House Science Committee Responds to Administration's FY 2004 Request

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Publication date: 
10 March 2003

One gauge of congressional opinion regarding an administration's budget request for science and technology is provided by an inside- the-Beltway document known as the House Science Committee's "Views and Estimates." Issued every year, this analysis gives an early indication of how Congress may respond to the S&T request. What follows are selections from this recently-issued FY 2004 document pertaining to physics-related budgets. See the committee's web site at for the full text. Twenty of 25 Republican and five of 22 Democratic members of the House Science Committee signed this report. A future FYI will include selections from the Democrats' Views and Estimates. Note that for space considerations, paragraphs have been combined. Selections are in the order that they appeared.

ROLE OF FEDERAL FUNDING FOR S&T: "While the percentage of national R&D sponsored by the federal government has declined in recent years, the federal role remains essential. Indeed, as competitive pressures have led many industrial enterprises to focus research on projects with shorter-term benefits, longer-term research depends more than ever on federal support."

NANOTECHNOLOGY: "The Administration proposes increasing spending on nanotechnology by 10 percent. This promising, broadly applicable technology field merits the additional spending. The Committee plans to report out authorizing legislation for the nanotechnology initiative (H.R. 766) later this spring."

CLIMATE CHANGE: "The Administration proposes spending about $1.75 billion on climate change science, an amount equivalent to FY 03 enacted levels. The Committee believes this is an adequate investment in this important research. The Committee supports the proposal to dedicate $182 million to the Climate Change Research Initiative (CCRI), compared to last year's $40 million request. However, the Committee notes that much of the increase appears to be the result of the reclassification of several ongoing research programs" "The Committee commends the Administration for working to develop a strategic plan to guide all federal research activities regarding climate, including the CCRI. The Committee plans to work with the Administration to complete the plan this year and ensure that areas of climate research the plan identifies as priorities receive adequate funding."

DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY (DHS): "While the Committee is generally supportive of the scale of the proposed budget for DHS, the Administration has not yet provided enough information to fully evaluate the proposed budget, despite repeated requests dating back several months. Important questions remain regarding the new Department's R&D agenda and how it will be carried out." "The Committee is concerned that the primary early focus of DHS R&D will be on development, with basic research comprising only 5 percent, or $47 million, of the DHS R&D request. More information is needed on the R&D agenda both within and outside the Department to determine if this is adequate, especially given the proposed cuts in basic research at the Department of Defense."

PHYSICAL SCIENCES AND THE R&D FUNDING BALANCE: "While the Committee believes that the Administration has chosen the appropriate priorities for the federal R&D budget, it is nonetheless concerned that the biomedical sciences, in general, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), in particular, continue to dwarf the remainder of the R&D budget. While the budget documents acknowledge the need to increase support for the physical sciences, the proposed spending levels would not allow that to occur, especially when compared to the enacted levels for FY 03." "Similarly, while Defense Department development programs are critical to our national security, those programs alone cannot create a stable and secure American society or even ensure our protection from enemy attacks over the long-term. Yet while the Pentagon is slated to receive a 12 percent increase, basic and applied research in the Defense Department would decrease substantially from FY 03 requested levels."

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY: "The Committee strongly believes that the Administration's FY 04 budget request for DOE's Office of Science, which funds 40 percent of the Nation's physical science research, is inadequate. The budget proposes funding the Office at $3.3 billion, essentially the same level provided by the Omnibus Appropriations for FY 03. This is significantly less than the $3.8 billion the House conferees proposed providing to the Office for FY 04 in last year's comprehensive Energy Bill (H.R. 4). The proposal also falls short of the goal of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), which recommended in its 2002 report that the FY 04 budget request begin bringing funding for the physical sciences into parity with that of the life sciences." "The Committee is particularly concerned about the future of the Office of Science's user facilities and academic research. In recent years, funding limitations have forced many user facilities to restrict the number of hours they are available to researchers, causing investments that have cost taxpayers billions to sit idle. In addition, many DOE facilities are deteriorating and staff are nearing retirement, producing a looming problem that the Committee believes must be addressed with increased resources." "The Committee supports the inclusion of $12 million in the Office of Science request for the United States to rejoin international negotiations aimed at building ITER, a burning plasma physics experiment intended to lead eventually to the development of fusion as a commercially viable energy source. The Committee also supports the request for $64 million, also within the Office of Science, for nanoscale science including funding for instrumentation and construction of several nanoscale research centers. The Committee is concerned, however, that without an increase in the Office of Science's total budget, existing programs will be cut to provide the necessary increases for these new initiatives."

NIST: "The Administration proposes to spend $387.6 million for the core NIST laboratory functions (the Scientific and Technical Research and Services account) in FY04 an increase of $28.2 million, or 8 percent, over FY 03. The Committee is pleased with this request, and in particular supports the new initiatives in nanotechnology and homeland security for which the Administration has requested funding. However, the Committee believes that more funding should be provided to NIST to implement the significant new responsibilities Congress has recently given it." "The Committee is also pleased with the Administration's proposed construction and maintenance budget for NIST of $69 million. The budget request provides funding to undertake much needed improvements at NIST's laboratory in Boulder, Colorado. Above all, however, the Committee wants to ensure that the new Advanced Measurement Laboratory in Gaithersburg, Maryland is completed as soon as possible. NIST's FY03 appropriation did not provide enough funding to keep this facility on schedule for completion by the end of 2003. If no additional funding can possibly be provided for its completion this year, the Committee recommends additional funding for FY 04." "The Committee takes issue with the proposal to virtually eliminate funding for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), which helps smaller manufacturers modernize to remain competitive. In FY 00 alone (the most recent year for which data is available), the program contributed $2.28 billion in new or retained sales, $480 million in cost savings, and $873 million in new capital investments. The proposed budget would end federal support for almost all state MEP centers. This change would force most centers to shut their doors just as they could be contributing to economic recovery." "The Committee continues to support the Advanced Technology Program (ATP) and is disappointed that it is phased out in the Administration's budget. The Committee remains willing to work with the Administration on the ATP reform package it sent to Congress late last year."

NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION: "The FY04 budget request for NSF is $5.481 billion, an increase of $452.9 million or 9 percent over the FY03 request, but only 3 percent more than the FY03 appropriated level. As a result, when compared to the actual FY03 appropriated amounts, the high priority for NSF funding expressed in the President's budget (which was submitted before the FY03 appropriation was completed) fades to nearly flat funding when adjusted for inflation. Moreover, the FY04 budget request falls far short of the $6.39 billion authorized by the 107th Congress for NSF education and research activities in FY04." "The Committee believes that NSF should receive $6.390 billion in FY04, the amount authorized by the National Science Foundation Authorization Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-368). This request would increase funding for NSF's core science programs, such as information technology and nanoscale science and engineering research, and it would enable NSF to begin fully funding K-12 education programs and the large facility projects that have already been approved by the National Science Board." "The Committee is pleased that the budget requests $200 million to complete the third year of funding for the Mathematics and Science Education Partnership Program. While the requested level is lower than the amount authorized last year by the National Science Foundation Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-368), it does restore recent funding cuts and it increases the overall level to accommodate the high number of quality applications." "Finally, the Committee is pleased that the budget request for NSF's education programs increases the stipend level for graduate students in research or teaching fellowships from $25,000 to $30,000."

NASA: "The Administration has proposed $15.469 billion for NASA in FY04, an increase of less than 1 percent above NASA's FY03 appropriation of $15.335 billion. Unfortunately, as a result of the tragic loss of the Space Shuttle, it is impossible at this time to credibly assess the proposed funding levels contained in significant portions of NASA's FY04 budget request." "On February 1, 2003, the Space Shuttle Columbia was destroyed during re-entry and the seven astronauts on-board were killed. Following the accident, NASA grounded the Shuttle fleet indefinitely pending an investigation by a team of outside experts. Clearly, the accident and subsequent grounding of the Shuttle will have a significant effect on NASA's proposed FY04 budget request for the Shuttle program and the programs that rely on the Shuttle, specifically the International Space Station (ISS), and the ISS research program which is contained in the Office of Biological and Physical Research. In total, these programs account for approximately $6.6 billion of NASA's $15.5 billion budget. It is too early in the investigation to accurately predict what NASA's FY04 budget requirements will be for these programs." "NASA hoped to achieve U.S. core complete assembly of the ISS [International Space Station] by spring 2004 and have 12 research racks in operation. However, these plans are being re-assessed as well. Therefore, the Committee cannot adequately address whether the Administration's $1.71 billion FY04 budget request for ISS assembly and operations is justified. While the ISS has been an item of concern for the Committee, NASA has made significant progress this past year in establishing more credible cost estimates and management processes for the program." "The Administration requested $972 .7 million in FY04 for NASA's Biological and Physical Research program, which is a 6.5 percent increase over the FY03 request, as calculated using full cost. This budget reflects NASA's commitment to the Research Maximization and Prioritization (ReMAP) Task Force recommendations to increase the priority and productivity of science on the Space Station. NASA management should be commended for providing more stability to the Space Station research program. However, the loss of the Columbia and grounding of the Space Shuttle fleet will impact NASA's ability to conduct this research." "Three major NASA programs, Space Science, Earth Science, and Aeronautics are not directly affected by the grounding of the Space Shuttle fleet. The Administration's FY04 budget request for NASA's Space Science enterprise is $4.01 billion. The Committee strongly supports NASA's Space Science program and the Administration's request, including Project Prometheus for space nuclear power and propulsion systems, optical communications, and the Beyond Einstein initiative." "The Committee supports the Administration's request of $1.55 billion for NASA's Earth Science Enterprise and applauds NASA's work with the interagency climate change science program. However, the Committee is concerned that the Administration is requesting only $75 million in FY04 for NASA's Earth Science Application programs, despite its proven track record of high payoff endeavors, including improved weather forecasting, disaster management, terrain mapping, and aviation safety. The Committee is also concerned that the Administration is not adequately transitioning NASA's technology efforts, such as space radar and weather monitoring sensors, into operational capabilities."