clinton Administration made known its plans and priorities for
fiscal year 1996.  At a briefing in the Old Executive Office
Building, Presidential Science Advisor Jack Gibbons discussed
science and technology in the request.  The Administration has two
overarching budget objectives, which Gibbons termed "following a
two-fold way:" reducing the deficit and investing for the future.
While the budget requires deep cuts in many budget areas, Gibbons
said, it also "reflects the President's commitment to investing in
science and technology and education."

The budget request supports both basic, fundamental science (which
Gibbons said had "the highest rate of total return of any federal
investment") and partnerships with industry to foster applied
technologies.  According to Gibbons, total federal support for
research and development "increases very slightly, . . . despite
the downward motion" of the rest of the discretionary budget. (The
budget comprises discretionary and mandatory spending and interest
on the national debt.)  He provided the following highlights from
the budget request:

Basic research would receive the largest percentage increase in the
science and technology budget, rising 3.5 percent.  This growth
"has not been easy to achieve," Gibbons noted, because one-third of
basic research is performed in the mission agencies, which "are
under heavy pressure for downsizing."  Support for academic R&D
would increase by 7 percent.  Research and related activities at
NSF would grow by 8 percent, Gibbons said, "in order to refocus on
this investment in fundamental research."

Government partnerships with industry to support applied
technologies would also be increased.  NIST's Advanced Technology
Program would grow by 14 percent, DOE's cooperative R&D agreements
by 8 percent, and DOD's Technology Reinvestment Program by 13
percent.  Gibbons predicted "an intensive dialogue" with Congress
on these programs, which some Republicans have criticized as
"industrial policy.".

Other science and technology programs to receive emphasis from the
Administration include high performance computing and information
technologies, education and training, health and food research,
environmental protection, national security, and international
stability.  Gibbons also highlighted an effort to have more federal
research programs submit to a merit review process.

In response to the budget request, House Science Committee Ranking
Minority Member George Brown (D-CA) stated that "the outlook for
science and technology programs remains grim."  Brown reported that
the federal R&D budget, totalling $72.9 billion, "represents a real
decline of 3 percent in budget authority."  He commended progress
toward evening out the funding for civilian and defense R&D (the
percentage of civilian would grow by 3.2 percent, while defense
would decrease by 2.4 percent.)  Expressing concern over Republican
intentions for the budget, Brown challenged them "to do as well for
the nation's research and development investments as the President
has."

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