Highlights of Science Policy and Budget Developments in 2002

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Publication date: 
3 January 2003

A brief look back at some of the events reported on in FYI in 2002:

JANUARY: OSTP Director John Marburger predicts that war on terrorism will not divert the conduct of science in the U.S. At a January astronomical society meeting, Marburger says Bush Administration "values discovery-oriented science." DOE Secretary Spencer Abraham expresses willingness to reconsider U.S. participation in the ITER fusion project. A DOE high energy physics panel identifies proposed $5 - $7 billion linear particle accelerator as centerpiece of twenty-year road map for field.

FEBRUARY: Bush Administration sends FY 2003 request to Congress with 8% increase for federal R&D, primarily for DOD and NIH. House Science Committee minority staff comments that overall civilian R&D portfolio request is "business-as-usual." Marburger states "life sciences may still be underfunded relative to the physical sciences." Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) later tells Marburger that if not for defense and national security needs, "this committee collectively would be madder than hell, to put it bluntly." Incoming Director of the DOE Office of Science, Ray Orbach, has an easy Senate nomination hearing.

MARCH: Appropriators roundly criticize Administration plans to cut USGS. New NASA Administrator, Sean O Keefe, is questioned closely at congressional hearing about ultimate size of space station. First meeting of President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) is held. Friendly and low-key appropriations hearings held on FY 2003 DOE science request. Science Committee hearing sets stage for higher NSF authorization. Move to disband DOD's JASON advisory panel draws concern. Science Committee hearing on proposed cuts to ATP reveals congressional support for program.

APRIL: Administration publishes new ITAR regulations on university-based space research. Science Committee states concern about balance in federal R&D portfolio. Orbach speaks of 30-40% budget growth over next five years as appropriate for his office. Proposed underground physics laboratory at South Dakota's Homestake Mine draws attention. House appropriators express strong support for NSF funding. O Keefe outlines his vision for NASA. Marburger describes "balance" as a misleading and dangerous term when looking at science funding. Space station configuration is subject of congressional hearing and independent advisory committee report. Proposed Administration ATP reforms characterized as controversial. Congressional move to approve use of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository.

MAY: O Keefe tells appropriators that it is his "fondest hope" that a larger space station is ultimately built. Senate appropriators speak out against Administration's proposed NSF budget. Senate hearing on Yucca Mountain plan reveals range of opinion. House and Senate authorizers recommend 1.4% to 2.8% increase in total defense R&D.

JUNE: By overwhelming recorded vote, House passes legislation to authorize eventual doubling of NSF budget. Looking ahead, White House issues memorandum guiding FY 2004 R&D priorities. Secretary of State Colin Powell highlights role of science in foreign policy. Administration report acknowledges human role in global warming. President sends homeland security legislation to Congress containing prominent S&T role. House appropriators approve almost 15% increase in FY 2003 defense S&T funding. OSTP report finds neutron scattering demand exceeds supply. Senate authorizers hold hearing on NSF, with no mention of bill mirroring House bill.

JULY: Science Committee drafts S&T components of homeland security bill. Appropriators recommend increased USGS budget, rejecting proposed Administration cuts. Senate roll call vote clears another hurdle for the Yucca Mountain repository. Advisory group offers recommendations on DOE lab security. Senate appropriators vote for 9.2% increase in defense S&T. Two hearings on climate change reveal much controversy, with one senator calling Administration approach "baloney." Senate appropriators approve big increase for NIBIB at NIH, an almost 12% increase for NSF, and 2% increase for NASA. Appropriators' recommendations for DOE physics programs range from cuts to 7.5% increase.

AUGUST: Senate appropriators reject proposed Administration cuts in ATP. Teacher quality grant funding receives 8.8 % increase in Senate bill, but specific funding for Education Department science and math teaching remains low. Bill introduced in Senate to double authorization for NSF.

SEPTEMBER: PCAST prepares draft letter to President Bush urging significant increases in federal research funding for physical sciences and some engineering fields. A DOE fusion advisory panel releases consensus strategy document identifying ITER participation as important step. A Senate committee proposes consolidation of NSF and Department of Education math and science partnership programs. A Senate nanotechnology bill is introduced. House appropriators approve DOE bill with zero to 7.5% increases for various physics programs.

OCTOBER: PCAST meets, with no public discussion of draft letter to President Bush. Appropriators clear FY 2003 DOD bill with 16.2% increase for defense S&T programs. DOD S&T advisory board recommends that Administration allocate 3% of entire defense budget for S&T. House appropriators recommend almost 13% increase for NSF in FY 2003. House Science committee hearing on balancing homeland security with research and education. House appropriators recommend 2.7% increase for NASA, with this and Senate bill containing 11.3% to 15.9% increases for agency's S&T budget. Congress deadlocks on appropriations bills, and recesses after voting to keep spending at FY 2002 levels until January. National Academies' presidents issue statement on science and security.

NOVEMBER: Orbach appears before various DOE science advisory panels, laying out ambitious schedules and offering strong support. Congress passes bill authorizing doubling of NSF budget.

DECEMBER: President Bush signs Homeland Security Act containing S&T provisions; Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory most immediately affected. A forum in Washington addresses science and engineering workforce issues. A fusion advisory panel approves plan to put fusion-generated electricity on the grid in about 35 years. Administration seeks comments on a new climate change plan. National Science Board releases a preliminary infrastructure report. Months-long FY 2003 budget stalemate continues.

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